Consciousness unhinged.

There is too much traffic and too much noise. This room is too crowded and the crowd has too many unfamiliar faces. Slipping into the void. Someone takes the tally sheet and erases it before they crumple it up and throw it at your feet. She is still sitting there and the tears are coming slow enough for you to count them in between sips of your beer, which at the moment is all you really want to be concerned about.

You talk too much.

She made these decisions on her own, but there is no denying that they were made with prodding from other parties. She married a guy she doesn't love and for the most part doesn't even like. It was done because it was "the right thing to do" under the circumstances. When you've seen someone standing alone bleeding you wonder if that is worth the price of maintaining their soul. She figured this way would be easier. Every year it gets harder. Every day is worse than the last and someone is squeezing the joy out of even the most spectacular moments that get sprinkled across her life.

The self keeps melting away.

People like her pass us on the street every day, but until we make a connection with them we never know the heart of the story. Why do they swear at traffic lights and glare at us when they are standing behind us in line at the grocery store? Her dark eyes used to be so bright, but then the spiral began and nothingness pulled hard on the hem of her skirt. Before long she was on her knees praying for an opportunity to go back and start again from some point before it all fell apart. Now she renders herself incapable of feeling the pain of a hollow existence by drinking vodka with a splash of cranberry juice and tipping well so that they keep coming even after she is past the point of no return.

Let us sin without even trying.

There is a hotel behind the bar where you once went with her at closing time. You knew you weren't the only one, but you just wanted to keep her from driving home. All you intended to do was put her to bed and make sure she stayed where she was, but somehow there is a seductive power held by the needy and depressed that few can overcome. When that is all they have to make themselves feel better it is hard to reject them on principle. "Am I still beautiful?" is a question that rings in your ears for hours after you drive home and hope she'll be okay. In the meantime a little bit of you dies because they're insisting on playing that song on the radio again.

The morning either comes too soon or not soon enough.

The physical part does little more than reassure her that she is still desirable despite all that has happened since the days when she shined brightly. There is more in the words she wants to hear and the greater ease with which they flow when your bodies are intertwined. You feel something as well, as if for just this one moment you are a white knight rescuing the princess from her prison of self-destruction. For one moment of falsified clarity you feel alive and so does she. Then the dying begins again.

She is a river.

There is an impending hangover that is only mildly related to the alcohol you have consumed. You watch the face of the desk clerk as you walk past, still dressed in the clothes you wore the night before, your hair a rat's nest that indicts you for all you have done in the past six hours. There is shame and anguish, but there is a sickly sense of triumph you cannot deny yourself. You smiled as you get behind the wheel and mutter to yourself "hey, I scored" and then drive home for a shower that is never hot enough to burn away the layers of regret that your own life is beginning to accumulate.