Quiet music plays in the background. It’s a self-made compilation of slow funk and soul music with a smattering of jazz-fusion. My ears register that a Donald Byrd track is currently playing, though my attention is primarily drawn the way of the other person in the room who is talking.
They’re talking great sense. I watch their lips move as words of wisdom pour from them. The words are dissecting my current problems—breaking them down into bite-sized chunks—before offering advice or potential solutions to each facet. I look for ways in which I can counter them, yet their logic is so impeccable that I find it impossible to poke holes in it.
If I follow this advice then I know my issues will fade away. It’ll take time and hard work. When isn’t that the case? I think this is why people’s problems often don’t go away. There’s an equation involved. Is the problem so big that the benefits justify the strain of the hard work to rectify it? If it’ll take a herculean effort to solve only a little problem then you’ll probably not bother solving it unless the benefits of doing so are tremendous. It all comes down to what value you place in the problem, the work to solve it, and the benefits that solving it will have.
It may seem like I’m procrastinating rather than listening to the person across from me. I can assure you that isn’t so. They have my attention. The thoughts I’ve had about the equation are from times prior to this and now perfectly engrained. I can call upon that equation whilst listening fully to the words of wisdom I’m being offered. Prior to this conversation I’d have claimed my problem was too big and the hard work too great to bother sorting it out.
The person offering their sage advice has pulled all the small facets of my problem apart. They’ve turned the one big problem into about four smaller ones and each problem on its own is nothing close to as great as the sum of their parts. Sometimes it takes that outside perspective to split the atom of your issues and find the protons and neutrons contained within. I’m looking at my issues differently just off the back of this conversation. They don’t seem so big anymore and the hard work doesn’t seem as great either. Somehow, that has made the benefits appear more appealing too.
They take a break from talking to have a pull on a cigarette that has been burning slowly in an ashtray on the coffee table. There’s a certain seductiveness to the way they exhale the smoke. Their eyes glint with satisfaction as they watch the cloud billow above our heads and slowly dissipate. After that they reach out for the half full glass of cognac that sits next to the ashtray. It’s my best cognac, a Remy Martin XO no less, that had cost me a pretty penny a couple of years back and I only touch on rare and special occasions. I didn’t mind that they were drinking it. It was the least they deserved for their help in my situation.
Little time is wasted in returning to my issues once they’ve had their sip of the alcohol. The extremely limited use of clichés is one thing I pick out from their speech. Most people tend to drift towards tried, tested, and trite platitudes when offering advice. This person bucks that trend with grace and eloquence. I hang on their every word. I trust them. I trust that they have my very best interests at heart.
I feel emboldened by their words and when they remind me of what a good person I am, something they have done frequently throughout our conversation, there’s nothing hollow about it. They don’t just tell me I’m a good person because it’s what I need to hear. They tell me because they feel it to be true.
This conversation is all about me and, ordinarily, that would make me feel somewhat conceited. There’s no need to feel that way this evening. This was always going to be about me. It was the reason for the person even appearing before me.
I check my watch and realise that it’s getting late. A late night perhaps wouldn’t serve me. I just can’t turn my back on this person and their advice though. What they’re saying is simply too useful to me. I’m telling them things that I simply don’t have the fortitude to tell other people. I’m too worried others will judge me. I don’t have that worry with this person. They know me better than anybody else and we’ve always been able to be totally honest with one another irrespective of what wrongs we might have done. Neither of us is perfect. I think the fact that we accept that is what makes it easier to be straight with one another. There’s no need to lie. They’d know immediately if I did.
A final drag of the cigarette and they stub the butt out in the ashtray. Then they swallow the last of the cognac. I think this is their subtle way of telling me that our time grows short for now. I know they’re busy tomorrow too. I know everything there is to know about this person. They smile at me, place a comforting hand on my shoulder and tell me that they trust in me to make the right decisions and take the correct course of action. I doubt myself in that regard, but this person’s faith in me is infectious. I really don’t think I could do without it. I’m somewhat dependent on it.
“Until next time,” I utter as I stand on weary legs. I look down at where they sit and they continue to smile reassuringly at me. I feel better. I feel ready to face my problems in a way that I wasn’t earlier. Our next time won’t be too far in the future, I’m sure.
I walk away towards my bedroom. I turn once and they remain seated on my couch. I turn again seconds later and they’re gone. They’ve disappeared into thin air; except they haven’t really.
While I quickly get myself ready for bed I think about the wise words imparted upon me. For all this time I’ve been taking advice from people who could only advise from their own standpoint when all it really needed was for me to step out of my own skin and advise myself. Who would have thought that the best confidant for me was me all along? Who would have thought that an evening sitting and talking with myself over a glass of expensive cognac would bring such clarity to my situation?
Follow me on Wattpad today. I’ll soon be uploading all my works of fiction to the site, including all my flash fiction and short stories into one compendium. Find me by clicking the following link: Paul.E.Bailey on Wattpad.