The morning after

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When he woke it was light outside. He looked at the time on his phone. It was early. The house was quiet. His curtains were open, and the lamp was on. He stared at the ceiling. There was a network of small cracks radiating from the ceiling rose. He closed his eyes.

He didn’t want to open his eyes. He felt an inconvenient need to masturbate. It would make him feel better, for a short time, but he was too lethargic, and it would make a mess. His mouth tasted foul and sticky. Mostly, he wanted someone to deliver a long drink of gin, over ice, flooded with soda water. Perhaps they would wait, eyes averted, while he greedily drank it, then take the glass away to fix him another.

He put his hand down the front of his underpants. His hand remained still, but its presence there was soothing. He kept his eyes closed.

A tall glass, clean and sparkling, smelling of linen from a warm tea towel, is rinsed in cold water, then placed, wet, onto a rack in the freezer. A lemon is sliced into thin wedges, on a wooden chopping board. Lemony fingers are licked. The freezer is opened again. The glass is surrounded by ice-smoke, which billows and falls down the front of the fridge. A tray of ice cubes is removed. The tray is bent and twisted over the sink, so the cubes pop out. They are piled into a bowl, and put to one side. Minutes pass. Five, ten, fifteen. More. The glass is removed from the freezer. The water has frozen onto its surface in frost and ice diamonds. The glass is set on the bench. The frost begins to disappear, from the top down. A handful of ice is added to the glass. Then a single lemon slice is dropped onto the cluster of ice. Gin is poured over the ice, and it cracks as the gin hits. The level of liquid comes to rest at half way. It’s not all gin, of course. But, it’s more than a measure. It’s more than a double. This base, of gin-lemon-ice, is topped with soda water from a small glass bottle, just-opened. The long drink is observed, eyes level with the rim of the glass. Tiny bubbles are jumping from the surface.

He opened his eyes. He was very thirsty. The light from the window was too bright. It made him ache, and he could tell that the day was going to be warm and unpleasant. The light from the lamp was indecent. His nose felt clogged. He moved his eyes to look around the room. He felt them rolling and sliding in his head, and the sensation made him feel sick.

© Barry Lee Thompson and ‘Stories, by Barry Lee Thompson’, 2013.

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