"Just finished it. Good stuff!!! Good job Jason!"
Wow! That was great to hear coming from someone of such stature! Just when I start to get down about sales lagging and the mistakes I still missed, I get a response like that and I'm back in the game! That being said, it's on to this week's Weekly Writing Prompt. As I discussed earlier this week, this was the prompt from writersdigest.com:
"Pretend you are a recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon while attending your high school reunion. Start your story with “I hadn’t had a drink in nearly 10 years” and end it with “If only I could remember where I left my pants.”
There's some pretty decent short stories on the blog for this prompt. Most people took it more seriously then I thought. But I don't think any of them went as dark as I did. I went way over the word limit, again, but why cut a short story to absolute bare bones, when you can still have a good SHORT story at just over 1,000 words. So here's this week's free writing sample. Enjoy:
I hadn’t had a drink in nearly 10 years. In fact, the last time I let that disease consume me had been a few weeks before my high school’s ten year reunion. I had gone out on what I had planned as a week-long preparation to increase my tolerance for alcohol before the magical night when I had been sure I would be consuming massive amounts of celebratory shots and drinking away memories. I went a little too hard that first night and was awoken by a police officer with my BMW in a ditch. I was booked because I knew better to blow. The judge still threw the books at me. This was my third disputed DUI and despite knowing my rights, I am a lawyer, the judge drew a line and hit me with the hardest fines he could without solid evidence of my blood-alcohol level. I had my bar license stripped from me, my driving privileges suspended, and forced to pay fines. The wake-up call was the loss of my ability to practice the job I had struggled so hard to obtain. And it became an even greater struggle to get my license to defend back. Two years of AA, rehab and kissing the judges ass got me that chance. And now I was never going to fall off that wagon again. Never. Again.
As I ordered water from the bar, I felt great, no longer getting the cold, clammy hands I used to when standing by a full assortment of alcohol. Still, her hand on my shoulder caused me to jump.
“Jonathan Henry Barth.”
There was only one girl in my graduating class who had ever had privilege in knowing my middle name. Hearing her say it now brought back hot afternoons in Kansas corn fields where her hand would be squeezing my neck and whispering my name, my whole name, over and over again.
I turned, looking down, then quickly back up. Audrey Michelle, whatever her last name is now, had hit another growth spurt since we graduated high school. She must have stood 5’10”, maybe 5’11,” no longer sitting at chest level to me as she had done when we had fallen in young love.
“Hello Audrey,” I said and smiled warmly at her. Her big brown eyes were filled with cunning thoughts. Her mouth opened up to a crooked smile revealing a gorgeous row of pearly whites.
“I missed you at our ten-year reunion,” she said sultry. She held up her right hand signaling for two drinks. She ordered “Jack and coke, but easy on the coke,” just like I used to pour them when we would drink out of the bed of my truck.
“Your husband like Jack too?” That was a loaded question, but I had to ask, as I could not help but notice the rings.
“Don’t be silly Johnny, that drink’s for you,” she put her slender right hand on my broad chest and winked at me. “And I would never bring my husband to an event like this.”
I felt a flurry of activity around my loins. Luckily for my conscious, I had never bothered with marriage. And I really lacked a conscious, which was a sad thing for Audrey’s husband. And while I was not going to worry about the moral ramifications of fornicating with a married woman, I would be doing it stone-cold-sober.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t drink. At all,” I said confidently and smiled at her brightly.
“I think you can splurge just this one night.”
“Last time I splurged it almost cost me my career.”
“This won’t cost you anything. I’ll take care of you if you get drunk.”
“Really, Audrey, I appreciate the offer, and that you still remember my drink.”
“Yes,” I found myself suddenly blushing at her and her uncompromising stare. “Our drink. But I can’t. I won’t. Let’s just mingle and see what everyone else is up to.” By now the barkeep had slid the two drinks in front of her and she grabbed them and turned to me, presenting my drink with her right hand. She used the drink in her left hand to block my view of the huge rock and sparkling wedding band. She smiled a smile I knew all too well, it was the smile that I used to get when she asked for “help with her homework.”
“Just one drink,” Audrey said. Her adult voice melting away to sound more and more like that young, fiery 17 year-old who had taught me so much about life. “For the memories.”
Just one drink. My hand reached out and grasped the cold condensation on the outside of the cocktail glass. I shook my head at her and we clinked glasses. I brought the smooth glass edge to my mouth. It tasted so good.
The water was cold and shocking. I could not tell up from down. I was in complete darkness. In water. Out of air. I swam, kicking my feet and my arms. Somehow I found my way to the surface just as my lungs could hold out no more. I took a mouthful of water and began coughing. My mind swirled around me. I was really drunk, but the cold water had brought me out of the fog of forgetfulness. I was in a pond, or a lake, or something. The water wasn’t as deep as it had originally felt. The rear wheels of my upside down car were slowly spinning to a stop. Another BMW. I pulled myself to the shore and my heart stopped. I stared ahead at the scene in front of me as I heard voices calling to me from behind, asking if I was okay, saying the police were on the way. There, floating next to the passenger side of my flipped car, were a pair of hands. I could recognize the pair of rings on the left hand. I momentarily thought about fleeing, but one thought keep me from running. If it wasn’t for this one thought I would have fled, reported my car stolen, and hoped no one saw us leaving together. But I was stuck. My life was over, but not as much as Audrey’s. If only I could remember where I left my pants.