“I don’t know what to tell you about the alcohol, but I can tell you about the loneliness. I am empty. I’m a married woman with a steady job and both of those facts numb me like some kind of super-strength anesthetic. Predictable in a banal fashion- every day beginning and ending with no real connection to others. No warmth or affection. Just moving through time as a phantom. Someone you once knew.”

“I can’t pinpoint when it started, but I know I can’t go on much longer. I need to be embraced. I need to feel stimulated and look forward to something besides sleep. Maybe this is hard for you to hear? Awkward? I’m a stranger to you in most respects and I know it’s odd to sit across from me now, after years of seeing each other all over town with barely a greeting passing between us, but I don’t know what to do.”

“I want to feel that tingle of expectation when my husband parks the car in the driveway at night. I used to know it well: the excitement and curiosity about his day and hoping we’d end up in bed, or at the very least, tipsy on wine and laughing about some idiotic occurrence during our days. But there is no expectation beyond the inevitability of sleeping alone and the sound the Ambien bottle makes as I pop the top and decide in that second how many I need for the night.”

“Don’t get up, please. I’ll be quiet. Just sit here a few minutes longer. You can watch your son play some more. He looks happy.”

© 2021 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

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