“Chivas?” I asked. She nodded.
There, on the table next to me, stood a second empty glass that I had brought out with me when I had first came out to the porch, along with a bottle of whiskey and my half-full glass. I could not remember the reason why I brought out two glasses, but it was as though fate had led my movements to prepare me for this moment. I grabbed the bottle of whiskey and started pouring the liquid.
“I don’t add ice to my whiskey anymore”, I said as I was pouring. She smiled, as though telling me that she had quit that habit as well. I placed the bottle gently on the table, grabbed my drink and stared into the darkness. She did not move.
The night was still young. The black skies above had drawn majestic images from the tiny lights of the stars, which were accompanied only by the music of the crashing waves on the shore. It was as though we were witnessing a grand symphony unfold and play solely for this audience of two. I could feel the grandeur of mother nature and the beauty she creates, and it filled me with awe.
“Feel free to take your drink”, I said. “You never needed permission anyway.”
She turned and looked at me with what seemed to be an anger; I could feel her stare but decided to ignore it. I had dreamt of this moment long ago: the two of us sitting on our rocking chairs and sipping on our whiskey as we relived the memories we had created. I had dreamt of this when the dream was a shared venture; one which we both took part in; one which involved the two of us. But it was not the same now; the circumstances were different.
She grabbed the glass and joined me in staring at the darkness. The silence was growing louder, overtaking the symphony of the ocean. I did not know what was going on in her mind, but inside of me an array of questions arose, rushing through my mind like wild horses; questions that were dormant for many years, and to which I needed an answers.
“It is nice out here”, she said.
“Yeah”, came my reply – simple and to the point. I took a sip of my whiskey and put the glass back on the table where it usually waits for me. Neither of us looked at the other.
“How lucky you are to be able to experience this on a daily basis”.
“I like it”, she added as she put the glass of whiskey on her lips and gulped its contents all at once. I could sense her anxiety as she went silent again and as I continued to stare at the darkness.
Some time went by without any spoken words. She poured herself a second round and repositioned herself on the chair. I did not move. Ignoring her was my way of coping with the confusion of the moment and the millions of questions that were materializing before my eyes along with the visions of the memories of a time that had long gone. I was also mad at myself for the mess I had allowed her to bring about.
“So how have you been?” She asked after she swallowed all the liquor in her glass.
“Why are you here?”
“I’ve been okay”, she continued, ignoring my question and adding more liquor. “The boys have grown; they still always ask me about you”.
“Why are you here?”
She grabbed the glass and pulled it closer to her lips; she was about to consume its contents when she stopped and went on, “They love you, you know. They really do”. Then she consumed the liquor and put down the glass on the table. Without moving or looking at her, I took her glass and placed it closer to my side of the table.
“Why are you here?” I asked a third time, hoping she would read my thoughts like she used to. But she sat still, as though the effect of the liquor had kicked in and sent her away on a trance. I joined her in her silence as my thoughts grew louder and louder.
Finally, after a few moments had passed, she broke the silence and said with a smile. “It has been quite some time since we had a drink together”.
I was getting restless at her attempts of evading my question. I was not sure if she did not know what to say, or if she simply did not want to respond. She was always good at both, and it always used to drive me insane. Nevertheless, I was not about to let her take control of the conversation. I was torn inside between my joy of seeing her again and my anger and confusion.
“Why are you here?” I said, firmly.
This time, she succumbed. “I don’t know”.
I grew more furious. I turned around and said, “Excuse me? You don’t know?”
She said nothing. I turned my face away and stared into the darkness again, trying to allow the voice of the crashing waves to soothe my anger. I wanted to shout and scream; I wanted to verbalize the anger I felt. But instead, I grabbed my glass off of the table and took a sip, then slowly put it back. I then pulled out a cigarette from the pack that lay near the bottle and lit a cigarette, all the while staring at the nothingness that surrounded us. As I exhaled the white smoke, I heard her sob. I did not know whether I should console her or simply ignore her tears. The only thing I could think of was to pour her some whiskey, which I did and, with my finger, I pushed the glass towards her. It was as though she understood; she gently grabbed the glass and took a small sip; then held it in both her hands.
“You’re right”, I started in an attempt to ease the awkwardness. “It surely had been some time since we had a drink together. Cheers.”
For a moment, she did not react and continued to cry. Then, she wiped her tears with her sleeve and lifted her glass and said, “Cheers”. A shy smile materialized on her face, one I remembered vividly. I smiled as well. The world around us had reemerged as the grand symphony of natural images and music.I knew it was going to be a good night.