Sweet Relief

She liked her red as cold as his body felt when she finally reached the ER that awful night.  The first glass was gone before she even said hello to the kids. She needed to be a little drunk to meet them with a smile, so she always slammed down that first glass when she got home from work.  It numbed her heart just enough so she could breathe.  The kids were hurting too, they didn’t need to see their mama upset.

She glanced up from the second glass as Torrie shuffled into the kitchen.  She looked like she needed a drink too, but Bridgett knew better than to offer one to her 14 year old, even if she was already feeling better herself.

“What’s wrong, honey?” Bridgett asked.

“I’m just getting a Coke.  I’ve got this stupid project due tomorrow.  There’s no way I’m gonna finish it!  Why do they keep giving us these stupid projects?  None of the other classes have to do them!”  She huffed.

“Because it’s honors, Honey. Do you need help?” she asked.

Please say no, please say no, she thought.

“I’m not in kindergarten,” Torrie snarled, opening her Coke as she dragged herself back into the dining room.

Yes, just another couple of glasses and she wouldn’t care for a while.

She grabbed the bottle and her glass, said hello to her son who was on the couch playing a video game, and made her way up the stairs to her bedroom.

As she pulled the cotton pj’s over her head, she wondered what she should cook for dinner.  Honestly, the kids hated it when she really cooked.  They preferred it when she ordered out or pulled a  prepackaged meal out of the freezer and warmed it up.  Thankfully, the dinners that friends brought over had long since ceased.  People were nice, but you can only eat so much penne pasta and she had to act sober and polite while they were dropping off the food. She felt a little guilty for feeling that way, they were just showing they cared, but she couldn’t help the way she felt could she?

Thank God the kids were old enough that they could fend for themselves if they had to.  A few times she had passed out before dinner.  The second time it happened, her son rummaged in her purse, found her credit card, and programmed it into the Dominoes app so that if Mom wasn’t cooking, they could order food.  She felt a little pang of guilt for that.  She poured another glass.

She glanced over at the dresser. There was the picture.  She picked it up and held it to her chest.  Sitting down on the bed, she closed her eyes.  It was cold in Central Park, but they were wrapped up in each other.  Forty somethings acting like runaway teenagers.  She turned her head suddenly to kiss him as he snapped the selfie. He was faced forward with a look of surprise and her lips were smashed up against his cheek. They laughed as they looked at the picture in the phone.  He slipped it into his pocket and then turned to her and ran his hands along her jawline and into her hair.  His fingers tugged lightly as he pulled her face up to meet his and he kissed her.  They lingered for a moment afterwards, savoring the sweetness of it.  She loved that picture. Oh, what she wouldn’t give…but life doesn’t work that way.  She took another long sip.

Her stomach growled.  She swayed a little as she stood.

Oh yeah, food, she thought.

Chicken nuggets and mac and cheese…not exactly healthy, but it was dinner and it was quick.

Matthew grabbed a chicken nugget off the pan as she was putting them onto the plates.

“Did you have a good day at school today?”  She asked.

Barely opening his mouth, he said, “Yeah.”

“Have you done your homework?” She asked.

“Yeah,” he replied.

She wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth, but she didn’t want to deal with the attitude, so she decided not to pursue it.  He grabbed his plate and plodded back to the TV.

“What are we going to watch tonight?” She shouted to him from the kitchen.

“I don’t care,”  came the reply.

I don’t either, she thought as she set the plate down on the stack of papers in front of Torrie.

She went back into the kitchen, emptied the bottle into her glass, took a few gulps and grabbed her plate.  She liked the dinner ritual of watching TV together.  They usually watched comedies and laughed.  Lately Torrie had not participated.  She seemed too preoccupied with school, which was good, Bridgett guessed.  At least she was staying busy.  If that was her way of coping with her father’s death, then it seemed like a constructive one.

Better than my way of dealing anyway, she thought as she took another sip.

After dinner she took the dishes to the kitchen and put them in the sink.  The dishes from last night were there too, but she didn’t feel like doing anything about them at the moment.  She grabbed another bottle of wine from the fridge, uncorked it and took it with her even though she really didn’t want it.

“I’m going to my room for a little while, kids,” she said.

“Okay,” they responded in unison.

They all knew she wouldn’t be back down tonight.