I tear my shirt up climbing the metal picket fence surrounding Bates Catholic, just so I could shortcut where I’ve never been. I get to the pub too early, pouring drinks into my self-esteem before the boys even arrive. Intricate intercoms squirt retro classics into the atmosphere, the decades grinding against each other beneath an apathetic DJ’s ministrations. Sad couples and collared shirt degenerates mill together in clashing cliques. I smoke too many cigarettes and wait, picking at impatient seams every time a stranger stares and measuring my time in cider swigs. Nobody comes until I’m already drunk.

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