EARLY IN THE MORNING

It's 4 am.

I want a drink.

Not the way other people want a drink; my way has nothing to do with enjoying it, caring for it or nursing it. When I drink, I water the desert inside me, I fill up the hole in my heart. I become whole again.

Mark once told me I drink like a Russian: indiscriminately. It is true. To me, there are three kinds of alcohol: colourless, yellow, red. The colourless is the best.

There is a bottle of Moskovskaya in the freezer. I put it there myself, years ago. The ice has built a fortress around it, but my upper body strength is considerable. I could wrench it loose in one desperate motion. Then my lips would meet the bottle's and I'd drink, tilting it further and further up, without even pausing for a breath. Oxygen is of much less importance to me than is alcohol.

Uncle Matt told me I never would be cured. He told me lots of things up in the cave at Red Rock Mesa. I've forgotten most of them, they aregone in the fog of alcohol poisoning and withdrawal symptoms, but I remember him giving me the gun and telling me to decide if I wanted to blow my head off or not. Because if I wanted to kill myself, a bullet was faster and less messy than drinking myself to death. He said he'd go for a walk while I made up my mind. He was gone for two days. Plenty of time to think about it.

I couldn't stop again if I started. For me to stop drinking the first time, uncle Matt had to completely overhaul me. When I climbed down from the mountain, there wasn't much left of the girl he had carried up there. He had taken what was inside me and molded it into another person; someone, anyone, who wasn't drinking. My anger was slightly reshaped into ambition and my fears firmly shielded from outsiders, by my newfound competence. Uncle Matt did that. He made me what I am.

It's over ten years ago. I'm a better climber now and uncle Matt isn't getting any younger. He might still be able to outsmart me and deck me, but I wouldn't bet on it. If he took me up there, I'd be gone as soon as he looked the other way. I'd hate to think I'd hurt him, but I don't know what I'd do if he was the only thing standing between me and the bottle.

So instead, I work. I run in the morning and in the evening. Everyone at the gym tell me I should pay extra for wearing out the equipment. I pace across the floor of my living room at night. My hope is that that someday I'll want to sleep as much as I want a drink. I have this idea that I'll be cured then.

FIN