Come Down

The guy at the gas station hasn’t seen me in a week. He doesn’t know I’ve been on holiday. I didn’t tell him, and he doesn’t ask, but something in our mutual gaze explains it all. He leans on the counter watching the traffic as I enter. He’s bored, and with a not so intelligent look on his face, he wishes he was anywhere but where he finds himself when I walk in. I pick my favourite wine. There’s nothing fancy about it, in fact, it’s not even my favourite. I don’t have one; I just get the same one because it saves me having to make a decision. I don’t drink wine to appreciate the taste; I drink it to get drunk. It doesn’t help me to become a better writer. It doesn’t help me to block stuff out. It’s just something I like doing. It adds fuel to the fire, so to speak. Taking the bottle in hand, I glance at the shelves of groceries and pretend to be interested but it’s just a ploy. Walking over to my nameless friend, he asks how I am. I tell him that I’m good before returning the favour. He responds positively. Money is money he says. The weather’s getting better, and soon it’ll be summer. He comments on something else but I’m distracted by a woman outside. Drawing money out from a cash machine, she’s around my age, maybe a little younger. Dressed in a skimpy black number, she has curves and pleases the eye. My friend follows my gaze and admires the talent on display, his words not mine. I agree, but it’s just a lie. She’s just a piece of flesh, no more, no less. She makes eye contact with me and smiles, but I look straight through her. I didn’t die. The plane never crashed. The turbulence was bad, though, and with every shake of the aircraft I braced myself for the end. I saw myself plummeting into the icy sea, swallowed up while still strapped into my seat, never to be seen again. Just another nobody, who’d wished he’d been somebody. Death shouldn’t be feared, for once it’s over, that’s it. This mind of mine, it likes to get the better of me, however, to instil in me a dread of almost everything. It doesn’t have to be flying. Yesterday, I was certain I was going to die in my sleep. The day before, it was drowning, and the day before that, it was a coach crash. Plunging off the side of a road down a steep ravine, my mangled body stripped of its flesh by wild animals. But then I remembered the country I was visiting didn’t have wild animals, so instead I would be mummified due to the intense heat until strangers scooped up my remains and bagged me up ready to be sent home.

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