You tap your fingers against the empty bottle, sweat pooling at the base of your back. The things you see and know are in stark contrast to what you want to know.
The bottle you hold contains nothing. It is dry, consumed.
It shouldn’t be, not when you know full well the seal was broken on the liter of expensive bourbon only hours before.
The room is not hot or stuffy, not even a little. The windows are open, and a crisp breeze floats through.
Yet, you feel clammy in a way that tells you truths you aren’t ready to hear.
You know you drank the alcohol, and your body is asking for more. You contemplate brushing shaking fingers through the sweat dripping off you, wondering if it may taste like bourbon too. You consider licking it just to find out.
Through the parted curtains, the sky is a milky dawn. You nearly made it to the weekend, but the insomnia was relentless as the day finally dawns on the end of the week. You made it to Friday, and tonight you can really let loose. It’s cloudy as the sun is rising. You should feel hope; instead, you feel the clawing need for more.
More time before you need to pretend you didn’t spend the night burning hours with bourbon instead of getting sleep.
You drag your hands through your hair and your body to the window to watch the inevitable rise of the sun. Each movement feels too heavy. You force yourself to stare at it, self-loathing and longing, waging the same battle for space as the twilight and the sun fight it out in the sky. As the glow of daylight pushes away the darkness, you wonder which of your own inevitable truths will win your battle.
You have to face this day. And to do so, you’re going to need a drink. With a sigh, you tuck the empty bourbon bottle beneath your arm and carry it with you. You’ll need to put this one somewhere inconspicuous, so no one’s tipped off to the fact you stayed up all night. That’s what must be hidden, not the empty bottle.
You’re sweating, but you’re chilled, and you pull your lip between your teeth, hoping the sharpness of the sensation will clear the heavy fog from your mind. On autopilot, you move toward the kitchen, and the fridge is open before you’ve even registered the speed at which your lethargic body has carried you here. You need the fog to recede after all, and like the sun that’s now breaking through the clouds and lighting the world in morning hope, you know there is an answer.
In the fridge.
You reach for the beer, jostling the empty bourbon bottle beneath your arm as you turn with it in your hand. Merely gripping the liquid sunshine has you standing a touch taller, and you smile. Ah, yes. A shower beer. It’s luxury, you reason. Not a problem.
You open the beer on the way to the shower, letting the fizz coat your tongue and clear your mind. Even that first sip loosens the vice on your mood from the lack of sleep and makes you feel a little more bubbly yourself.
The shower is just what you needed, and you finish the beer as you wash off the remnants of your sleepless night alone (because you’re definitely not trying to wash the smell of bourbon from your skin).
After the shower, you dress quickly, doing up the buttons to your favorite shirt and checking your reflection in the mirror as you sort your hair. You note the swelling under your eyes, the stress lines around your lips. But your eyes twinkle, and you’re just tired.
You make your way out the door, and since you’re on time, you treat yourself to another beer. One for the road, you reason, as you drop the can from the shower beer and the bourbon into the bin. Doing yourself a favor. One less thing you’ll need to clean up later.
It feels great outside, so with the windows down and radio up, you make your way into the office. By the time you arrive, your second beer is gone, and so is the lingering drag from your sleepless night. You feel fresh and ready to take on the world—clear-headed.
The morning grind wears on, and you can feel the press of your exhaustion around 10. You have a muffin and some coffee, but idly wish there was some Bailey’s to pour into it. It’d give it that kick you need to give maximum effort to work. Alas, there’s no Bailey’s, so on you grind toward lunch and, with any luck, a trip to the pub around the corner with a coworker you love. They’ve got your favorite beer on tap, and a good draft just sounds great.
Well, and they do have half-priced sandwiches too. That’s why you’re going after all. That’s why you always choose that little pub with the bartender who knows your name and goes a little heavy on the pours. Who knows already that you’d like another without asking, and it’s a dance of efficiency so smooth, no one really notices how many you’ve had. The bartender is that good, and that service is worth paying for.
Yes, good service and half-price sandwiches. The beer and discretion are merely a byproduct.
You down three dark drafts with lunch that way.
It’s enough to grind you through the afternoon even though you’re gritting your teeth by 4 p.m. You check your watch, then your texts. You hammer at the keys and become a touch careless with the tone of your replies. You’re a little curt with a client, but you didn’t sleep last night. You’ll take care of the fallout tomorrow. Tomorrow won’t be like today.
You’re heading down to your car, already planning the evening—your reward for making it through the week.
A trip to the club where, much like the pub at lunch, the service is so efficient it can be difficult to keep track of how many drinks you’ve had. The music’s good too. The rich jazz and the lush interior are a balm to the weary soul, and after this week, you’re feeling exactly that.
You fire off a couple of texts to make it a group thing and reserve a booth before you pull in at home, hoping to find it empty. It is, thankfully. The first real break you’ve gotten all day. You have a quick dinner- just a frozen pizza you found in the depths of the mostly-barren freezer.
On your way upstairs to switch into something more casual, you grab another beer. Just to cool off and loosen the tension remaining from the workday.
It’s gone by the time you reach your closet.
You dress quickly, feeling looser and more confident than the drag of dinner had you believing you could.
This is going to be a great time.
In the booth at the club, you nurse a vodka soda and chat with your friends, tapping your fingertips on the walnut tabletop as you sip. Your wit is on point, a razor’s edge, as you fire off jokes and dance with the girl two tables over who was stood up by her blind date.
You have fun, and so does everyone around you. If anyone notices that the vodka-soda you’re nursing is actually your sixth one, no one says a word. You’re feeling so good it’s almost like you didn’t even need that sleep.
By the time you’re stumbling to the toilets to pee, you really aren’t sure what number you’re on. You just know you’re not feeling so clear anymore and that maybe you went too far.
But it was a long week, and you deserve it. You just needed to unwind. You get sick and feel better, wiping your mouth with the back of your hand and washing away the evidence of your indulgence. You check the mirror with an unfocused gaze. Your bright eyes—maybe too bright—tell a story of a good night and easy confidence. Swagger.
Your friends have all gone home. Even the poor girl you tried to cheer up is nowhere to be found, and the band is winding down. It’s nearly last call, and your tongue feels heavy, so you figure you should pack it in too. You order just one more drink before you cash out, carefully discarding the detailed tab without checking how many drinks you had.
It would probably be smart to call an Uber, but you’re just a couple of miles from home. You press your palms to your eyes to clear the double vision as the exhaustion and the spins set in. You’ll take your chances so that you don’t get stuck with a parking fee.
You drive home, white-knuckling the wheel and squinting at the lines to maintain your lane. By the time you turn gingerly into your driveway, your heart is pounding, hands shaking. On jelly legs, you walk toward your door. As you unlock it, you glance at the car warily, almost willing to admit that maybe you’ve taken some risks you shouldn’t have.
Maybe it’s the alcohol. Maybe you do have a problem.
But that’s for tomorrow to solve. Maybe you’re just too tired. You worked too hard; you didn’t sleep enough. And so what that you did this last week too? You sigh, defensive and defeated and dragging to bed. One foot at a time as the weight of your worry settles into your limbs.
Tomorrow it’ll be clearer; you just need some sleep.
And maybe one more beer.
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