She comes home from the office, feeling like a rag that has been wrung out. The key, slippery in her hands with sweat, won’t go into the lock until she makes several attempts. She suppresses the urge to simply batter at the barrier in frustration.
Flopping down on her chair, she kicks off her shoes. Literally kicks them off, the cheap footwear sailing across the room, the leather scuffed and dull though she polished them only this morning. At least she thinks it was this morning. It was that kind of day.
Every day now seems to be that kind of day.
The floor is gritty under the soles of her feet. She hasn’t vacuumed today. Maybe she didn’t vacuum yesterday either. She’s almost certain that she did it on Sunday. But Sunday was three days ago.
“At least I changed the sheets, dammit,” she mutters, aloud, glaring at the bed as though daring it to contradict her. “You can’t say I didn’t do that.” The bed seems to look back passive-aggressively. She can’t remember when she last shared it with anybody.
Oh yes, you can, her mind whispers, you can if you want to.
The hell with it, she decides. There’s no point remembering the things that used to be.
Her eyes go to the cabinet under the telly. She can feel the dark brown liquid burning the back of her throat, and the urge to walk over and open the cabinet is so strong she begins rising from the chair without even thinking about it.
Steady, her mind orders. Hold on. You aren’t an alcoholic. You don’t drink just like that. Go and have a bath, change, and then, if you still want to drink, we’ll think about it.
If she still wants to drink? That’s a laugh. The bottle is still half full, though, and that’s something. She hasn’t emptied it yet.
The mobile, on the table by her hand, rings. She already knows who it is without even looking. “Yeah. Hi.”
“You coming out tonight?” The voice on the other hand, offensively cheery. “We’re all getting together. Dinner, maybe a movie.”
“No,” she says automatically. “I’m exhausted and near broke and...”
“Come on. It’ll cheer you up. And don’t worry about the expense. It’s my treat.”
Well, what the hell. At least it’ll beat sitting on the bed all evening, sipping alcohol from the glass and staring at the telly, not taking in a thing that’s on the screen – as though any of that crap matters anyway. It’s maybe even worth listening her vacuous friends talking about vacations and bitching about their bosses. She can tune them out.
She’s become something of an expert at tuning things out.
“Have you fainted or something?” the voice on the mobile asks. “Are you there?”
“Yeah,” she says, and pushes herself all the way out of the chair. “Yeah, I’m there.”
Much later, she lies in bed in the orange lounge suit she’d been given as a gift on her last birthday. “It’ll suit you fine when you’re in Guantanamo Bay,” they’d said, laughing. She’d laughed, too, and sworn to herself never to touch it again. And then she’d discovered it made a perfect pair of pyjamas.
The evening had been pretty much a washout, but then she’d expected nothing else. She rubs her neck and shoulders, kneading the muscles, trying to make them relax. The telly is on, some advertisement trying to sell her a credit card. It about sums up the day: something she doesn’t want and doesn’t need, thrust in her face.
Longingly, she looks at the cabinet again, and shakes her head. She’s already had a drink, two drinks, or was it maybe even three. No more for tonight. She isn’t an alcoholic, not even halfway there.
The phone rings again. “Hi,” the voice says. “You were pretty glum all evening. Something wrong?”
She sits up and holds the phone to her ear. “No, I’m fine,” she says. “I enjoyed myself, really.”
“Good. So you’re on for tomorrow evening, as well?” There is a brief pause. “You didn’t forget, did you?”
She looks down her body at her feet. The toenail polish is chipped and flaking.
“I’ll be there,” she says.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2015