Even the dull light from the sunset was giving Malory a splitting headache as she walked to the liquor store. It was only a mile and a half from her house, and she knew she was in no state to drive. Over the past three days, Malory had gone on a bender. A really, really bad one. The research trip she had went on to talk to some tree elves hadn’t ended well, at all. She had been careless, and followed by a troll, and...and now there was one less tree elf in the world, the dying species becoming even more rare. And it was all her fault. She hadn’t even managed to kill the troll afterwards, she had just ran. Ran away from the forest like that would make the problem go away. She drove for eighteen hours straight to get home, and once she had arrived, she hadn’t stopped drinking until she was out of alcohol.
All the windows in her home had been closed tightly, followed by the heavy curtains being drawn to block out the light. Her home became a dark cocoon for her to hide in, whether it be in her bed under a pile of blankets, or on the couch and mindlessly watching television, again under a pile of blankets. No matter where she was, she had a bottle of booze in her hands. It went from beer, to wine, to vodka, to something that tasted painfully sweet but went down way too smooth, to something she couldn’t remember, and then she was out. She was out and she needed more, now.
The walk to the liquor store had been easy enough, if her head hurt and sometimes the world tilted this way or that. Once there, Malory had grabbed a case of beer, a box of wine, and some brightly colored bottle of something—probably more vodka. With as much as her alcoholic arms could carry, she went to the register. The cashier seemed kind, totally ignoring the fact that a clearly intoxicated woman was buying enough booze to drown an elephant.
“Are you having a birthday party tonight?”
Malory had mindlessly handed over at credit card and her ID, which the cashier had checked and found out...today was Malory’s birthday. She hadn’t even remembered her own birthday.
“Are you having a birthday party tonight?” The cashier repeated, thinking Malory simply hadn’t heard her. And for some reason, Malory decided to tell the truth.
“Uh, no...I-I didn’t know it was my birthday. There’s no party...”
The cashier went quiet, finishing the transaction in silence and handing over the bags to Malory.
“Have a good day...” Was all she said to Malory as the drunken woman left the store.
Malory’s walk home was cold, though there were others walking around in just t-shirts and shorts comfortably. Malory’s insides felt like they were frozen, like she could see her breath when it left her mouth. But that just wasn’t possible.
Once she got home, Malory immediately cracked open a beer, and noticed her phone was blinking away on the kitchen counter. She could have sworn she had left that in her room...Or right, Thimbletack, her friendly house brownie. He probably set it out for her. But why? Going over to the little device, Malory picked it uo, and noticed several missed calls from her mother and her brothers, as well as a series of texts that went from wishing her a happy birthday, to asking if she was okay, to worrying about her safety for not responding. Malory’s hand shook, the phone slipping out of her hand, and she back away from it as if it would attack her.
Her feet carried her to the bathroom without her knowing, her fingers letting go of her can of beer. She poured her guts out into the toilet, all the alcohol and very little food from the past several days exiting her body the same way it went in. After her stomach was empty, she fell apart.
Laying on the bathroom floor and sobbing wasn’t the way Malory had intended to spend her birthday. Honestly, she had just planned on taking herself out for a nice dinner, talking to her mom and brothers over the phone, nothing to exciting but something definitely enjoyable. But this...the pain that consumed her chest was unbearable, like her heart, her very soul had been torn from her. What the hell was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she get her shit together? Sitting at home in the dark and drinking wasn’t going to solve anything, all it did was make things worse. Malory was so sick and so tired of everything.
People thought she was crazy.
She couldn’t be in a relationship.
She couldn’t ever have kids. Have a family.
She would probably die young while hunting.
There was the ache in her chest that wouldn’t go away no matter what she did.
She wasn’t satisfied with her life, but she couldn’t see herself doing anything else. This was all she knew. Hunting and researching and running and killing and loneliness. She couldn’t even have friends! The only people she was close to was her family. She cared about them more than anything. More than herself.
Malory was an alcoholic. She drank more booze than water some days. And she knew that. But that didn’t stop her. Even after realizing that something was wrong with her, something inside her was broken, she didn’t get rid of the new alcohol in her house.
Once she composed herself enough to walk again, Malory went back to the kitchen, and just put everything away. She didn’t drump it down the drain or throw it outside, she just put it away where it belonged. It was still there if she needed it. And she knew she would need it again, probably soon, but she was done for the night.
After sending messages to her family to say that she was fine and that she’d call them later, Malory ordered a pizza, a good pizza, then sat on the couch and put on a movie. Did she feel better? No—she had drank herself stupid for three days and forgot her own birthday. She wasn’t going to feel better for a long time. But if she didn’t focus on the pain, breathing felt a little easier. That’s all she could hope to do now.
And stay away from alcohol for at least a few more days.