The following is a short piece of fiction stemming from a writing prompt during the most recent Pen to Paper Live session hosted by the Charlotte Lit organization. You can register here. On the eve of the presidential inauguration, the prompt was to examine what ends when something new begins? What gets lost, what gets left behind?
The Last Toast
Today is the day I stop drinking.
Seven words skewered in pencil on the back of an overdue electric bill from the City of Decatur.
The words a promise I’d made to myself some six hours earlier. Now the empty fifth of Kentucky Tavern on its side, a small pool of the brown elixir lingering in the glass on the nightstand, a remnant of the night before.
There’s a momentary urge to bring the cool glass to my lips to feel the burn of the whiskey as it hits my tongue, that sensory overload only topped by the feeling of warmth that spreads through my torso.
I’ll miss it.
We had our falling outs, particularly that DWI three years back and those hungover mornings where I lay curled in bed instead of cutting wood. And, of course, there’s Rebecca. She said I loved the drink more than her.
For a while now, it’s been just me and the whiskey. And, for a while now, that’s been just fine.
Oh, we had our fun.
That first sip when I was 14, the bottle passed from my daddy as we sat on the tailgate of the pickup truck waiting for the doves to rise from the brush. My welcome to manhood moment.
That late summer night down in the back woods of the Chattahoochee, three dates in with Rebecca, sharing the pint in the back seat of my Pinto, that hot spice sticking to my tongue, my lips numb.
Plenty of graduation celebrations, keg parties, afterwork socials, snips on lunch breaks, morning pick-me-ups, afternoon get-me-throughs.
We became good friends. Maybe too good of friends.
Comes a time when a man’s got to do what he thinks is best for him. And for me, that’s leaving you, whiskey.
Don’t you come knocking again on my door.