Who: Cotton Narrative What: Sadness? Drinking, bad behavior. When: Directly after this conversation Warnings: Mentions of sex.
It's the little things that make it start. A slow crawl that he can't suspect or even anticipate until it is upon him, by then.. of course, its really too late. Something little, little like a sentence. Findings based on emotion are always invalid. No, not even a sentence, let him just find a word. Invalid. Not even a word, but maybe a syllable or a letter or just a squiggle on the page will be enough to make it start because it always starts. He's always looking for her, everywhere.
And when it begins, it starts off as something fond. An image that he thinks is good, a conversation that he finds interesting, a particular color of blue that he knows he is fond of although he won't say why.. and then its too much, and its there. The memory of everything weighing down on him; not just the loss of lives and jobs and his health, but the loss of her. He knows it now, as his eyes race over the pages, back and forth back and forth, desperately looking for clues that its her and dismantling everything because its not. Its not her, she's gone. This is not her handwriting, and these are not even her words.. not really. There is some intelligence there, and in that, he finds things that Owen would say, but its still wrong. Somehow the reality of it being wrong is just as bad. Feels like he almost had it there, the memory. Because the memory is waning, and every time he closes his eyes it gets a little dimmer. She was such a brief blot on the celluloid of his life, he's already forgetting the pitch of her laugh and the lull of her sighs, the exact color of her eyes.
Then the details come clawing back at him, sometimes in the middle of the night when he least expects it, in the dead of sleep when he should be safe. Its there, a closed-eye glimpse of nonreality where he thinks this all never happened and he can just reach out and touch her. But he can never reach out and touch her.
Invalid, the word makes him smile for a moment, for minutes, for a half hour while he converses with the woman through the pages. All the while, its a parasite boring away at him and all it takes it one more thing, one more smart thing, or crooked thing, or confused little thing for Cotton to think of her, and its like an explosion is set off in the back of his mind. Owen. There's a tension in his teeth, he doesn't know why its there. He closes his eyes against it, but has to blink them wide again because they're suddenly wet, and why. Why was he so stupid? It kills him, and he knows that he'd kill himself if he wasn't such a coward. But he is.
And he pushes away from the table, and he leaves the journal behind him as he pulls on a tee shirt and he hits the street. Sometimes he just wants to drive anywhere, everywhere, into a tree, he doesn't care, but some glowing lights inebvitably stop him. Maybe they remind him of Christmas lights, and he's out of the car and into the bar where the shots lay waste to the panic shuddering around like a faulty pin ball in his chest. These days he doesn't even want the bar, he could do the same thing and never leave his bed, but part of him knows that he'd just never leave, and he'd die, and again.. he's a coward.
So he drinks until the showgirls get off, and the late show is very late, and he always has an early morning, but what does it matter. One always sits next to him in tawny tights, her cleavage packed with glitter. And its not right, she's too tan, the false lashes, the eyes too green. But he likes that, he forgives that she's blond, because he still needs something to hold onto, something to remind him. A few drinks later and it's my place or your's, and he's drunk enough to not be discriminating or even insulting. It works wonders apparently, all this time such a social recluse, and really he's such a charmer. He makes love to all of them, he doesn't know how to do anything different, because he makes them all her.
Back home - because why stick around? Her eyes were too green. - he happens upon the journal again. Maybe he shouldn't, but he scrawls something back with an impressively steady hand. It will be alright, he's forgotten her for now, or at least made it easier to pretend to. So he turns on the television, and he pulls some bourbon out from under the bed.