It was New Year’s Eve. 6 PM. Finn pushed open the front door of Grisaille Apartments. He stepped out into the street in a thick jacket, a scarf around his neck and a knit cap pulled over his head. It was bitter cold, but even then the city was full of life. The streets were filled with cars, and the sidewalks were full of people. The sky was gone, by now--flushed out by the city lights. Slush lie in the gutters, and icy mounds of dirty snow lay in random pockets along the street. The pavement was wet and glossy.
The city was usually very dull and drab, but around this time of year, it was electrified. Storefronts and stalls were flashing with color and song filled the streets. The aroma of a fresh, hot meal waited at every corner. Performers gathered in the parks and plazas. Everyone was alive, in harmony.
Finn felt refreshed. He was looking forward to seeing his friends. They all met up at a local coffee shop a few blocks away from Finn’s apartment. Luke, Gavin, and Jenny were sitting around a table with hot drinks.
“Hi, guys!” Finn said.
Kieran sat hunched over the bar, his left hand wrapped around a sweating glass bottle. The bar was hazy and loud. He sat far away from the boisterous crowd that was swelling through the tables and chairs, crowding the stools, and lining the walls. His head was pounding, and he was starting to wonder why he was even there, in the first place.
A few men roared with laughter, and others joined them. Glasses clanked and slid across tables. At one table, two men competed over shot glasses. The bartenders were mostly women, today. The TV still ran Christmas commercials, ignored by the mass of people.
Despite the noise and the pounding in his head, Kieran still found himself surrounded in unwanted thoughts. He grabbed a pen and started to scribble on a spare menu--whatever came to mind. He drew clocks and birds, skyscrapers, nouveau curves and circuits. But, he couldn’t focus. He checked the time; it was 9:47 PM.
“Another drink, please,” Kieran said.
Finn stood amongst his friends in the plaza, listening to a band playing the New Year’s show. As the night progressed, the city was getting even busier. The crowd was noisy and vagrant, shifting constantly. Finn was starting to feel alone, and out of place. He checked the time. It was 11:09 PM.
“I think I’m gonna go!” Finn called over the roar of the crowd and the music.
“What? But it’s not even midnight!” Aaron answered.
“I’m just not feeling too good right now, I’m gonna head home,” Finn explained.
“Alright,” Aaron conceded.
Kieran wandered down the street in a blur. Everything was too bright, too loud. He was tired. A few times, he felt like he couldn’t remember where he was going. His legs seemed too light. He tried stepping down harder. That didn’t work. He started to lose his balance.
“Hey, watch out!”
His vision faded, briefly, as he fell backwards. He could feel his body crashing against someone else.
“Thanks,” he murmured.
Kieran looked up. It was Finn.
“Ohhh, heyyy buddy,” he got out.
“I see you’re a little drunk…” Finn answered.
“Ehh, just a bit more’n usual…”
Grace in Wonderland Splash - Thumbs: Final: Feedback from 2D lead Julia Yurstev And others from SEMC
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