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The Tinkered Mind

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March 13th, 2022

Lucilius counted the fine rings that circled the inside of his glass above the beer. The distance between the rings at the top were large, and he noticed how they got smaller and smaller the further down the glass he looked - like tree rings, they measured time, he realized. There was only about a quarter glass of beer left and Lucilius looked at his friend’s glass. Rings bunched up above the cold circle of beer. Always it was like this. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t seen each other in a long time. This had become a treasured habit - to meet up, chat, and enjoy the one real gift on offer.


But always, Lucilius noticed, the sips of beer grew smaller and smaller as the evening’s time waned. It was a bittersweet attempt to make the time last longer, pausing longer, sipping less. Together they were locked in a game, to keep a kind of loneliness at bay. Not that either of them were particularly lonely - they both lead full lives, but even the fullest life cannot escape the heartbreaking truth that it too is slowly sloughing off it’s happening to a void called yesterday. Seconds raining into a moment already slipped by. This torrent of time is unstoppable, unyielding, and sometimes - often - the only way to truly pay tribute to the awful loss is to wile it away on purpose, with no other aim than to share the bitter gift with someone else.


Lucilius took another slow sip, as these thoughts washed over him. He hadn’t thought about it explicitly, but somehow it had always been clear what they were doing. It was as though he were finally listening to the lyrics of a song he’d heard so many times before. And as he smiled at the sad thoughts, his friend lifted up his glass and downed the rest of his beer in one swig.


Lucilius’ heart sank a bit, and he sighed, knowing there was no beer left. He looked down into his own glass, reluctant to get the good time over with, but he followed suit.


He stretched his shoulders back, starting the uncomfortable routine of goodbye, when his friend reached for a bag he’d brought. He pulled out a bottle of whisky, and the cork cap squeaked at it was pulled free.


A tepid smirk grew across his friend’s face as he reached over and poured a few fingers worth of bourbon into Lucilius’ empty beer glass.


Lucilius laughed a little as his friend poured himself some whiskey.


His friend shrugged and looked at Lucilius.


“Screw it,” his friend said and smiled, “let’s turn the volume up.”

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