A Writer’s Book of Days Exercise: Meeting

A Writer’s Book of Days Exercise: Meeting

I found him again, three years later, in the corner booth of a dim campus bar. He was wedged in against the wall, notebook and text books barricading him in, his pipe and ash tray close enough to threaten the paper. It would go up in a second, one careless tilt of a match, a whoosh of joy, and his wall would consume him. That old out-of-place recklessness appearing in the least threatening way I’d ever seen it.

His hair was longer, though not shaggy literature ponce length yet. It looked good on him, the slight wave taking away from the gaunt lines of his cheeks. The low light made it hard to see, but there were circles under his eyes, grey shadows still trying to fade. He looked tired.

I hung up my coat, dropped onto the bench across from him, and tossed my hat onto the table. It skidded into one of his books, and skewed a few loose pages. He finished the line he was writing, and looked up with that terrible scowl of disappointment.

The open-mouthed shock that replaced it lasted for a full five minutes before I leaned forward and flicked his jaw closed.

“Hi.”

“You’re alive.”

“As always.”

“You can’t be alive.”

“So I keep thinking, but it doesn’t seem to change my reality.”

“Where the hell have you been?”

I tutted. “Watch your mouth.”

“You’re collar’s missing.” He pointed at the open neck of my dress shirt. “I don’t have to anymore.”

I rolled my eyes. “Well, I was a terrible priest anyway. So, what’s good here?” It looked like the waitress was also the bartender, but given the lack of clientele it wasn’t likely to slow the service any.

“Where have you been?”

“Waiting, and healing.” I shrugged. “Burns take a long time.” It was more than just burns, and we both knew it. The wall of fire his pipe and pages could bring had nothing on that bomb blast, after all.

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