A teacher, a paramedic, and a writer walked into a bar, sitting side by side in the corner on a dead Monday night. The teacher ordered a vodka soda, the paramedic ordered a rum & coke, and the writer ordered a gin & tonic. They all gave the bartender their credit cards as all three of them started their own tabs. 

The paramedic turned to the teacher, who still had her school ID card hanging from a lanyard. The card had the name of a local middle school written at the top. “Isn’t it inappropriate for a teacher to be drinking on a Monday night?” He asked her. 

The teacher looked up from her drink and glanced towards the paramedic, who had a pager slotted in his left breast pocket. The pager’s screen showed several messages waiting to be read. “Isn’t it inappropriate to be drinking while on call?” She jabbed back, annoyed at being questioned by the stranger. 

The paramedic laughed as he rubbed the back of his neck. “I suppose so. What brings you here on a Monday night?” He asked her. 

The teacher did not look up from her drink this time. “I wanted to drink, so I am here to drink,” she replied blankly. 

“That’s something you and I have in common,” the paramedic told her. Silence fell as both of them engrossed themselves with their own drinks. The teacher finished her drink first and set it down on the bar. In that moment, she made a decision that changed the trajectory of her night. 

“Fuck it, one of my students killed themselves,” she told him. The paramedic choked up some of his drink at the blunt declaration. He quickly cleaned himself up as he cleared his throat. 

“Oh…” He breathed out. His palms started to sweat, nervous that he had approached the situation all wrong. “damn, I’m sorry for asking—” 

“It’s fine.” she interrupted. “It’s all fucking fine. My first year as a teacher and one of my kids fucking kills himself.” While she had fought them back on the way to the bar, tears started welling up in the teacher’s eyes. The paramedic carefully placed a hand on her shoulder, though he felt like he had just made it worse. 

The gentle sobs of the teacher drew the attention of the writer on the other side of her, who had already gone through two drinks and was waiting on their third. The writer’s face looked raw and tired, like they had cried for hours on end. In front of them at the bar was a small notebook and pen. “I don’t mean to intrude on this conversation,” the writer said somewhat loudly, which grabbed the attention of the other two. “But was it the boy who jumped off a bridge last weekend?” They asked the teacher. 

“Yes, and I keep getting emails from press who want to interview me about it. It’s like they don’t even care about the grieving period,” she said, rubbing tears from her face. The writer received their third drink and lightly swirled its contents around as they contemplated their response. 

“That was my little brother,” the writer told her. The teacher and paramedic immediately looked over to them in shock. “The funeral’s next Sunday if you want to crash it,” they offered the teacher. 

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to intrude on something that personal,” she said as she attempted to regain her composure. She took in a deep inhale through her nose and stretched out her neck. “I only knew him for two months, I’ll live,” she stated, as if saying it would make it true. 

The paramedic, who had been quiet for the past few turns, chimed in, facing the writer. “If it uh… makes you feel better, he didn’t die in pain,” he told them. “I was there when he um… you know. He died as soon as he hit the ground.” 

The air was still as the attention turned back onto the paramedic. Quickly, the teacher waved her hand out to the bartender in an attempt to order more drinks. The writer stared back at the paramedic, their face a mix of sadness and numbness. 

“That’s… nice to know,” they said as they forced a small smile. “Were you there to talk him out of it?” the writer asked him. 

The paramedic sighed. “Kind of, yeah. This is my first year doing this so my mentor did all the talking,” he explained. “My job was to grab him if he tried to jump.” 

“Oh,” the writer replied. The two of them stared at each other, the implications apparent. 

“Yeah, that’s why I’m here to drink tonight,” he told them. “I wasn’t planning on sharing, but considering how we’re all here for the same thing, I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he joked. He received minor fanfare from the other two. 

The night continued on as the three talked over dozens of drinks, out-drinking every other group in the bar. The drunker they became, the more introspective their discussions. Their conversations drifted around many topics starting with work and family, eventually moving onto their personal dreams and nightmares. But as the night wound down and groups of regulars filed out, the three landed on one final topic. 

“Guys, how the fuck are we supposed to move on from this?” The teacher asked, head buried in a cluster of empty glasses. “Like, are we just supposed to go back to our stupid lives like everything is normal?” 

The writer laughed, gripping onto the bar top to stay remotely upright. “You know, people say an author’s writing gets better the more depressed they are,” they stated, their words slurred together. “At this rate, I’ll be the next Austen or Kafka in a month.” 

