The Plan

"One is too many, a thousand not enough."

I woke up with the answer. It was so simple! I got out of bed shaking my head in wonder. Why it hadn't occurred to me before, I don't know. God had spoken to me in a dream and told me not to drink. Just stop, He said with a little smile. It had surprised me a bit that God was a small, dark-haired man dressed in a brown suit, but what the heck, I'd never seen him before. Nobody had. So much for preconceived notions.

I shaved that morning for the first time in a week. I was a little wobbly, so I was careful as I swiped the foam from my face. I got a nick or two anyway, but no matter. A few bits of toilet paper fixed that. I got dressed and went downstairs. I fed the dog and cat. I opened the refrigerator and took out a carton of orange juice. I knew there was half a bottle of vodka in one of the bottom cabinets in the kitchen, but I told myself that this morning I would take a pass. I smiled as I took out a carton of muffins and a tub of margarine. I was full of confidence and rather proud of myself.

My plan was to not drink that day, and then, tomorrow, it would be easier. Whenever I got the urge, I would just say no and go about my business. My plan worked well until about noon. That afternoon I wanted to drink in the worst way. My head ached, my stomach was in a knot. I was sweating and every muscle in my body ached. No! I'd say to myself. And I'd go another fifteen minutes doggedly clinging to the tatters of my resolve.

And then I had a thought. Have one, just one. How bad could that be? I hadn't had a drink for how long? I looked at my watch. It was four o'clock. One drink, that was all. Something to take the edge off. I would have one, but that would be it. "I promise," I said to no one in particular.

By midnight I was drunk. I felt fine. No pain, I told myself with a wry grin. When I went to bed I dreamed I was swimming in an underwater world, breathing easily with no apparatus, swimming effortlessly in a coral lagoon with tiny fish of many colors above a floor of pristine white sand that inclined a bit in a downward direction towards a deeper blue that grew darker and darker until finally it vanished into blackness.

 

Jack Swenson