“Hey man, how’re things looking up there”
“The same. Tried changing the channel but apparently you don’t get cable here”
“How’s my wife?”
“She’s good she came in yesterday actually”
“Yeah she uh… she says hi.”
He was a chemical engineer and a writer for prolific science magazine, SciTech. We met at a pub near campus. I was bartending, he was playing pool with a bunch of postgrads. I stepped out to use the bathroom and found him outside the stalls, tossing his vodka soda in the sink and filling the glass up with water. Suppressing a giggle, I tiptoed out the door. The next evening, his friends were right in front of the bar chugging beer. They cajoled and coaxed, but he remained reticent, nursing the same glass of water-vodka-who-knew-really. I offered a refill and against weak protest, placed a new glass in his hands.
He spent the rest of the evening drinking (as eloquently declared between drunken platitudes) “a shit tonne” of vodka. As he glanced my way and we shared a moment of solidarity, I offered a knowing wink as a small smile played on my lips. He stayed ’til the end of my shift and took me home. I’d never had so much belief in the true transcendence of turning water into wine.
The dark side of the moon is a myth.
He told me that on our first date, when I brought up my love for Mulan. He shook tousled hair out of his eyes and grinned surreptitiously, explaining, “In reality, both sides of the moon receive the same amount of sunlight but only one side can be seen from Earth. The side facing away from the Earth has only ever been seen from a spacecraft”. He took a sip from his (virgin) pina colada and saw the utter bemusement on my face before adding, “Oh but I loved Mulan, too”.
Marriage felt a little like being swept up by the ocean after years of wading in the kiddy pool. Everything about Phillip was magnified. I got acquainted with his insistence on wearing socks to sleep, sneezes that sounded like a primal mating call and the seemingly perpetual whir of the coffee grinder (I preferred tea). Nonetheless, we sputtered about this foreign terrain with enough hope and love to last a lifetime.
And then came the ad.
The first one was erected at a bus stop a block away from our apartment. It stood like a sentinel, sanctimoniously eyeing the puny neighbourhood with a gaze that seemed to embody both indifference and unnerving intensity. My office was a couple of stops down from our house and I saw it on the way to work. I actually laughed, the darn thing made me laugh.
When I was 7, I was the master of staring contests. Call it eyelids of steel or a sick penchant for uncomfortable games, but every hapless contender would walk away defeated and a little teary-eyed. Phillip was the first person who made me sweat a little. Just before a minute, we were locked in a fierce some gaze, fighting all urges to lower strained lids in defeat. Throwing all notion of fair play out the window, I reached forward and poked his side and he harrumphed an exhale, accepting defeat. He nodded with mock deference before grabbing me in a
TBC. had a crazy fever dream that kinda inspired this. it’s not done cos I have work to plough through but hopefully I can wrap this up soon
inspired by writing prompt: Obsessed