The freezing rain pounded down on me as I walked up Third Street. I couldn't help but notice the cruel synergy between the weather and my mood. I'd failed. And not your standard. "I didn't accomplish everything I set out to do" failure either, but one of those truly spectacular, monumental fuck-ups you fear will haunt you the rest of your life, or at least until you can drink the memory away.

Everything didn't quite seem so bad two weeks ago.

We sat beneath a tarnished plaque on the base of a statue of Francis Scott Key.

"We've built a minefield," I said, "and I don't quite see how we could make it out alive."

"I agree," she said, pulling me closer.

The cold wind blew, and I shivered a little.

"So what happens now?" she whispered in my ear.

"I don't know. Do you have a coin?"

She reached into her purse and found a quarter, then handed it to me. I flipped it into the air, and watched as it fluttered to a halt on the bottom step of the statue.


"Are we doomed?" she asked.

"I'm afraid so," I replied.

"Then what now?" she asked again.

"Maybe we should just walk away," I said.

"I don't really want to," she responded, kissing me on the cheek.

We sat there silently for ten minutes. Someone was playing a guitar across the park, writing a soundtrack to our misery.

I sighed at last.

"What?" she asked.

"Nothing...okay, I lied, it is something but I don't know if I should say it."

“Just say it,” she whispered.

“I shouldn’t be telling you what to do. You need to make your own decisions.”

“Just tell me.”

You need to take a fucking chance, once, for just once in your life, take a chance and don’t do the safe thing. Live a little.”

“Nick,” she said, “I take a chance every time I get in the car with you.”

“But,” I insisted, “That’s not enough. You need to stop clinging to safety and living by your fears. You need to take a fucking chance. This is going absolutely nowhere.”

We sat there in silence for ten minutes. After great deliberation, I decided I was going to leave her.

I turned to look her in the eye, to tell her I was leaving her.

“Okay,” she said, “I’ll take a chance.”

She kissed me before the words could ever leave my mouth.

We should go, it’s getting cold,” I said.

I grabbed the quarter off the ground and pocketed it.

We stood up and walked towards the parking lot. We passed by the guitar player, the one who had been playing that haunting melody for the past hour. I reached into my pocket and tossed the quarter into the coffee can sitting in front of him.

“He’s probably going to have bad luck for the next ten years now, you know.”

“I know,” I said, “but better him than us.”