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A Girl Walks into a Bar

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Trish was a lot of things, but a daydrunk she was not. Well, usually. Not recently, at the very least. Today was quickly becoming close to the exception to the rule as she paced nervously in front of the nondescript bar.

It was only 10:56 a.m., and everything had already gone to hell.

Trish prided herself in being a positive person. She was also a proud believer in faking it until she made it. She knew that wasn’t going to happen today.

10:57. Going inside was probably a very bad idea. Trish didn’t drink. She used to drink. Telling others you don’t drink anymore when you used to go to happy hour with them tends to lead them to believe you are an alcoholic. Trish wasn’t an alcoholic, but was more than happy to let the assumption stand.

She’d stopped drinking when Jessica had dropped out of her life. She hadn’t even realized how close the two of them were until the nonsense with Kilgrave had begun. Trish felt an itch to dull the pain with liquor and just couldn’t become dependent on that as well. Then Jessica came back, but it never was the same. Pair that with the insane guilt Trish felt... If only she had never gotten that stupid superhero idea in her head.10:58

All she wanted was for this day to just blink out of existence. Trish knew she could have selfish tendencies as a person, but having grown up with the nightmare that was her mother, she figured she had somewhat of a free pass. She was disappointed in the amount of heartache she still felt. She knew she had made it abundantly clear to her mother that she never wished to hear her voice. But hell, that had never stopped her before, and on today of all fucking days.

And Jessica. She’d be lucky if Jessica knew what day of the week it was when she woke up, let alone the significance of it. While Trish feared an attachment to liquor, Jessica reveled in it. Trish wondered how Jessica’s liver continued to limp along. 10:59.

This was part of the reason Trish was beginning to question her sanity as she walked into a bar at 11:00 a.m. on the nose. This was definitely Jessica’s MO, not hers.

The door creaked open and Trish slowly stepped inside. The place was dark, yet somehow cheerful, and a very muscular, very attractive man in a very tight t-shirt was carefully wiping a glass clean behind the mahogany bar.

“What’ll you have?” he asked without bothering to look up.

Trish glanced at the bottles lined neatly on the shelves. “I...uh...don’t drink.”

He raised an eyebrow at her, then went back to meticulously cleaning the glass in his hands.

Seconds turned into minutes and the silence began to feel suffocating, demanding. Trish darted her eyes toward the door. Maybe not too late to dash out with a mumbled excuse about thinking this was a coffee shop or something.

Trish sighed. Deep down, she wasn’t going to back down. “ I really don't drink.”

“So you said,” the bartender replied.

“Alcohol, I mean. I do drink other things, of course. I'm sure most people who come in here drink, and here I am, not drinking and wasting your time,” Trish sputtered out all at once. The whole choice to come into this establishment was quickly becoming her own personal nightmare.

The bartender looked up at her, setting the now-spotless glass on the bar. “I’m going to assume that you’re not most people.”

“Ha. If you only knew,“ Trish muttered under her breath.

“What was that?” the bartender asked, raising an eyebrow ever so slightly.

Trish ducked her head down and tried to avoid eye contact. “A water woud be great.”

The bartender obliged and pushed a glass of water across the bar in her direction. Trish glanced around nervously and took small, calming sips.

“Luke,” the bartender offered, continuing the seemingly neverending task of cleaning glasses.

“Trish.” She took the opportunity to look him over. Her original assessment stood. Muscular. Extremely muscular.

“And here I thought you were going to say Patsy,” he said, a hint of grin rounding his words.

Trish lowered her head to the bar, banging it lightly once or twice. “Oh God.”
A rich chuckle filled her ears. “Change your mind about that water yet?”

“I still don’t drink,” Trish said, her voice muffled by the bar. “Even when meeting a fan such as yourself.”

Luke chuckled again and bent down to straighten something below the bar. The silence loomed. Trish felt herself growing introspective. The silence somehow beckoned her to spew out her secrets more than any well-intentioned inquiry ever could.

“It’s my birthday.” The words flew out of her mouth without her permission.

“Happy birthday,” Luke said as he stood back up. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the bar.

Trish fidgeted on her stool. “I hate my birthday.”

“ Well, aren’t you just full of sunshine today,” Luke said, crossing his arms.

“Sorry.” Trish swirled water in her glass. “I thought I wanted to be alone today. I discovered after a couple of hours that I don’t do alone well. I figured I’d come to a place with people so I could be alone without really being alone. I guess there aren’t that many people at a bar at 11 on a Sunday.”

