I woke up because the blinds were knocking back and forth in the open window. It was grey and dim because it was all cloudy outside. I had dark green sheets on my bed, but in that light they looked different. Even the braided ficus in the corner of my bedroom looked droopy and depressed. It was one of those days that threaten rain without making good on it.
I did my usual: I shuffled to the kitchen to get something to drink, and I punched the time button on the phone so I could check the time without having to un-squint my eyes. The phone said it was “Nine. Fifteen. AM.” in its recorded chip voice. Damn, I thought, it’s late.
Then, Why do I have a headache?
Right. It was all coming back to me.
The needle tore into my skin roughly because I couldn’t control my movement well enough. I went too deep into the vein and it bled. The pain felt good, mixed with the rush. I closed my eyes and let the pain wash over me, something new to focus on. I went searching then for what I knew I had hidden somewhere in the house. I searched until I remembered the door behind my bedroom closet, lined with shoes and purses and coats. I threw them aside and forced open the locked door. A single bottle, but full, still sealed. I unscrewed the top quite unceremoniously and put the bottle to my lips. Then I hesitated. I thought briefly that there may be no going back once that warm liquid slid down my throat. The thought caused both my heart and my breathing to quicken and I started to sweat. I held the bottle there for just a minute longer and then started pouring its contents greedily down my throat. The familiar burn was like the touch of an old friend, unafraid, unashamed.
The double shot of vodka went down sweet and warm and scratchy, which was a little to the left of where I wanted it to be. Don’t you hate indulging in something without really thinking about it? You get all guilty and stuff, and sometimes you get a little sick.
Days like that slip into sinister faster than morning blinks. Especially when you take a hit you didn’t expect. I took a hit. A couple of days later I was in the hospital. That was almost a month ago. If not for the pneumonia that landed me there, I’m not at all sure I’d be here to write this out tonight. I took a hit. It’s time to haul my ass off the mat.
I have 26 days sober today.