Engaging in conversations with strangers in public places is always hard. It mostly has to do with initiation. I’m known to being shy and unsociable, so striking up a conversation with people is really hard for me unless I feel drawn to them, for whatever reason that might be. Although I have been spending more than my normal share of time at bars in the last couple of weeks, I felt determined to get out of my motel room today. I was in desperate need of a distraction. I needed to socialize with another human being. Staying inside, all I had were the awful memories and Ethan who’s like a walking, breathing reminder of Matt. In the morning, we took a long walk outside. Although the snow was covering pretty much the whole city, I could still feel a certain uniqueness to the place. The scenery was breathtaking, and it was a relief for both me and Ethan to be out there. Somehow we felt safe.
At 7:30 P.M., I put a movie for Ethan to watch while I was gone. I walked to the hotel main lobby, and a nice, middle aged lady directed me in the bar’s direction. I walked inside, totally avoiding any kind of eye contact and sat in a corner, by a window facing the parking lot. It was all covered in ice, and I could see the cars’ light flare every time one was driven in or out. I ordered a cheap beer and just sat there with a blank expression on my face. A young couple, probably newlyweds, sat in front of me on the other side. They were playing darts. I watched them compete against each other to entertain myself. They saw me, and eventually approached me themselves and asked me if I was interested in joining them. We restarted the game. It was me against both of them. I have never played darts before. Maybe once in high school. The game ended with a tie. Neither of us were able to hit the bullseye. When I walked back to my table, more than ten messages and aborted collect calls from Matt were waiting response. In the first one, he said he drove all the way back to Vancouver and didn’t find us. The rest were threats. He wanted me to call him back immediately.
I left the bar, uncoordinated and anxious. I walked out to breathe some fresh air, then I walked back to my room traversing the swimming pool area. Shadows were everywhere, and I felt a sudden strike of paranoia; like someone was watching me. I sprinted for my room door. Inside, the lights were off. It was pitch-dark so I assumed Ethan was already asleep. I tiptoed my way to the bathroom and closed the door behind me. I looked at the mirror for a couple of seconds, thought about all my options, then before I knew it, I was getting hit with countless phone calls from Matt. I felt like I was drowning, like I’ve been strangled with panic. The anxiety was eating me alive. I took my phone apart and got into bed. I didn’t sleep.