"Well, to be quite honest, the thought of structure frightens me. I don't know who I'd be if I lived a life where everything was perfectly planned. I know that seems to be the most productive and ideal way to live life, but it just isn't for me. I'm a bit of a loose cannon. I am exhilarated by the punches that life throws at me. I think life is meant to be wild and carefree. I live for the moment. Does that scare you?"

That wasn't quite the answer I was expecting when we embarked on this odd question game she had compiled. I mean, my biggest secret was the time I bit myself and told the babysitter that my brother did it when he wouldn't hand over the matchbox car. I was a bit embarrassed that I hadn't put more thought into my answer before I spilled it.

"Um, well, no. I wouldn't say it scares me, but I am quite regimented. I like order. I like to know what's coming next. Does that scare you?" I questioned, hoping to sound as confident as she was.

"Nothing scares me, really," she replied, taking a drag of her cigarette and blowing the smoke out to the side. "I learned a long time ago that fear is useless. It only holds me back. I stare into the face of my obstacles and dare them to challenge me."

I gazed at her quizzically. She didn't make eye contact often. When she did, it was breathtaking. Her eyes were so piercing. It was like she was looking into the depths of my soul, and we were the only two people at the bar. I was utterly mesmerized. She was different.

"Okay, next question," I leafed through the list of questions she handed me. This should be interesting, I thought.

"What would you do if you had enough money that you didn't need to work?" I asked. 

She butted out her cigarette and took a long swig of her beer. She gazed past me, the neon lights shimmering in her eyes. It was like I was watching her thoughts form in her mind before me.

"I'd retreat to the mountains. Buy me a little cabin—a place where I could be alone. I'd have a porch swing where I could just peer out into the forest for inspiration. I'd wander out into the woods at dusk, listening for the crackling of twigs as the wild came to life around me. At night, I would listen to the coyotes' howl and feel the tinge of excitement as if they were surrounding my tiny home. Solitude, excitement, and uncertainty. Now that is truly living."

This woman was unbelievable. I had wondered why she had approached me in the first place. I was a seemingly ordinary guy, dressed in faded jeans and a navy polo shirt with a Red Sox hat. I was nothing special. And I certainly wasn't as deep as her. She wore a fitted black tank top with a flowing tie-dyed skirt, a raw amethyst fixed amid her chest on a slim silver chain. How was I the one she chose?

"That's really something," I responded. "Sounds exciting. And a bit frightening." I chuckled quietly, finishing off the last of my draft. I slid my glass forward on the bar, and the bartender swiped it up promptly for a refill.

She turned and looked at me in the eyes. I was taken aback and slightly fearful.

"What about you?" she asked. "What would you do?"

I had to think for a minute. It was difficult when Lucy answered first because I never felt like I was at her level. I thought for sure she was bored with me.

"I guess I'd travel," I answered, "Go see the world."

She smiled slyly like she could tell I was trying.

"Where would you go?"

I hadn't thought of that. I stared down at the bar and ran my finger through the fallen ashes.

"Well, according to my DNA, my ancestors are from Ireland. So maybe I'd start there," I replied, still looking down.

I was beginning to feel like less of a man in her presence. She was over the top, and she intimidated me. I had never come across such fierceness in a woman. I wondered where she had come from. I was afraid to ask.

She lit another cigarette and gently took the papers from my hands.

"One last question," she said, scanning the list. She honed in on one. "If I were to ask your friends, what would they say you're best known for?"

I thought for a moment. I was a little ashamed to say I didn't have many friends. I was a bit of a loner, which I preferred. I thought of my coworker, Dave. What would he say about me? I had to come up with something.

"Um… probably my dry sense of humor," I responded, wishing I had more to say.

She looked down and smiled, the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. She opened her phone and began to scroll. She stopped and looked up at me.

"Hey Jack, what do you call a cow with a twitch?"

I raised an eyebrow, uncertain where it was going.

"I don't know what?"

"Beef jerky," she scoffed, once again dazzling me with her eyes.

I laughed harder than I should have. Maybe it was because it was the first glimpse of light-heartedness I'd seen in her.

She rose from her stool and leaned in close to my ear.

"Gotta go, Jack."

It saddened me to watch her walk to the cash register to pay her bill. I should've put her on my tab. I hadn't even gotten her number.

Just then, a man approached me from behind.

"Hey, I saw you chatting it up with Lucy. I've been trying to get a piece of that for a long time. What's she like?"

I cringed inside with disgust. I turned and looked him dead in the eye.

"I wouldn't mess with her, man. She's crazy."

November 19, 2020 04:14

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