The Twelve Steps to a Better Friday Night

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Izabella Grace


Photo Credit: Jessica Spengler/Flickr (CC-by)

1. Admit life has become unmanageable—that you no longer wish to pin time to a bar stool and seek answers in the depths of a cloudy pint glass.

2. Believe in your power to act. Stop stealing glances at Aoife, while she tidies menus and polishes glasses. Say something. Anything. Ask how she’s keeping. See if she’s heading out tomorrow. Man up. You can chat to other girls. Why not her?

3. Decide you deserve better than to collapse into a pool of your own vomit at dawn.

4. Call Aoife over. Marvel at her sweet floral scent and how the lights spark copper in her pretty curls. When she asks, “how’re you doing?” act like a nodding dog. Fiddle with the beer mat, and ignore the way her dimpled smile makes your heart hammer.

5. Think of something clever to say. Quick. Then, when words scatter, blink until the puce-faced landlord calls away your dream girl.

6. Die. A dozen times. Blame the drink for pickling your thirty-year-old brain.

7. Stumble out into the dark, wet, pub garden for a cigarette or four. Scratch your bearded cheeks, and scan the starless sky for inspiration. Wonder if your dad’s up there, still hugging a whisky bottle and drifting on a cloud. Admit you’re turning into him. Admit you don’t have to.

8. Make a list in your head of people you’ve harmed, discounting your thieving, gobshite brother. Swear in future you’ll talk to your mam, not just grunt.

9. Shove away last Saturday night’s memory of that lanky fella’s nose crunching beneath your fist. Step out from beneath the striped awning, and let the cold rain wash away your sins.

10. Wait for Aoife to collect dirty glasses from the table beside the window. Head inside. Ruffle your drenched hair, and joke about building an ark. Then, when Aoife’s laughter warms your skin, blurt out how you’ve meant to ask for her number.

11. Follow her back to the bar, and grin like an eejit when she slips you a curled strip of paper.

12. Seek a way to celebrate. Reject alcohol. Hesitate. Then order another pint. Just one. Sure, what harm will it do?

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Izabella Grace grew up in London and now lives in rural Ireland. She writes fiction and poetry. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Cease, Cows; Black Heart Magazine; The Molotov Cocktail; Dirty Chai Magazine, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @iza8ella. Email: izabellagrace[at]outlook.com

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