lost + found

____”Lately I can’t read you either.”

His words pierced, but it was his eyes that hurt her more. The two perfectly blue sapphires that used to dazzle at the sight of her, now stared blankly through her. They had nothing left to give.

She let a pause settle in between them, though there was hardly room for it on the tattered velvet settee. They sat draped in heavy silence, one set of crimson lips quivering, one set of dull and empty eyes. All around them the tiny basement dive was alive — stirring with motion — emotion and people sifting through its colorful currents, riding the waves of intoxicating love, or the pursuit of it anyway.

____Others lost hold of it completely. Most notably the couple in the corner of the room — the girl there with the crimson lips.

She is trying to feign upbeat banter but she’s failing. Perhaps it was something she did. No, on second look — it’s him. He sits there deflated in tortured posture and makes a feeble attempt to mask it. He stares evenly onward and I see the girl wipe at her eye. The tear is brushed away as quickly as it came, and she abruptly rises from her perch on the tattered velvet settee to greet the gregarious blond — a leggy beauty over-served tonight.

I sip my gin from a stool at the bar and continue to digest the scene. The crimson lips, perhaps too proud, bury a lump in her throat so she can exclaim, “Happy Birthday!” embrace the hiccupping blond, and pretend to be fine. She holds on maybe a second too long, but the blond doesn’t notice. I do. I switch my gaze to the man — still sitting there, perhaps a shell of someone he once was. And I wonder if he knows there’s still time for him.

____The music envelopes them and it’s strange how a once shared melody now sounds like mockery. He sees her chatting — even singing along — as if nothing is wrong. He wonders when exactly it was — as if there could be some precise moment when — things started falling apart. “Is everything okay?” she had asked just a moment ago. He knew she knew the answer. She is now embracing the host of the party — smiling too much, catching tears before they can fall. She sips on the end of her straw, throws him a side-glance he chooses not to catch. Chained to the tattered velvet settee, he waits for the night to end. For everything to end. The watch on his wrist reminds him the night is still young and so is he.

____iM just so happy you came — is everyone hAving fun!? I think everyone is having fun — oh, can I tAke a sip of tHat? I LOVE this song!! That guy at the bar is kinda cute — I saw him looking over at me — do you think I should go say hi? He seems older but like not too old right? Before I go, give me some of that lipstick, will yOu? OMG are you CRyInG? …Oh I get allergies too sometimes, okay I’m gonna go talk to him…hOw do I look?

Colors swirl, and young souls step in time. It’s a great masquerade of mixed and muddled feelings — a clash of characters all searching for the same desire to feel. The bass drops and the scene spins faster and faster, as people slur and stumble to keep up. Those who can, resemble a leggy blond making out at the bar. Those who can’t, resemble the man on the tattered velvet settee. He wears a frantic, manic expression as if the room is suddenly too small and too dark and too loud.

“It has to be this way,” she said. He takes it as a statement but it could have been a question. The basement dive draws further and further away as he pulls himself out of that belly of despair.

Two sets of crimson lips at the dive that night, wearing the stain of love lost and found.

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