Last night, I submitted this short story to The New Yorker. I never planned to share it on here, but with a little encouragement I figured I had nothing to lose.
“A girl struggles to make it through the day after her best friend’s passing with just a bottle of whiskey as her companion. She is desperate for someone to rescue her, but who is it going to be?”
Reagan curled her fingers around the lid of the toilet in her tiny bathroom. They were trembling and even more pale than usual. She prayed that she was done. There was nothing else left in her. Clutching the porcelain toilet she tried to lift herself off the floor, but to no avail. Her fingers slipped and she fell back down.
She buried her face on the cool, hard floor wondering if anyone was going to come home. The only sounds in that house were her screaming and crying and “Whiskey Lullaby.”
The song played, “She finally drank her pain away a little at a time- But she never could get drunk enough to get him off her mind.”
Was that her future? She sobbed and screamed out in pain begging God to bring Jack back and have this just be another bad dream. She clinched her eyes shut as tight as she could but when she opened them he wasn’t in front of her- just the bottle of Jack she had been nursing since the night before. Poetic. She tilted it to her mouth.
Her tears fell into her mouth and mixed in with the whiskey. Reagan threw the bottle down and looked around. Stupid house, stupid school, stupid life. All she needed was to be three hours away from that chair. The chair she felt glued to when she found out. She was frozen and all she could do was mouth the words “he’s gone” over and over again.
Reagan scoffed and rubbed her eyes. He’s gone? Jack can’t be gone. It wasn’t supposed to work out this way. He was supposed to be the light at the end of the really dark tunnel that she had been in. Who would the light be now?
She brought herself up to a seated position with her back pressed against the cast iron tub. Reagan felt around the floor for the picture. She clung to it for dear life, trying to find something to believe in again, anything to get her off of that bathroom floor. Why did that damn song keep playing? Maybe she was losing her mind.
She took another swig. Reagan knew it was not going to help anything, but how was it going to hurt? Nothing could be worse than the pain that had been ripping through her insides since 6:07 the night before when she got that phone call that would change the entire course of her life.
Where was everyone? All Reagan wanted last night was to be alone and now that she finally was she wished desperately that someone would walk through the door. Being alone meant that she couldn’t ignore her feelings. The whiskey and music couldn’t even drown them out. God knows she’s been trying all day.
Her phone buzzed…again. She picked it up and threw it as hard she could at the wall. Everyone kept calling and texting, but the one person that could help her couldn’t call. He was never going to call again.
She fell back to the floor and brought her knees to her chin. Rocking back and forth she wondered how she was going to get through this one. She squeezed that picture close to her damp face and prayed until she fell asleep.
Warm arms closed around her. She knew they weren’t his, but she thought that maybe as long as she kept her eyes closed, she could pretend they were.
She whimpered, and then felt a cold cloth running over her face.
“Oh Reagan. Shh, it’s going to be okay. We’re going to get you through this,” the sweet voice whispered.
Reagan kept her eyes closed, and she could almost see Jack sitting there over her. A faint smile crossed her lips, and she savored the moment knowing she wouldn’t smile like that again for a long time.