He sat alone, embraced by the barren room. They had filed out slowly, each at a loss for words. They shook his hand or gripped his shoulder, but could not quite bring their eyes to meet his. Their eyes found instead the rug-less floor and empty walls and the middle distance.
After they left and the echoes of the shutting door faded behind them, he walked into the kitchen and to the sink and washed off the handshakes. The bubbles slipped between his fingers and down the drain until the water ran clear and bubble-less. He felt as his hands blushed red and tingled in the hot water. The handle squeaked as he turned off the flow. He flicked the loose water from his fingers to the floor but didn’t bother to dry them.
There were no more hands to shake.
With his wet hands he grabbed a tumbler and filled it half way from a fresh bottle of whisky left by one of the handshakers. He sniffed it and didn’t wince too much.
The floorboards between the kitchen and the sitting room whined a bit as he stepped through.
The chair wasn’t very comfortable but he sat anyway and sipped his whisky and stared at the blank walls. They were pale, blue, and unremarkable. In one of the corners on the ceiling an old cobweb looked like ancient ash.
He sipped and held it in his mouth for a moment before swallowing the burning liquid and long, slow breath. They were gone and he could surrender, finally, to the last few months. His face tightened around his eyes and cheeks His breath shortened. He gasped a few times and sighed.
No tears came.
The blood in his temples throbbed. Eyes squeezed shut, head lifted skywards, face in a grimace.
No tears came.
There was no relief. It all lay too deep, pressed down and buried.
His chest lurched. He curled forward and covered his face with his hands and tried to dry heave his tears through. His face bright red, brow bright red and glistening, but his eyes were still dry.
The months before would not move. They rasped inside him. He breathed again and sipped his whisky and let it burn.