“Damnit!” Archimedes cursed as he failed once again to get the tiny, little button through the equally tiny buttonhole on his collar. He went to try for the fifth time to get the annoying thing through the overly starched hole when the sound of a text message on his phone distracted him, and the button slipped through his fingers again. Screw it. I don’t really need a tie for this thing, do I? Archimedes thought as he pushed the collar flat against his neck, pulled his phone from his dress pants pocket, and read the notification.
“Sorry I wasn’t there when you got into town. I’m out drinking with Mary and the girls. Don’t forget to turn the lights off when you leave. You know your father always throws such a hissy fit over silly stuff like that,” read the text from his mom.
Even though Archimedes should have known not to even have enough expectations to be disappointed, it still cut him a little to see the message. He knew his mom, and he knew what it really meant: I don’t plan on bothering to see you this entire weekend, and your father is busy at work paying for my hobbies. You’ve wasted the trip.
“Yeah, what was I expecting?” Archimedes mumbled to himself as he went through the rest of his text messages. There was one from his highschool and college friend, Lucy, whose plane ticket had gotten her into town earlier in the week. She wanted to walk to his parents’ place so the two of them could take a cab together to the high school reunion.
As he was typing out a “sure, that sounds good” reply, his phone rang. It was a call from an office friend.
Archimedes just sighed as he took the call. “Hey, Adam, what’s up?” he asked.
“Poker night in thirty minutes. We’re over at Sessler’s place, but I still got this damn ‘not going to make it’ in my inbox from you,” Adam said. “What’s the deal? How are the rest of us poor bastards with a proper social life going to afford our girlfriends if you don’t show up with your terrible poker face and a pocket full of cash?”
“Ah . . . yeah . . . sorry,” Archimedes replied as he held the phone tightly with his neck and started his attempt at getting the damn button through the hole one more time. “I can’t make it. I’m not even in town. Got a reunion.”
“Oh . . .” Adam’s tone went from chipper to morose in a single moment. “Okay, but you gonna be okay, man? This is, like, the fifth poker night in a row you’ve canceled.”
“Huh? Oh . . . yeah,” Archimedes wasn’t sure how to pretend like the accident at work wasn’t still bothering him. “I’m fine, man. I just haven’t seen my parents in forever. Thought I’d come home and connect with old friends . . . That’s all.”
“You know what happened to Kevin wasn’t your fault, right? That kinda shit just happens, man,” Adam said. “I know how close you two were, practically built the damn company together, but . . . it wasn’t your fault, man.”
“Yeah . . . of course it wasn’t.” Archimedes gulped, trying to swallow the anxiety he was feeling before it bubbled up and into the conversation. “Look, I just needed a breather. Gonna catch up with some old friends while I’m here. I think Lucy is dragging me to some damn microbrewery,” he said with a chuckle.
“Lucy? That horrible stand-up comedian you dragged us to twice?” Adam asked, snickering while Archimedes gave an affirmative grunt. “Well, if you got your buddy Lucy there, I won’t nag you too much, but don’t let her spend all your money on booze. Or just stop buying her drinks, man. She could use a day of sobriety from the stories you’ve told.”
“Ha!” Archimedes laughed at the idea of a sober Lucy. “That won’t happen this weekend. The reunion we’re going to will have an open bar. I think that’s half the reason she agreed to come.”
“Alright man, well, don’t forget to watch the meteor shower too. I hear it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime show, and it’s supposed to be massive. Like a thousand-plus meteors are supposed to soar by us,” Adam went on. “It’s so big it’s even got those end-of-the-world weirdos out in full force like it’s 2012 all over again.”
“Didn’t your girl tell me that you were one of those 2012 believers back in the day?” Archimedes asked, causing Adam to quickly throw up a defensive lie.
“What? No? Of course not. All logic here. I just said that to, uhh, get her in the mood with some ‘end of the world, and I don’t want to have any regrets’ romance . . . whatever . . . and, uhh . . . I gotta run, man. Don’t you dare bail on us next week though. I need that money from your shitty poker skills. Ha.”
“Have you ever actually won at poker night?” Archimedes had to ask.
“With that type of talk, I can tell you need some space. Later, boss,” Adam quickly spat out with a laugh before hanging up the phone.
“Yeah . . .” Archimedes grumbled as he failed once more with the button, but he couldn’t get himself to give up. The tips of his fingers were already bothering him, but at this point, he had tried for too long to admit defeat.
After a minute more of trying, he finally got the button, and for some reason, it felt like the biggest accomplishment he’d pulled off in a long time. “Boo ya!” he shouted like he was back in high school and not just an adult ten years older on his way to a reunion.
Staring at himself in the mirror, he adjusted the Double-Windsor knot of his tie once more, straightened his blazer, and puffed out his chest. Ever since Kevin died, Archimedes had told himself he would stop letting opportunities pass him by. Even though selfish introspection felt somewhat wrong, like he was profiting off his close friend’s death, Kevin dying before he even hit thirty had shown Archimedes exactly how temporary life could be and exactly how little time he might have left. He was going to spend more time with Lucy, and he was going to reconnect with his friend Chedderfield, even if the apology he was going to have to give would be humiliating. This reunion was going to be the perfect opportunity.
Hearing the doorbell ring just as he finished adjusting his attire, he flipped the lights off, grabbed the fancy golden tie clip that had been custom made with his own unique maker’s mark Lucy had given him last year, and headed downstairs to open the door and find Lucy waiting with an ear-to-ear grin. She looked gorgeous. Her normally wild shoulder length blue hair was combed down and styled in a layered medium shag with bangs instead of going in all directions like it usually was. She was wearing a beautiful silky black sundress that looked far classier than anything he’d seen her in before.
“I can’t believe you actually agreed to come, Arc!” she exclaimed happily as she gave him a hug. “And, man, you clean up real nice. Though . . .” She leaned back, held both his arms, and looked him up and down.
“What? Do I have something on my suit?” he asked, looking down at his clothes as he tried to think what could be off with his look. He’d double-checked every detail.
“No, just this doesn’t suit you at all,” she opined as she leaned in and undid the button on his collar while yanking off the tie he’d worked so hard to make look nice. “You are a lot of things, Arc, but I’d be surprised if you were the type of guy to even wear a tie to your own funeral.”
Son of a . . . Archimedes had to stop himself from cursing as his right hand unconsciously touched the button he had struggled with for so long, which she had deftly undone in a single movement.
“Alright, enough waiting. Let’s get going. It’s an open bar, Arc! An open bar!” Lucy squealed excitedly as she pulled Archimedes by the wrist toward a waiting cab.
But without the tie… I don’t have an excuse to wear the clip you gave me last year… he thought, but chose it wasn’t worth arguing about as he let himself be dragged off.