The ambient noise was just as loud as the buzz in his head, like a sort of static that took over on nights like this when everyone else was having a good time and he was clutching a napkin in his hand. It had been happening for Christopher a lot, with the same patterns and wavelengths to muddle up his thoughts and a Thursday night simultaneously. He wrote he didn’t know what anymore, just scrawled some awkward words on a spare napkin and hated them almost as much as he hated himself.
But things were good. “Can’t complain” was his default response and it held true. Then why WEREN’T things good?
Somewhere between that last beer and uncapping his pen, his mind began to rattle with the pressurized thoughts he’d kept inside, the stuff everyone was sick of hearing and he was sick of thinking. One napkin down. One smeary lyric judged and found wanting. One night of nobody asking what he’s even doing over there. He’ll be himself soon enough, but for right now Christopher felt like tar.
The beers were becoming more consistent in his nightly routine.
Love is when every song is about them.
How can he write one now?
The room was warm and he felt like he was underwater. Mistakes became words that he wrote to himself with a humming accompaniment he’s bound to forget, the loud voices obscuring the jukebox sounds and clearing his mind to music. Yet, also drowning his creativity by proving how simple it must be for others to have a good night.
It was an itch that a song couldn’t scratch.
It was a subtle, dull ache that showed between conversations, or looking at familiar street signs. It seeped into the cracks between effective distractions. In the moment between ordering the beer and pulling out his wallet. Just a moment of quiet, and then….
That guilt of not being good enough.
It happened this way while nobody watched, then the pen would uncap itself and the napkins began their ritualistic sacrifice to the fate of poor taste, raw emotions and what he surely considered petty expressions. He was up to five beers and four napkins a night.
Sometimes, at home? Six of each.
This was no way to win the war his heart had waged, by sulking with napkins on sticky pub counters. The guilt increased as Christopher considered that he might be feeling bad for the sake of it.
Maybe there was a lyrical way to just admit he missed her. At least with a song you don’t expect a reply.
The napkin tore a little under the wetness of the ink. Third beer, second napkin.
But hey, that last line wasn’t so bad.