This is an excerpt from a short story that I’ve submitted to my very first Short Story Writing Contest! I’m super proud of my work and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you all! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂
He never spoke to me again after that day. Not directly anyway. I spoke with his attorney often. There was a note left on my bedroom door once too; the day he came and packed all of his things. He sent the divorce papers by mail, didn’t even bother to call and prepare me for when they were coming. I signed them without protest because I wanted to save the children an ugly divorce. I was 25 when my parents split; I didn’t want to leave them with a wound identical to mine.
Every day after the divorce was an uphill battle. At least for the first year. Then the battle plateaued: I gave up. I started drinking so much that I half expected my liver to be lying beside me on the bed most mornings and my stomach to land in the toilet after my body’s attempts to empty itself of all the whiskey from the night before. I lost the Lightweight Larry title faster than I lost my mind. I created my own prison and wallowed in my misery because it was the only thing that was familiar.
Two and a half years later and my routine is relatively still the same. Get out of bed, walk straight to the kitchen, pull out two glasses, one for alka seltzer to ease last nights hangover and the other for my whiskey to get started on tomorrows hangover; eat as often as I can remember and sleep. A lot.
Today was no different. I poured my first shot. Dad’s voice again: “Heavy stuff for heavy situations, kid.” Dad was talking to me every day now. Multiple times a day, more times than I could count. This depression was as heavy as it could get, I was sure. I downed another shot. I was thinking so much, too much. I took a shot for every unsettling thought. They were all unsettling thoughts.
My husband of 25 years left me. He never looked back. Shot. My mother died and he couldn’t even bring himself to show up and offer his condolences. Shot. Our daughter got married and moved to California. Shot. Our son only comes to see me when he realizes weeks have passed since his last visit. Shot. And to top it all off, I lost my job. Concerns surrounding alcoholism they said. “Bullshit!” Dad said. Unfortunately, his voice came out as my own and they kicked me out on my ass.
I poured another and raised the glass. I screamed at the top of my lungs: “Heavy stuff for heavy situations, Dad! Right? Is that it?” I took the shot and slammed the glass down on the counter top. It shattered instantly…and so did I. I crumbled to the floor and lost it. Screaming every obscenity I could muster up, even making some up as I went along. I went on like that, just like a kid; kicking and screaming for a long time.
Once I pulled myself together, I stood up, using the counter for balance and started sweeping the glass into the trash. After I found another glass, I filled it to the brim and tossed it back. Much better. I couldn’t stop the thoughts from rolling in, so I kept the shots rolling right behind them. “Cheers!” I shouted to the pots and pans. “This is to the pathetic excuse for a life that I am the proud owner of!” I poured another shot, then another, and another, and another…
When I woke the next morning, I couldn’t remember how many ‘another’ shots I’d had, where I was or what that horrible smell was. I lifted my arm and made contact with cold porcelain. Tub. I was in the bathroom. I attempted to lift myself up; a futile effort against the pain the shot from my head straight down into my stomach. My stomach flip flopped and just as I leaned over the side of the tub, emptied itself of putrid brown liquid. The smell alone started a cycle of vomiting that ended once there was no more of my stomach left. I laid there on the floor for hours; humming and rocking until I felt safe enough to move otherwise.
Once standing was an option, I rinsed my mouth repeatedly with water, afraid of the consequences of brushing. In the process of cleaning the tub, the places where I missed the tub and finally myself; I swore off liquor for a very, very long time. I hadn’t had a night that bad since coming home to empty drawers and cabinets the week after Kevin asked for the divorce. My body started to come back to me in the shower.
I dried off, dressed and headed to the kitchen; hoping to find something to start working on this headache. I grabbed a bottle of ibuprofen, a sleeve of saltines and a bottle of water, said a silent prayer that it would stay with me and sat down to relax. I let my head fall against the plush back of the couch and closed my eyes.
I was jolted awake the next morning by a knock at the door. If I was as drunk as I was the night before, I would have sworn I imagined it. But I was as close to sober as I’d been in longer than I could remember. Three knocks, a pause then another knock. I thought I was imagining things. Experiencing some sort of hangover hallucination. Did those even exist? I stayed where I was. There was another knock. Three knocks, a pause, another knock. It was the same way Kevin would knock on my dorm room door on date night. I stood a little too quickly, instantly realizing that I was still not fully recovered. I walked slowly through the living room and looked through the peephole. I almost didn’t know who or what I was seeing.
His hair had grown down past his forehead, practically covering his eyes. His skin was pale: not the perfect fresh-off-the-beach tan it always was. I assumed he was thinner too and once I opened the door my assumption was confirmed. If he wasn’t the man I’d loved for 28 years, I would have mistaken him for a stranger who’d come to the wrong house…