He was a bit dizzy and far from steady on his feet. One drink… He only needed one drink to stop his hands from shaking. Beer, wine, cider, liquor… Anything would do the trick, he just needed it now. One hand pressed on the bed, to keep his balance, he pulled the wires attached to his chest, one by one, clumsily.
Why are you here, young man?
The weak yet soft voice made him jump a little. Still on a half-high, he hadn’t noticed the woman sleeping in the bed right next to his.
He turned around to face her and leaned a bit forward to see the face barely emerging from the pastel blankets. He explained that friends of his had dropped him over after finding him in an especially bad state, by his appartment’s front door.
I’m an alcoholic.
It always surprised him, how easily these words came out. He felt he should have been ashamed, but he wasn’t. It was just life, just his life, and trying to hide the obvious was far too time and energy consuming. He had long figured that out. Yet the mysterious woman didn’t seem to judge him.
How old are you… Twenty?
Twenty two, actually. And already three years into this drinking hell of his. He took a step back, and sat on his hospital bed to be able to focus on the conversation better. She tried to smile, but her face cringed with pain. Her head was covered with white bandages and her cheeks black from ear to ear. Her left eye was filled with blood, and he risked asking what had happened to her…
I… I was just getting out of my house, and heading to work…
She paused, and he noticed how her tongue tried to wet her lips. He grabbed the glass on her bed table, and poured her some water. Her eyes were sparkling with gratefulness when he delicately slipped the straw in her mouth.
She was fifty one years old, had a loving husband that worked all week long far away from their home to prepare a nice retirement for both of them. She lived a quiet life, not prone to any excess, just waiting for the day they could settle together for good and enjoy each other’s company.
While crossing the street to get to her bus stop, a motorcycle had missed the red light and violently hit her. The rising sun had probably blinded the rider… The rising sun… He vaguely remembered that he too was outside when the first rays had lit over the city. She just wanted to get to her job. He was stumbling, almost pointlessly, kicking his last empty beer can on the sidewalk.
He felt sick to his stomach, and wondered if it was just another reminder that he needed a drink, or a hint of guilt, realizing how he was wasting his life.
You’re not leaving just yet, are you?
He had almost forgotten his plan of running away from the hospital, again. Listening to the frail woman, and a bit upset about her bad luck, while he was flushing his own life willingly, he started to doubt. He knew what staying and asking for help would imply. Days, weeks, perhaps months of fighting demons without alcohol’s dizziness. Pure hell. As if she was reading his mind, she pulled him out of his thoughts.
You seem like a bright young man… Why don’t you let them cure you?
She seemed so confident. Even his parents always told him they’d try to help him, but she said it as if it was obvious that he could make it. This time. Maybe he could?
I am getting tired. How about we both nap a little… They’ll come in about an hour to distribute lunch trays. We can discuss some more, if you still have doubts then?
She asked for one last sip, and thanked him.
I am Galvin, by the way…
This time, she managed to smile, showing a few missing teeth, and he felt terrible for her.
Nice to meet you, Galvin! I am Debra…
He left the plastic glass on the bed table, and lay on the bed as she rolled on her side, turning her back to him. The room was turning a bit as he let his head on the small pillow, but he fell fast asleep nonetheless.
The voice pulling him from his nap was soothing and familiar.
Well, I sure didn’t expect to find you here, when the emergency room nurse called home, Gal!
She could have said that on a shaming tone, but his mother just seemed happy to see he hadn’t run away from the building, like many times before. A nurse was re-attaching the wires to his chest, and he turned his head to his right, to see an empty bed.
Has Debra been transferred?
The nurse looked puzzled. Her hands kept checking every monitor and IV tubes. She seemed to hesitate to answer…
You mean Mrs Cornwell? Oh Darlin’ she passed away early this morning, not long after you were brought in… You probably didn’t even notice when we came to move her. You were still pretty drunk back then!
Galvin frowed with confusion. Oddly, he felt lighter than he had in years. Was this how it felt to know your life was at a turning point, and to be ready to take the right path back home?
His mother asked what he had whispered, but he curled up, closed his eyes and pretended to fall asleep again.
Via today’ Word of the Day Challenge; Mentor