This is the beginning of a story that started with a simple smell, coffee. My mind ran away with me, and soon I had a paragraph. I have no idea where this is going, or what it will become, but I wanted to share it, regardless. This is also my first attempt at writing in first person. A quick warning: the story doesn’t start happy.
The smell of burnt coffee and stale cigarette smoke hung in the air, even though the detective was no longer seated across from me. I didn’t remember him leaving. I was only aware of my own position: perched precariously on the edge of a rose patterned love seat, hand clenched, knuckles white around a shredded tissue. My breathing was ragged and shallow, echoes of shed tears. My nose was raw and red; I sniffed delicately, dabbing briefly with the tissue. The clock in the corner ticked loudly, counting off the seconds of my changed life, intruding in on my thoughts; a black ragged turmoil that couldn’t be pinned, soothed or subdued.
My eyes strayed, for what seemed like the hundredth time, to the liquor cabinet in the corner, which mocked me with its silent unchanging presence. It whispered seduction in my ears, promising the relief of oblivion. It would be so easy to fall back into old destructive patterns, to say, “the Hell with it!” and lose myself in the golden liquid burn, allowing it to engulf my senses, my sanity, my self. Or what was left of it. But it had been years since I had walked down that path, and despite the temptation I knew that he would be disappointed in me if I surrendered. Him. John. Wherever he was now. The tears silently began to pour down my cheeks again. I choked off a sob, taking a deep shaky breath, closed my eyes, blocking out the vision of the empty chair across from me. When did the detective leave?
I opened my eyes. Had I dozed? The sun had changed position in the room, it’s rays now glowing warmly across my hand, the room taking on a pinky-orange cast with the impending sunset. My stomach growled and I rose from my seat, automatically smoothing the wrinkles out of my slacks. It seemed easiest to stick to routine and so I moved to the kitchen and began dinner. Chicken breasts, grilled, steamed broccoli and carrots, brown rice. John was on a low sodium diet, because of high blood pressure.
What was a I doing?! I stared helplessly at the table set for two, the two chicken breasts on the grill. Reality had reached out and slapped me in the face, and all I could do was take it. I turned off the stove; chicken and plates remained untouched. I didn’t need to eat. Memories slithered through my mind of a chilled tumbler, wet with moisture, ice clinking as I tipped the contents down my throat. I didn’t need that, either, I told myself without really believing.