I drank enough at our old haunt last night to complain that everybody was on their phones and then marched to the bathroom for a quick reprieve. The women’s bathroom is a holy place, if you didn’t know. We go to revel in spirit and testify, shelter and shun, rest. Pray for forgiveness. I walked in and blotted my oily face while the only other girl in there stood idly, glazed with the euphoria of just-enough. I dabbed at my nose.
“I get so shiny when I drink,” I said to my reflection and glanced at her ghost in the dim lighting.
She smiled. “Me too, but my boyfriend doesn’t care. We’re getting married in two weeks. It’s so nice to wake up to somebody that doesn’t care about anything but being with you, you know?”
Celebration. Confession. I was suddenly flooded with synthetic warmth. My body, shrinking away from the poison of her happiness, glowed to repel her. She told me everything.
“You have a beautiful energy,” I told her, “I can feel it.”
“I pray for everyone to have this. You will have this.”
The moment always comes when drunk strangers declare their love and the more sober of the two crosses their fingers. Maybe we both did. But it was a holy night, and we blessed each other. I started to pull myself away from it all, imagining the bored boys I left screen-lit in the corner booth. We walked out together and I escorted her back to her friends, just a few paces away from mine.
“You’re welcome to join us,” she said.
I motioned toward my group and then threw my arms around her.
“Have a beautiful life,” I told her, fingers uncrossed. It’s the only thing I can wish others with my flesh, my mouth that will die, the strings that will dry up within me. It’s the only hymn I know. It’s the only promise I can make.