I see the pictures Amie left for the world on various social media outlets. It’s disturbing to me, she’s getting drunk by herself on a Friday afternoon, but calling her seems inappropriate. Who am I, her mother? And anyway, our last conversation was one long attempt to not get into a fight.
I text her *what’s up, got any plans this evening?* No reply.
Evening descends, blending rose into the sky, blurring the harsh edges. I’m picking up the pieces of my life. I decide on a healthy dinner, exercise, early bedtime.
I get texts back at around 11:30, inappropriate, then just incoherent. So I pick up the phone and call.
“James,” she says. It comes out in a stagy whisper.
“Hey babe, got company?” I’m looking at my running shoes, a pair of leftover shorts, wondering if I can make the trip to her place worthwhile.
She denies it. “Nope, just me n the cats tonight.” Some tee-hees which belong to a younger Amie, someone I’m barely familiar with.
So I ask her, “What would you say to a nightcap? I’m in the mood for some company tonight.” She’s busy on the other end. I hear something vaguely feline, then her voice, “Hold on.” The phone clatters down, and I hear miaos and Amie’s cooing. I’m helpless, a prisoner of her whims. My mind is filling in familiar details from the background noise: the close of a cabinet, a crumpling snack bag, the subvocalized word shit. A lot of shit.
I should get up, get dressed, but I’m dreading the end; Amie’s feet on my torso, her head in a coiled knot on the divan pillow as she stretches out. Failure boiling in my insufficiently intoxicated guts. I’m a coward, I can’t face the reality of her, a woman who crushes precious memories into a scrapbook. A saint of self-preservation.
She picks up the phone, slurry and distracted. “You still there.” I’m silent for a moment, still feeling a little sad. “Babe,” she breaks in, “I’m feeding the cats…”
Shit. Don’t know what that means. I play dumb, ask the obvious question. “Babe? Since when am I babe? Did I lose my title of Mister Man?” She snickers at that, a little wasted.
“You’re babe until you get your butt over here, Mister Man.” She’s very confident in her abilities. I’m ready to agree.
The phone goes in the crook of my shoulder as I throw on clothes, pack a bag, and bolt for the car. I’m not busy tomorrow, she’s most likely going to cancel her plans. Twelve minutes to Amie’s front porch. I wonder briefly if I’m helping at all; then I wonder if I’m the reason she drinks.
Halfway there, it hits me that what I really want is to replace the glass of liquor in the pictures. I want to hear her tell her friends that I’m her drug of choice, and that she didn’t end the night drunk and alone.