My mother has been expecting my call. She answers almost instantly, and I wonder if she’s at work today. ‘I take it you’ve heard about your sister.’
My throat is dry. I’m halfway through a bottle of beer, sprawled across the bed, staring at the ceiling. ‘Yeah. She’ll be okay, right?’
I know my mother can tell I’m drunk. It’s evident in my voice, but she says nothing about it. ‘Oh, yes, she’ll be fine…’ She sounds distracted. I wonder which one of us she’s trying to convince. ‘She just needs rest is all.’ I try to determine where she’s at, and then I realise it’s the break room at the hospital, and it’s eleven at night. I should have fallen asleep ages ago. ‘How are you? Sore, I imagine. Adam said you broke quite a bit of bones.’
I don’t want to talk about me. I don’t want to talk about anything, really. It’s not as hard when I’ve had this much to drink. ‘Yeah, sore, a bit. It’s hard to talk.’ I’m tired. There’s only one solution. I need to call Addie. It’s the only way. ‘Hey, Mom, I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you later.’ I end the call before she can say another word, and I pop open another bottle of beer, and drink the whole thing.
I remember two years ago, when my girlfriend and her best friend found me wandering down a street, drunk and alone, in the middle of the night. I remember our first date, how terrified I was of letting another human being get too close to me. I was right to be afraid. How selfish can I be? How pathetically selfish. To think I deserved that kind of treatment from another person. Laughable. Fuck, I love her. I know what I’ve got to do, and I might just be pissed enough to do it. I’ve got to do it now. Before I lose my nerve.
It’s ringing. I’ve not talked to her on the phone in ages. She sounds so happy to hear from me. ‘Hi! I’ve missed you so much! How are you, baby?’
I don’t want to do this. I have to. I’ve missed you too, I want to say, but I don’t. I can’t drag this out. I can’t let her change my mind. I want to cry. ‘I’ve got to talk to you.’ It’s serious. At the same time, I want to beg her not to go. ‘There’s something I have to tell you.’
The television has been playing in the background, a light buzzing sound. Now, everything is silent. ‘I know.’ She thinks I’m talking about the girl. She thinks I don’t know she’s found out about it. ‘I know what happened, you know.’ I can’t tell if she’s upset or not. It’s stupid to think she wouldn’t be. ‘I’m not angry. I don’t want you feeling guilty, babe. Okay?’ Too late. She’s got no idea. ‘You’re drunk, aren’t you?’
Why does everyone feel the need to point it out? Say it. Quit being a fucking loser and say it. ‘Yes.’ I feel ill. All this alcohol is going to come back up, in a minute. I just need a minute. ‘Addie.’ This hurts. This hurts more than anything else. I’m too drunk, ‘I want to break up.’ Let me be more specific. I want you to tell me I’m not a pathetic fuck, and that you love me, and that things will be okay. But I need you to leave. I need to quit wasting your time. She’s quiet. ‘I’m sorry, alright, I’m completely fucked up, and I need to be alone.’ It’s better for everyone that way.
She’s not a big crier. Now, she’s close to tears, and tries to hide it. ‘But I love you. And I want to help you.’ Addie, I want to say, don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be.
Maybe I’m an idiot. Actually, I definitely am. ‘I can’t. I don’t want you wasting your time on me anymore. Don’t be angry. Or be angry if you want to. You deserve better. I’ve got to go.’ And then, like a coward, I hang up. I know this is what I had to do. That doesn’t make it any easier.
All the booze in my system burns on the way up. I can’t breathe. I wipe my face, and shuffle to the bed. Adam is back, and watching. ‘Are you sick or just drunk?’
I’m glad he’s here. I don’t trust myself to be alone. ‘Just drunk.’ I’m sick, too, but not in the way he means. I want to tell him what’s happened. I’m too tired. ‘Come over here.’ I grope, and touch his arms. He lets me lie across his chest, and doesn’t speak, and doesn’t pressure me to speak either. I’ve had too much to drink. Adam rubs my head, and it’s comforting, and it helps me fall asleep, finally.
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