The next time I opened my eyes, I was freezing. My mouth was filled with sand and my head was made of lead.
My feet and hands were numb. This was alarming.
I smacked myself in the face a few times, trying to muster my wits. Clearly I had to get out of the bathtub, but I wasn’t sure how I could manage that daunting task.
How had I ended up in this position?
I tried to remember the evening. Fortunately no matter how much I drink–and trust me, I have tested this over and over again–I never blackout anything.
Drinks. That show. My headache. Vomiting in public. Ouch.
The was no time to dwell on that. I was moments away from hypothermia and one of those deaths that embarrasses the family.
“1…2….3!” With that, I dragged myself out of the icy bathwater, flopping on to the rug.
“I’m going to have to rest here for a moment.” But I was shivering. I needed to take off my wet dress and then towel off. Get the water out of my ears. Take out my contacts. Find some clothes. Brush my teeth.
The list was growing particularly ambitious.
I stood up, leaning on the sink. I willed my lifeless fingers to unzip my dress. I threw my wet clothes into the bathtub. My boyfriend was going to bitch about the mess in the morning, but I would deal with that then. As I was drying my hair, I realized something: why had he left me in the bathtub, possibly to drown?
I dropped the towel and walked into the living room/bedroom. He was sprawled out on his back, as still and waxy as a corpse. He hadn’t bothered to fold down the futon or even take off his shoes. His dog sat on a magazine in the corner, looking forlorn.
I put my head on his chest, listening for his heart. I could hear something faint, but what if it was just the result of loud music and a waterlogged eardrum?
I gave him a shake. “Hey, wake up!” A slightly rougher shake. Were his eyelids fluttering? I bit his shoulder.
He opened his eyes. “Jesus, Abbie….what are you doing?”
I was relieved for a fraction of a second…and then I remembered that I was feeling pissy.
“Why did you leave me in the bathtub? I was fucking freezing!”
He sat up and rubbed his eyes. “I’m not your babysitter. I figured you would come out when you were ready. I was just reading and waiting for you to sober up.”
Ha! As if I wouldn’t see the plastic bag and straws. The mirrored jewelry dish he had borrowed from my bedroom months ago. Why were we living like this? When did everything become a sad fucking cliche?
I was the fucking valedictorian of my high school. Where was the success? Why was I here, in a cold garden–a tidy euphemism for “basement”–apartment in a shitty neighborhood with my junkie boyfriend and his neglected dog and dripping wet hair and pruny hands and…
Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. That old familiar feeling of panic coming back for another visit. The lion was chasing me through the woods and I had lost a shoe. I could feel my eyes popping out of my head, the telltale beads of sweat forming on my brow. My head was shaking. I grabbed my hair in an attempt to hold it still.
“Abbie? What’s going on?” He jumped to his feet, trying to untangle my fingers from my scalp. “You have to calm down.”
He rubbed my back as I tried to catch my breath. Suddenly a blanket was wrapped around me, while he whispered calming platitudes. Ordinarily I would have soaking up all of this attention, but I was dying right then. Love was not going to prevent the end of the world.
“I need my medication,” I gasped. Just as I said this, I remembered tossing the last two doses down my throat in the bathroom at the Empty Bottle while a couple was sniffing glue in the corner.
He was already rummaging through my bag.
“I don’t have any… I took it all.” Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
He helped me onto the futon and scurried into the kitchen.
My mind was playing “Why am I such a fuck up?” on an endless reel. Why didn’t I have a refill with me? I used to be so on top of things. Recycling put out on the right night. Phone calls returned in a timely manner. Prescriptions filled in advance.
And where was my bike? What kind of druggie can’t remember what they did with their bike? I could feel myself shaking harder. The cheap futon frame was rattling.
He returned with a look of glee. “Take this…it’s an Oxycontin.”
This was probably stolen from one of his dog-walking clients. Probably a suffering old woman with cancer. We were selfish people.
I washed it down with orange juice like a good girl. He wrapped himself around me until I could breathe again. I was dressed in sleeping clothes. The futon was opened and I was covered with layers of blankets.
Tomorrow I would get my act together. Tomorrow I would return to the person I had been just a few short months ago. I swore that all of this was a learning experience, the rock bottom that everyone faced in the face of impending change.