After The Meeting

The jean jackets hang off their lean frames as they clamber onto the #19 through the back entrance, not bothering to swipe their Compass cards as they seize the nearest seats beside me, check their flip-phones for the time. One has leather gloves for hands, calloused from ten-hour days spent in a warehouse making sure the shipments got out in a reasonable span of time (“Cause my boss can be a real prick”), the other has tattoos spilling out his shirt sleeves and stick-and-poke misfires lining his hands. Burnt-coffee breath, up-all-night eyes and a slight sag in their faces where their twenties used to be, they start talking about the perils of dating the women they meet at The Meetings:

“Cause here’s the thing, man. If you hit it and quit it, you know what’s gonna happen? You’re gonna make em feel like shit and they relapse. Or they’ll make you go crazy and then you relapse. Or you’ll both wind up in the shit. So don’t do it. It’s crazy.”

It’s crazy, but they’re thinking about it anyways, going on how they swore they’d never do it again but still contemplating it all the same, like a bottle they put away on the highest possible shelf when they know they should have sent it down the drain. They talk about the Centre, about an old friend out on parole (“Like that’ll fucking last”), about a job fair coming up that maybe they should check out (“You know how to do a resumé?”) but the conversation soon circles back to whether or not one of them should ask for her number after the next Meeting, just for coffee, just to see what she’s all about. “It’s hard, cause you already know you’ve got something in common but it’s, like, it’s the worst thing you could have in common, you know?’

They fumble for their smokes as their stop comes up, white slivers hanging from their lips and lighters flickering before they’ve even stepped off the bus, collars up, out into the rain. The plumes follow them as they slouch down Kingsway until they disappear from sight.