Professionals

I find myself every morning as I walk to my place in the rows and rows of identical cubicles, next to unidentifiable people that used to have dreams. Just like I had. I push a headband onto my head, apply makeup to my blue eyes, smile as I add blood red to my lips. I look like a professional as I pull on my work suit, I feel it too, I’m a professional.

I find myself at the bar again. These people must have had dreams too. They must have. Maybe she feels the same as she brings her glass to her lips, closing her eyes, imagining her chances weren’t long gone, that her opportunities hadn’t passed by, that years hadn’t been wasted for something more secure. I bring my own Coors Light to my lips, and I’m feeling okay. I’m feeling nothing. I’m a professional. I can talk easily to my friend again, I can laugh with her, we can pretend that we’re happy with our identical cubicles in identical halls.

He stares at me, remembering what I used to look like, trying to find it behind blank eyes. He kisses me, he swears that I used to taste different. But he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t understand. That girl, her long brown hair, her makeup-less blue eyes searching his over a beer during constant conversation. He touches her and she reacts without a thought, she had so much time for these things, and he understood.

I sit on the couch, 8 PM, a glass of wine clutched tightly between my two hands as I shake and bring it up to my lips. It’s only my third glass, it’s fine, pour another, I reach for the bottle. My friend comes out of her room, she grabs herself a glass, she joins me on the couch. We don’t have anything to talk about except identical cubicles in identical halls. I pour myself another, tell her it’s only my second. The words fall on deaf ears. She finishes hers, she pours another. She stares into the red liquid, wishing it to take her somewhere else. We’ll both be awake by 5 AM tomorrow so really, it’s okay. We’re professionals.

He stares at me, searching, but he doesn’t see me anymore. And I get it, and I understand. He leans in and kisses me, and I swear he used to taste different. But I get it, I understand. We’re all lying to ourselves about giving up on our dreams anyway.

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