Lost in the Bottle

Submitted into Contest #234 in response to: Write a story about someone whose time is running out.... view prompt

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Fiction Sad Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

"We have all the time in the world" Miguel thinks to himself as he starts to plan a visit to his daughter online. It's 4pm and he's been drinking since 11am at least, and he is losing both interest and focus, fast. "I'll buy the tickets tomorrow!" he says as he enters 'nudes' into the search bar" Drinking is something new to him. Well, new like a second hand car is new to a different owner. Miggy, as his friends called him, was a drinker before but had put down the bottle 40 years prior after doing some time. He never thought he'd pick it back up again but life has a habit of delivering the unexpected and so, here he was.

His life now consists of mundane things, living the dream but lots to complain about really. Always. He had moved to Maine a few years prior, back to the state he left when he was 30 and swore he'd never return to. Never say never I guess. That was quickly becoming his mantra. Miggy didn't trust many people. He trusted those cops when they tricked him into taking a felony for less time. He supposed he had a reason to thank them though, they're the reason he had any length of sobriety really. If he hadn't spent time in jail he would have still counted those people around him as friends. Jail taught him they were fair weather acquaintances at best.

After taking another swig, he texted family members. Some of it made sense but most of it did not. Unfortunately, the family was used to it. It was almost a running joke amongst them. The kind of joke you say because laughing is easier than crying and the pent up energy is released either way. Some of his family had him blocked, others on ignore or left on read, and some still tried to engage. Holding onto hope the way Leo DiCaprio held onto that raft at the end of Titanic. Miguel, oblivious to most of it, kept on tapping away at his phone and sipping away at his drink, wondering why things weren't the way they used to be.

He thinks back to ugly childhood memories but quickly swallows those away. Punches from paternals, mistresses from men he should have been able to look up to, and a mother - wasted away too young from stress and disease and what ifs. Too painful, those memories never stay long. Blurred away, the later ones come. Ones with his daughter, his reason for living back then. He and his wife were so young, and escaping their demons together. What they didn't know is that didn't work, not really, not usually. By the time their little girl could walk, her mom faced her demons & walked right out the door with her. Miggy took the opportunity to try to fill that empty space by partying like it was 1999, even though it didn't exist quite yet.

Alcohol and drugs were a better way to escape those demons, or maybe it was just a better way to become more of your own. Either way, Miguel was having the time of his life and had no regard to any consequences – his own or the people around him. The day he got caught, he agreed to the plea that would haunt him for years to come. In the pen he discovered working out and that he loved to cook and that he wanted to be a better man for his little girl, now 8 years old.

When he served his time he worked way too much but he also became everything to his daughter. Weekends were full of carnivals and concerts and scalped monster truck shows and laughing until they cried. Wednesday evenings were spent in McDonalds lobby with math homework stained with ketchup and sprinkled with salt and the occasional tears because she never seemed to “get it” as well as he did. Or, in idyling cars talking about life way past curfew because technically she was “back home” even if she wasn't inside the doors yet. “Mysterious planet Mom” they would joke and laugh about her moms shadow that kept coming to the door to see if she was ready to come inside yet.

Another drink poured, his thoughts move on. He didn't think life could get better but then his grandkids were born. “I'm going to be better than what I had” he said to himself, and for the most part, he was. He remembers most walking to the convenience stores with them where they looked at him as a hero just for buying them hot chocolate and letting them run ahead, further than their parents would. He remembers watching them all and their friends and pretending he was an army sergeant and instructing them all to “CLEAN UP THIS MESS” loudly while throwing popcorn everywhere. He remembers their giggles. Their hugs, he wasn't a natural hugger. He remembers it all.

Another drink in and the grandkids are grown up. This brings him to the present. He feels like no one needs him anymore. What he doesn't realize is they all need him more than ever. But he's gone, trapped in that bottle – unreachable. He can't hear them anymore, he can't see their tears and feel their pain - he just sees the distorted memories through the glass.

He remembers the last words his daughters mom said to him. “I'm leaving her because I don't have a choice, I'm sick. I have to go. You do have a choice, you can still be there. She needs at least one parent. Please.” That one hurts the most. That's the one he likes to empty his drink quickly so it will pass. So he does. And it does.

Fleeting memories of his families hope when he got picked up from rehab, their sadness at his daughters moms funeral, all their joy at his grandsons wedding pass through, quickly now. Flashes of his mothers kind smile, his daughters adoring toddler eyes, his grandkids laughs. The last thing he remembers before the world goes black and numb again, is looking for those tickets to visit his daughter. “Oh yeah, I need to plan to go see her” he thinks, he starts to type in the travel website but then drifts off onto the couch thinking he'll do it tomorrow because he has all the time in the world.

His girlfriend found him like that the next morning when she got home. Miguel with a slight smile on his lips, drink spilled on his chest, passed out yet again. Something seemed off about him this time to her, he looked at peace, unburdened – not like the person he had been. As she got closer she realized he wasn't here anymore, he was gone from this world. As she dialed the phone to call his daughter and family – they said they weren't surprised, they already grieved him a long time ago. The part that hurt them all the most was the death of the last little bit of hope they all held. They wanted more than anything for him to someday get to see himself and love himself as much as he was seen and loved. They all gathered and hugged and hoped that's what he's doing right now. Finally. 

January 22, 2024 20:26

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1 comment

Nicki Nance
00:56 Jan 29, 2024

A poignant accounting of an all too frequent scenario. You really captured the internal and external consequences.


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