Follow the Dark

I want to disappear into
some other imagining:
the one with no arrest
warrants, where it is
not illegal to be stupidly
and unapologetically drunk.
Half the world grows up
in a bar. Even before
I was old enough to
appreciate the language,
my small child body
knew the benefits of
disappearing into
cocktail mixes, Miller Lite,
the Budweiser in my
basement. Whatever
my hands touched invited
its own diminishing. For
months, I could not go
to school without the
fear of a bully stealing
my vodka stash, my
beer cans. If I voiced my
compulsive need to sneak
into rabbit holes, I got
threatened with a black eye.
If I showed up to class with
vodka on my breath, girls
would tell me I smell
like failure and loneliness.
One sixth grader, in
particular, pretended
to slur her words whenever
a whisky bottle fell out
of my backpack. To this day,
nobody has any idea where
anyone that young gets
the balls to degrade
the mentally ill. I am not
stupid or vain enough
to say that drinking means
I am as sick & deserving
of attention as someone
with schizophrenia. I am
only saying that it is infuriating
to have to perpetually defend
my need to have a beer at 6 AM.
Over and over, my doctors repeat
how booze is the stuff of death.
They do not understand the
act of living like you are on
fire. Every time someone
coaxes me into unthinkable
savageness, I feel like I am
obligated to take refuge in
the spaces that know no
continent. How many other ways
must I explain my alcoholism?
There is no virtue in abstinence.
Listen–we all have to die of something.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Amanda Harris’s story.