Alkies

He only came to this party to drink. He's an alcoholic, completely dependent on the numbness the whiskey brings to get him through every day. He's alone, He's depressed, his family's abandoned him, and he's starting to wonder whether life's worth living at all. Then, at the party, he meets a beautiful girl who, for whatever reason, seems interested in getting to know him. Will she fix his world?

As it turns out, no.

But she'll sure as hell shake it up a bit.

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1. Alkies

Last Tuesday was Christmas day, and the six-year anniversary of the first time I got drunk. Age of fourteen, double-locked in my stepdad’s parlour with half a decanter of whiskey. Since then, I’ve lost count. What’s it now? Two hundred? Three hundred? More. To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time I was sober.

     I wish I’d never come to this fucking New Year’s party. It’s a lot of fuss over nothing, but then again, every celebration’s a lot of fuss over nothing. To me, nothing really seems worth celebrating. To most of these overdressed dopes, a new year means some sort of new start- tomorrow, my classmates’ll all spend a couple of minutes wallowing in pathetic excuses for hangovers before hitting the gym or the study room. It’s like they think they can make it all better. The sad thing is, they actually can. After this party, meanwhile, I’m going to drink myself into a fuzz, go home, and then nurse another bottle of whisky or two alone. Probably do something reckless. Last Tuesday, I walked into the bathroom of my flat, tore the mirror off the wall and smashed it on the ground. I saw myself in those shards, my dark hair splayed over my shoulders like a growth of fucking weeds, my skin yellowed and purpled by layer on layer of carelessness, my blue eyes sticking out from my face like there was no flesh to hold them in. I had to punch a new hole into my belt that day. Then, I took my penknife and filled in a couple of those blank spaces on my arms. The new tattoos stung like chemical burns in the scalding water of the shower. I used to think they made me stronger. They don’t; they drain me dry. They make me weaker. But I’m in too deep to stop now. After that, I covered my stomach with my shirt and my arms with my sleeves and went back to drinking. That’s how I spent my Christmas. My roommate and the rest of the fucking world were at home with their families. I had a family once. Well, I still do, but they don’t want me. I have a girlfriend, but she doesn’t want me any more either. The only friends on this earth that want me are the glass ones under my bed.

     The flashing neon lights at this party are jabbing hot stings into my eyes and the music’s throbbing so hard it’s pulling my heart into my mouth. I’ve decided I hate it here; I just came for the booze. The booze is slowly killing me and shoving me closer to the edge every day, but I need it.

     Suddenly, a voice from right beside me makes me jump.

     “How many have you had?”

     I turn. There’s a girl sitting on the sofa next to me, with one leg perched jauntily on the other and a huge, lopsided grin on her face. Her blonde curls, pulled into two bunches, crackle white in the light from the window, and her crimson lipstick and bright blue eyes seem oversaturated in this neon fog. The girl runs the tip of her tongue along her upper lip and opens her mouth, but her words are muffled, out of synch with her mouth like a badly-dubbed film. My first thought is that she’s beautiful. Beautiful, surreal, hazy. Like a ghost. I’m drunk. I shake my head and try to see her properly.

     “You’ve got the right idea.” The girl smiles, draping one hand over the back of the sofa. “God. This sucks, doesn’t it? I mean, what the hell do these idiots think they’re celebrating?”

     She has a bottle in her hand, made from gold metal, and there’s something familiar about the way she tips her head back and squeezes her eyes shut as she drinks. The way she groans as she pulls it away, like it hasn’t given her an ounce of pleasure. Like she just needs it.

     I nod, dumbly. The girl smirks at me, chewing her bottom lip, and I fidget, feeling my blood starting to bubble hotter in my chest. I’ve only been sitting with her for a few seconds, and I can already hear my thoughts going crazy. My fucking conscience. It can’t tell me what to do. Not any more.

     No, not this. You promised yourself this wouldn’t happen again. Not again.

     “Sure,” I say.

     “Yeeee-ah,” the girl drawls. “Fuck New Year’s, am I right?”

     “Absol… utely.”

     I try to hold my bottle loosely, hanging it between my knees, like I don’t need it with every molecule of my soul. Acting. Any experienced alcoholic’s greatest achievement. I can’t tell whether the girl’s drunk; her gaze never flutters from mine and her eyes are flickering purple and blood-red, but that must just be me. Her voice sounds strange somehow, almost disembodied, but that must just be her accent, neatly English, lisped by the gaps in her teeth. I let her keep talking. I don’t know how long we sit there, together, talking about nothing, because words never last long in my head. All I know is that after she arrives, I start to feel… different. Safer. Like I want to trust her, like her, know more about her. Even though I know the alcohol’ll eventually force me to forget. I’m used to forgetting things, especially the things other people remember me by. The things that get me labelled lightweight and cheater and player. The things I let happen, because I’m a slave to these two diseases called alcoholism and lust. It’s not my fault. I can’t help it. I fight with my girlfriend every other day. Sleeping around’s never been the right way to get back at her, but maybe it’s a start. I don’t know. I’m lost. I was done for long ago.

     The girl lays her hand on my shoulder, after a minute or twenty, and asks me if I want to go somewhere quieter with her. We get up to leave just as the entire crowd stands up and starts embracing and yelling Happy New Year. I’m not listening to them; I’m too busy wiping away dizziness and looking at her. God, she’s beautiful.

     “God, I’ve got a killer headache,” the girl says.

     I savour the feeling of the hot fog in my head drowning in cold water as we walk out into the street. This part of the city’s a mess of back alleys, with enough corners to make anyone give up on looking over their shoulder. My heart’s pounding, but only out of dumb nerves. I want her. I let her lead me into a side street, push me up against a wall and kiss me, one hand hooked into my waistband, the other knotted into my collar. I kiss her back. There are fireworks going off somewhere in the distance, and they’re making the air taste of gunsmoke. I think her lips taste of blood underneath the whiskey, but that’s probably just me.

    

     The next morning, I wake up, alone, huddled in the corner of the alleyway with nothing but an empty beer can beside me. I stumble home, dig a bottle of whiskey out from under my bed, and huddle with it in the corner of the bathroom. I fuss a stray shard of that broken mirror with my blood-caked fingers, picking at the fresh twin scabs on my throat. Fucking hell, they hurt. I vaguely wonder, without really caring, where they came from.

     Ten hours later, I finally remember the girl, but only the parts my mind wants me to see. Our fumbling hands. Hers in my hair, on my chest, my stomach. Mine up her shirt. Her kisses; she was eager, impatient. Hungry. At about five in the evening, I realise there’s a bite mark on my tongue. I remember that tang of hope- just barely there, but there all the same- that she could fix me. Stay. Make me better. I remember her lips trailing down my neck. The words she whispered in my ear, her voice suddenly rasped like her mouth was full of broken glass.

    

     “You’re mine.”

 

     How about the needle-sharp fangs sliding down into the gaps in her teeth, and the explosion of black agony in my throat? Surely that wasn’t real. I don’t really care. In the end, I’m going to forget it all anyway. Water under the bridge. Mist in the wind. Fever dreams and desperate fantasies. By the time evening’s rolled around on the first day of the new year, I’ve covered the bite mark with a plaster, thrown my blood-soaked shirt into the bin, and stumbled back into my room to dig for another bottle.

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