The hollow inside him cannot be filled with the food in front of him, nor the drink. He sits alone in the restaurant, fingers at the stem of the glass, then palm cupping the bowl. When he lifts it to his lips, the tang of it assaults nose and tongue — it’s a decent wine, but nothing transcendent. It will do as it must, and infect his sensibilities with a reminder of something earlier, something easier.
He knows what waits for him, upstairs.
He looks down at his plate, and then up toward the ceiling, eyes unfocused, pointed toward some vague and distant thing on the ceiling just beyond the dim glow of the pendant lamps, and he tips his head back, throat working to swallow the last of the wine, to let it swirl under his tongue, against the backs of his teeth. He gets it down, but for a moment, just barely.
He knows the empty bed and white sheets are a blank canvas.
He doesn’t want to ask the waitress for the check; she seemed like a nice enough girl, but the smile on her face was too familiar, too warm. He knows he’d be doing her a disservice to associate her with the end of the meal, with the end of his chance to escape from here. He wipes his lips for the fifth time with the same cloth napkin, and briefly pauses, fabric against his mouth.
He knows he will paint his thoughts upon them tonight, in sleeping tears and dreaming sweat.
He pushes the napkin between his lips, to his teeth, parting them to slide it back against his tongue. His eyelids flutter shut as the eyes themselves roll up and backwards, and his breath catches. He remembers the feel of madapolam against his cheek, the knot on his tongue, the twisted kerchief like a bit between his teeth. He remembers the perfume, the night, the cry, the anger, the loss, the confusion, the way eyes are not windows to anything but mirrors instead: you see in them only a reflection of your own need. He remembers all of these things, and when the busboy comes to clean the table, among the plate of half-eaten food and used cutlery, the empty wine glass and full, sweating water glass, a single missing napkin is hardly missed at all.