Merry Christmas

She stood there, arm wrapped around his waist, holding him up at the jukebox as he searched his mind for the name of a song.
He sang the lyrics, slurring them into her ear as he swayed. She wasn’t sure how much of the movement in his knees was voluntary.
Her hand gripped the flesh of his hip as tight as it could. She was not above stealing some sort of intimacy in moments like these. He probably wouldn’t remember. But for her, the touch of his skin against her fingertips would linger in her mind.
He pulled her close with one muscular arm and she melted, turning her face into his shoulder and resting her forehead on his unshaven neck for a few beats. Their embrace– unnoticed by the misfits busy with their own lonely agendas –lasted until he started flailing and slapping his fingers against the jukebox screen. He remembered the name of the song. It was “Guitar” by Cake.
She had already Googled the lyrics minutes earlier but after five years, she was getting better at playing time to her advantage.

She leaned against a pool table without a drink in her hand and had a meaningless conversation with an old drinking buddy.
The buddy went through several topics before he mentioned tattoos and watched her eyebrows raise. Excited, he  swiped through several dozen Instagrams, unsuccessfully looking for a picture of Starry Night on someone’s shin. This man was flirting with her but she did not care to notice.
Her deep brown eyes were darting to the corner of the bar where he stood, having some whiskey-induced heart-to-heart with a stranger.
He turned abruptly and her focus dropped to her arm. She pulled up her sleeve and pointed to where her next tattoo would be, extrapolating about the night’s sky and laying in grass fields.
He stumbled up to the conversation and yelled, “Catch!” He threw his phone at her in slow motion. She leaned down to retrieve it from the floor and he was almost to the bathroom by the time she was upright. She unlocked the phone, mindlessly opening and closing apps while the drinking buddy made large gestures to a friend who had joined the crowd near the pool table.
The messages at the top of the screen were his drunk request asking her to come to the bar and a plea from his ex-girlfriend that he obviously ignored. She was usually a stickler for privacy, but the rules didn’t apply when it came to him. No man had ever made her more weak or more strong at the same time.
She clicked on the plea, read the first two sentences and closed the text window. Her cheeks flushed red.
“I don’t want this.” She pushed the phone into his hands when he made his way back to the bar.
The ex wanted to know if he was seeing someone else.
He looked straight into her eyes and then shook his head. “I don’t care if you see it. “
The party moved back to his house. He shared a duplex with their mutual friend who was very good at being both a drunk and a drummer.
The neighbor invited her next door, gave her a warm, boozey smile and poured her a glass of dry red wine while they waited for the others to pile into the living room. She was usually the first to arrive and the first to leave. She wanted to leave an hour after getting to the bar tonight, but he wanted her to come back and hang out. She didn’t need much convincing, but at least she had given the appearance of some resistance tonight.
He was more inebriated than usual for a bar night and a holiday. Actually, she hadn’t seen him this drunk in a long time.
He fell asleep around 3 a.m. in the neighbor’s recliner while the rest of the room watched acoustic versions of 90s rock songs on YouTube.
Some people left, so the party stopped to give long, drunk hugs and wish each other a Merry Christmas. At that point, she knew she shouldn’t drive. So she seized the moment and quietly asked him for his keys. She thought he would hand them over and go back to the recliner.
Instead, he searched his coat pockets and then asked her to follow him.
…to be continued.