Contest #233 winner 🏆


Drama Inspirational LGBTQ+

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

Vegan Hamburgers

February 1st


WOW. I cannot believe that just happened. I went to AJ’s studio and almost walked out with a record deal. I was sober, too. He started rolling a joint and offered me some but I immediately said no. Last week, I had drinks at Lighthouse Studios and the executive was totally judging me when I got into my car. Anyway, AJ wants to record me!!!

This sounds weird but on the drive home, I swear I felt the presence of god or whatever in my windshield. I paused at a stop sign to see if I could bottle up the feeling. For a moment I even forgot that Nora and I broke up. 

Hey god…ha…it’s me…if you give me this record deal, I swear I’ll never drink and drive again. 

I’m gonna practice “Heartbreaker” for a little bit then go to bed. Actually, I'm gonna smoke first. This is so fucking exciting. 

March 1st, 2020


Awkward that the last thing I wrote about was AJ. Yeah, that fell through. Prick. I did kinda break my end of the deal with god or whatever, but it’s been two weeks since my last drink. Some kind of flu kicked my ass for 14 days and I almost went to the ER. I did lose like 7 pounds though! 

Anyway, today is Vero’s drag show so I’m putting on my tight black dress - the one Nora loved - and meeting Sasha for brunch. I literally just got color back in my face though so I won’t go too hard. 

You know what? Maybe I won’t even drink at all! Mocktails and water, baby.

Did Nora really like that dress? Or did I just buy it because I thought she would?

March 2nd

I’m up. It’s barely 6am. I can’t see because there’s too much light in here and my head fucking hurts so this might be messy. I drank last night. Er, yesterday. Woah, that was a whole day? 

Fuck, and I drove. Vero and I made it home…but where were we coming from? I remember Sasha ordering bottomless…I forgot to tell her I was taking it easy. That’s on me.

Fuuuuck. I made Vero a burger at Joey’s place – I said it was vegan? They ate it. WAS IT VEGAN THOUGH?? I DON'T KNOW what if I just poisoned my situation-ship? They're hot and I care about them and they're SO vegan. Fuck.

Just checked. The brand we had was vegan. Jesus.

I also googled AA…there’s one at 7:30am on Melrose. I’m gonna read a book til it starts. I feel anxious. 

Note to self: buy a fucking book.  

March 3rd

1 or something

I took a chip yesterday. My stomach really hurts and I don’t wanna talk to anyone. I wanna be alone. Everything feels loud and I feel…dark. Like someone buried me. 

I can’t believe I almost fed Vero a non-vegan hamburger. 

At the meeting, some guy named Arrow called on me to share. I just cried and told everyone about the burger. They were kind, said I got lucky. Then Arrow pointed me to my next meeting, which is tonight. 

I swear his name is Arrow.

I gotta lay down. 

PS day two, I guess. 

March 4th


Dee left the AC on again and my stomach hurts. I didn’t fall asleep until 5am.

Someone in the meeting last night said to do 30 meetings in 30 days and gave me an app to help me find them. Apparently I can go whenever. You’re supposed to go instead of drinking but I don’t wanna drink. I wanna die. 

Ok, I don’t wanna die. I just…want this part of me to die. The part that desperately wishes it could smoke right now. Or have some wine without that hungry ghost in my belly screaming for chaos. 

In the meeting last night, I realized that I drove 26 miles with Vero in the passenger seat after 11 hours of drinking. I had like 18 different kinds of alcohol. That’s a lot of numbers.

I’m going back to bed. 

PS day three. 

March 5th


Day four. Stomach hurts bad today. I went to a meeting last night and like three people told me to “take it easy” and “keep it simple.” What the hell does that mean? I have so much to do. I completely skipped out on emails these last two days and I have a press release due by Friday. Uggghhhhh. 

I realized that the hungry ghost doesn’t only show up when I have a substance. It also shows up when I’m uncomfortable. Like when Dee leaves the AC on at night. Or Jared forgets mom’s birthday and I have to do all the planning. Or when there’s nothing to do because no one is texting. 

I’m gonna work. Love you bye. 

March 6th


Day five. Dude the meeting last night was INSANE. It was HUGE and people talked into this microphone at a PODIUM. The main guy was like a preacher. I didn’t relate to his story at all but I liked the way he told it. 

Well, the speaker said that he’d also been smoking weed since he was 13…so that was cool. He loved whiskey, too, and drove drunk. And he cheated on his ex, and after they broke up his drinking totally went downhill and he couldn’t stop it. I almost raised my hand to share but didn’t. 

My stomach hurts. 

March 7th 


I have to write two press releases so I can’t really talk but I wanted to get this down before I forget it: Surrender is laying down your weapons and crossing over to the winning side.  

Heard in a meeting. Stomach hurts less. Day six. 

March 8th


I slept the heck in today. Did six meetings this week. Driving home from last night’s meeting I felt quiet. Everything was motionless, like I was a statue in a floating car, listening to the passing whooshes and watching the lights bleed from lamp to lamp. It’s like all the noise in my head just stopped for 15 minutes. 

