“so, come here often?”

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“So, come here often?”

I sat, my lips grazing the dull edge of the glass. ‘Often’ couldn’t even begin to describe it. I put the glass down on the cold bar and fingered its lip, turning toward the voice. She was beautiful. Her black hair curled seductively over her bright green eyes. Her lips were slightly parted, revealing her pearly white teeth. In the flicker of the candlelight, I could see the shadow of Sonia etched into her face. I swallowed hard and the shadow disappeared. I turned away and picked up the glass again.

“You could say that.” I took another sip and let the drink numb the back of my throat. The girl shifted again, propping her elbow up on the bar. With a flick of her wrist, her hair flew behind her shoulder; the glint on a silver earring appeared on her neck. I took another deep breath and downed the rest on my drink.

“What’s got you down, big man?” her voice danced lazily on the stale air. The vibrato in her words clenched my throat. There was something familiar in her voice that I couldn’t place, something dear…

“I was down once,” she continued. She delicately picked up her wine glass, her fingertips barely touching the rim of the glass. She lifted it to her lips and let the wine cascade over her red lips. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not particularly.” The answer came out more abruptly than I had intended. She sat silently for a beat and then took another sip of wine.

“Well,” she stood up in a huff. “There’s no need to-”

“I’m sorry,” I turned my stool toward her, lolling my head to one side. “I didn’t mean to be so rude.” She stopped, shouldering her handbag. She turned on her heel toward me, her hair swinging around her neck. She dropped her weight onto one leg and furrowed her brow. “Listen, I-” I started.

“It’s okay,” she said softly, hesitantly taking her seat. “You’ve lost something dear to you. I can see that.” She pushed another lock of hair behind her ear. The light flickered over her face again, revealing briefly Sonia’s face again. “You see her, don’t you?” I hadn’t noticed, but I had been staring at her. I blinked a little and turned away. I pawed at the rim of my now empty glass, nervously.

“You loved her very much,” she continued softly. “but she’s gone now.” I coughed into my glass. “No, she’s not gone,” she corrected. “She’s still with you, in your heart, and obviously in your mind.” I could see a small smile creep across her face. I turned to her once more, and the resemblance was distinct. Her green eyes, her black hair, the creases in her lips; they were all the same. I was staring into the face of my lost wife, Sonia. She placed her hand on my shoulder, with her beautiful toothy smile. “And I still love you.”

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