This short story (written in 2016) is in my newly published book, Touched by Love (Book 2 of The Great Love Affair Series).
Man cannot really live without attachments, but mostly we are reaching for the wrong attachment. (Thomas Hora)
Isobel watched Benedict walk unsteadily down his driveway towards the builders in the backyard. He hadn’t dressed properly. He had no underwear on and his track pants were ripped so that anyone who looked (perhaps, it was impossible not to look) could see his backside. Somehow, it was still a great looking backside for all that he had put his body through in recent years. There was no point telling him that he hadn’t dressed properly. He was too sick. Along the way, things like dignity get lost.
The builders had been there for some weeks making a pool. Benedict wasn’t short of money. It would have been better if he had been because the necessities of life would have pulled him back into some normality. The builders knew that Isobel was Benedict’s ex-partner. Benedict repeated himself a lot. He reran stories incessantly in his head, and also out loud to anyone in his vicinity.
When Benedict stumbled back into the house, the head builder turned to Isobel and said, “I don’t know why we are building this bloody pool. He’s only going to fall into it in a drunken stupor and drown himself!”
Isobel said nothing. They all knew that the possibility of that happening was all too real.
A young apprentice lifted his head as Isobel headed for the house and said hopefully, “You’ve come to fix him up?”
He meant to sound light-hearted but the pity in his voice was obvious. Many people, even strangers, seemed to want to help Benedict. Isobel always found that very heart-warming. She didn’t want to disillusion the young apprentice and so she smiled reassuringly and nodded as if that was what she had come to do.
She braced herself to enter the house. Any trace of smile left her face. It was worse than normal. Things were everywhere. The fridge door was left open. It was a pigsty. When she passed the bedroom, she was shocked to see that there was blood on the wall, a broken mirror on the ground, and a hole in the plaster. She couldn’t remember seeing any new injury on Benedict. Perhaps, it was someone else’s blood. That was even worse. It was pointless cleaning any of it up. She had done that many times. This time, it was just too dreadful.
After a while, Benedict slumped onto the lounge and said, with head in hands, “I know I need help.”
Isobel had heard it before, but he still wouldn’t go to rehab. The terrible thing about rehab is not so much the physical withdrawal from the alcohol or drug. That is its own special kind of drama. The real terror is what is inside the person without any sedation; the pain, longing, hopelessness, memories, anger, and fear. Isobel washed a mug, made Benedict a cup of tea, and left. What else could she do? He wasn’t a minor. He wasn’t mentally ill. He wasn’t sick enough for a hospital. He wasn’t dead. Yet. It was his right, as an adult, to destroy himself. She left the house, but he was never far from her thoughts.
Alcohol and drugs are the sly deceivers, thought Isobel, floating in, like a party, and then way outstaying their welcome. The longer they stay, the less their hosts can see them.
For many people, they become a dependence. The dependent always says that it has no adverse effect on them. Every medication has a side effect. Alcohol and drugs are the most readily available, socially-supported, popular-choice medication there is.
Recalling a quote that she had read recently, Isobel said to herself, Man cannot really live without attachments, but mostly we are reaching for the wrong attachment. (Thomas Hora)
For some people, like Benedict, alcohol and drugs become a full-on addiction. Their deadly hold then becomes a very serious fight for survival. They will take everything. They will have no mercy whatsoever.
Isobel wanted to shout out to the world, Get out of here you foul destroyer. I see what you are doing. However, she couldn’t because the rest of the world had already embraced them like a trusted friend. To her, the thought of putting a poisonous substance into one’s body with the intention of losing one’s normal state of awareness seemed very foreign. Why waste your precious life or even a precious day? she thought.
A few weeks later, Benedict changed his mind (what was left of it) and went to rehab. It was the first of many stays. The battle was far from over, but the time it took for him to start drinking after rehab visits became longer, and the time it took for him to decide to go back to rehab, after relapses, became shorter. He was not in the death zone for quite so long. He was very slowly getting better.
One day, Benedict said to Isobel, with tears in his eyes, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for all of it.”
Isobel didn’t bother to hide the relief in her voice, “The only thing that matters is that you are getting better now.”
Benedict continued, “There are whole periods of time that I cannot even remember.”
Isobel smiled as if it was of no consequence, but thought, It’s probably just as well!