Instead of heading home after work, I drag my heavy limbs and my sore, red eyes to a bar in Victoria. I can’t go home- I need a drink and to surround myself with happy people. Maybe by sitting next to them I’ll somehow sap some of their happiness. A drink or two, or three or four and good conversation with some random person, who I’ll never recognise again, should do the trick.
At least for now.
I reach the entrance of the pub. People stream from inside armed with beer and wine, and I think I can see glasses of champagne. Drink hard or die- fab. I want to head back home as my ears buzz at the sound of deafening laughter, the you- should-have-kept- it-to- yourself conversations and the curled clouds of smoke. But no, I’m here stood in front on the entrance and ready to forget all about today.
Almost an hour later and all I know is that I feel as light as a feather. The bad thing is I can still remember today’s awful and disastrous event. I thought latching on to this group of fun people would get rid of today’s awful memories. I don’t want to have any recollections. I’m within a group of life-loving people who have ask the usual small talk questions, yet, as I swirl the last bit of my drink, all I think about is how did my life end up like this- jobless and a complete mess? I know people lose their jobs all the time, but this is different. I worked years to become a broadcast journalist and now I’ve thrown it all away for a stupid reason. I don’t want to go into why I lost it; not now anyway. Life was never meant to end up like this. I take a swing of my drink and cross my arms and wanting to cry again.
Attention turns to me again. I plaster on a smile.
The women in a black blouse says ‘So, where do you work? I don’t think you mentioned it.’
‘Jenny, you’re so nosy’, says the guy sitting next to her wearing black glasses. ‘Jules, was it? You don’t have say tell us if you don’t want to. She could be a spy or something”, he says, winking.
I shrug. ‘It’s okay. I’m a broadcast journalist.’
‘Fancy’, says black blouse girl. ‘I bet you get to meet really cool people. Amazing.’
The group, there’s four of them, tell me about their jobs and there’s a sense of joy that I can’t describe. It’s odd because they haven’t even drunk a lot. Before I know it, we’re somehow making jokes and talking about our favourite T.V. shows. I laugh so much that my ribs begin to ache and my cheeks feel sore. I don’t even know these people, but I feel like I belong and I forget about my troubles for a moment.
As the evening continues, the group start to grab their bags and jackets. I contemplate downing my drink so I can join them.
‘Are you guys going?’ I try not to sound disappointed. We’re not even friends.
‘We are’, says Jules, with a kind smile. ‘Trust me, I would stay longer if it weren’t for work.’
The others chime in as well saying that they have to be up early tomorrow.
‘It was nice meeting you guys’, I say.
‘Aww, you too Jules’, says Jenny.
They all say their goodbyes. I’m alone again with my miserable thoughts. What I am going to do with my life? I have no job and bills to pay. I sigh to myself. I take my jacket off the back of my chair and bend down to pick up my handbag. A small card catches my eye- one of them must have dropped it. On the front is a photograph of a church. I remember that they mentioned something about going to church. With the card in my hand, I walk out of the pub. I turn the card round to look at the other side and the words ‘you are loved’ is written in a bold font. I halt, taken aback by this phrase. I repeat the words in my head and everything around me falls into silence- the cars, the music and the people. Tears start to fill in my eyes. I know it’s not the alcohol; it’s something that I’ve never felt before. There’s no way I can sob on the street, because people are already staring at me weird. So, I pace home and keep it together on the tube.
When I arrive at my shared house, I go straight to my bedroom and sit on the carpet, handbag and jacket scattered around me. I read the card again. ‘You are loved.’ I begin to sob into my hands. Maybe this love has something do with the reason those people at the pub had unexplainable joy- something that I still don’t understand. I’ve never believed in the idea of God and depending on something that I can’t see. How and why would he love me?
I keep thinking about this question. As I wipe my eyes with a tissue, I hear the words ‘I have always loved you.’ I glance around the room and of course I’m the only here. Maybe this is God- I don’t know.
But what I do know is that I’ve never felt such peace.
By Chermaine Sowah