He sat, hunched, on a stone bench on Dalry Road. His aged hand gripped the almost empty beer can, as he held it aloft, intently staring almost THROUGH it. I wondered what was going through his head. Not ‘Mmm. Fine vintage’. Probably more that it was now 11.30 at night, and he was making peace with the fact that this was his final drink of the day. But there was a deeper sadness to him. I think he was trying to justify a decision he’d made decades previously. Probably involving a choice, between a woman, and drink.
He had been maybe forty at the time. There had been SO many ups and downs with his ex. She loved him, but he didn’t feel deserved of her affections (because we’re born to self-hate). Many nights of drunken madness, but balanced with such tenderness, during the ‘relaxed’ times. It’s when women see the real ‘us’. But no matter the true love offered by anyone, it would NEVER fill the hole in the way the emotional anesthaesia of booze could. He COULD have spent his life sober, with her, but he always ‘knew’ it would end this way. He HAD to choose. Her or drink.
He chose drink.
In a dimly lit hallway, at a weird hour of the night, he said his goodbyes and left.
And now he had to spend the rest of his life justifying this decision to himself. He HAD to make drink feel worth it. ‘Til one lonely night he’s sitting on a stone bench in Edinburgh, 30 years older, staring at a near empty can, and thinking ‘You stupid bastard.’