Dani sat in the beige chair in the corner, the one with the fake leather that smelled like disinfectant and squeaked every time she shifted her weight. Her legs were pulled up to her chest and her chin rested on her right knee. She ran her finger along the windowsill over and over again, feeling the contrast of the smooth frame and rough drywall texture. She stared out the window, wondering what life might be like if she could make it through all this. If she could actually stop.
The giant oak tree outside had just started to sprout leaves, and the grass showed the earliest hints of green. It had rained the night before, and the color outside in the world seemed brighter today. More vivid.
Being here, in this place, made it easier. Obviously, no one was allowed to use anything in the building. No one was allowed to bring it in. She couldn't leave and go get it, not if she wanted back in. It was part of the agreement. She'd surrendered her bags to be searched when she came through the doors fourteen days ago.
The guard at the door had been kind, but firm. Eyeballing her as he asked if she was hiding anything, gauging her face and body language for any kind of reaction. He'd been here a while, she guessed.
She hadn't tried to sneak anything in, though if she was being completely honest with herself, the thought had crossed her mind.
She slept a lot at first. Being awake made her stomach turn. Her mind always told her to fix it, to make it stop, to find a drink. When the shakes got bad there was a nurse who put in an IV and gave her something that helped. She figured it was phenobarbital, but didn't ask.
The nurses were always so calm, even when she was coming undone.
Dani didn't remember much about the first few days except being curled up in the fetal position a lot. They tried to get her to eat, but not much stayed down. Something about her heart rate being too fast and her blood pressure being high. Lots of meds in the beginning.
It got better eventually, though she still had the tremors occasionally. Her dreams had become more bold and disturbing, and she sometimes had trouble telling reality from the dreams. The counselors said it was normal, though nothing felt normal about it at all.
Normally, she would just drink. Not that drinking is normal, but to her it was.
She worried about things staying this way, the inability to discern truth from fiction. She worried a lot. The anxiety was almost overwhelming at times, but they had meds for that too.
She found it all so terribly ironic. Here she was, supposedly to stop drinking. Here they were, handing out even stronger drugs. It seemed inconsistent.
She resigned herself to it all. She remembered learning about detox in nursing school briefly. There's a method to the madness, or at least that was how they explained it.
It was a little belief. A little doubt. Somehow it seemed to make sense.
It all came into focus a bit more with each day.
She felt a little less crazed. A little more sane.
There were all these people here who understood. Who had spent years helping others through the worst of this. Who had been through it or were going through it now. Since she'd been in the program, two more had come in and she wondered if that is what she looked like at first too. The hollow eyes, the disillusioned expressions, the sense that they were just lost and angry. The vomiting.
Oh, the wretching. The dry heaves.
That had been the worst.
She reasoned that most people didn't exactly go to rehab by choice. Someone, something took them and dropped them off, pushed them through the doors.
The last guy was maybe in his early twenties. Maybe. He might have been younger, even. How had he ended up here so young? Dani struggled with that. His mother was crying at the door. Begging him to fix himself. Sobbing. They wouldn't let her back with the patients. Dani was grateful for that. Her own mother had needed to go to rehab years before but hadn't.
Honestly, it wasn't a huge surprise Dani had ended up here in this place. Seeing someone else's mom actually caring enough to force this upon him made her wish that things had been different.
Maybe if they were different, she wouldn't be here. Maybe.
She stared out the window again, watching the cars pass on the road below.
She tapped her nails on the window.
She wasn't exactly here voluntarily, but she wasn't fighting it either. Not anymore. She was tired of fighting.
The judge had given her options. Or at least had made it seem that way. By then, Scott knew everything and still sat behind her in court during the hearing. He didn't leave. She didn't understand.
She didn't deserve him.
The district attorney couldn't charge her with a DUI since she hadn't been tested that night for alcohol levels, and she fell below the cutoff when she was interrogated the next day.
She had caused some property damage, though. Driving off after hitting a couple cars isn't exactly a good idea, especially when there is a party nearby and there are several eyewitnesses.
There was another hit and run that night on the other side of town, which she was initially accused of too. Which is also why her car had been impounded by the police. Thankfully, surveillance cameras in the area showed a different car. A different suspect. She breathed a huge sigh of relief when the public defender told her that she wasn't implicated in that one anymore.
That accident had put a mother and two kids in the hospital.
At least all she had done was hit some cars. Old, cheap cars at that.
She'd dodged a huge bullet and she knew it.
When her car was released from impound the week after the accident, she finally saw the front end damage. It was mostly the bumper. Cosmetic. The car still ran fine, and she didn't have the money to fix it.
At least she hadn't hit that lady and her kids.
She found comfort in the strangest things sometimes.
They were still charging her with hit and run though, which is what she sat before the judge for three weeks ago. He stared down at her over the top of his reading glasses with a disapproving face that bore a hole right into her soul and made her feel like she was four years old sitting in the corner again.
He looked like a disappointed father.
The judge gave her the option. She could go to trial, or she could go to rehab and the charges would be reduced. She would still have to be on probation for a while, but would serve no jail time if she completed rehab and stayed out of trouble. He knew she was an alcoholic. He knew even though they couldn't charge her with the DUI. He knew even though she'd never admitted it. He just knew.
For that, she was actually grateful. She was tired of hiding. Tired of the lies.
More than that, she was afraid what she was capable of.
Her lawyer mumbled something under his breath about how the judge was giving her a gift and she should take it. She turned to see Scott nodding. He reached for her hand and urged her to take the deal. Go to rehab.
He whispered I love you, and she agreed.
Within 48 hours, she was packed and on the way. Scott drove her here, nudged her out of the car, kissed her goodbye when she checked in.
Dani knew she didn't deserve him, but she needed him. She needed someone who actually wanted her to be better. Someone who loved her. Someone who supported her. She needed him.
She slipped the journal out again from the drawer and started writing. It always came out feverishly. She pressed down so hard on the paper that it ripped in places.
The counselor told her this would help. She wasn't sure, since it seemed like everything she wrote just made her sad or angry. It all hurt. Her mother, her childhood, Bryan, that night when he found her, waking up on his street, the police. All of it.
Almost all of it.
The only good thing she had to hang onto was Scott. For reasons that made no sense to her, he was in this. He wasn't running away. He sent her letters almost every day.
For the first time in a long time, for the first time she could remember, she was hopeful.
She wasn't about to let go now.
She had to do this. For him. For herself.
She looked at the clock. It was almost 4pm. Time for the meeting. The first one. The first of many. She was required to go to this meeting every day starting now. She'd have to go every until she was discharged. And then she had to find one on the outside after. And go. Her probation dictated it.
She put the journal away and shut her door almost completely. Walked down the hallway trying to fight the urge to peek into everyone else's rooms. She pulled her sweater tightly around her, suddenly cold from the draft in the hall.
She walked into the circle and sat down. Crossed her arms. Took a deep breath. The leader began the meeting, and Dani struggled to stay focused. She was nervous. She hadn't been out of her room much since she got there except for meals. The voices of the other people seemed muffled in her head, and then they were looking at her.
They were all looking at her.
She slowly stood up, with weary legs that she wasn't sure would hold her weight. She gulped hard. She had to say it.
For the first time. She had to say it.
My name is Dani and I am an alcoholic. It's been two weeks since my last drink.
This is a continuation of a story that already has several parts. You can find them here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6.
This week's prompt was a visual one:
|A piece from the Barbara Kruger installment at the|
Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.
Worlds Worst Moms