Ena had ran into this stunning young man once when going out for drinks after work hours. She hadn't made contact and he apparently hadn't registered her. He usually drank with friends, chatting up the bartenders and the occasional prettier grease monkey. He had olive skin, probably of Indian descent, his big brown eyes almost hidden by an overgrown bang of jet black straight hair. He laughed a lot, his booming voice well heard over all other chatter, and others seemed to light up around him. She never saw him with the same people but all seemed to like his company. A part of her was just dying to laugh along with him, a part of her she kept trying to suppress.
But she'd never seen him this drunk before. He was almost desperate. She edged closer to his side of the bar with every sip at her drink until she was within earshot of his rambling.
"I'm telling you..." he was slurring in the general direction of the bartender who had long since stopped paying attention to him. "I could do this. I could! I... wish I could. I..." He rested his head on the wet bar counter. "I'd... I'd make a good father..."
She was taken aback at this but her face soon settled in a warm smile.
"Hey!" The bartender had noticed the disgusted looks of some of his other patrons and turned to jolt the slobbering idiot awake. "Take it outside!"
He rose his head ever so slowly, mouth ajar, eyes drooping with sadness. He stumbled on his tangled feet and she caught his shoulder just as he was about to bang his temple on the side of the bar.
"Come on. Let's go catch some air." He looked up at her, dazed, and thought her the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. Her fiery hair seemed to fizzle in and out of existence in the dim bar light, like rye catching fire.
She fished his ID from a pocket and made around the ship with effort to get him home, avoiding the disapproving glares of people she had avoided to know. After opening the door and turning on the lights she took a step back and inadvertently knocked his head against the frame. A small four-legged creature jumped up and down in front of her. She recognized it from picture books she'd read as a child.
"You have a dog? I thought we didn't have dogs anymore."
"We have Tyler," he moaned nauseously, hand patting his fresh bump. She closed the door and let him slip to the floor. After taking off his clothes she unceremoniously thrust him into the shower cubicle.
"Wash up now. Hurry, before you pass out."
He stood there, naked in the cold, for what seemed like forever. When he managed to gather his thoughts he pushed the button so a torrent of lukewarm water would rush over him, jolting him sober for a few seconds. The effect would've been longer lasting had the water been a smidgeon colder. He rushed to clean himself as the droplets of water started to cool on his skin. He pushed the button again and, in his drunken haste, lost his balance and came tumbling out of the shower in a thundering heap of limbs.
She rushed in, hearing the ruckus, to find him moaning dismally on the floor, wet and naked, doing his best to cover his most private parts.
"It's the cold!" he whined, sounding veritably upset, so ashamed and broken, his left hand covering his loins, his right hopelessly grasping for a towel.
She chuckled openly as she passed him the cloth and helped him to his feet. Afterwards, she laid him in bed and smiled.
"Who are you?" he asked dreamily, all covered up to his chin, the awkwardness of the previous moment already lost on him. He had allowed himself to regress to his boyhood years, fancying her a fantastical creature materialized to save him. "Some kind of angel?"
She ran her fingers through his wet black hair to uncover his eyes and smiled tenderly.
"In a way," she replied. "Now sleep. You can tell me all about your ideas in the morning."
He tried to speak but his eyes were heavy. As he finally yielded to sleep the last thing he saw was a wave of rye blazing away, an opening curtain for his dream world.