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Ash Shields, 08 Jul '12

        Tom stumbled down the alleyway, disoriented, alcohol muddling his perception of space. The brick walls seemed to alternate between rushing towards him and running away, and he kept bumping into them, bruising his shoulders and grazing his arms. He could hear the shouts of his friends in the distance behind him, almost obscured now, by the ambient sounds of the city at night; the cars and the sirens and the occasional chime of shattering glass.

        She had left much earlier in the night, but he didn't take much notice. He had started drinking early on, and by the time she announced her departure, quietly and somewhere between sadly and angrily, he was already drunk. He simply, in a vain attempt to retain a level of volume appropriate to the situation, said "Righto, love, see you tomorrow, then" rather loudly. She didn't respond, and just left. Tom returned to his mates and his beer.

        It wasn't until later, when he reached the level of intoxication that is accompanied with a sense of emotional clarity, that he realised that something was wrong. He had been foolish, foolish and thoughtless. He had to set it right.

        So he left the bar, in a rush, his friends dragging behind, asking what was going on. He didn't respond, just walked, if you could call it that, very determinedly, in the direction of her apartment. His friends got distracted, and quickly fell behind. By the time he reached the end of the alleyway, they were out of earshot.

        It was another few minutes before he reached her door, a few minutes spent stumbling, mind whirring, jumping to conclusions that were perhaps not entirely inaccurate - it was something he said, it was something he didn't say, it was something he had forgotten, it was something he was supposed to remember, it was something he had done, it was something they were meant to do together; in any case, he was the one at fault, he was certain of that in his mind.

        He could see her apartment window from the street as he juddered to a stop, feet struggling to find purchase on the concrete. He opened his mouth to yell and shout all the things he thought - all the things he felt he needed to say, but instead he hunched over as his body rejected the day's offerings in a liquid stream, settling in a putrid puddle around his sneakers. He coughed, once he had finished, and took a step back, shoes squelching. He retched at the scent and re-evaluated his decision to yell. Instead, Tom fumbled around in his pockets for the Sharpie he knew was there.

        Tom searched for an appropriate place to leave his message; even in his drunken state, he knew that the door was perhaps not the best idea. He remembered one of the first nights they had spent together, looking out the window of her bedroom. They had spent hours looking out, doing nothing in particular, other than staring at a white rectangle cut into the wall of the opposite building. It was out of place; it looked to be a door, but was on the second story without any balcony or other form of entrance. That was where he would leave it. His intoxicated brain did not see the height as a problem.

        It took a while, and resulted in minor injuries and slight damage to a drainpipe, but Tom eventually got himself up to the necessary height. He pulled the Sharpie from his teeth and scribbled a short message, one he hoped would suffice.

        It was then that he slipped and fell, falling a good ten or so metres to the ground, landing on his back, mere centimetres from the puddle of vomit he had left earlier. He groaned and rested briefly, eyes lingering on his message before getting himself up to his feet and stumbling off home.

~

        It was the first thing she saw when she woke up, and she instantly knew it was intended for her - the message in black across the street, on that white rectangle: "I'm sorry. I love you."

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