Sip, Seek: A Short Story From Nowhere

A roaming imagination becoming words on a page:

Sip, Seek.

I didn't want anymore of my drink. My tummy was mostly unlined and mildly unstable, but I took a long pull of whatever was left of my long island through a lightly nibbled straw. I winced and forced it down. I felt that. Truth be told, I'd felt it when the tops of the ice cubes were still kissing the rim of the cup. I can thank the first tequila sour for that.

But I felt it work the way I needed it to as I looked down across the bar at my reason for the $12 purchase. Past the flirtatious bartender whose breasts seemed to spill over the top of her crop top and onto the tray with the lemon wedges, orange peels, olives and cherries. Past the damp dollar bills lined up on the counter for her by smiling gentlemen whose eyes never quite made it up to hers. Past the slurring woman who was too weak to push her hair from hanging over her face and too drunk to verbalize that she just needed some water. To him. The one with neon lights glowing on his caramel skin that I could even make out in the dimness. Him with the sleek, black rimmed glasses and the tartan shirt, top button undone, exasperated from the dance we had about half an hour prior. I saw him when we first walked in and couldn't look away. He was quiet and scholarly-looking like a Hillman graduate, but he was here, so I knew he knew how to have a good time when out of his work clothes. That was early in the night, around 9 o'clock. As Friday night patrons packed in, the space between bodies grew smaller and smaller. Somehow, I ended up beside him, taking in how fine he was to myself, then using my eyes to pass the message to my homegirl. She looked over to him quickly, then back to me, nodding her approval. I turned to adjust the purse on my shoulder when my elbow bumped clumsily against his. "Oops! My bad," he said to me with a smile. I coyly mouthed back an "It's okay." Our eyes lingered in the remnants of our awkward laughter. I wanted to say more, but how? What? I began to part my lips, but nothing came out.

Our lull was interrupted by the DJ's reggae set, which eased us into an unavoidable groove. He politely grabbed my hand and gently pulled me to him, beckoning for a dance. I obliged. One song turned to two, then three, then four. By the fifth, we were both relying on the tips of our fingers to wipe the sweat from our brows. You're a great dancer, I wanted to tell him as we took stood still in the writhing crowd, glued to one another, chests heaving, trying to catch our breath. But I didn't. Instead, I excused myself, pulled my friend away from her dance partner and retreated from the dance floor to the opposite side of the lounge. "Girl," my friend started, visibly irritated with me. "Why didn't you say something to him?" I shrugged hopelessly. "I just…" I began, but she cut me off before I could conjure up a bullshit answer. "Kam, you're clearly not drunk enough." She was right.

See, drinking's not really my thing. I find little joy in tossing stinging shots to the back of my throat until I can't remember taking them, retching over a public toilet, or morning confusion from a night way past recollection. I engage in social drinking here and there because, let's be honest, who wants to be Sober Sally in a room full of drunks? But at this point, a little bit of liquid courage was the hook, line and sinker I needed for some male attention. I've been single for almost 8 years and quite frankly, I'm tired of keeping count. I needed to take matters into my own hands. You know, go find him versus waiting for him to find me. What better way to jumpstart the task of breaking down my glass wall than with some drank? When the liquor runs through my system and I feel that lightheaded tizziness hit, little fazes me. I don't worry about awkward introductions or being judged or sounding dumb or being shy. I grab my fictional cojones and muster up the nerve to strike up conversation, look someone dead in the eyes and even smize a little. "Boozy bravery," I like to call it. Be brave, Kamryn. Be brave...

He looked over to me, catching me drift out of my thoughts, but I didn't break my gaze, only smiled back. Yes, it's you I'm looking at, I said to him with my eyes. The vodka, run, gin and tequila were talking for me, and my tone, albeit unspoken, was confident. I couldn't decipher the expression he made in response -- it was somewhat of a mix of confusion, surprise and admiration -- but in the next few moments, he'd offered up his seat at the bar to a woman wobbling terribly in her heels and slipped from view, only to reappear beside me with an extended hand and a warm grin. "Hi, I'm Lance."


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