by Mileva Anastasiadou

A promising night lies ahead. A night to celebrate. To celebrate with cocktails. He seems kind and handsome, as he comes my way, offering me a drink.

“Where are you from?” I ask. He’s been eyeing me up and down, since the minute he walked in. Is he looking for casual company? I’ve come here to socialize, meet new people, mingle with the crowd; I might as well be friendly. That’s what I came here for. To this bar, I mean. Not to this country.

“Does it matter?” he says, using a napkin to wipe a drop of the drink that slides on my forearm. Although I back away instinctively, I smile at him, pretending I don’t mind. People like to feign familiarity here.

We’re all expats. Or maybe immigrants. This is a bar for expats. A new life ahead of me, full of prospects, unlike the one I left behind, in my dying country, I have every reason to feel cheerful tonight. Celebrate in cocktails. Celebrate with a nice cold…

Cosmopolitan: Vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, lime.

A cool refreshing, cocktail in my hands, I walk around the bar, determined to look like I fit in. A truly cosmopolitan at heart. The sky is the limit, now that I found the job. I’ve been dreaming of a world like this. Of a world where I choose to live wherever I want.

“Was that really a choice?” I wonder aloud. He stares at me surprised. He doesn’t know what I mean.

“What voice?” he asks. He has obviously misheard. His voice sounds strange. I feel like I’ve just walked in the tower of Babel. Trying to communicate with people who don’t share my native tongue in gestures, or in a foreign language that feels fake to my ears. Am I another ingredient to a cocktail that doesn’t taste good?

I would be stuck in my home country. Stuck in a miserable life. Instead, I sold myself at a better price than the one I would have gotten at home.

Home. I’m almost there. Feeling the…

Sea Breeze: vodka, cranberry and grapefruit juice.

Cooling my face. I’m almost there. On the beach. Near the house I was raised. I see my parents struggling to bring me up, to give me wings, so that I can fly away. Are people birds? Or are they trees? Feeding from their roots. I am not just another cranberry among the many; I am a cranberry mixed with other ingredients to form a new, tasteful cocktail.

“We miss you,” my mother told me on the phone earlier.

Is that nostalgia? Tears fill my eyes and I don’t just cry. I sob, leaning onto an available shoulder.

“Calm down, Mary,” he says. How does he know my name? He’s just a person I met today. He’s not my friend. He can’t really help me calm down, as I feel the…

Screwdriver: Vodka, orange juice, maybe soda.

Inserted in my brain. Digging in deep. Turning around opening holes. In the beginning I only see faces. Yet soon enough I transform into a drone, observing life from above and I don’t see people. I only see products, exposed as in a store, in the best possible way. To get a better price. To attract more buyers. Products, commodities, money travel freely. People are trapped in lives unchosen. What’s the name of the…

Paralyzer: Vodka, cola, Kahlua, milk, tall glass.

The drug that keeps you still? Instilled into your blood, directly breaking through the blood-brain barrier. It’s called fear. It makes you dizzy and desperate. I faint. I fall onto the floor. Down with me I take the dream. The dream of escaping misery by running away. The dream to be the best possible product. In my next life I will come back as human, not as a thing. I will be free to travel the world. I don’t want to come back as yet another commodity to be sold. The world is spinning as I open my eyes. My head hurts, my ears buzzing, my vision blurry, as I see him kneel down by my side.

“She bleeds,” he screams.

Is he talking about me? He turns the other way.

“I can’t stand blood. You’re so, so…”

Bloody Mary: Vodka, tomato juice.

“Don’t move, I’ll get some help.” How does he know my name? He’s not my friend. He is my only friend. He cares. Are friends disposable? Are friends the ones who get help when there’s no one around to cry for help?

“Stay still,” I hear him say, unfamiliar faces squeezing their way through above my head, to watch my fall. I have become the spectacle my country has transformed into. I have come to entertain you. I won’t sit still. I won’t obey. My legs hurt at my first attempt to stand up, yet I move them to prove I’m not a tree. I want to travel the world. Like a true cosmopolitan does, not like an entertaining cocktail. I wipe the blood from my forehead, mixed with the sweat. Another tasteful cocktail for you to try. I finally stand up. It’s my life. I do deserve the…

Last word: gin, liqueur, ice, lime.

“I’m fine,” I mumble. “Just drunk on life,” I say giggling, regaining my composure. I’m fine, considering I’ve come all this way to find a better life. Considering all those cocktails. Times change and require new ingredients. Drops of optimism necessary, mixed with fairy tales and positive thinking, to soothe the pain.

Sprinkle ignorance at will.