We all make mistakes. Some are pretty harmless. Others…not so much. Sometimes mistakes cost us something, something precious. I lost something precious as a consequent for my actions.
I’m not supposed to drink. Three years ago I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas – as a result of constant binge drinking. I’d fallen in with the wrong crowd; we would meet up in the woods and drunkenly bob our heads in time to the heavy metal blaring from the portable stereo. My parents were always working night shifts, so it was easy to sneak in and out whenever I wanted.
I remember I’d had a stomach ache for couple of days, on off, but hadn’t thought much of it since it was quite dull. But as the weeks went on, I started to realise that it was getting worse. Waves of nausea would almost knock me off my feet, and I’d lost my appetite altogether. Then one night as I was boozing with my friends, I suddenly threw up. Someone screamed at the red blood that swirled in the yellow liquid, and then everything went blank.
I woke up a few days later in a hospital bed, recovering from a pancreas resection – the inflamed parts of my pancreas were removed and the ducts directly connected to my intestines, reducing the pressures on the ducts and improving the drainage of the pancreas. After several weeks in recovery, not to mention endless lectures from my parents, I was allowed home, and after a month of close surveillance from my parents to make sure that I was attending my Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, things started to return to normal. Well…as normal as they could; I was moved to another school, and that’s when I met her.
She was as messed up as me, yet she was able to give her heart to help anyone. Her chocolate eyes would always betray her if she ever decided to hide what she thought or felt, and she gave me the protection and affection I needed. We were friends instantly – best friends. She opened up a part of me I kept buried – she had the key nobody else could have. I told her that I was a recovering alcoholic, yet it didn’t deter her. I remember she smiled and simply said,
“It’s okay. I’ll always be here for you. I promise.”
Then she kissed my cheek and held me close.
“You are so brave,” she whispered.
She never let me forget that. Yet I still let her down.
We’d all gone out into town. Something happened that I couldn’t talk about. I’d been bottling it up for what felt like years, but I had only been in recovery for a little over fourteen months. It hurt because reality was different to the desire, the thoughts, the imagination…
We were dancing in a club, her and I; the others were on a different floor. As much as I wanted to join them, screaming the words to Slipknot and Black Veil Brides songs, I continued to strut and jive to the likes of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. For her. She was so beautiful – her eyes were closed and she was so lost in the music. I’d never seen her like this. Mesmerising. Exquisite. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.
Then some asshole came over, started talking to her. She leaned in to hear him. Laughed at whatever he’d said. I felt something in the pit of my stomach stir, come to life. It screeched angrily at him, whoever the hell he was, breathing fire that burned my insides. She didn’t notice that I had gone until I had knocked back my eighth shot of black sambuca.
“What are you doing?” she chastised me.
“What does it look like?” I spat.
“You’re not supposed to be drinking. What about your-”
“ANOTHER!” I shouted over the music, ignoring her.
“Kirsten, you’ve had enough,” she said, trying to take the shot from me, but I quickly downed it, spilling most of it down myself. I wiped my mouth with the back of a gloved hand, eyes glaring at her, before brushing past her and kissing the first guy that made eye contact with me. I took him by the hand, stumbling and pushing past people to get to the gents’ toilets. But she intersected.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I screamed at her as she dragged me outside. I tugged my elbow out of her grasp and fell over.
“What am I doing?” she yelled back. “What am I doing? What are you doing? Look at you! Look at the state of you – you’re a mess!”
The look of disgust and hurt on her face seemed to sober me up immediately. I stood up and reached out to her but she recoiled away.
“Don’t touch me,” she said coldly. She couldn’t even look at me.
“I said don’t touch me.”
The taxi back to hers was tense and uncomfortable, the silence thick inside the vehicle. I barely dared to breathe in case I made things even worse. I felt sick, but I managed to keep the bile from rising up in my throat, causing a sob to escape my lips instead. I wasn’t sure if she hadn’t heard it due to the rain tapping on the windows and the hood of the taxi, or whether she chosen to ignore it, but either way I decided to try again.
