It ends here, face-down on some dingy, mass-manufactured, impersonal tile somewhere. She has taken it too far. She has taken it much too far this time, she thinks as one almost lifeless hand sits near the drain and one hand rests under the cheek turned towards the tile-floor of this shower. The water is on, chilling her to the bone.
She can’t be dead yet if she at least notices as much. Though, she wouldn’t be surprised if this was actually the hell assigned for her deeds. To drown in the precarious puddle forming near her mouth that she cannot bring herself to move a millimeter away from. Who will save her now?
No bridges are left standing. Her life is like the path of Sherman through Atlanta. Flames engulf any line leading in and out of her world. There’s nothing left now except the pink droplets spraying onto the shower wall where the running water has mixed with the only warm part of her, the blood oozing from the various injuries she’s sustained…
“Jesus, man, what did you give her?”
“It doesn’t matter what she’s on, she’s trash. Just throw her in the shower or something, she’ll sober up.”
“Dude, I can barely walk, let alone carry some girl you messed up.”
“I didn’t mess her up. She did it to herself. I’m trying to be a good Samaritan or whatever. I’ll just drag her in there and then let’s get the hell out of here before we get tangled into this mess.”
The words hurt her physically almost as bad as the fall did. He’s right, she thinks fleetingly. She did it to herself. She can’t move, but he does what he says he would. The synthetic blue carpet burns her bare arms as he carelessly drags her to the bathroom. She drifts out of consciousness again.
The streets look different when she’s self-medicated herself into numbness. Spots of light, red and orange, line the streets blurry and overlapping like some artsy photograph. She walks as far as her legs will take her, as far as they will take her away from it, from them. No medicine can cure her condition of dependency, of self-loathing, of the burning hatred for the desperately needed kindness she rejects again and again.
She clings to each new boyfriend like a child holds onto a balloon, naively thinking it will lift off of the ground into the heavens. Eventually the reality of gravity settles in and she lets go, settling to watch it rise gracefully without her somewhere better. With someone better. She is dead-weight. Nothing can carry her.
An old motel crosses her non-linear path of intoxication with stairs climbing up to the second floors. She wants to climb, to climb out of here, to feel again in order to decide whether or not she has ever really felt before. He couldn’t help her because she can’t feel. She can’t feel because she needs help.
Step by step she crawls on hands and knees. It won’t be too far of a fall. It will be just enough. She reaches the top, and climbs to the other side of the rail. It seems like a good idea as she throws the glass bottle over her shoulder into the door to shatter. How freeing it must be to shatter.
It seems like the best idea with her hands holding the rail behind her as she leans forward into the velvety air of the early morning. The door slams open behind her.
“Hey! Did you just throw this at our door? What the hell?! Excuse me? Miss? An apology would be nice considering it’s 1 o’clock in the morning for Christ’s sake!”
She turns her head to the side, she smiles, she jumps. Seconds have never felt so long or so beautiful. The air, humid and breezy, wraps her skin like a blanket. A foot, a knee, a hip, an arm, hands grind her body to a halt one by one on the asphalt. Each crash, each scrape sears through every nerve of her body, jolts her back to reality, and jump starts the engine of her deluded mind. She feels it. She definitely felt.
“What are you? Psycho?” he yells down from the balcony, but in return he hears her muffling laughter slowly rise into a heaving, cackling laugh. “I don’t have time for this shit!” he slams his door and several different locking mechanisms are forced into place. She crawls, happy for a moment, hysterical for a moment until she drifts out of consciousness. The last thought on her mind is that she wishes it hadn’t taken this much to feel.
She skips the glass and drinks from the bottle while she waits for him. The door opens quickly. The sound, the brusqueness of the knob turning is homey, like someone who has a right to be there. She doesn’t have that right.
“Where have you been? You’ve been late all the time, every time,” she slurs as she rises from the couch to greet him with a kiss.
“What they hell are you doing Louise? I told you I would be home late tonight with the work I’m doing on this contract proposal. It’s a Monday night, can we skip the bottle for once?”
“I need it. It replaces you in your absence, your highness,”
“I don’t know what you want from me anymore. I can’t come home to this every night. I can’t be your continual savior Louise.”
“You said you loved me. I need your help. I need you,” she says with a defeated breath.
“Help? God, I feel like that’s all I ever do! But, you don’t want the help I’m offering. I can’t ride the waves of your neurotic mood swings anymore and love you only when and how you want me to. I’m done. Help yourself and while you’re at it, get out of my house.”
“Don’t. do. this. to. me…,” she sobs as a last attempt at manipulating him to stay with her. With eyes wide she grasps at him as he turns way.
“Either get clean, or get out,” he holds open the door.
Her eyes go dead and she stares through him as she walks away. She goes directly to her favorite recovery center down the road. The doors with their iron gates and neon “Open” sign invite her to pick up her favorite medicine.
She feels the cold glass through the paper bag. By the river she doses her self as she prescribes. This medicine isn’t the grapey, syrupy liquid force-fed down the feverish lips of childhood. This medicine is clear and warm. It washes away the words, the pain, the embarrassment like nothing else she knows can.
…She’ll have to save herself. No one’s coming. It starts here. It’s time to press the play button. If she can feel, then it’s not too late. She tilts her head exactly one millimeter away from the puddle. She takes her hand, one finger at a time off of the drain. Time ticks away so slowly in that moment before her hand makes it to her pocket to see if it hasn’t been soaked yet. It’s dry. Her cellphone waits safely and patiently. There are no missed calls in, but the line of communication remains. With a press of the call-button she dials him, hoping it’s not too late. Over the ashes of the bridges she’s burned she ventures out of the only world she’s known.
“I’m ready now. I’ll go,” she cries, but this time for real.