Editor’s Note: This article from Teresa Sweeney was the first of her short stories featured in the magazine(Issue 6). I love the idea of having a story like this included, definitely not something you would see in your normal food magazine! Teresa’s creative writing is on full display here. To see more of her work, please visit her website at www.teresasweeney.com To see all of Teresa Sweeney’s work for the magazine, click here- Teresa Sweeney
She usually wakes around three or four in the morning. Dying for a glass of water, dying for the loo. Her mouth will be dry and her tongue feels too big. She will probably have drank a bottle of wine last night. Or near enough. Sometimes I see the bottle in the morning, a small drop left just so she can deny having drank it all.
‘I didn’t finish it,’ she’ll say, annoyed with me already. ‘There’s a glass left yet.’ Of course there isn’t. There is barely a mouthful in the bottle. She knows that too.
First thing in the morning before she is even fully awake she will start the day long argument about how she won’t have a drink tonight. She worries about it all day. Worries that she’ll have to spend the evening with herself sober. ‘Remember what it’s like to go to bed sober?’ She doesn’t answer me. She can pretend all she likes, but she’ll make sure that she’s at home in the evening, makes sure she’s no plans that will take her from the house, stop her from drinking. But she stopped all that long ago. She does nothing, goes nowhere, sees no one.
‘There’s no more wine in the fridge,’ she’ll say later, panic quivering through her voice. There is never any more the next day. Whatever was there, she will have drank it.
‘Not all of it. I didn’t have all of it.’ She’s adamant. I smile. That little drop she leaves in the bottle would never be enough for her the next day, or any day. It’s not there to be drank later or there for someone else to drink. It’s there for show. It’s there so she can announce again and again how she didn’t drink it all.
‘Well done,’ I say with a real meanness in my voice. She ignores the tone, ignores me.
So there will be something urgently needed. Maybe bread or milk or yoghurt or cereal for the kids. She will just have to go out and get the shopping. Today, it has to be done today. And now, she has to go now. ‘No you don’t,’ I say. But she has to calm that panic.
She’ll buy too much of everything. ‘We don’t need that, or that, or that,’ I tell her. ‘It’ll cost too much. There isn’t enough money.’ She doesn’t listen. She throws everything in the basket that she thinks she will want ‘later’. She’s already forgotten what was so urgently needed. She’s really only putting in food that she thinks she’ll pick at and tear at when she’s have a few glasses. Food she likes when she’s drunk.
But even all that can be done without. The last thing she’ll put in the basket will be the bottle of wine. Almost as if she wasn’t really going to bother. We both know that’s crap. She’ll pick out the cheapest. ‘Wine is wine,’ she says, ‘great I got a cheap one,’ she’ll say, real pleased with herself now. ‘Well done,’ I sneer. ‘Not for tonight though, none tonight,’ she says, ‘tomorrow night.’
She’ll lay that bottle carefully in that basket. She’ll watch it in the checkout. Incase it might disappear on her. ‘That’ll happen later,’ I say.
Finally, around five or six in the evening, she says, ‘maybe just one. But definitely just the one.’ She’s cheered up already just at the thought of it. Reminds me of how she used to be.
She drinks that first drink like she hasn’t seen any liquids in a week. Greedily, she can barely let that glass out of her hand. She long ago forgot how to sip wine. She gulps it. She’s already planning her ‘top up’.
She rushes through that first drink so that she can refill it and start her second. By now feeling its effect, she starts talking excitedly. ‘Take it easy,’ I say to her, ‘or they’ll know you’re drunk already.’
But she stopped listening to me long ago. So she keeps talking, or scratching, or picking her nails. She’s acting a little edgy now.
‘I’m hungry,’ she announces. No one cares. They’re used to her habits by now. I roll my eyes. ‘Here we go,’ I think.
She cuts some cheese, toasts some bread, steals some chocolate from the children’s stash.
She’ll regret that. She does already, I see her checking her emaciated body to see if that food has taken shape yet. She gulps more wine.
Eventually she’ll feel sick. Too much food and way too much wine. But, if she admits being sick at all, she’ll blame the food. It’s never the fault of the alcohol. The alcohol is never to blame.
She’ll fall into bed around eleven. Too early for someone who doesn’t get up again until late morning. She’s too drunk to brush her teeth or clean her face or check on the kids.
She lies in bed, the lights off. ‘Shit, this room is moving.’ ‘It’s not,’ I tell her. But she’s already closing her eyes even tighter.
In the morning she feels queasy. She nearly always does. ‘You’re a fucking disgrace,’ I tell her, ‘you’re an embarrassment. You’re a drunk.’ There I’ve said it. I look at her staring back at me. I used to know her before all this. But I don’t know her anymore. I look at her, looking at me, my reflection in the mirror. She is me.
I drop my head with shame. I can’t stand this woman I’ve become. There is nothing more to say.