The paramedic shifted his hands to the side to reveal the face covered by them. “My mentor said that this is normal,” he told them. “Something about how some people have their minds made up before they even climb onto the ledge.” 

“How could he have made up his mind at 13?” The teacher asked, mostly towards her two new friends but partially to some greater being beyond the bar she sat at. “Like, did I miss something? Was I not paying attention?” 

“No and no,” the writer interjected. “He was struggling before he was your student, it’s not your fault. He was bullied by a bunch of assholes at his old middle school, so my parents switched him to a different one for Grade 7. Then they got him therapy, medication, an extra nice birthday gift, the whole thing. Things were really looking good for him… until it, you know, wasn’t.” 

The teacher slowly turned to observe the writer’s posture and face. “You seem really calm about this,” she noted. “No offence, obviously.” 

The writer let out a breathy laugh. “None taken. I’ve already cried enough today and this past weekend, so now I just feel bleh. I came to the bar so I wouldn’t be drinking and writing at home alone,” they told them. 

The paramedic leaned over the bar to look more clearly at the writer. “What were you writing before you joined the conversation?” he asked them. 

“A poem,” the writer answered. “You want to hear what I have so far?” they asked. They received two, non-committal nods in response. The writer flipped through their notebook and found the page they last wrote on. They cleared their throat. 


The last time I saw you, it was New Years Eve. 

Our house was full of people we didn’t really know and it was still the old year. 

You hated big family parties, so I hung out with you in your room. 

We made fun of Uncle Joe and the weird mole on his forehead. 

You called it “The Great Mole-r Eclipse” and I spat out my Pepsi. 

Mom got mad at us for staining the carpet and made us wash it out the next day. 

The last time I saw you, it was Easter Sunday. 

We were at church and Father Samson was still talking. 

  You went to the washroom, so I followed you out to stretch my legs. 

I found you crying in the storage room and I asked you if you were okay. 

You said you just had a really bad stomach ache and I gave you some medicine. 

We got in trouble for breaking into the storage room and dad grounded you for a week. 

The last time I saw you, it was Canada Day. 

The park was full of spectators waiting for fireworks and the hotdogs were still cooking. 

You left an hour ago to hangout with your friends, so I went and looked for you. 

You were on the ground crying covered in bruises and I asked you what happened. 

You said you’ll hate boys forever and I cleaned the cuts on your face. 

You wouldn’t tell Dad who did it and we didn’t get to see fireworks. 

The last time I saw you, it was your 13th birthday. 

Your party was over hours ago and you were still alive. 

You went to your room with your gifts, so I helped you carry them there. 

You asked me if I was excited for university and I said I was. 

I asked you if you felt okay and you said you were. 



The other two waited for the final line that never came. The writer closed their notebook and tucked it away in their book bag hung on the chair behind them. “And that’s all I have. I fucking suck at final lines, they feel like too much pressure. You guys have any ideas?” They asked their small audience. 

The paramedic and teacher looked at each other, stunned at the poem. Just as the teacher was about to give a suggestion, the bartender walked up to the group and picked up some of their empty glasses. At that moment, they realized that they were the last patrons left in the bar. 

“You know, I consider myself somewhat of a writer as well,” the bartender said to the group. “But I write comedy routines. Though I mostly rely on improv.” 

The paramedic smiled at the bartender. “Oh really? Give us a joke then,” he challenged him. 

The bartender set down the glass in his hand and thought for a moment. Eventually, he tucked his towel into his pocket and took a breath in. “A teacher, a paramedic, and a writer walk into a bar, all of them opening tabs. The teacher orders 6 vodka sodas, the paramedic orders 8 rum & cokes, and the writer orders 7 gin & tonics. They drink and chat with each other all night until the bartender approaches them at the end of the night. What do you think the bartender says to them?” 

The three looked at each other, clueless to the conclusion of this joke and also nervous for what it could mean. The bartender’s cheerful demeanour dropped. He reached into his other front apron pocket and pulled out three bills and credit cards. He handed them in pairs to each of the three. “I’m sorry, but all of your credit cards were declined,” he said to them, before he walked away to finish the rest of his duties. 

They all looked down at their respective bills and stared at the numbers before them in pain. The paramedic groaned before he dejectedly reached into his back pocket for his wallet. “That was one sick fucking joke,” he grumbled under his breath.