by Kendall Brunson
There’s the drink you don’t need but take anyway.
That’s every drink.
But the world is ending.
Your uncle, one of the early dead, passed it to your mom—a parting gift between the ever-quarrelling siblings. She called this morning saying she has “the fever.”
72 days of sobriety is nice, but it’s only 72 days. After this passes—if this passes—you can get there again.
Tomorrow, I’ll have 73 days.
You never thought the grocery store would sell out of toilet bowl cleaner and ham hocks, but this is a new world, baby. The first aisle is supposed to be stocked with toilet paper and tissues, but there are plenty of essential oils left.
You shift an aisle over where a woman wearing yellow dishwashing gloves snatches one of the two remaining bottles of Tylenol.
Why didn’t I think of that?
The woman has four bottles of wine in her buggy.
And where did she get those?
You shake off the thought, wait until the woman is gone, and grab the last bottle of Tylenol for your mom.
Then canned goods. Limit: two per customer. All that’s left are mushrooms and green beans. Each aisle is a new level of disappointment. There’s no bread, no eggs, no flour. You want to buy oatmeal, but that’s all gone too. Miraculously, you discover a lone bag of Doritos.
Maybe there is hope.
You call your mom and ask if she wants bouillon cubes, but you can’t hear anything over her coughing.
Before you got to 72 days, you got to 38. And before that relapse, 200. The problem with getting sober is that it shows you the reasons to keep drinking.
That’s a lie.
The next aisle, you buy a “Feel Better Soon” card for your mom. You’re crying and touch your eyes to dry the tears—mistake—and jerk your fingers away. This makes you cry more.
An older man sees you. He’s carrying a six-pack and a small bag of tissues. Offers you nothing. He looks like your therapist, who would remind you that you’re the one in control of your life and only you can control your choices. In this moment, you hate them both.
72 days is nice, but you could get there again if you really wanted.
No. Tomorrow, I’ll have 73 days.
The final aisle is fully stocked with alcohol. You shouldn’t be here, but there’s not an empty section in sight.
The bottles gleam.
You finally do.
The action is so quick. You can’t stop it. You grab a bottle of merlot from the aisle’s edge, and promise yourself it’s for your mom to go along with the card and the Tylenol.