living in memories.

The green worn-out Heinken bottle hasn’t been used in years. But, today, it’s been shifted from it’s place on the mantle to the hardwood floor again. It clinks when it first drops, before rapidly blurring into nothingness when I flick it. It’s the first night the four of us have played since high school. Years after high school, we look like the Heinken bottle does. A testimony of time. The bottle begins to slow down, and the game begins.

“Everyone place your bets. Let’s see who gets this spin right.” says Jacob as he puts his arm around me.

“Holy shit. I hope it’s not me. If my husband finds out I ever touched another man, or woman, I’m never speaking to you guys ever again. Thanks for forcing me to play” Rachel exclaims as she frantically fans herself.

“Calm down Rachel, it’s not like you’ve always been a saint. I bet on Jacob and Rachel. They always did get it on in the janitor’s closet. Remember when I found them in a…compromising position?” Sean remarks as he takes yet another sip of his beer.

“Fuck off Sean. What about your days of downing shots? I thought those were done and dusted. And yet, here you are, beer in hand.” Rachel sniffs around in the air for a second and then continues her rant. “Or is it really beer? Smells more like vodka mixed into beer. The Sean Special, now is it? Once you admit you have a problem, maybe I’ll take your word”

“Rachel, Sean. Quit acting like you’re still in high school. Take a cue from Jacob and I. Wait, fuck. The bottle’s stopping. This time..it’s Rachel…and I? Rachel, try not to make it too sloppy.” I say as I finally get a chance to speak when the green bottle is done causing it’s damaging for this round.

“I’m the pro here, remember. All my time in the closet.” Rachel remarks rather smugly, as she nudges Jacob, who remains silent.

Rachel leans into me, and plants a peck on my lips. The smell of her perfume lingers on me. It’s the one thing that hasn’t changed. Everything else has since that night.

“Well, what do you have to say about that, Aria?” Rachel questions me, looking straight into my eyes.

“Um….not too bad. Let’s continue.” I say, attempting to swerve the awkward question.

Jacob spins the bottle this time around. His eyes meet mine, but he doesn’t say anything. I know he’s thinking what I’m thinking. That it’ll be us this time.

“This time, we have…drumroll please” Jacob dramatically announces as the bottle comes to a halt. “Rachel…and I.”

“The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Finally Rachel, everything you’ve been waiting for. The husband, the children, who cares? You’re gonna fall for Jacob yet again.” Sean says half-seriously to Rachel.

“Wait..Jacob. Didn’t you say you have to go to the restroom? Well…I do. And, you know I haven’t been back into the rooms here since mom passed, so do you mind coming along? I just…can’t bear to be alone.” I say, in a daze of frustration.

“Uh…yes of course, Aria. Of course. Totally.” Jacob quickly responds.

We leave the living room and head back into the foyer near the bedrooms. It’s true, I haven’t been inside a room since mom died. But, today isn’t the day.

“What the fuck is going on Jacob?”

“Aria, we shared one kiss a year ago. Now, what do you want?”

“Yeah, a kiss we told no one about. I thought you planning tonight was about seeing me. But, here you are, trying to get with Rachel.”

“It was a kiss we shared when we were both drunk. I didn’t think it was anything more. And why would we tell everyone when it didn’t mean anything? And this, Aria, it’s a silly game, Aria. A stupid game that led to all of us being friends. Today, was about getting the gang back together. Nothing else.”

We walk back together in silence. Pure silence. The impending kiss looming over the two of us.

“Well…that took a while. Jacob, let’s get this over with.” Rachel says, in the driest voice she can produce.

They kiss. They pull away. We continue playing. Except, I don’t. I’m in my own world now.

“Wow, Jacob and Rachel. That was quite…something. Let’s save the bedroom shenanigans for later.” Sean teases, as usual.

I can’t play anymore. This game means nothing now. So, I reach for the bottle and smash it against the wall. It crumbles into a million little pieces. Each represents a broken memory.

“I can’t go back to high school.” I say, and it’s all over. The four of us were in that bottle, and now, we’re all broken memories.

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