She sits alone, sunken eyes staring off into nothingness. I sit in her nothingness. She sips water while a full glass of red wine patiently waits her attention. How can she ignore it? I am struck by the thought of ordering wine at lunch. I could not imagine doing it but the idea intrigues me. Is she driving? Is she on her lunch break from work? Does she drink every day or is this the first time?
As she walked past me a few moments ago, to the table she chose next to mine, I noticed her shoes first then the trendy leggings and tunic top, all in shades of black and grey. When she sat down I saw her face, dark liner circling blank, sunken eyes. Who is she? Does she see me as I see her?
Her food arrives, she begins to eat and the wine remains untouched, glistening in the light like a treasured ruby. It calls out to me, “How can she not notice me? You see me sitting here waiting. How can she not pick me up and take a sip?”
Minutes pass and I continue to wait. So does the wine. It is patient. I am not.
Finally, late in her meal, she takes a long slow deep sip. I close my eyes and imagine the warm ruby liquid sliding down my throat instead of hers. In reality, I cannot see myself drinking wine at lunch, in public, in the middle of the day, and then functioning for the rest of the afternoon. I have responsibilities, a child to collect after school, a car to drive, dinner to cook, a family to care for.
Her food is almost gone. The wine is not. It continues to wait, calling out to me as she ignores it. She finishes her food and lays down a tip. Finally, she casually lifts the glass and chugs 5 oz of wine in two long slugs, like water. Is this her first glass of the day? Her second? Third?
Is the wine her dessert? Is the buzz stronger when she drinks it all at the end of the meal? When will she have another glass?
I am not her.
She sits alone on the couch staring blankly at the television, listening. She listens for him to turn the shower on upstairs, her signal that he is not coming back downstairs. The longer she waits the louder it calls to her, the unopened bottle of sweet white wine in the fridge.
Finally the water starts. She walks to the fridge and removes the bottle, thankful for the newly popular screw top that makes opening so much easier, and quieter. She pours a large glass full of wine. Once she thought to measure to see how much the glass holds. In her mind one glass is one glass but in reality, it is really almost two based on a 5 oz pour. It is easier to think that it’s just one glass of wine a night but she knows that it is not, that she is playing games with herself. The wine is playing with her.
She drinks to shut down, to turn off the voices in her head. She drinks in the privacy of her home when no one else is around. She seldom drinks in public. She finds it hard not to pour a second glass once she is finished her first.
She can go all day and not drink, not even think about drinking. When the evening hits and the day catches up with her it is harder. She feels wired and just wants to quiet her mind. The wine does that for her. But it does something else, too. As much as it helps her shut down in the evening, it makes the morning hard. Her head pounds. She is short tempered with her daughter and impatient with her husband. Her day starts slowly. She finds it hard to focus. She walks in circles around the house unable to decide what to do first.
She settles on the couch and stares blankly at the television.
I am her. (written in 2015)