“Kat, I’m so sorry-”
“Stop the car.”
“I’m sorry?” the taxi driver spluttered slightly.
“I said stop the car.”
She didn’t even wait for it to come to a complete halt before opening the door and storming off through the curtains of rainfall. I called out to her, cursed, and paid the driver before running after her, taking care to stay on my feet.
“Kat!” I shouted. “Kat, wait!”
I eventually caught up to her, grabbing her shoulder. She merely stopped, not bothering to look at me.
“I’m really sorry, Kat!” I shouted over the rain. “I was being selfish!” Nothing. “Please, say something! Yell at me, hit me, curse me, anything!”
She spun around then, eyes flashing in the light of the streetlamp above her. I couldn’t stop the flinch that the look caused to move me, and I could feel the beginnings of tears threaten to fall, prickling the corners of my eyes, a lump rising in my throat.
“What? So you can feel better about yourself?” she snapped. “Why did you do it? You know you’re not supposed to drink at all. One drink – one little drink – could kill you. You get that? You could’ve killed yourself!”
“Well maybe I should!” I screamed before I could stop myself. Her eyes widened, tears shimmering in those chocolate brown eyes. “Maybe I should!” I screamed again, the alcohol my lips consumed now consuming them. “Because what’s the point in me being here if I can’t have you?”
“You do have me!” she cried. “I thought I was your friend! I thought-”
“You don’t get it!” I screeched. “Don’t you see? I love you!”
The rain seemed to cease slightly, as if even the heavens were as shocked by my confessional outburst as she was.
“I love you, you stupid cow!” I sobbed. “I love how you become a part of your favourite songs whenever they come on the radio. I love how you’re so down to earth and compassionate to everyone. Hell, I even love how you believe that unicorns exist in Canada! I just love you!” The look on her face was one of shock, and she seemed to pale. “Well?” I asked, my voice still shaking from the tears. “Say something!”
“I…” She couldn’t think of the words. “I…I can’t do this.” She started to walk away. “I can’t do this right now.”
She left me standing in the dark, shivering and sobbing in the middle of the road. I couldn’t care less though. I just knew that I’d lost a wonderful friend for good.
I still regret what I did that night. I hurt the one person I cared for the most. I made her mad. It’s been a week; I know I’ve lost her for good.
I’m awoken by a buzzing noise. I look to my alarm clock. 04:13. I realise through my drowsiness that it’s my phone vibrating. Picking it up sleepily, I look at the caller ID and my heart skips a beat.
“Hello? … You are? … Okay, I’ll just get some shoes on and I’ll be right down.”
Sure enough her car is there, waiting outside my house. I try to ease the trembling as I struggle to properly shut the car door after me. I don’t look at her, and she doesn’t look at me. She just drives.
We reach our destination within fifteen minutes. Parking the car, she leads the way towards the beach and we sit on the sandy steps, overlooking the sea. We stay silent for what feels like a lifetime, watching as dawn starts to creep into the skies. The sun’s fingertips are curling over the edge of the distant waters, and the wind brings a taste of salt to the tongue when it darts out nervously.
“I’ve been thinking a lot,” she starts. Looking at her I see a slight frown creasing her forehead as she thinks of what she’s going to say next. “I’ve been thinking a lot, and I want to apologise.”
I’m stunned to say the least. “You?” I ask. “But you don’t need to. None of this is your fault.”
“I thought that maybe-”
“No! No, it’s not your fault! I think I just have a thing about wanting what I can’t have…and then getting in a strop because I can’t what I want.” Our laughter was light yet nervous. “I’m not going to drink again,” I say, holding up my little finger, bent like a hook. “I promise.”
She must be able to read the sincerity in my eyes because she hooks her little finger around mine, and we smile at each other before she rests her head on my shoulder and I hold her close to my side. We watch as the sun rises, calling upon a new day. A fresh start. A new beginning.