Drinking Buddy

New York city radiated life on the weekend, but remained dead in my apartment with washed out furniture and a dramatic, undeniable emptiness. The small studio sat in the upper floors of an apartment building two blocks away from being considered upper-class. Silence filled the air in a crisp, thick layer, suffocating and harsh. My eyes fell on the plant resting on my coffee table, given as a housewarming present from an old drinking buddy in Chicago.

Emptiness clogged the room making the wide vibrant green leaves poking out of the pot feel as though they were offering a hug, or maybe it was the seventh beer talking. Regardless, I viewed the plant resting on the coffee table as the only other personality inside the sad apartment. There was an unexplainable comfort the gift brought, like my friends from Chicago were here livening up the apartment as a Bears game played in the background.

I moved the fragile gift onto the couch beside me and poured some beer into the pot before taking a swig myself. A tribute to my old drinking buddies. After finishing the final sip, I looked at the six empty bottles left haphazardly on the floor. I reached to delicately place the newly finished bottle next to its predecessors. The plant started to tip over the edge of the couch and I cautiously tried to prevent it from falling. 

When resituated, my eyes examined the snake plant. Its naturally scattered leaves had new growth like a ‘w’. The sides had bridged outwards like arms while a chunk rose in the center like a torso. I stared at it in awe. A bit of my loneliness began to dissipate, replaced by curiosity. I had never seen a plant grow so quickly.

Frantically, I rushed to grab another beer from the fridge, kicking the neglected empty bottles in the process. There was a strange inclination formed in my head telling me the peculiar growth stemmed from the beer. I popped the cap off with an opener and poured half the bottle into the pot as my finger covered the drainage holes at the bottom. The beer was too expensive to waste on drainage.  

With a couple strong gulps, I finished off the rest of the pale ale and released a heavy burp. The torso ruffled creating a sound comparable to laughter. A smile peaked on my face and I forced out a second burp in an attempt to resurface the sound I had become so desperate to hear. I was ready for another soft chuckle, but it didn’t come. My imagination had been getting the best of me.

I turned on the television and put on a Bears game buried within my DVR and watched the plant intently. Every little fidget it made had me leap in excitement. 

After the first quarter of the football game had passed, I had started to think the fidgets were all I’d receive. I began building the expectation that once I awoke in the morning, the growing limbs would return to mindless shapes of nature. 

Then it grew a pair of hands. 

The hands were unlike my own, instead made of dark foliage bunched together. I indulged in the wonder for a few mere moments before running back to the fridge for two more bottles.

There was no time for questions, mostly because I didn’t want answers. I wanted new questions that never got answered. I didn’t want to wake up and realize it was a dream. I didn’t want to realize it was just beer goggles. 

I held the beer out in front of the newly grown right hand. Grab it, I said telepathically. Nothing happened. I proceeded to repeat the phrase within my head. It started out as a light suggestion, but after a minute I was yelling the two words internally on repeat. My eyes closed as I tried to put everything into communicating with the life form. Something grazed my hands. I opened my eyes immediately to see the beer resting snugly in the hand of my new friend. I smiled satisfied and opened the bottle for it before uncapping my own. 

I turned the television louder and began to sip on my own drink. In my peripheral vision, I saw the arms of my drinking buddy move to take a swig of their own. A satisfied grin overpowered my face as I realized the answers didn’t matter anymore. Even if all my fears would come true tomorrow morning, I wasn’t alone tonight.

Brandon Lovinger is a student and writer based in Tampa, Florida. He is currently working on earning his bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing at the University of South Florida. He aspires to write in a wide range of fiction based media.

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