The wind blew in from the beach threatening to blow out the candles as I spoke, “What is everyone’s obsession with time? Is it because we can’t control it?”, the melancholy was lost on the others as I slurred the word ‘obsession’.
“No”, a voice called out from around the corner, “It’s because we’re running out of it!”
Steve responded in his usual Steve way “Well you know what i’m running out of? Patience. Where are the sausages and how much of that shit have you had?” Snatching the bottle from me in his usual overly aggressive way. When you’re close friends with someone for so long you tend to forget that they’re not perfect.
“They’re coming you pushy bastard. Shut up and drink some more.” She wasn’t the kindest person when under the pump, but get a few beers into her and you’d not believe the transformation. Quiet as a church mouse with an opinion once every thirty minutes. That is of course unless Steve was nearby. She did not like him and her demeanor never strayed from aggressively bitter.
“I am drinking Stacey, but if I don’t get food in me I won’t last much longer!” He was notoriously bad at drinking. It was probably the only thing worse than his manners.
“Good, I’m turning the heat down.” I could barely see her from where I was seated but something in the reflection of the glass door told me she was smiling to herself.
They clearly hadn’t gotten over the break up several years earlier. It was one of those awkwardly stretched out affairs that began controversially and ended dramatically. No matter how you’d try approach it in order of at least parlaying some peace in the group your head was bitten off by both parties, and before long they always returned to flinging daggers at each other. I’d tried before, my goodness I’d tried. I often felt like an umpire in a game of tennis between Johnny Mac and Jimmy Connors and this time the cameras were off.
“Don’t do that! Here I’ll show you.” The sound of his chair scrapping on the tiles alerted the house to his presence like a fog horn penetrating the still quiet air of the sea.
“Here we go. I guess this is the one meal you do know how to cook!” She really was vicious.
Oblivious to her razor wit at this stage of inebriation he reminded me of Superman when the bullets would just bounce off him, “They are all still attached to one another! They’re not going to turn out right if you don’t separate them.”
“I should have known. Your mother didn’t cut the cord and look how you turned out. Here…” The bladed side of the spatula thwacking away on the pan clearly had a soothing effect on her and if only for a moment there was some quiet from the kitchen.
This didn’t last as long as I’d like as Michael stirred from the couch with what can only be described as a drug induced delay. “I think time is bullshit. It’s what you do with it that forms it’s significance.”
“What?” I was both interested and neutral on what he had to say. Interested because he hadn’t said anything all day and neutral because I think he’d missed his cue.
“I’m just saying time can either be scary, meaningful or wasted it all comes down to what you do with it.” Spoken like he wasn’t a man who sat in front of his PlayStation screaming at his anonymous opponent for an uncalled foul at 5am in the morning. “For me, it’s about being able to look back and say it was a good day. That’s it, simple, easy to keep track of.” He’d moved now to the edge of the couch and was skillfully balancing the tequila bottle on his knee while his hands emphasized his point. “If I wake up and -”
I’d be lying if “Thank fuck” didn’t cross my mind. I felt no guilt for leaving Michael mid sentence and truthfully I’d brought it on myself. What was I rambling on about earlier with that time mumbo? In the immortal words of Eric Bishop, blame it on the alcohol.
The sausages were a mixed bag of overcooked meat sticks and under cooked magic wands, some so under cooked you could still hear them mooing, or clacking, what was the sound hooves and trotters made I wonder? Sloshing? Whatever. Irregardless, devoured they were. The four of us sat there decidedly satisfied, hazily intoxicated, and in semi-darkness as the beach wind had finally won it’s battle with the candles but the full moon illuminated the night sky. We sat there making small talk and looking out the bay windows towards the moonlit beach.
“Isn’t it weird this central window hasn’t got a fly screen? I mean, it’s the main one facing the beach. That’s where all your breeze goes. Who thought of that?!”
Stacey couldn’t help herself, “Titillating as always Steve.” Her voice softened, “I like the reflection of the moon from the pool down there. You can see it on the ceiling, the light dancing on the walls. It’s beautiful.” Stacey had a way of turning his aggression off when she needed to.
“Yeah, that is nice. We haven’t been in there yet. Tomorrow, let’s swim tomorrow.”
Everyone’s two-thirds empty bottles of various liver killing liquids glared back at us and it was clear that we’d reached that part of the night where to continue was to guarantee your head in a bucket till mid afternoon the following day. As if realizing this and not wanting to be boring Michael handed his half smoked cigarette to Steve who obliged gratefully, slid open the central window and leaped out of it into the pool below. The splash was masked by Stacey’s scream which only ended as Michael re-emerged with a smile on his face, “I couldn’t wait for tomorrow. Get in, it’s beautiful out here, time waits for no one guys.”
“You fucking idiot! You could have broken a leg!” Having been a nurse for a number of years we knew she had his best interests at heart, but it was hard to deny his enthusiasm wasn’t catchy.
“That’s not the point!”
“Just get in.”
It was hard to talk sense to him, and it was even harder to win an argument. Steve chose to jump, and Stacey and I chose to keep our limbs intact. The only thing more beautiful than the moonlight on the water that night was spending it with those three. Stacey was right though, the way the light danced was truly mesmerizing. As for time, I guess it is what you do with it.