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The L in life

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The L in life | story.one

I met a poet in a bar once.

I sat next to him, ordered my drink, ready for another night in blissful fog when he turned around.

„You like your liquor?“

„Excuse me?“

He pointed at my glass. „Do you like your liquor?“ If I said yes, he would think I was an alcoholic. If I said no, well, it would be a lie. „I like my liquor.“

„Liquor,“ the poet said again. „One of the big L‘s.“

I was not in the mood for a stranger's wisdom and took a sip.The man stayed silent, but with every minute and every sip that made my stomach warmer I wished he would explain it. Desperately hoping for the company of another nobody. „The big L‘s?“

The barstool made a shrieking noise as he turned. He looked me up and down and I felt pathetic. „The idea that every important thing in a life can be reduced to simple L‘s“

„L‘s? As in the letter L?“

The stranger blew another smoke ring into the air. „The big ones. Love, loneliness, liquor,…“ he inhaled another big cloud. „I dont believe you.“, I scoffed, annoyed. "You are lying.“

„Why? Isn't a lie a big L?“, his eyes gleaming proudly. Pissed, I took a sip. I was ready to challenge him. „So, love, loneliness, liquor, a lie.“ i recounted them. „What about sex? People have sex without love.“

„That my friend is called lust.“

Hearing the L made me bite my lip in rage. „Grief!“ I shouted „Someone dying!“

„Loss.“

Anger was rising up in me. I felt read like a book. But I am no public library. Library, another fucking word with L! I nearly spat out the alcohol in my mouth. I could see the man grin. „Not liking your liquor anymore?“

I nearly threw the glass after him. I could feel his old eyes resting on me. „What tragedy brings you here today?“ he asked me in a raspy voice, a gift from all the cigarettes of his past.

„Why do you think it's a tragedy?“

He looked me up and down again. „A bar isn’t exactly the place to boast about your life. Who goes to an amusement park to cry in the corner?“ he took another whiff and I stared back at my now empty glass, not feeling like ordering another one.

„Leaving.“ The word had escaped my mouth before I could put a grasp on it.

„Leaving.“ the old man repeated. „A good word. For everywhere you go, you have to leave something behind.“

„Do you have an answer for everything?“ I asked him. My anger had gone, leaving nothing but a lonesome lier in a bar talking to a stranger. „No.“ he finally said, „For I believe some things have to be felt before they are understood. With L or without L.“

„Like what?“, I was puzzled, his answer didn't make any sense. He smiled and put out his cigarette. „Sometimes an answer is a question, or the other way round‘. But I can tell you this; It's all about the simple things.“, he put on his coat and waved at the bartender.

„There also an L for that?“ I jokingly asked.He was about to leave into the anonymity of the night and I knew that if I saw him the next day, I wouldn’t recognize him. „That, my friend, that is called life.“, then the poet was gone.

Today I was sitting in a bar when a woman walked in. She sat down and ordered a drink.

„You like your liquor?“ I asked her.

© Nel 2022-03-13

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