There’s this one chick Jeanette who’s a little cuckoo but really nice. She keeps telling me that “more will be revealed.” She put her number in my phone and calls everyday. I don’t mind it, though it was weird at first. 

There are other women who call me, too. It’s nice, but I can never remember who they are or what they look like. I’m saving everyone’s names with a flamingo emoji next to it so I know they’re from program. 

Day seven. Still aiming for 30. 

March 9th


So…I almost drank yesterday. Nora came over. Yeah. And not for me…for Dee. 

Everything was fine and then bam. Dee comes out of her room and is like “Uhm, Nora’s on her way here.” Why did I ever introduce them? I guess after 3 years she probably would’ve met my roommate…I bet they spend all their time talking about me. They probably don’t even like each other. 

She closed her door and I stayed on the couch, angry as fuck, staring at the 19 Crimes bottle on the shelf. The shelf Nora and I built. 

I was fuming. I stared the bottle down like it was the last pin in a bowling lane and then Ellie Flamingo called. 


“Hey honey, how are you?” 

“I really wanna drink right now, dude.” I whispered. 

“Okay. Where are you babe?”

“In my apartment, staring at a bottle of red.” I could’ve opened it with my eyes. 

“Okay, is there somewhere else you can go?” Her voice was gentle. 

“Yeah, I can take a walk.” 

I started walking toward Liquid Legend and relaxed at the idea of a glass of cold, white wine on their porch. It occurred to me when I got there that that might not be such a good idea.

I stood outside for a while, hot as a cigarette. Ellie stayed on the phone with me and I told her everything.

“Wow, I am so glad you shared that with me. Sounds like you have a lot of fear around this situation.”

Hm. “Thanks for listening…”

“Of course! It helps me, too.”

She told me how vodka and beer were her thing, and how her exes were triggers. How she feels so much better with five years sober. Jeez. 

We seem similar. We both feel like we didn’t get the handbook to life. Like everyone can tell we’re faulty, pieces of shit in the center of the universe. 

Hey universe. Help me out, would ya?  

March 10th


Day nine! I met this girl named Kathy (two flamingos cause she’s nice) and she’s been texting me my day count every morning, along with a bunch of emojis. Today, it was all caps: DAY NINE!!! With flowers, stars and people emojis that had no business being in that text but it made me smile. 

Mom called. I’m moving in with Oma. Apparently, her caretaker works part time at a hospital and they’re worried about some contagious flu? I wonder if it’s what I had. Anyway, Oma needs a new caretaker and I need to get out of my head. Plus, I miss her. 

In the rooms, I keep hearing that self-centeredness is the root of all our problems. That if I just help somebody else, it’ll help me. Is altruism even real? I can’t think about that now. I’m leaving. Today. 

March 12th


Day eleven. The morning air is misty and feels like a San Francisco beach. I like being here. My bed’s a little uncomfortable but my stomach doesn’t hurt anymore! 

Mom lets Oma have a Corona with dinner. She says it eases her dementia and that 94 year olds deserve a beer with dinner. I used to drink with Oma, even though I hate Coronas. I used to do a lot of things I hated. 

March 14th


I got a sponsor!!!! Her name is Leslie and she’s a producer for like movies and stuff and I’m so excited and she gave me HOMEWORK. I’m starting the steps! Eeeee!!

PS I have to do gratitude lists now. Ready? 

I’m grateful for…

Oma’s espresso machine

The ocean waves putting me to sleep at night

Bella the floof

Jared and Kent visiting 

‘The Office’

My sponsor

Thirteen days!! *insert emojis*

March 15th, 2020


I can’t write too much because I have to get to the store. Everything is closing for a few days because of that flu…Mom said it could be a week. 

I’m grateful for…

Two weeks of sobriety 

Oma was really happy today

That time I got sick for two weeks and couldn’t drink…I think it gave me a window of clarity

March 16th


Fifteen days. I need a meeting. I wrote a song last night about trying to stay sober and that helped. Working on my steps helps, too. I have to write down all the ways in which I’m powerless over drugs and alcohol, like that time I got kicked off stage for being drunk and playing the wrong song. Lol. Or that time I drove down the wrong side of the street because I was high.

I feel low. 

I’m grateful for…



Being at the beach during a city pause 

Having food in the house





‘Grace and Frankie’

March 19th


Eighteen days. My brain is foggy with emotion and I have a weak headache coming on. At 10:01am today, I finally cried and let my insides dry out. 

I sleep with one ear open in case Oma needs me in the middle of the night. At first it felt like such a noble thing to do, I never dreamed it would get to me. Then I stopped dreaming altogether and began waking up tired. Today I grinned my way through her morning routine.  When it came time for breakfast, I started making her usual berries and yogurt...mmm, not so usual anymore. 

The 27 years I've known Oma, that's what she's eaten for breakfast. But in the last year, her caretaker got her hooked on eggs and bacon and I didn't know. Today, Oma wanted that. 

I proceeded to put too many berries in, not enough yogurt, the walnuts weren't chopped and then, no - that was too many because she "can't go to the market anymore. Someone stole my car and people keep eating my food.” She threw a fit and I left the kitchen. 

