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I arrived at the hotel early; she was running late. I went inside the party and pushed my way through the crowd. I thought a drink would help pass the time. I ordered a free cup of Pinot Grigio and then took a seat on the bench. I watched in envy as the people around me made connections…

…I saw him sipping red wine. His bright orange jacket was hard to miss. He looked as uncomfortable as I felt, and so, I waved to him. He sat next to me and the conversation quickly turned toward the inappropriate. After our second drink he asked me what I feared he might. Without hesitation, I rejected his offer. He told me we would never see each other again and then asked if I was thinking about it. I admitted I was and kept to myself that I didn’t find him attractive. Moments later, she arrived. By the time he left, I had already forgotten his name…

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I dried my eyes and walked in. The atmosphere suited my mood perfectly. I took a seat and ordered a drink. The bartender could tell something was wrong, but she didn’t ask what. She returned to her friends at the edge of the bar. An old man with white hair and a beer belly put a Ray Charles song on the jukebox. I recalled the last time I heard it. I could feel myself on the verge again and quickly drank the remains of my whiskey. I put $10 down and left. I walked next door for my appointment. The smell of incense was strong. I headed to the back room and sat in the open chair across from him. He was a thin man with brown and gray hair; he looked older than he was. “Do you have any questions?” he asked and I realized that I didn’t. I told him what had just happened and how I found myself walking in his direction. He shuffled the cards and then closed his eyes. I thought, as he attempted to search for predictions, that he was a fraud and it was a waste of money to pay someone just to listen. He opened his eyes and looked at me. He said, “After everything you’ve been through, you can survive this…”

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I stood there, trying to avoid the abyss. The rain beat down, the reverberating thuds sounding like bullets. As the mist outside engulfed the landscape, I suddenly imagined myself on a battlefield. I attempted to crawl to safety as my once sealed wounds began to reopen. I heard someone screaming for help. There was something familiar about her voice, but I never found her…

…I dreamt of the events from hour’s prior. With closed eyes, I reached out my hand for him. When I found nothing in his place, I remembered that he was never there. I stared at the ceiling as if my solace dwelled above me. I found no comfort and, so I left…