Nick’ passion emerges most in his work – as both a university academic and a licensed counsellor specialising in grief, loss, and bereavement. He is, perhaps, most ardent and vocal in the learning and teaching activities he shares with his students in the classroom; there, he demonstrates his deeply ingrained commitment to helping people, and he seeks to instil this commitment in his students. At the same time, his passion can emerge in what seems to be a harsh outlook. He marks students to a high standard, representing his teaching philosophy that focuses on strengths and personal growth. He likes to think he is a pacifist, but oftentimes, outside work, his words and actions betray this.
Nick is moderately open to friendships, and holds his friends close and dear. He is, as such, somebody who has only a close circle of companions who often indulge in a glass of wine or two as he does. His friends see through his façade of overthinking and careful articulation; they see in him a light and warmth infectious to all the lives he touches. He is fiercely protective of his friends and family.
Nick overthinks chronically the people and situations around him – this is fuelled by his acute awareness of words spoken and things happening in the surrounding environment. He judges situations with a carefully rational mind, but has also a tendency to initially react in extremely irrational ways. This is applicable particularly to romantic and relationship contexts.
The Neptune Bar, Sector I
Every time Ry threw one back and felt the grasping burn at the back of his throat, he felt calmer. He would close his eyes and savour the feeling, the burning that warmed his heart and strengthened the wall between his future and his memories. Then, open eyes. He was careful to keep going until the world began to spin, but to also keep himself from tipping over the edge. It was an art. Conversation often helped. The peppering of words exchanged randomly with others close by was comforting, and meant a few moments longer between drinks. Then, when there was a meaningful silence following, he would throw another back.
That was what he did each Friday afternoon, stretching late into the evening, from an initial period of simmering quiet through to the deafening raucousness of the crowd keen to begin the weekend, until the last dregs of mellowed clientele departed and it was simply him left with the bartenders who quietly, exhaustedly wiped down the benchtops and seats. Pussies, he would think. It’s not even three o’clock in the morning yet. Where are your spirits? I’ve got a few right here … Then he would pat his stomach fondly, and laugh to himself. And that was what he was planning to do this evening; no different to any other Friday night of late … at least, that he could recall. Evenings like these stretched far back into his past.
It was 5:00PM. Ry had left work early, as he always did on Fridays. There was a trade-off. He almost always ended up travelling to work early on Monday mornings to tie up loose ends and catch the tatters of things he had left behind the Friday before. Over time, he had become resolute about the way he went about things on a Friday afternoon. A two minutes before half-four, a last check of the e-mails, a glance at his watch, a check of the metallic coins in the pouch of his wallet. Then, at precisely four-thirty, he took up his briefcase, closed securely the door of his office behind him, bade a cheery goodbye to his executive assistant Mercurius, and left the sixty-three-storey skyscraper that landed a plentiful amount of credits in his bank account each week. It had been no different that afternoon. He had no desire to change it.
Ry gazed distantly through his wine glass. It was only his second red of the night. He had the money to buy mixed spirits whenever he felt like it, but he preferred wine. There was nothing quite like the throaty warmth that rose from downing a nice glass of wine; beer was too light, and often too bitter, and hard spirits left a burning that was more acutely painful than throaty and comforting. Wine hit just the right spot.
Maybe it’s time for another … Ry thought.
He was tempted to nod, as he always did as a way of convincing himself. Looking away from the glass, his sights roamed around the room. There were few people there, but work for many people had only just finished; it would be another five or ten minutes before the post-shift crowds would begin to pour in. He knew the routine of it all … like clockwork …
He felt the presence of someone unfamiliar, yet important. It sent tingles across his skin, but not in a way that left him shivering with wariness. He had not thrown back enough wine to numb the tingles. Had someone senior to him at work just come into the bar? The wine glass, standing alone on the bar before him, was empty. The sun was just beginning to set, and he saw the subtle golden hues of light filtering through the emptiness. The night was only just beginning.
Definitely time for another …