The gray sky is dimming as I make my way downtown. There’s no traffic and I don’t see any other pedestrians for the next couple blocks. The cemetery a couple streets over recedes into the shadows of myriad weeping willows. I do my best to ignore the bite of the chilly mist that surrounds the funeral parlor, the result of water from lawn sprinklers quickly evaporating in the thick southern heat.
Downtown is busier, with a few people wandering from bar to bar beneath the glow of string lights hung above sidewalks. I make my way to my favorite bar, though truthfully it is only my favorite on Sundays when it is half empty. A couple bucks plus tip buys me a PBR and a shot, and I make my way to seats in back that were plush once upon and time but are now too stiff for anyone sober to relax in.
My phone rings, but I can’t hear it over the house band. It vibrates for a minute, then stops. Then, three quick, pulsing buzzes as texts roll in. I know who it is. I decide I don’t need to text back.
Halfway through my beer the shot floods me with warmth, and my mind swirls like froth against glass. I look to the colorful chalkboard advertising the week’s drink specials. I can’t decide if it is crueler to overcharge for drinks or undercharge for them.
Another buzz in my pocket. I contemplate calling, asking her to meet me. I decide against it, for now. I think of the mist around the funeral home. There are no ghosts but for those we make in indecision.
The bubbles in the beer make me feel the three I had before I made my way down. I finish the last swallow, and take a moment to let my mind settle, focusing on the rich brown wood and making an effort to not lose myself in the twinkling lights outside above the sidewalk.
Finally, I get up, and outside the wind has picked up. A few drops of light rain spatter against me. My phone buzzes again, reminding me I still haven’t answered her texts. In the distance, the swaying branches of the willows against the streetlights make it seem as though dark figures move between the headstones.
I take out my phone, swipe my thumb across her name. Block caller? Yes, please. What else when there’s nothing left to say?
I make my way down the sidewalk, intending to stretch out across my backseat. The air pressure drops. A storm is coming, but I will be sheltered when it lands. The willows are still. I pass the funeral parlor, and the mist has already blown away.