Poe stared into the mirror. She was never particularly fond of her reflection, but she hated it now. She noticed her hand was shaking. She lowered the gun, wondering if she was a coward or a fool. She staggered to bed and lay as she landed.
The morning sun in Denver is bright, but Poe did her best to block it out. Her windows were as shut off from sunlight as her soul, but she couldn't stop those damn birds from singing at the top of their little bird lungs. Reluctantly, she rose from her bed as if partially dragged by an invisible force. Eyes squeezed shut, her head bass-thumping, she bumped down the hall to the bathroom where the vomiting began that would continue throughout the day. She tripped over the dogs on the way to the Keureg.
Poe saw to the dogs, then sat in a chair in the dark for the rest of the day, rising only to throw some tortillas in a bowl, fill a cup with tomato juice laced with hot sauce, go the bathroom, throw up, or see to the dogs again. She went to bed early, hoping to dream through the screaming in her head.
The next morning Poe rose from bed with a purpose. Bottles of liquor filled the sink. She raised a trembling finger in the air, as if a different type of flashbulb went off. She lifted off the top of the toilet tank and recoiled. She had been in that tank many times, but never before noticed the grey-brown slime growing along the inside of the tank, or the moldy, dank stank. Resolutely she dunked her hand into the light grey-green tank water and pulled the bottle of gin from the tank.
She stared at the sink containing the sparkling gold and rich brown liquors in enticing bottles; the kind that made you think there was magic in them. Damn, that's a lot of liquor. There were more bottles hidden in the most unlikely placed; closet shelves, behind the washing machine, the dryer, next to the spare tire in her trunk. She rotated her liquor consumption at various sundry locations. She didn't want anyone getting the wrong impression. She hid them to slow her flow and then forgot where they were hidden. It didn't occur to her for quite some time that she was hiding liquor in a house where she lived alone.
Poe sighed. She picked up the nearest bottle and began pouring the sacred nectar with the sickly sweet smell into the sink. The rich liquid made little golden streams over bottles and down the drain. She began to cry and shook, but didn't stop till the last drop was rinsed out of the last bottle and thrown into the recycle bin.
Poe went to bed. Her demons did not.
"Polly!" Poe heard a woman exclaim. Must be somebody else, Poe thought, Nobody calls me Polly anymore. "Polly Mullholland!"
Poe turned to face her just to stop her from saying it again.
"Nobody calls me Polly anymore, Adele, you know that."
"Well, that's your name isn't it? You don't really want to be called Poe, do you? You can't really like it. It sounds like a man's name." Adele's eyes narrowed as though she was getting ready to say something Poe was sure she didn't want to hear.
"What are you doing here Adele? Are you going... in there?" Poe couldn't bring herself to say it and pointed to the room with chairs set around a table? Please God, say no.
"No, I'm in the Al-Anon meetin' across the hall. It's my boy....you remember Harold? " Adele rushed on, "Well, he's goin through a bad spell right now. Gerald won't come to these meetin's. He went to the first one and says that they point too many fingers at the relatives. He says there ain't nothin wrong with him, it's Harold who's got the problem..." Adele's eyes began turning red. Poe wished she had something in her pocket to stab herself in thigh so she could at least look sympathetic.
"Well, look Adele, I mean...it's good to see you. Sorry about your boy. The meetings about to start, so..."
"Oh, I understand. We should get together, have coffee sometime." She seemed excited. "You AA people do love your coffee!" Poe smiled, raised her hand in a sort of farewell salute, turned and walked into her first meeting. At least the aggravations made her forget how nervous she was for a few minutes.
"You must be new," a woman materialized beside her at the coffee counter.
"How can you tell?" Poe's brow furrowed.
"Oh, I don't know..." She glanced at Poe's hand. Poe looked at her own hand. It was spilling coffee from the sides. The woman smiled, "fill it only 3/4 full for a little while," she whispered.
Great, Poe thought and turned and walked away.
The woman sat next to her making Poe uncomfortable. Are these people going to be some kind of cult stalkers?
"What's your name?" the woman asked.
"As in Edgar Allen?"
"As in my younger brother couldn't say Polly."
"Can he say it now?"
"Nope, he's dead. Look, since you've decided to make me your special buddy, can you tell me where I can get the textbook and workbook? How long do I have to take the classes?"
"My name is Carrie," her smile deepened, unnerving Poe. "I think I can help."