The Parting GlassbyEdge23©
*inspired by the song 'The Parting Glass'*
I sat in the kitchen, by myself, just as I did every night since my wife had gone. In front of me sat a bottle of Cooley's Irish whiskey, almost empty. I didn't mind finishing a good bottle, since it was the only company I had anymore. I sloshed some around in my glass a little. Staring into the brown liquid, I could hear the old ghosts coming. They joined me for a drink every night, crowding themselves into my tiny kitchen and at the small table. I always left a chair free for whoever wanted a seat. Tonight, it was Davey.
"Evenin, Davey," I said raising my glass to him, He raised his in return. I couldn't tell what he was drinking, but Davey had always been a friend of mine, so whatever it was, I'm sure it was good. "Davey, you and I have been friends for a long time," I said. He nodded. "Between you and me, we must have spent almost all of our money down at the pub, eh? Between round of darts and round of drinks, we lost almost everything, huh?" Davey laughed quietly and took another sip.
"You remember that time down at the mill," I asked him with a laugh. "You and me had had a couple before work and I end up gettin' me hand caught in the wheel? Oh, Lord! Hurt like Hell when it happened, but come on! That was funny! If I hadn't been so bashed on that whiskey, I probably woulda screamed a lot more! Ha ha ha!" I pounded my hand on the table, barely catching the bottle before it fell over. "At least no one else got hurt, eh?" Davey laughed and hooked a thumb into the other room. I nodded and raised my glass again, watching as he left to mingle with the other ghosts. "Well, I should get these old bones to bed. Work to do in the morning."
I looked around and all the ghosts were telling me to stay, have another drink. The bottle was almost empty. It wouldn't be right to leave an almost empty bottle just sitting. After a moment of thought, I agreed and filled my glass about halfway up. I looked up from my glass and there sat Mary, one of my childhood sweethearts. She looked just like she did those forty years ago. All curls and dimples. Such a shame she died young. Child birth. The baby didn't make it either.
"Ah, Mary," I said softly. "Tis always good to see you, lass. I sometimes think of what coulda been, had we stayed together all those years ago. Maybe we woulda had a pack of beautiful babies, and I'd be sittin' here now, bouncin' my baby granddaughter on my knee, instead of drinkin' myself to sleep." Mary gave me a smile and shrug.
I laughed. "Ah, I know. You never can tell what the future will bring or what the past would have brought. But Mary, I never have forgotten ya. I will always raise a glass to ya, as well." I did just that. Mary smiled and raised hers back, taking a swallow and reaching out to touch my hand. Hers was cold, just like it always was when a ghost touched me, but Mary's still had a kind of warmth inside that cold. With that, she got up and wandered off to mingle.
I drained the last of the whiskey in my glass and started to stand, wobbling just a little before catching myself on the back of my chair. I laughed and I could see some of the ghosts laughing with me. As I stood there, Old Jerry Bones sidled up to me with that gap-toothed grin of his, glass in hand.
"Jerry, my friend," I said, putting my arm around his ghostly shoulder. "There's something I have got to tell you," I said, pointing a finger on my glass carrying hand, using the other to steady myself. "There's this girl in the village. Her name's Meave. Sweetest thing you've ever seen. Almost as pretty as Mary over there." Jerry raised his eyebrows.
"Honest! Her face is round and her cheeks are touched with pink, just on the points of her cheekbones." I demonstrated the spot on Jerry's face. He laughed. "And her lips! Oh, her lips, Jerry! They seem to be the most perfect lips in all the world." Jerry puckered up, but I ignored him.
Looking down into my glass, I sighed. "I just wish that I was, well, not the man I am, I guess. If I had money and didn't have to work, I'd go to her and convince her to let me take care of her. Her parents would approve, I'm sure." Jerry shrugged and took a drink. I decided that was a good idea. I refilled my glass with the last of the bottle. I held it up, getting everyone's attention.
"Ladies and gentlemen. Dear friends. As always, it has been a wonderful evening. But, my bottle is now empty, so I fear it's time for me to go to bed." I looked around the room. My friends were raising their ghostly glasses to me. The ladies that I had known in my time were trying to convince me to stay longer, though none were trying that hard. They knew it was time. I raised my glass.
"But since it falls unto my lot, that I should go and you should not. So fill to me the parting glass, goodnight and joy be to you all!"
We all sang along. It warmed my heart to have so many friends and loved ones around to keep me company on cold nights such as this one. I opened the door for them to go, shaking ghostly hands or kissing ghostly cheeks as they went. Little did I know that I would be joining them soon. You see, I had had a lot to drink and the stairs to my bed, well they're steep...