A Drink Before I Die – Part II
Good mornings are always cold and dreary. They leave me with no desire to leave the comfort of my blankets. Is that up my bed, draping my blanket over my shoulders, popped my earbuds in, and put the volume on low.
There was a knock at the door and my grandfather came in. “Your phone’s been going off all night and I’m not sure what you’re listening to you, but you need to turn it down.”
“It’s Marilyn Manson,” I said rolling my eyes.
“I still say Strawberry Alarm Clock is better,” he smirked. “I’m not letting you off the hook this morning, you’ve got to eat breakfast.”
I put on my flip-flops and secured my blanket around my shoulders again before I left my room. The brown plush carpet reminded me of my childhood. The kitchen was small. I could smell the freshly brewed coffee and bacon frying. It smelled just how morning should smell.
“I know you’re upset, honey,” my grandfather said, pouring half and half into my favorite, purple mug. “But starving yourself all the time isn’t going to make Mason come back.”
I poured some coffee on top of the cream. I placed a fried egg onto a slice of jellied toast and put half of it into my mouth before I could even think about my lack of table manners.
“I thought you’d be hungry. Your mom used to do this too, you know. When your dad walked out on her, she lived on Sprite and strawberry syrup for weeks. Although that could have been because of the morning sickness. Please tell me you’re not pregnant, Bethany.”
“I’m not,” I said reassuringly. “I was waiting to get married or something like that.” My face turns sour again as I thought of my man with that whore in the bathroom.
“It’s okay, honey,” he said, placing his enormous hand on my shoulder. “You’ll find the man that you’re supposed to marry and build a life with him, I promise.”
I smiled just a little bit.
We were sitting in the living room watching some cartoons; my grandfather always claimed that Nickelodeon was on so often for his kids, but he loves them. My grandmother used to say that my grandfather’s sole reason for having children was so that he could watch Scooby-Doo.
As my grandfather sipped his third cup of morning coffee, he threw my phone directly into my lap. “Your phone was going off all night kiddo, you might want to check it out.”
I sighed. ”Yeah, you’re probably right I should, but I don’t really want to open my phone and see like 50,000 text messages about how Mason’s sad that he screwed up.”
He nodded. “I know, but what if it’s important? You would hate to miss something like a job interview or an interview with a college recruiter right?”
“You’re right,” I said. “I just don’t want to open the lockscreen and see 100 unread text messages and 57 missed calls. I didn’t think he was going to be like that. He must have called me over 50 times. Most of the calls were placed in the middle of the night.”
My grandfather shook his head.
“I really don’t feel like dealing with this right now,” I said.
Just then, the wall-mounted phone began to ring. “I don’t think he would have gotten our house number.” I said as I made my way over to the phone. I looked at the home phone in my hand, it was that bizarre shade of 1970’s yellow.
I could hear my grandpa laughing at Spongebob from his recliner.
“Hi Bethany, I was calling to check on you.” The voice was that of my biology teacher.
I had to stop myself from saying what I was thinking. Did the whole world know that Mason had cheated on me? Did Patti tell the whole world that she and Mason had messed around when they were drunk?
If vacation was this bad, what was it going to be like after school was back in session? Mason and I tried to coordinate our electives together.
“Hello, I’m doing alright, thank you.”
“How are you handling the plane crash and everything?”
“What?!” My heart skipped a beat.
“You haven’t seen the news? The plane barely left the airport. Mason texted me to tell me he was going to Nebraska.”
“Like we planned,” I said. My voice was quiet as the mug of hot coffee slipped out of my hand and shattered into a million shards of purple.
My grandfather rushed over, crouching down beside me as I sat on the cold linoleum. The kitchen floor was now covered in vomit. A huge brown puddle with specks of yellow and red now covered the once clean, sparkling, green and white tiles.
My grandfather sat next to me. “What’s wrong, sweetie?” His voice had that classic, sympathetic Grandpa tone.
“Mason, he got on the plane!” I heaved again, spewing more vomit before I could finish the sentence. “He got on the plane to Nebraska and now he’s dead.”
I hurried over to the cupboard, popping one of my grandfather’s Xanax and chased it with a shot of lukewarm orange juice.
