No, she says, no, no, no, no.
Come here, come here.
No, no, no, no.
The voice is soft and seductive. Come here...
She lets out a sob and draws her knees to her chest, leaning back into the couch cushions.
The bottle sits on the table in front of her, uncorked. The yellow-tinged glass glints in the well-lit room. There is no label, just liquid, sloshing against the confining walls.
She doesn't remember picking it up, or putting it down. She doesn't remember opening it.
All she knows is that right now, it's in front of her. Her throat burns in anticipation.
No, no, no, no.
If her eyes are closed, maybe it'll go away.
No, no, no, she can still taste it and smell it, she still is aware of its presence.
It's not going away.
Her arm shoots out and grabs the bottle, and she pulls it to her. A little bit of the liquid, a deep red, splatters against her beige couch.
It's cold. The bottle is cool against her hot and sticky hands.
The children will be home in under an hour. Her husband in half that. But there's still time.
No, no, no, no, no.
She shouldn't. It wouldn't please them. She has to please them. Everything she does needs to please them.
No, no, no, no.
Perhaps one, just one drink, just one sip.
She lifts it to her lips quickly. The glass clicks against her teeth.
The drink slips into her mouth and down her throat, barely burning. She remembers when the taste used to make her eyes water and her entire body cringe. Now she thinks it is as essential as water.
Instantly she feels better. Her face heats, and she can feel the red blossom across her cheeks. She closes her eyes in bliss.
She can breathe again, she is free. Her mind dances.
Ropes that bind her down, silken suburban ropes, loosen and fall. She feels mobile. She feels endless.
She stands, bottle in hand, and spins in a circle. She knocks against the table, almost falling, and it wobbles. Cheap thing, she remembers buying it at Ikea when they were first moving in. She should find another one. The children had scribbled in crayon and marker all over it, their written nonsense and sloppy stick figures are scattered around it.
Dancing, round and round, the carefully chosen wall colours swirl into a neutral blur.
Slowly she stops.
The room around her is large and open. The couches match the chairs, and the chairs match the walls. In one corner there is a T.V., in another there is a little fake kitchen for the children to play in. Bamboo plants decorate the corners, growing stylishly in shiny grey rocks. Pictures of smiling children stare back at her, posing in parks and in front of churches, in coordinated dresses with little fashionable hats.
She looks at the bottle and giggles. Oops, that little sip had finished off half of what she had.
Spinning, she crashes into the walls. She swears, stupid walls, always getting in her way.
"This house is made of walls," she says out loud, and laughs uproariously.
Without thinking, she takes another swig.
"Oops," she says, "no more for me!"
She waltzes over to the end table and picks up a picture. A wedding picture. A couple stands under a tree. The man is older, about twenty five, and he is grinning widely. The woman is much younger, a girl, really, about seventeen or eighteen, and her belly is rounded and large. She stares at it and laughs, again.
"How lovely I am," she says, twirling and collapsing on the couch. She slumps down and rests the frame against her flat stomach.
One more drink, she can have one more drink.
No, no, no, no, she shouldn't, she really, really shouldn't.
But would one more hurt? Would one more really hurt?
So she takes another, but she tilts the bottle too quickly, and the liquid flows out, escaping, running down the furniture and onto the clean white carpet.
No, no, no! Now they'll know!
She gets up, and in her haste drops the bottle. The picture clatters to the floor.
No, no, no, no! She stands there, shocked. What does she do?
Darkness seeps across the white, overtaking it, suffocating it. She cries out in fear.
Little arms of liquid stretch out from the larger mass, grabbing at the unscathed pieces of floor.
She is frozen.
The door opens with a click and closes with a clip.
Her limbs are frigid, solid, she is a statue, unable to move or change.
Her husband walks in and sees her. His gaze flits from her motionless figure to the spreading stain. Realization reaches his eyes, his mouth opens into a small "o".
He covers the distance between them in a second, wrapping his arms around her body and hugging her close.
She chokes on the proximity. She struggles to breathe, she remains stiff in his embrace.
"It's okay," he says, "it's alright, I'll help you."
A whine is emitted from her throat, her body is rejecting the closeness. She wants to get out.
"It's alright, I'm here."
No, no, no, she thinks, you've got it wrong.
"We'll get you help, we'll find a solution."
No, no, no, we can't, no.
"We'll make you better."
No, no, no, you can't make me better. You can't make me better because you're the problem.