Finale of “Falling Down Drunk” (The Preface)

31 Dec

I opened my eyes, and could practically hear myself blinking, they were so dry.  My arms were very sore.  I looked at them, evaluating the damage and saw scratches jaggedly sketched into the soft skin.  My head ached and my mouth was dry.  I licked my chapped lips with my sticky tongue and noted the repulsive combination of alcohol and sleep in my dry mouth.  I was very thirsty.  I wondered where I was.  It was very quiet, but bright.  I panned my eyes around, taking care not to move my tender head and neck and discovered I must be in the loft at the cabin-mansion.

It was a wonder I did not fall down the ladder, as drunk as I was last night!  I remembered that I was in trouble with Mary and Kim, and had great trepidation at the prospect of seeing them that morning.  I would really have to ingratiate myself to avoid a lot of trouble.  It was silent in the house, so I decided they must be outside on the wrap-around deck, drinking coffee, and looking over the ranch, as they did often.  I got out of bed and limped across the wood floor, feeling every muscle in my body, tight and sore.  What happened last night?  I slowly climbed down the ladder, adjusting to the pain. I gathered myself at the foot of the ladder, readying my demonor for a cloying performance and walked across the green carpet of the game room, well area really, since the house was designed to be large, open rooms, with no walls connected to the ceilings.  I slowly made my way across the polished wood floor of the “dining room” to the glass double doors.  I was determined not to look as hung-over as I felt.  I needed to curry favor by showing Mary (especially) that I was ok.  I walked outside, and tentatively sat down at the patio table with Kim and Mary, dreading the conversation to follow.  I knew I was going to get it.

Mary asked how I felt, and I lied and said “Fine” as excessively brightly as I could muster.  She said they were really worried last night—that Brenna, her seventeen year old niece, had wandered off in the same way the night she died, just four months ago.  As a sort of penance, Mary told me I would be calling my estranged parents that day.  Mary’s father had died three weeks ago, and she could not stand to see me avoiding my parents for a whole summer.  I didn’t want to, and knew nothing had changed with my parents, they were still unsupportive bigots, but I knew not to argue with Mary.  Mary asked if I had anything to say.  I apologized, but it wasn’t fulsome.  It obviously was not enough–awesome way to flatter her ego, Laurel.

Mary wanted to know why I had left Kim at the bar.  Kim looked at me curious about my explanation as well.  I didn’t have an answer.  I didn’t know myself.  I barely remembered what had happened, let alone my reasoning for it.  The main reason, I thought to myself, was that I was drunk and had blacked out. Out loud, I stammered an “I don’t know.”  Both women looked at me expectantly, unsatisfied with my lack of answer.  I still did not know why I had left Kim, so said nothing further.  Mary said, Kim probably wouldn’t want to hang out with me again—her way of saying Kim and  I would no longer be allowed to hang out.  She finished off her lecture by telling me this incident would never be mentioned again, which provided a little relief.  Mary got up and went somewhere, leaving Kim and me alone at the table.

As soon as Mary was out of ear-shot, Kim teased me and said “I’m fine,” in a sickly sweet tone, mocking my disingenuous words.  She said I looked like shit.  I divulged that my arms hurt, because I had somehow slipped down the riverbed last night.  I was sure I saw a horrified look flicker across Kim’s face, but it was gone in the next instant.  She told me she knew Dayton sucked and she was sorry that I was having such a bad time.  Then, she left me on the deck to go watch the game on her big screen television.  As I sat outside, too fatigued to do anything else, I thought—actually, I had not been missing my college-home ofColumbia, Missouri at all.  I was in happy, disbelief at how the situation in Dayton had changed.  What WAS wrong with me—I had no idea, but I was about to find out things were only going to get worse.


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