I woke up a few hours later, nestled beneath the sheets of Howie’s bed once again. My eyes were glazed over as I looked around for any sign of him. Where there was none, I lay my head back down against the pillows, silently cursing at myself. I glanced over at the clock next to me, squinting to see the bright red numbers. Six. Was that p.m. or a.m.? How could I not even know the difference? It had seemed like this had become my every day. I hadn’t worked in weeks. My photography business had gone out the window. How did I even expect it to stay afloat when I didn’t return any of my client’s phone calls? I hardly even spoke to Howie anymore. Pushing those thoughts out of my mind I crawled out of bed, walking down the hallway to the kitchen for the second time that day. I searched the cabinets for something, anything to drink. Finding nothing, not even a drop of alcohol, I headed towards the door, pulling a coat around my body.
“Where are you going?” A voice from behind me asked.
I turned around to see Howie standing there, arms crossed.
“I just need to run to the store.” I explained as he flicked on the light, the brightness of it blinding me.
“What do you need? I’ll get it.” He walked over to me, pulling the keys to his car from the hook.
“Howie, I need to get out of here for a minute. I’ll be fine.”
“Do you think I’m a fucking idiot?” He asked startling me, putting himself between myself and the door.
“You’re not my father Howie, I’m just going to the store.”
“You’re damn straight I’m not you’re father Natalie.”
He never used to get this angry with me, in fact he never used to get angry at all. We’d spend hours in bed together, tracing each other’s skin with our fingertips. Saying everything, and nothing at the same time with only a look. Now, I had no idea what his looks meant. I really had no idea what I was doing to him.
I couldn’t say anything.
“Coat off, nice try. I told you I was done with this. We just had the same damn conversation about three hours ago.”
I felt tears sting my eyes, “I need it.” I said lowly.
“You do not need it, Natalie.” He retorted.
I looked up at him, “I do…please?
What the hell was I supposed to do with that? I stood between the love of my life and what seemed the doorway to hell. She’s pleading for alcohol. Never in our relationship had I imagined her sinking so low.
“No. Coat up, I’m not letting you do this.” I reached for the other set of keys that hung by the doorway and stuffed them in my pocket. There had been so many days when I wondered why I just hadn’t left her yet. Days when I wondered what the hell I was doing in such a damaging relationship. I hated every minute of it. We had so much to look forward too. So many plans for our life. Marriage, a family, a future. I couldn’t just let that all slip away, could I?
After a moment, she gave in, pulling her coat off of her.
“I’m calling tonight Natalie.” I said softly, watching as she headed back towards the bedroom again.
She froze, “Howie, no.”
No?, I thought, No?
“I’m done. I’m finished. This is it. I’m calling and we’re going tomorrow. I’m packing your things tonight. You don’t have a choice in this anymore. I’m not watching your life rot away for one more second.” She couldn’t even turn to look at me. Even if she did it wouldn’t matter, she had no emotion in her eyes anymore. Everything I said and did was ignored, except when it denied her of something she thought she needed. I missed the days when she actually wanted my company. Wanted me for something other than being her care taker, and her taxi, and her…What did it matter?
I saw her nod, and walk away from me again. I collapsed on the couch, reaching for my laptop, fighting the urge to chuck it against the wall. I must have stared at the phone number at the bottom of the page for a good five minutes before finally entering it into my cell phone.
“Good evening, Beginning’s Rehabilitation Center, how may I assist you?”
Raking my memory for the name I had been given hours I go, I gulped, “Hi, I spoke to someone a while ago I believe her name was Melissa. Is she still available?”
“Yes hold on one moment,”
I sighed as the hold music started playing in my ear. I leaned against the cushions of the couch, closing my eyes. I wondered how many other people had to do this for the ones they loved. Would it even work? Would she come back to me?
“Thank you for holding this is Melissa.”
“Yes, hi, this is Howie Dorough, we spoke--”
She quickly interrupted, a smile filling her voice, “Howie, yes I remember. Natalie correct?”
“Yes ma’am, thank you for remembering,” He sighed, “Melissa, I need to bring her in tomorrow. How early could I do that?” The words pained me, I was sending her away, but it couldn’t wait.
“When she wakes up in the morning, give me a call, and I’ll set up an appointment okay Howie? We definitely have a place for her here.”
“Alright, thank you Melissa.”
“You’re welcome Howie, get some rest if you can.”
If only she knew how hard that was going to be. I said thank you and hung up the phone, closing my tired eyes once again. I felt like this might be the answer to everything. But, I wondered, how much help could Natalie really get if she didn’t want it?