Recap: After losing his job and finding his girlfriend in bed with another man, Lyle came down to the neighborhood bar to drink. His girlfriend, Annabelle, followed him to talk about what happened. So far, the conversation hasn’t gone too well….
Lyle took a deep breath and let it out slowly. His eyes drifted across the bar, avoiding Annabelle’s gaze.
“Well?” Annabelle said, still blinking. “What do you think?”
Lyle shrugged, staring at the table. He rolled his glass in his hands. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way, you know.”
Annabelle nodded. “I know.”
“I had dreams and plans for the future. And those plans didn’t include the worst recession our generation has ever seen, or a supposed recovery that didn’t bring jobs.”
“You did what you could,” Annabelle said. “And I respect you for that. I do. But you settled for something you didn’t love, and I think it broke you.”
Lyle laughed, bitterly. “And now I don’t even have that. Look at me now, unemployed and adrift not only in the worst recession, but the worst recovery, too.”
“I meant it when I said this could be a good thing,” Annabelle said. “This is a chance for a do-over. You can find your path again, Lyle. I know you can. And you owe it to yourself to reclaim your heart, your spirit. You owe it not only to yourself, but to the people you love.
“And not only that,” she added, “but you owe it to the world. Because the world deserves more than all your anger and heartache. The world deserves all the good you can give it.”
Lyle looked up, his eyes finally meeting hers. “I just … I feel so lost. I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Annabelle reached across the table and took his hand.
“That’s what you’ve got to figure out,” she said. “You losing your job isn’t a tragedy. It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance for you to figure your life out, and to become the person I know you can be.”
“What about us?” Lyle said. “Where are we in all of this?”
Annabelle took a breath and looked at the table. After a moment, she said, “I still think we need a break.”
Lyle sighed. “OK. How long, then?”
“What I did can’t be undone, Lyle.”
“You just explained why you did it.”
“That doesn’t make it right, or so easily forgivable. We need time – maybe a lifetime.”
“What if I try to change and turn it all around?”
“At your pace, then probably a lifetime.”
“Oh, c’mon. That’s not fair.”
Annabelle shushed him. “Let’s not talk about it anymore – please. I just want to sit with you for a while and not say anything. No fighting, no he-said, she-said. Just peaceful, meditative silence.”
“But I’m a boisterous drinker.”
“Please, Lyle. I just want to be with you.”
Lyle frowned. “We’re breaking up, but you still want to be with me? These are the kind of cryptic signals that drive men crazy.”
“I just want to remember,” Annabelle said. “I want to remember all the fun and good times we had. I want to remember us holding each other, kissing each other, loving each other. I want to remember the sparks of excitement that surged through our fingertips as we held each other’s hands. I want to recall our hopes and dreams as we stood on the brink of forever – our love bound in a timeless, endless present – while the future was only an obscurity; a concept mired in time. I want to capture and replay all those vivid memories, back when our hearts were entwined as one … back when we were happy.”
Lyle looked at his watch. “OK. Done.”
“Fine!” Annabelle slid out of the booth. “Sit here and stew, then. I’m going back to work.”
“Fine, go back to work,” Lyle said, as Annabelle tromped toward the exit. “Go back and scurry through the rat maze to find your lump of cheese, if that’s what you want. There’s more to life than cheese!”
Annabelle yanked open the door and clomped outside. A sliver of sunlight flickered in, then disappeared when the door fell shut, leaving the bar in a smoky darkness.
Under his breath, Lyle mumbled, “Yeah, don’t worry about me: I’ll just stay here. All I got is time now, anyway. All the time in the world.” He held his glass to his lips, then set it down without sipping.
“All right, bar’s closed.” Charlie approached the booth, a dishtowel resting on his shoulder. “The cleaners are coming. Let’s move.”
He looked down at Lyle. “What are you still doing here, anyway? You’re letting her get away.”
“I know – it’s a tough call,” Lyle said. “There’s a part of me that’s saying to rush out and stop her, but there’s another part that’s winning the argument.”
Charlie frowned. “And what part is that?”
Lyle looked at the table, sighing. “The part that wants her to be happy.”