She walked the Earth doing her best to avoid the broken glass beneath every footstep she took. The ghosts that followed her were inescapable. There were things that she could not begin to make up for in her life and the ghosts knew that.
There was a man, a wonderful man who meant everything to her, but sometimes he just made her so crazy. She would do things she never thought she could, and she wouldn’t even remember them once they were done.
She would hear stories of actions she had taken and could not believe they were true. The bruises couldn’t have come from her, she wasn’t that strong. The smashed bottles on the floor must have been someone else. She wasn’t that horrible.
She stared at the wall in front of her, stained by the wine that had splashed across it before crashing to the floor. Blood was splattered across the baseboard. She could never bring herself to clean it up. But she had to now.
He was coming back. She didn’t know how long he would stay, but she hoped to show him that she was changed. She had worked so hard, every moment of her life to be better. He needed to see that she was different.
She knelt beside the blood. She scrubbed on her hands and knees, hoping to erase any remnants of her past. This was the final test. If she could get through today, she could get through anything.
A knock sounded at the door. She scrambled to her feet. The baseboard was clean, as was she. He would be so proud of her once he learned that she was four months sober. She wondered how she would tell him.
“Hey.” She greeted, smiling from ear to ear.
“I want my guitar back.” He replied flatly.
“Come in and I’ll get it for you.” She invited.
“Fine. Give me the guitar, then I’m leaving.”
He walked inside and she closed the door behind him. He looked around, inspecting every inch of the house, leaving the spot where the blood had been for last. When he reached that spot, he lightly ran his hand along the faded wine stain. He shivered as the memories came flooding back to him. He leaned down to look at the baseboard. Everything was spotless.
He walked back toward the door, waiting for his guitar to be brought to him. After patiently standing for another ten minutes, he decided to walk around once more, in search of her and the guitar.
She stood at her dresser staring at the almost empty bottle of vodka in front of her. What had she done? She was doing so well. She hadn’t had a drink in four months. She couldn’t stand to see the bottle so close to empty. She downed the rest of it, quivering as the burning liquid slithered down her throat.
“You told me you had changed.”
“I have changed.”
“No you haven’t. You’re still the same drunk that almost killed me.”
“I’ve tried so hard. I swear to you. You don’t understand what it was like when you walked through that door. It was as if every piece of my life that I had attempted to escape blew in with the wind behind you.”
“Where’s the guitar?”
“I sold it.”
“You sold it? Why would you do that?”
“Why do you think I sold it? I’m a drunk, just like you said. I wanted you to come over to see that I was different, someone better. Clearly that’s never going to happen though. I’m never going to be someone you’re proud of, never someone you let back into your life. I’m never going to be someone you’ll ever love again.”
“Dammit! I never did stop loving you, but you’re right, I will never go down that path again. I hope you can get clean one day. But that will never happen with me around. Have a good life.”
And just like that he was gone. Once more she was drunk and alone, shaking in the middle of the mess that she had made. She stared at the mirror in front of her. She was unable to recognize the face reflected in there. Who was this woman crying in the middle of her bedroom next to an empty vodka bottle?
She stared harder into the mirror. Images danced around the glass. There she was, staring at him, wine bottle in hand. He was standing against the wall, trying to talk her down from the anger that was brewing inside her.
“I didn’t do anything. Why are you so angry?”
“That’s the point! You didn’t do anything! You were on tour for weeks and instead of greeting me properly, you said ‘hey’ and just plopped down on the couch.”
“I’m sorry. I was tired. It was a long trip.”
“You know what? I’m done with you!”
The bottle shattered against the wall, shards of glass flew into him. Blood spattered everywhere. She stood, terrified. She couldn’t believe what she had done.
“Me too.” He crawled across the floor to grab the phone. He called the paramedics. He left and hadn’t returned.
She awoke on the floor, surrounded by broken glass, bottle in one hand. The mirror was no longer on the dresser. She slowly sat up, throwing the bottle across the room.
The images faded back into the broken woman staring into the shards on the floor. She wanted to escape, be someone else. She wished to be strong, able to see him without being thrown into another black hole. She didn’t want to drink every time he came around. For the first time, she felt like she was ready.
The ghosts of her past were no longer going to haunt her. And the demons inside would be no more. She wanted to change, and she was not going to stop until she did just that.
“You girl…in the mirror. Listen to me. You are a strong person. You don’t need a man to get you through your life. And you don’t need alcohol to help you with the man. All you need is you. You are going to work to be the best person you can be and someday you are going to get there. Someday you are going to be someone that you are proud of. And that’s going to be everything.”
There may always be shattered glass beneath her, but she was finally learning how to step around it.