by Jay Willett ’20
“Cheers,” she raised her wine glass, “to being single on this lovely Valentine’s Day!” We clinked and took our first sips of the red wine I bought for seven bucks at Shaw’s. She wrinkled her nose and gasped.
“Wine can’t be bitter.” I grinned.
“Well, it is!”
I nodded my head as I drank, catching her doubtful glance that I was enjoying the beverage. It’s true I was bluffing, and after a couple more, I couldn’t stop myself.
“ACK!” I coughed into my sleeve. She folded her arms in self-proclaimed victory. Laughter echoed from upstairs. Noise of the city filtered through cracks in the drywall. It was muzzled but audible to hear the couples dancing and kissing in the streets. She tugged at the front strands of her hair. I stamped the heel of my foot on the felt carpet. There was no avoiding it; the aroma of love had breached our walls of singularity. Our safe space for honest discussion and unrelenting cynicism had been invaded by the enamored. They took the stage while we fell silent.
“It’s not fair, you know,” she whispered.
“I don’t know.” She fiddled with her necklace. “Like, that we are here, and people expect us to be sad and lonely tonight.”
“Hm,” was all I could respond with.
“…But I’m not—I’m here, drinking with you. And I’m happy!”
“I am—I’m—” Tears rolled down her flushed cheeks. I raised my glass.
“Hey—cheers.” We clinked for a second time. She laughed as I spat out my wine.