“Don’t feel bad. I’m pretty hard to kill.”

The familiarity of the boyish face that stared back stopped Sebastian’s heart. He turned away, eyes flickering to the illusory temptations of the fruit machine. His pension investment, he would joke to those that would listen, on rare days when his pockets were laden down with gold coloured shrapnel. Coins that were consumed voraciously as lemons and oranges spun tantalising patterns of promise.

“Did you hear me?”

Sebastian turned back to his tormentor. A burning ache filled his heart that he quickly extinguished with the last dredges from his glass. Yet when he looked back so did those eyes, filled with resignation.

“I still love you y’know.”

Suddenly Seb found himself laughing uncontrollably, a braying crescendo that halted the ritualistic conversations that passed for friendships within the pub. Fat tears rolled down over tired skin, spittle flecking his beard.

“Y’alright Seb?”

Malky Milkshake, as pale and tall as a sundae, loomed over. His face bearing the standard calm-down-or-feck-off stare.

“All alright Malky, sorry about that. Get us another pint, and a chaser would ye?”

“Lazy bastard, get off yer arse and go to the bar.”

Malky snatched the pint glass from the table, dragging a dirt stained cloth across the table.

Taking the past with him.


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