“Jesus Christ, CJ!”
Chalmers stirred as the sound of her voice rang down upon him. He wasn’t waking up, because he wasn’t really asleep, but he was being drawn out from wherever he was by her sour tone.
He had yet to open his eyes, but he squeezed the lids shut tighter just the same to eliminate the possibility of any light at all getting to his eyes and ultimately his aching, pudding-head brain.
“Oops,” he said, but it sounded more like, “Ooopshhh,” as he forced his words into the floor.
“Have you been there all night?” Margie said. “Again?”
The linoleum felt cool on his face, nice really. A puddle of drool had formed near his mouth. When the unexpected burp erupted from his lips, his acidic breath splashed the fluid and the smell reminded him of his reason for his current position on the floor … scotch.
If his math was right, and even the slightest thought of math made him queasy, this was the seventh time she found him sprawled out on the kitchen floor, incapacitated, incoherent and incapable of meaningful communication.
“I mean …” Margie stood over him one hand across her stomach, one hand rubbing her forehead. Chalmers dared to open his eyes just ever so slightly. She never came into focus. He never moved his head, so the odd angle at which she appeared while being all fuzzy struck him as oddly funny.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she said. He vaguely remembers her saying those exact words around time number four, but that time there was crying and a little pleading. This time…
“You,” Chalmers said with great effort. He paused to erupt in another hiccough/burp that made his body jerk. “Don’t … under … stand. You … never…”
“Don’t, CJ!” Margie shouted down at him. “Don’t you dare! I miss her too, every day! Don’t you dare tell me I don’t understand. At least I faced it. I didn’t hide from it and escape up into some bottle of gin!”
“Scotch!” Chalmers sort of yelled. The need to correct her forced his head from the floor. He held it there in a weary delirium for a three count before letting it drop again into his drool.
“It’s been five years,” Margie said. “Five years she’s been gone. And you left shortly after that! I can’t do this. I want to live! I’m not going to watch you drink yourself to death. She … would hate what you’ve become.”
The soft cushion of alcohol gave way to a torrential wave of anger. He swung out at her with his arm with little chance of connecting. “Shhhhuuddup!”
He rolled over onto his back swinging out at her. “Shuddup! You don’t know! You don’t know!” Tears breached his eyes and began to trickle down his face. He began to sob. “You don’t know!” he tried one last time, but it came out as nothing she could understand.
“I know,” she said, the calm in her voice reflecting her resignation. “I know all too well. I lost everything that day. I lost her. I lost you. Everything. I can’t do this. Goodbye.”
His blinding tears prevented him from seeing her leave. His sobs prevented him from hearing her go, but when the door closed and she was gone, the weight of her absence fell upon him, crushing him almost completely.