He didn’t say a word as I slammed the door in my bedroom.
Lying in bed, I couldn’t help but wonder what it felt like to die. A rapid succession of numb and then tingling and then numb again took over my limbs. Eventually, they felt heavy. I could feel my breathing pick up speed. It was scary. As my limbs began to feel heavier, I could think about moving them, but I couldn’t at all.
In that moment, I wondered if I was going to die along with Mason. Maybe I had taken too much, and now I was going to die.
I awoke from an uneasy sleep. When I was dreaming, I could see flashes of an airplane. I could see flashes of Mason’s face. In that moment, I felt as if the boy I loved was going to haunt my dreams forever.
“Mason,” the man in the white coat said as I stopped, kneeling down in what seemed to be an endless void of bright lights and nothingness. “You need to keep moving. I know it’s hard, but you gotta keep going kid.”
I began to cry. “She’s thinking about me again. I can tell, and she misses me too.”
”You have to get up! You don’t have a lot of time!” The man in the white coat was dragging me now.
It felt like I was dragging medicine balls around on my legs as I made my way out to the refrigerator. My grandfather smiled to acknowledge that I had to come out of my bedroom. I grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge; my mouth had never felt so dry. I drank the bottle of water without even stopping to take a breath.
“Beth,” my grandfather said. “Your phone’s been going off all day again. You really should check it, I know your mom’s worried about you.” I rolled my eyes and took the phone from him. The phone felt hot in my sweaty hand.
I now had 462 unread messages, over a 1000 Facebook notifications, and a few dozen unanswered phone calls. I’ve always been one to trust a gut feeling, and I was extremely hesitant to look through the contents of my phone.
To my surprise, the name Mason, with a little green puke emoji in place of the blue heart that used to by his name, had sent me 60 text messages.
Most of the messages were the standard “I’m sorry,” “I miss you,” “I’m drunk,” “please take me back,” fratboy-type bull crap.
But one stood out to me:
Sent: 3:03 a.m., “my love received the last text message she ever would receive from me. It will take a long time to get to where we need to be, but I’ll be okay. I’ve always liked long walks.”
I read the message over and over again in my head. What do they mean by “I always enjoyed long walks?” I mean, yeah, he always did; we would often take walks through the woods and just talk about our dreams. Our dreams of freedom and all the animals we were going to own. Well, except for the Utahraptor that Mason wanted. I didn’t think that would ever happen.
A tear trickled down my cheek as I thought of the man I loved and all of his adorable and unusual personality traits. I wondered aloud if we could ever have gotten past that horrible night that broke my heart.
Even in my drug-addled haze, when I had just about peed my pants, my gut told me that I had to open the wardrobe in the bedroom. There was an inch of dust on everything in there. When I was a kid, I always thought that royal British people all had to have wardrobes in their bedrooms. I smiled as I opened the door; something about the smell of mildew and cedar wood would always make me feel like I was playing make believe in my grandfather’s attic.
I noticed something I hadn’t before: it was a piece of my flowery, pink stationery paper situated under the stuffed bear that Mason had won me at the carnival when we first started dating.
I hugged my plushy to my chest tightly and picked up the sheet of paper.
You’re never going to believe this. I wanted to surprise you, I got a job at a diner while you were at camp this summer. I wanted to make some money for us, and I met this guy. He was kind of weird and old. His wife was there, but she wasn’t there. I suck at writing. I think she was a ghost, and then he left with her one day. He told me that my wife would always be right and then he left. His obituary was in the paper two days later. He was a ghost too.
But he told me that my wife would always be right, and that’s why I want my wife to be you. Well, because you’re the smartest and most caring person I know. And I know I can be a pain in the ass, but I love you. This is going to be a really weird story to tell our kids.
My hands began to shake and a sweat stain soaked through the corner of the paper as I held it. I gently placed the paper under my pillow; I wasn’t sure what else I would do with it.
In that moment, I was sure Mason had something to do with it. If he could see me right now, he would be in heaven jumping for joy because he still had one way to communicate with me.
I assure you Bethany, I’m never going anywhere. I love you. And don’t worry, maybe someday we can walk down this never-ending path together, just like we always wanted to.
The man in the white coat continued to drag me, despite my relentless protest.