I rushed into my room and buried myself under my duvet. I recognized this feeling. I smile through change because I’m like a slow processing computer. My files get so full that berries and yogurt cause me to malfunction. 

I felt the tingle in my nose. I rubbed my eye. The tug on my frown. I rubbed my cheek. I heard Oma asking where I was...I clutched the covers and just sobbed.

I sobbed for the uneaten berries. I sobbed for her dementia. I sobbed for Nora. I sobbed for my life and how hard it was and how hard it's been, and then I sobbed for being soaked in a moment of self-pity. 

Then Oma walked in. I cranked myself up. Oma looked as if she was going to cry.

"I'm afraid I hurt your feelings." My mouth dropped open at the clarity in her eyes. I apologized for crying and she said, "No, you're forgiven. You're in a new situation."

Tonight we'll watch our favorite show, Grace and Frankie, she'll fall asleep with the lights on and I'll shut them off, then tuck away into my own bed. With one ear open. 

Tomorrow, she'll forget about the berries and this time, I'm making eggs. 

March 24th


Me: Oma, what’s the meaning of life?

Oma: Well, to give life meaning. 

I started an 8am zoom meeting and we meditate everyday for 5 minutes. Sometimes I fall back asleep but I’m really grateful for zoom right now.

Yesterday something cool happened. I heard Oma calling me from her bedroom and went to tend to her, but first, I paused. I stood outside her door and listened to the waves. I realized how much bigger than me they are. How even if I tried, I could never stop them. Then something in me said, Hey, waves. This dementia thing is so much bigger than me…will you help me help Oma? 

And guess what? I found the right shoes and socks and sweater and the afternoon flowed like a river. It felt like I’d been given a handbook. 

Thank you. 

March 25th


Oma doesn't consciously know that I've moved in. Daily, I ask her if it's all right that I spend the night, that I’ll sing for my supper. She always replies yes. 

Oma is such a good listener. I feel pure stillness when she lays there with her eyes closed, listening to me sing. When the song is done she always looks at me like she remembers me. Music brings her back. It brings me back, too. 

In the third step, we’re supposed to find a ‘higher power.’ I don’t know if I deserve a higher power to be honest, but mine would be the ocean. ‘Shelter’ is from the point of view of my HP…as if it could write a letter back to me. 

You won’t remain

How you are today

Don’t you know?

Don't you know?

By design

You’re made to survive

The weathered road

And so it goes 

March 26th


25 days. We’re ‘sheltering’ in place now. Ironic. The city’s still on pause and other places around the world are shutting down…I could not be more grateful that I’m here with and for Oma. 

I think about Nora a lot. Could she tell I drank too much? Did she know I was a shell of a human? Is she okay? Am I a monster? 

Kathy says when you get sober it’s like slamming on the breaks. Everything in your back seat covers the windshield and you can’t see anything. 

Last night, I was writing out my fourth step and that thing happened again. A tingle in my nose, a shock in my stomach, and a wave in my chest that poured out my eyes. The tears felt hundreds of years old. I closed my book, put down my sweaty pen, and went into Oma’s room. I curled up next to her and secretly bawled. I didn’t want to worry her. She stroked my hair while we watched Animal Planet. 

I felt HP. 

March 27th

Oma had a stroke. I caught her before she fell. I used my toe to call 911, and just held her until they arrived. Fuck.

March 29th

28 days. The nurse said we have to let her go now, so we brought her home. We’re all sitting around her bed right now…Kent’s got a drum, mom is holding her hand. I can’t stop crying.

I keep looking at her bathrobe and walker like she’s going to need them…so I try to help mom, Kent and Jared with stuff instead. Every morning I wake up in shock. 

March 30th

I think a lot about our last dinner together. She was staring out the window, and the blue in her eyes looked like watercolors. I asked Oma if she believed in a higher power. 

“Well, I believe in how impressive the ocean itself is. It goes all around the world. It gets you out of yourself, and into something bigger.” 

March 31st

I’m grateful for…




Holding her hand as we said goodbye

Thirty days. 

If you’ve had all you can take on your own

Come take what’s mine

Take yourself off your mind

Don’t take on tomorrow alone

Let go my child

Shelter here for a while

January 19, 2024 23:14

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Kerriann Murray
19:03 Jan 26, 2024

Congrats on the win! ❤️


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Karen Kinley
18:14 Jan 26, 2024

I really enjoyed this piece. So many details were woven into the diary entries that made the story much bigger than it seemed at first. Loved the parts with Oma (dementia sucks) and the tie-in with the pandemic shutdown. I hope your MC stays sober...I was rooting for him/her the entire time! Favorite line: "A tingle in my nose, a shock in my stomach, and a wave in my chest that poured out my eyes. The tears felt hundreds of years old." Congrats on the win!


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Marty B
17:53 Jan 26, 2024

Great story! I really liked how you incorporated the Covid 'shelter-in-place' as part of the story. I thought he description of going through the first days of sobriety were great. The MC's connection with her Oma was a great addition. This line resonated with me '“In my apartment, staring at a bottle of red.” I could’ve opened it with my eyes.' Congratulations!


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Unknown User
16:25 Feb 16, 2024

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