Today marks one month since you’ve had any alcohol, and you plan to say this, plus eleven, before you have any again. You’re taking a year’s leave. You knew this before a month ago when the year began, had all the time to plan, and still your last and only drink that night was a bellini. A bellini. When you packed the bags in your brain, they were heavier than you’d thought, they clanged and clanged.
You’ve been Fool, Category A, the tier only those who have every warning sign available them are honoured with. Of course, you knew this all the while, which is why you’re Category A: a whole alphabet of fools failed to fool you, because you’d reserved the right for yourself. Stand tall, sure, wave, but not too much: the podium may be high off the ground but all the gold’s below it, and none of it is real.
Outside, the leaves fall. Inside they must be shaken free.
You would call the whole idea off and go for a beer, if Beer didn’t so easily locate you – which you always did find suspicious. One night you returned home and Beer had its face cupped in its hands, pressed to your front window. You argued. Things would have ended there, as tended to, with another of your accusations, but Beer saw it coming, said you was the problem, not it. Beer had become less eloquent of late, you’d noticed, or had they always been like that?
“Maybe,” you conceded, “but you’ve never been any help.” Beer looked hurt by this, but you’d learned to recognize the look for the trick it was, an invitation to abuse, to have the responsibility next morning fall square on you. A silence fell mutually.
“How come every gift you give me still has the price tag on it?” you asked, after a moment.
Beer looked at you what felt a very long time, long enough for your eyes to wander to its reflection in your window, to notice the way it looked just like you from behind. Then Beer crossed through the reflection of your chrysanthemums to the neighbour’s lawn, to see who was at home.
You haven’t called since, and Beer hasn’t you. Sometimes you see them walking their dog down the sidewalk, which you’re sure doesn’t belong to them, and whose label is worn from its twice-daily rolls down that pave, its musky trails on the air as it gurgles at the foot of every second rosebush or mailbox. You watch Beer try to go down the block smooth and sure as it used to, and fail a little, and you feel the old pangs, the lump rise to your chin, telling yourself: they mean well, they do. But they don’t mean a thing.
They were right, after all: it was all you. You thank them for this, and for mornings, for all the good things – of which they are part, but only when per million. In a year’s time, when you move across the country, to a place where sunrises matter more than sets, you’ll be another element entirely. One all your own, perhaps not on its own, a someone beside you to scold: “a bellini, really?”
Outside, the leaves fall. Inside, they must.
You fool. Enjoy your coffee.