Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Much Ado about Nothing (not about the play) (07/28/11)
TITLE: Bottoms Up
By marcella franseen
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Jenni opened the door. Her hair was pulled up in a messy pony tail, the dark circles under her eyes even more pronounced by the smudged eyeliner. She reeked of alcohol. She smiled, but Melissa knew her friend well enough to see through the façade. Jenni was not thrilled to see Melissa on her front step. She didn’t want to have this conversation either.
“Hey. What’s up? Jenni asked nonchalantly.
“Hey,” Melissa replied, taking a step into the house. “I was wondering if we could talk for minute. Are your kids down?”
“No, they’re finishing up their baths. You know, tonight really isn’t a good night. I’m tired and I still need to get them in bed. Maybe we could talk tomorrow.” Jenni crossed her arms with an air of dismissal, but Melissa held firm.
“This is important, Jenni. I don’t mind waiting. I can sit out on your front porch until you’re done.”
Jenni unfolded her arms and sighed. “Fine,” she said, turning her back to Melissa she started up the stairs. “I’ll be down in a minute.”
Three years ago, Jenni’s husband cheated on her. After much counseling and prayer, they both decided to stay together and work it out. The affair had been a devastating blow to Jenni, but she went to her counseling meetings, joined a Bible study, and, as the weeks turned into months, seemed to be doing fine…but she wasn’t. She hadn’t really forgiven him. Deep down inside she hated him, and even worse, she hated God. Alcohol quickly became her best friend. It was what she would turn to when the anger and un-forgiveness were more than she could bear. She would drown herself in it. Nights were the worse. That’s when the dreams would come: dreams of him with “her.” But, alcohol took care of that, too. Drink enough and you’ll sleep so deep the dreams can’t break through.
The door opened behind Melissa, and Jenni stepped out. She sat down and lit the cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Melissa didn’t say anything. Jenni was making a point; she knew how much Melissa hated it when she smoked.
“How are you doing?” Melissa asked, not sure how to begin.
“I’m good.” Jenni replied.
“I don’t think so,” said Melissa, turning towards her friend. “I’m really worried about you. The drinking’s getting worse.” Melissa hesitated. “I think you could be an alcoholic, Jenni. I think you need help.”
“Ha!” Jenni exclaimed. “Please, I’m not addicted. Alcohol just helps me get through my day. I drink because I want to, not because I have to. I can stop whenever I want.”
“I don’t believe you, Jenni. What about your kids? It’s dangerous for you to be drunk while you’re caring for them.” Melissa stopped; she didn’t want to say the next part. “I think you’ve even driven them while intoxicated.”
Jenni was quiet. She starred off into the distance and puffed on her cigarette. Then, without looking at Melissa, she said, “I wish you and everyone else at church would stop worrying about what I’m doing and start worrying about your own sin.”
Melissa got up and stood in front of her friend, tears in her eyes. “Jenni, when I look at you I see all God created you to be-and it’s someone pretty great. As your friend, how can I watch alcohol kill all that’s great about you and not say something? I love you too much.”
Melissa turned to go. Jenni watched as she got in her car and drove away. She threw her cigarette down on the ground, snuffing it out with her shoe. “I wish everyone would stop making such a big deal about nothing,” she thought to herself. “I’m fine. I have complete control.” She got up to go inside. It was too hot out tonight and, after that conversation, she could really use a drink.
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