Luke shrugged, and the door creaked open. As if on cue, an elderly man in a newsboy hat shuffled in. His face held the haggard, worn look of an alcoholic.

“Hello, Fred,” Luke greeted the man. Fred grunted in reply and sat on a stool. Luke filled a glass with an amber liquid and skillfully slid the drink across the bar, scarcely spilling a drop. Trish was impressed. Fred downed the liquor quickly and the door creaked open again. Trish assumed it was another regular.

She glanced around uneasily. With the arrival of Fred and the other new patron, the confessional atmosphere that had pervaded the bar seemed to have lifted. The camaraderie she had started to feel with Luke evaporated. She was left feeling awkwardly out of place. She reached her hand into her purse and pulled out a few dollars. She lifted her glass, placed them underneath and hopped off the stool.

“Going somewhere?” Luke asked, startling her as she turned to leave.

“Time to face my fears, I suppose,” Trish muttered, heading towards the door.

Trish was pushing open the door when a hand reached forward and shoved it closed. “Listen,” said a low voice behind her. “I don’t make a habit of getting into other people's business, but you seem nice. Whoever this man is that has you in a funk over your birthday? He’s not worth it.”

Trish smiled warily as she turned to face Luke. “Thanks. It’s really about my mother and Jessica. Mother is certainly not worth it. Jessica…” She let the name hang and shook her head slightly.

“Oh,” Luke replied. “ Not a man, then.”

“Not saying that she and I are…oh, never mind.” Trish made to push the door open again. Luke moved his hand out of the way.

“You should come back tonight. I’ll even give you a water on the house,” Luke called after her as he took a few steps backward, letting her go.

“Ha. Thanks. Maybe.” Trish exited into the biting cold, pulling her jacket closer to her. She started walking down the sidewalk and pulled her cellphone out. Her fingers quickly dialed the memorized digits.

“Hello?” Jessica voice was thick with sleep, booze, and annoyance.

“Hey, Jessica. You alive?” Trish asked, only half joking.

“Trish. Of course I’m alive. I’m always alive.” Jessica’s tone was lighter, but there was still an edge to it.

“Ha. Ha. Hey, you want me to grab some food or something? Head over there?” Trish asked hopefully.

“Yeah. Um. The thing is-- ”Jessica began.

“Shut up. I’m coming over. You need to eat. Liquor is not food.” Trish shook her head. She didn’t doubt that Jessica thought she could live off vodka if she tried.

“It is the way I drink it,” Jessica said with a chuckle.

Trish rolled her eyes. “Listen, I know I told you to pretend I don’t have a birthday...”

Jessica cut her off. “But you’re horribly depressed and are having a Sixteen Candles existential crisis instead?”

“Something like that,” Trish admitted.

Jessica snorted. “Do you need a cake or something? Should I hire a clown? Petting zoo? Stripper?”

“Don’t you dare.” Trish grinned.

“No promises. So, Chinese? Your place?” Trish could hear Jessica shuffling around, presumably pulling her jeans back on.

“That sounds perfect.” Trish genuinely smiled for the first time that day.

“I’d knew you’d cave. All that nonsense about being alone today. Your mom always made you miserable, but I always tried to cheer you up. It worked sometimes, didn’t it?” Jessica’s voice took on an uneven tone. Trish couldn’t quite get a read on her.

“You always cheer me up, Jess,” Trish said quickly.

“God, don’t go getting all sentimental on me. It’s not too late for me to call your mom.” Jessica still sounded a bit off.

“I swear to God, if you call my mother...” Trish said, somewhere between a threat and a joke.

Jessica sighed. “You know I hate her. Even more than you.”

“That’s why we get along so well. You and me. In it together,” Trish whispered. She held the phone close against her cheek, as if she were trying to keep the words between them.

“Always,” Jessica replied.

“Jess, you know that--” Trish started.

“I’ll be at your place at 5, okay? We’ll party up a storm,” Jessica said, quickly cutting her off before hanging up.

Trish sighed and slid her phone back in her purse. She glanced around, and it was only then that she realized she hadn’t kept track of where she was walking while on the phone. She was surprised to see herself standing near Luke’s again, having apparently looped around the block. She glanced at her watch-- 12:01. Trish had some time to kill. She walked towards the entrance and pushed the door open. Luke seemed like a good listener, and she could use that glass of water.