As promised, here’s my second post inspired by one of the photos posted for the Weekly Photo Challenge last Friday. This one is inspired by “Bottoms Up!” by conspiracy of ravens–check out her many lovely photos on her blog!
Miriam is a character from Ghostlight, Bette’s mother who is implied to have a drinking problem that started sometime after…well, you’ll see what it started after. As Ghostlight is currently a first-person perspective story, her mother’s not given a POV or, so far, much pagetime. But the image brought her to mind.
With her head titled onto the cool marble of the bar, the line-up of wine glasses looks almost like they are standing on an invisible counter with their rims just touching the one she could see. Miriam’s head is at enough of an angle that they were slightly upside-down, and while she enjoys the visual trick, she has to close her eyes and lift her head after a moment as the vertigo hit her. The spins. Ugh. And the hangover headache was starting early, before she’d even finished drinking. Well, red wine had been her drink of choice so far today, and she knows that is often the case when she drinks more than a glass of red wine.
“You alright, ma’am?” the hotel bartender asks. A young man with dark hair, probably just out of college, she guesses. Dark hair. Young. Alive. That hurts, too.
“Some water, please,” Miriam replies. Had she passed out on the bar? “Was I…out?” she asks, embarassed and looking around. The hotel bar is otherwise empty. Not too surprising…it’s daylight, sometime in the afternoon.
“For a few minutes, I think. I was in the back for a bit,” he replies. She doesn’t quite believe his attempt to spare her dignity and pretend he didn’t see her. She looks at the marble and sees the moisture-impression of her cheek as it fades. He passes her the water and she drinks, the dryness of her mouth abating for the moment. “Do you need me to call anyone, ma’am?” he asks.
“No…no, they’re all here. At the buffet in the fuction room,” she tells him. His eyes register understanding then.
“You knew the, uh, the deceased?” he asks, politely as he can.
She nods, looking down, tears in her eyes. Yes, she thinks, I knew my son. He would’ve liked you, I bet, but she doesn’t say it all aloud.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” the bartender says apologetically, eyes deep with sympathy. “…can I get you another?” he offers. “On the house.”
Miriam looks at the empty wine glass in front of her. Another one and she won’t be fit to drive, but she is not driving, not today. Even sober she could not have managed that on the day her son was put in the ground. Her heart stops again–it’s been doing that a lot lately, it seems–and she feels like she might sob, or scream, or vomit. There are no good thoughts, not of her husband or her daughter or her friends. Miriam’s parents died years ago, and that hurt more than anything, she thought at the time. But it was nothing compared to now. Everything is wretched and unfair and unending.The migraine is not just in her head, it is everywhere. Her skin, her bones, her heart, all of it a throbbing pain that will not go away.
“Please,” she replies, her voice quiet and hard at once. Her head will hurt more, but that pain at least is one she can self-medicate.