Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FRAGILE (02/23/17)
- TITLE: Bent, But Not Broken
By Donna Powers
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I'd been watching the street signs carefully, so I wouldn't miss my stop. OK: River Road. This was it.
When the doors of the bus opened and I stepped down the stairs, I was face to face with The River Road Cafe'.
Memories of countless other bars swarmed through my mind and I was suddenly trembling with fear.
A bar. Swell... that was all I needed.
I put one foot in front of another and resolutely turned my eyes to another building: the church a few doors down from the cafe'. That church was my destination. I prayed God would keep my eyes, my heart and my mind on my destination – and the reason for it.
As I walked, the music from the cafe' beckoned me. Wow, that band sounded good. Maybe I'd just go in and listen to some music. I also realized I was hungry.
Surely I could eat some dinner at that cafe'. There was nothing wrong with eating dinner.
My steps were frozen. The church looked dark, cold and unwelcoming – while the lights and music from the cafe' seemed bright, warm and inviting.
My shoulders hunched, my hands were clenched, and my eyes were squeezed shut. Indecision danced in my mind as nimbly as I imagined those in the cafe' might be dancing to that music.
I redirected myself toward the music, as my inner voice mocked me. Where was my resolve? Where was the promise I'd made, just a few short hours ago?” But the same voice resolutely answered, “Just because I go in there; doesn't mean I have to drink.”
The determination I'd felt about going to the AA meeting slowly dissolved. I reasoned God might very well have placed that Cafe' near the church, as a way for me to prove my sobriety. I'd go in,have some dinner, listen to music. No one at that AA meeting would miss me, or even know I hadn't come – and I'd go to another one tomorrow evening.
I hurried my steps. Yes, this was the right decision.
But when I opened the door of the Cafe, the smell of beer engulfed my mind and I drew back. The waiting hostess looked at me with a welcoming smile. But... beer!
My mind flashed back to the day I'd gotten my 30-day sobriety token. I remembered how great that had felt, so.....
No way. Not today.
I shook my head apologetically at the hostess and fled. Quickly; before I had another lapse in judgment, I strode quickly to the church. I opened that door, and sighed with relief. The only thing I smelled was in that basement was coffee.
I walked in and was greeted by another smile. I answered with one of my own.
“Hi, I'm Rikki,” she said. “Are you new here?”
“Yes. I'm Dorothy. I – it's my first time.”
“I figured it was. You walked in looking as if you'd seen a ghost. Don't worry, we'll be gentle.” She laughed at her own joke. I laughed back, in relief.
I saw the room filling with several other people. I kept smelling the coffee and asked where it was. She pointed to the coffee pot and walked with me as I went to fill my cup. She must have seen the tremble in my hands when I sat down.
“I know how it feels to be a newcomer,” Renee said. “I remember the first time I came here. I almost ended up down the road at the Cafe, instead.”
My head shot up. “Really? You, too?” Suddenly, I burst into tears. “I almost lost it! I can't believe I was so weak!”
She smiled. “But you didn't lose it. You're here.”
I breathed a sigh of relief, but the fear was still palpable. “But I came so close...”
“Yeah,” Nikki agreed. “Sometimes our resolve seems so fragile, at the beginning. I'm glad you decided to come.”
I gripped the cup tighter. Coffee: that's what I wanted to drink tonight.
Tonight, and one day at a time.
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