JUST A SIP

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Short story inspired by the prompt... Careless Acts

Submitted: September 23, 2018

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Submitted: September 23, 2018

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As Tania pulled up at the red light, her washy, blue eyes were immediately drawn to the plastic bottle teasing her from its recess. The lure of the liquid overpowered her... she leaned over and took a generous swig.

She pulled on to the office car park, placed the bottle in her bag then made her way up the stairs to her office, shutting the door firmly behind her. The effort of the stairs had taken its toll... she carefully dabbed at the beads of perspiration that had erupted on her forehead, then switched on her computer. She had become accustomed to and tolerant of, the thumping headaches, the constant anxiety and nausea. She again reached for the plastic bottle labelled 'Spring Water' and took another gulp.

Mike, her boss, popped his head round the door. “Morning Tania, have you finished that report I asked for?”

I'm on to it,” she lied, panic beginning to rise in her.

He stood for a moment, appraising her. “You okay? You've been looking really tired and pale lately.”

I'm fine, Mike, just not sleeping great, that's all.”

Have you tried a glass or two of wine? Works a treat for me.”

I'll bear it in mind. Thanks for asking, but really, I'm fine!

As you know, the board meeting's at two. I need to study the figures in advance, so can you make sure I get that report by twelve o'clock latest.”

No problem.”

She stared hard at the computer screen, tears beginning to well in her eyes. It had hit her like a sledgehammer when Dan had called time on their relationship. His fervent denials of another woman had, in fact, turned out to be true, but she had been both shocked and stunned when he finally confessed to finishing their relationship for the new love of his life... another man!

The vodka had initially dulled her pain, her emptiness and her humiliation, but it had quickly escalated into a toxic dependence, one that ruled every aspect of her life. She lost touch with friends, had become a sly, scheming liar and a first-class actress, consumed with guilt and shame.

Unable to focus her addled brain, she turned off her computer, slipped on her jacket and walked to her car. On the way home she stopped to buy another two bottles of vodka and drove back to her flat in a haze... to drink herself into oblivion!

***********

When Tania regained consciousness she was lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an intravenous drip. The harsh reality of her potentially fatal addiction was delivered by a stern doctor at her bedside. For the first time in eighteen months, she was sober and the gravity of the situation shocked her to the core... if she sank any lower it would be into her grave. Coming face to face with her own mortality ignited a flame of determination that burned inside her. She would beat this... she had to!

During Tania's detox programme, her Mum had revealed a closely guarded, shameful family secret... her Grandmother had succumbed to chronic alcohol addiction, which had eventually claimed her life. It was concluded that Tania had inherited a predisposition for it, and just one sip could result in a relapse.

Pieces of her childhood began to fall into place. Recollections of heated arguments, images of her Grandmother slumped face down in her Christmas lunch... her Mum's livid face. But now she felt only pity for her 'shamed' Grandmother who, like herself, had needed help not persecution.

***********

It's great to have you back, Tania. Look, I'll level with you, I hate these return-to-work interviews, but I have to say, you look and seem so much more like your old self. I'm so pleased you're...”

Sober?” Tania interrupted. “There's no need to tread on egg shells, Mike. I'm a recovering alcoholic, and will always be. Apparently, it's in my genes... my Nan fell victim to it. I was a mess and in a really dark place, one I don't ever intend to revisit. So from now on its a life of sobriety for me, and you know what, bring it on.”

A relieved smile spread across Mike's tense face. “That's good to hear. Looking back, I should have noticed the signs... you were no longer on the ball and seemed permanently tired... to think I even encouraged you to have a glass of wine to help you sleep! When your Mum rang to explain what had happened, it was a wake-up call for me too... I was drinking far too much, since then I've cut right back.”

That's where you and me differ, Mike. I'm incapable of cutting back, it's all or nothing... I dare not even risk a sip... that's how I'm wired.”

I appreciate your honesty, Tania, and admire your determination.”

***********

I can pick you up if you like, so you can have a drink.” Tania offered.

I can't believe its Christmas already. I suppose it would look bad if I didn't go.”

Pick you up at eight then?”

If you must.”

Tania smiled. “Mike, its the staff Christmas party, not a funeral.”

Bah Humbug.”

Pick you up later.”

***********

Go on Tania, one won't hurt,” Chrissy yelled over the disco.

Yeah, let your hair down for once, it's Christmas,” Spence added. “What can I get you?”

Just a soda and black, please. Spence, I don't need alcohol to have a good time.” She thought back to last Christmas, spent in a miserable drunken stupor. She turned to Mike. “I love this song, come on, it's time you had a dance.”

Chrissy and Spence linked arms and sauntered over to the bar. Spence ordered their drinks and a Soda and black for Tania. “Go on,” Chrissy encouraged, she's such a stick in the mud.”

Can you put a double shot of vodka in that,” Spence asked, with a wink and a wry smile.”


© Copyright 2018 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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