Meet my eyes, won't you? I want to see the look on your face. I always could read you like a book, knew exactly what you wanted and didn't. You loved it on your birthday, when I knew just what you wanted; but when we fought, oh, I knew how to break you down.

Is that why you won't look at me now? Because you think I'll do that? No. No, I won't. I don't even know who you are anymore. You might have the same chestnut hair and arms and legs and flat, coffee-colored stomach, your little feet and ears and hands might be the same. But your eyes are harder, stranger. Your lips aren't full and red and warm anymore, no. They're thin and pinched and angry.

Still don't want to look at me? That's fine, just fine. I remember you didn't want to look at me after that first time, either. Oh, no. Not that first time. Don't you remember? The first time you hit me? Beat the shit out of me, really.

They don't teach ladies what to do when their woman beats them up, so I did what I still do best: nothing. Jackshit nothing.

I guess it really was my fault, you punched me in the stomach once, I don't even remember what it was over, some stupid shit, and without thinking, without reading you to look and see, I just said what came to mind.

I love you, I said, and that's when you pulled back a fist (High School Varsity Girls Boxing, I thought) and you broke my nose, do you remember? Not that bad, mind you, but it hurt like a sonofabitch.

You walked out the door and I didn't see you again until the next afternoon, when you showed up at my door with a bouquet of pink roses (my favorite) and said you were so sorry, it would never, ever happen again, you were stressed out and stupid and you felt terrible and could I forgive you?
I believed it all. I drank it up. I kissed you, quick, so you wouldn't taste my breath, and went back inside to take another three shots of Jack Daniels, almost the dregs from a full bottle the night before.

For the next two weeks, we were golden. I hid the empty bottle of Jack in the bottom of the trash and my nose healed and you seemed to forget everything.

Two weeks was as far as it went. I came home fifteen minutes late from a meeting at work and a traffic jam. I opened the door, tossed my keys on the counter, opened my mouth to call out, Honey, I'm home! like in that one film but there you were and you grabbed my wrist (I saw your fingertips in purple for a week) and wrenched my arm up and yelled, Where the fuck have you been, Robin? Do you know how fucking worried I've been? Do you?! And it hurt. Doesn't that bother you now? Does it bother you for me to tell you that?

I thought not.

Then your hands were around my neck and my back was against the wall and everything became sharp and vivid all of a sudden: your chestnut hair catching the sunlight, the pink polish on your nails digging into my neck, your shirt slipping low while you shook me, just enough to show the edge of your bra (sexy black lace, if I remember), your mouth spitting words my ears refused to take in. And in the slow motion, you pulled me towards you as if to embrace me and then--

-smack- my head against the wall, rattling the windowpanes and

-smack- your hand across my face, rattling my teeth and

-black- whether it was my lungs giving up or my heart, I'll never know.
The last thing I heard was my voice whispering,
I fucking love you, Alice.

But I won't bore you with what I'm sure you remember clearly. The bottle of Smirnoff someone gave us once in the cabinet, it disappeared pretty fast, but you could ignore that, cause when I'm plastered I don't complain and, more importantly, I don't tell. No, I don't tell.

So here we are now, I'm sitting on the floor, you standing over me (you said once you had always liked the submissive ones, so I guess, baby, you love me). And a moment ago you said, You know, Robin? You're such a fucking lush. A pathetic fucking lush.

But baby, oh baby, you made me this way, I can't deny it. Jack, Jim, Morgan, they were your best friends. They kept me from crying and they kept me from walking away. Grey Goose, it tastes like shit, but it gets me drunk fast.

I know what you did while I was passed out. Frankly, if you were going to hurt yourself anyway, why'd you have to hurt me, too? I could've shared the pain without you forcing it upon me. You didn't have to give me scars to match yours.

Every time you beat me up, with every kick and slap and choke, I told you, I still love you, Alice. I meant it, too. As if meaning it would make you stop.

I loved you. You took advantage of that. You hurt me because you couldn't hurt yourself enough, and I still loved you. You put me in the hospital, where I made excuses for you, and never once did you call when I had to stay, and I still loved you. The drinks only dulled one kind of hurt you gave me, and I still loved you. You broke my heart and you broke my ribs, and still I loved you.

And I drank, and I drank, straight from the bottle I drank, and I cried, and I cried, and my tears tasted like whiskey. And drink after drink I loved you.

Lush, that I am. I became a lush for you. To keep on loving you. And I suppose that was pathetic.

And here you are, still standing over me, and my eye is swelling shut (already? usually it takes longer) and I still love you. And my ears are ringing and my lip is split and I still love you. And you kicked me in the stomach and I still love you. And you walked away without a word and I still love you. And I'm pulling out the half-full bottle of Three Olives that I know will be empty before morning and taking the first burning gulp and I still love you. And I will do this a hundred more times, until you kill me or you kill yourself, because I will always love you. A hundred more bottles, a hundred more bruises, a hundred more broken bones, because I can't stop loving you. Break my heart a hundred times.

And I'll drink, and I'll drink, straight from the bottle I'll drink, and I'll cry, and I'll cry, and my tears will taste like whiskey.

And I'll be lush, I'll stay lush for you. Lush is the only way I'll get through.
I see you walk away, break my heart, it's okay. I'll be lush by morning.