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May 31st, 2007 - Rita Barnes

Pajamas are my new uniform. I’ve been wearing them daily since I was fired for stealing and have taken-up residence on my couch. Every morning I watch the hands circle the clock until it strikes noon, and every afternoon I drink to make them move faster.

These bottles aren’t the skinny ones either. I’m no amateur at this wine drinking business. I’m a pro. I buy the big bottles and suck them down like water.

How do I accomplish such professionalism in my drinking at the unripe age of twenty? My roommate is a generous soul and carrying a valid ID boasting her twenty-four years. She keeps our fridge stocked as long as I pay my share. If I drink one of her bottles, I slip her an extra bill and tell her to replace it, on me.

I’m burning through my savings and I know it.

Which makes me want another drink.

I’m straddling a dangerous border between addiction and harmless-college-kid-over-consumption and I know it.

Which makes me want another drink.

I’m gaining weight and losing motivation to do anything about it and I know it.

Which makes me want another drink.

My sad song of self-pity plays on repeat through my mind. How did I end up here? Why am I always screwing up? After everything I’ve been through, have I learned nothing?

Two years before, I’d moved to Orlando, Florida leaving my drug habits behind in California. Choosing a new life without razor blades and straws, pipes and lighters, shed light on me after a darkness denser than the blackest hole in space. I believed I’d never see the dark again. Until I was fired.

Now it’s 2007 and soon I will turn twenty-one. And I’ll be too drunk to care. As a legal drunk, I will continue drinking my way through life for the next four years. I will have an abortion and break up with the boy who isn’t ready to be a father. I will drink more and sleep around with strangers to numb my first adult heartbreak. I will meet a man, and make him my drinking partner. When we get pregnant with our son, I will finally put my glass down and see my first glimpse of light in a long time. But, when our son is two, I will tell his father to leave because he wants to keep his glass in hand.

The darkest the world will ever be is when I lay in bed worrying night after night about how to be a single mom. Light will seem a thing of the past, and I forget how to see. Blindly, I’ll grope the air in front of me, expecting to find something to grasp that will lead me out. I will want nothing more than a bottle of wine to drink it all down. But this time, there’s a little person with my heart beating in his chest and if I don’t keep him going, it’ll be the end of my life.

What else can I do? I will send out an S.O.S and wait for rescue.

Fast forward ten years, darkness comes and I still want to park myself on my couch with a bottle of wine. But without the dark, there is no light, and so I breathe. And I wait. And I take one step after the other until I reach the light again. Because we cannot escape the dark, we can only learn to navigate through it. (And sometimes, I still drink the wine, but these days, I buy the skinny bottles.)


Rita Barnes is an emerging writer in Orlando, FL where she works as a freelance copywriter, blogger, and occasional writer for Orlando, The City’s Magazine. She has upcoming publications in the Florida Writer’s Association annual collection and Petite Hound Press.

Rita recommends you check out To Write Love on Her Arms a nonprofit movement that started with a single story about addiction and is now dedicated to finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Visit


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