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Holiday

I hate New Year’s Resolutions.

I tried to peek from behind the door. I had heard a smashing noise, but that was about it. “Dad?” My voice was barely a whisper.

Instead of seeing him near the door, he was sitting at the table, beer bottle in his hand.

“Guess that New Year Resolution didn’t work out, huh, champ?” he asked, and I realized he was speaking to me.

Cautiously, I nodded as I stepped out from the other room. “Where’s mom?”

“She went out after finding this.” He waved the beer bottle in the air. “Typical.”

I glanced at the wall to see a broken beer bottle that was thrown.

“Hey, you’re six, aren’t you?”

“Seven.” 

“Wait. Today’s not just New Year’s, is it?” He paused for a second. “Right. It’s your birthday.”

I felt a pang.

“Come here, son. I wanna give you something.”

A present? I’d never gotten that before. I waddled over to him, and he took a cup and poured some beer into it. 

“Oh. Uh. Mom said not to.”

“Don’t be silly! You’ll be a man someday and drink just like your old man. Might as well start now.”

“Are you insane?” The words were screeched. “He is a child!” With that, the glass was slapped out of my father’s hand, crashing against the floor and shattering.

“So what? He’s gotta grow up someday, eh?” he sneered.

“Baby, come here,” my mother said, grabbing my hand and pulling me behind her. 

Peeking out from behind her, I saw him roll his eyes and stand. “Come here, son.”

“Leave him alone and get out.” The words were icy.

“Whatever you say. You never did like it when I drank.”

“Yes, because you turn into a—“ she started, then stopped abruptly.

“A what?” he questioned, smiling. “You can say it. A monster, right?” There was silence for a few moments, before he shook his head. “Thought so. I’ll see myself out.”

With that, he walked to the door, opening it and slamming it shut as my mother stroked my hair, whispering that it was okay.

And it was pretty much the same every year after that.

He’d promise to stop drinking. Fail. 

A lot of fights, yelling. 

A lot of broken New Year’s Resolutions. 

I blinked once, the memory washing away as I focused on where I was.

A small, dingy apartment.

I needed to get out of here. 

Slowly standing, I shrugged on my jacket as I swung the door open, stepping out into the fresh night air.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Breathe.

I made my way to a familiar destination: the local bar.

I flung myself into a seat, huffing out, “Vodka.”

“Sure thing,” the bartender stated, turning around. He started opening a vodka bottle, talking as he poured. “You know, your father used to come here all the time too.”

I pursed my lips. “Yeah. I know.”

“Sorry. I know it’s difficult for you to talk about.”

“Don’t worry about it.” I grabbed the glass and downed it. “Gimme another.”

“Sure.”

I drank it slowly, glancing around to see others drinking. 

“Your dad was a drunk too.” A voice came from beside me.

I glanced at the male, scoffing, “Yeah, no figure.”

“I mean, he really used to drink, man. He was some of the worst drinkers here. He was legendary, man. Got into all types of bar fights. Insane.”

“Good for him. I’m not like that.” My voice was stoic as I spoke.

“Well, I mean, you’re here. You’re drinking. Man, you’re just like him.”

My hand clenched the glass as I took a gulp. 

“You’re like... legendary. You’re gonna be legendary. You might just not know it yet.”

I felt my other hand curl into a fist. No. Control. Control.

“Come on, don’t you wanna hit me?”

“Man, get outta here. You ain’t even worth it.” My words were snapped. He was getting to me. I didn’t even know this guy. “Who the hell are you to tell me about my dad?”

“An old drinking buddy. He never really stopped, and I never really did either. He just happened to be one of the unlucky ones. The ones who don’t make it out.”

“You don’t seem to be either. Making it out.”

“Neither do you. Have a good night, buddy. Don’t black out.” He patted me on the shoulder as he walked off.

I gulped down the rest of my vodka.

I couldn’t stay here either.

“Do you want me to call you a cab?”

“I’m good.”

“Whatever you say,” the bartender replied, and as I walked away, heard him muttering, “Like father like son.”

After I had gotten home—granted, I’d fallen a few times—and unlocked the door, I flopped on the couch with a huff.

“You’ve been drinking again, haven’t you.” 

My wife’s voice rang out in the apartment as she stood in the doorway, staring at me with a look of disapproval on her face.

It wasn’t a question.

“So what? I always drink like this.”

“Yes, and that’s exactly your problem. Each year today you say you’ll stop drinking. And then you don’t. Happy damn birthday, by the way,” she snapped.

I sighed, rubbing my temples. “At least I’m trying—“

“No, you’re really not.” Her voice was now low, quiet, as she walked toward me. She sat down on the couch next to me, gazing at me with concern. “I know that this time of year—especially this day—is hard for you. But I’m asking you, as your wife, to stop drinking. At least make that New Year’s promise. Please.”

“You can’t just ask something like that of me. It’s so difficult to do that.”

“Don’t do that. Don’t make up excuses.” She paused momentarily, then continued. “I know you hated your father for not being able to stop.”

I froze, eyes snapping to her.

“I know you hated all the fighting between your parents.”

“How do you know that?”

“Well, you were really drunk one time and everything kind of came spilling out.” The words were snapped again. “And then you passed out.” She was quiet again, hands on her lap. “You said to me that you wouldn’t be like him.” Her voice cracked. “And now you’re just...”

“No, no. Shit. Don’t cry. Please.” I gathered her into my arms, cradling her as she sniffled.

“Don’t you want to be a better father than your own dad was to you? Don’t you want to be a better husband? I’m tired of fighting.”

I was quiet for several seconds, trying to fight back tears. “Yes. But I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions.”

She held on to me tighter, sniffling growing louder.

“I believe in life resolutions.”

Her head snapped up to meet my eyes, searching them. “Wait. Are you serious?”

“Yes. You were right. I’ve been a bad husband and a bad father. Bad doesn’t even begin to describe it. I’ve been an asshole. To you. To our kids. I missed your birthday because I was drunk. I missed their birthdays and school plays and football games because I was drunk. You all never see me anymore because I’m always at a bar.” My voice was quiet now. “No more. I’m done.”

“Cold turkey?”

“It’ll be hard as hell, but I’ll try my hardest.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

“Thank you.” She hugged me, kissing my cheek. “Let’s get some rest.”

And no more drinking there was.

January 25, 2020 02:30

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4 comments

Vrishni Maharaj
15:30 Jun 02, 2020

Hey, lovely story! I enjoyed it :)

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Maria Gelman
18:26 Jun 02, 2020

Hi there! Thank you, I really appreciate it! :)

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E. Jude
18:17 May 30, 2020

Dear Maria, Aww.. Very sweet story!! I like the idea. Especially when he's in the bar, that was my favourite part. You also do dialogue very well. The only thing I would change, would be, if you were to go into detail and description a bit more. Keep writing, Elsa

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Maria Gelman
18:26 Jun 02, 2020

Hi Elsa, Thank you so much for your kind words and advice! I'll be sure to keep description in mind for next time. :)

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