It was dark and damp when the small cluster of recovering addicts spilled out onto the sidewalk. Annie breathed deeply, taking in the fresh scent of new rain. She wished she felt fresh and new but right now she felt old and stale. It took everything in her just get through the day. “One day at a time,” was her current phrase of choice.
“Hey, Annie! Rita and I are going over to Pat’s to watch a movie. Wanna come? It’ll be fun. Microwave popcorn.… a twelve-pack….soda, of course.” Carla chuckled at her own words. The image of ice cold beer materialized in Annie’s mind but she tried to smile along with Carla, who, although only twenty-three, was much farther along in the recovery process than she and could joke about things like that.
“Sounds great. But I have to check on Ginny. Frank promised not to leave until I got home but I know how he is...”
“Do you want me to come with you?” Carla offered, but Annie saw her glance over at Rita and Pat who were waiting for her in the car.
“No, that’s okay. You go have fun. I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?” Carla asked.
Annie nodded. “I’m sure.”
Carla gave her a quick hug. “Call us if you need to. Anytime, Annie. Day or night.”
Annie watched the group pull away and wished she could have joined them. She needed a little fun in her life. And something to distract her from the fifth of Whiskey that was calling her name. But it was hard to avoid alcohol when her husband owned a bar and spent every waking hour with a drink in his hand.
But Ginny kept her focused. Too much time had already been lost because of her addiction. She would not lose another moment with her daughter.
Her suspicions that Frank had broken his promise and taken Ginny to the bar were confirmed by his old, blue clunker parked outside. Annie said a quick prayer and stepped inside. Magnet-like, her eyes were drawn to the shelves behind the counter. Seventeen days sober so far... She pried her eyes away from the booze.
In the far corner, she saw Frank, sitting with a couple of his buddies. Ginny sat on the floor, playing with a pack of cigarettes. The men laughed when she stuck two in her mouth as if she were smoking.
Annie quickly made her way over. “Yucky,” she said, yanking the cigarettes from her toddler’s mouth. She threw the half-empty pack onto the table and glared at her husband. “What is wrong with you, Frank?” Tears welled in her eyes but Frank rolled his toward the ceiling.
“So how did your little meeting go? Did you spend the whole hour thinking ‘bout this?” His words were slurred and he held his glass up to her nose. She got a waft of whiskey and felt the familiar longing inside of her. She grew light-headed as she stared into the amber liquid. How easy it would be to grab the glass and down it.
“Still got God, Annie?” Frank asked. He looked at his drinking buddies. “Place your bets now, folks. Will God help Annie resist? Or will she give in to temp-ta-tion?” Laughter echoed through the bar. He was mocking her. Challenging her. A big part of her wanted to laugh too. To dismiss the God she met three weeks ago and take that drink. Where was God, anyway? Did He even show up in bars?
“Mommy get drunk too?” Ginny’s small, sweet voice brought her back to her senses.
Annie hugged her tight. “No, baby. Mommy’s not going to get drunk.”
“You’ve lost your mind, Sweetheart,” Frank said as he tipped back his head and finished off the drink.
“Maybe, Frank. But I’ve found so much more.” Annie gazed at her daughter.
Annie turned and walked away. Behind her, she heard Frank ask, “What in the world is she talkin’ about? Can anyone understand that woman?”
Annie stepped onto the sidewalk as it started to rain again. She no longer felt old and stale. God had shown up in that bar and given her the strength to resist temptation and remind her that she did have the ability to overpower her own desires.
Annie felt strangely invigorated! She pressed Ginny to her shoulder and lifted her head towards the rain. For the first time in seventeen days, she looked forward to tomorrow.
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