Before I even open my eyes, I begin to count.
How many drinks did I have last night?
One before dinner, two at dinner, one after dinner…
I count the drinks like a child counts sheep. As if the counting and not the drinking will determine whether or not I’m able to rise from the ashes.
But as is my curse, my fate, my destiny: my counting is futile.
I am hungover.
So I begin to assess.
My cats aren’t in bed with me; I am a disappointment.
My clothes are human-shaped heap on the floor, like I Bathilda Bagshotted out of them.
I stretch my legs and hear the familiar crinkle of plantain chips, a half-eaten bag waiting for me under the covers, just out of cat’s reach.
I roll over.
I regret it.
It’s going to be a long day.
I strike out for provisions, Donald Ducking across the kitchen in search of water.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and stifle a scream. I hope my roommate doesn’t wake up and find this creature—this hunched, half-naked chip demon—rifling through the pantry.
She would never recover.
Back in my bed, I reach for Excedrin: my favorite drug. The perfect drug.
I take it and wait.
I am Paul Sheldon. And the tide is most definitely out.
I hate myself. Why did I do this? Why does this happen to me? Am I allergic to alcohol? Have I been poisoned? How can I make this go away?
I start to pray for it to go away. But then I remember I don’t really pray, haven’t in years. And if I start now, with this request, surely I will be smoteth.
I decide the only way forward is through. To repent. To forgive myself, but to never forget.
A tattoo! A tattoo should do it. A permanent symbol to mark my darkest hour; a reminder to never end up here again.
I begin to design the tattoo in my head. A coffin. A rat. A black spot on my hand to mark the plague that will inevitably hunt me down and kill me should I deign touch The Drink.
Thinking about the tattoo makes me dizzy. So I change fantasies.
A cold pool.
An ice hat.
A quick and painless death.
I fantasize about waking up the next day, hangover-free. Like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning, after the horror that was his final haunting.
“I will live an altered life!” I scream, before finally succumbing to the aspirin and darkness.