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  • Priyanka Kole

11 a.m. wine

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

You stare at the clock, counting its ticks. And blink when a little boy giggles outside. You walk to the window and lurk behind the velvet curtains. A little boy is playing Hopscotch on the unpaved road in front of the neighbor’s house. He throws a stone on box two. Hop once, twice, turns around for the approval of his mother. She claps. He chuckles again, and you smile.

The cloak shows 12:04. The medical reports must be in. You flump on the tile floor with the laptop. The cold floor jabs your skin. It always soothes wrecked nerve.You check the mails.

The reports are bad. The wind sighs of the fan reverberate in your head. Lungs shrink, making it harder to breathe. The room whirls, revolving around you as a merry-go-round.

He is standing in a corner in his dark, hooded cloak. His scythe is missing. He is silent. You creep towards the corner, quivering. And brush past the thin air. All you pinch is your own shadow on the cream wall. You must be hallucinating from the 11 a.m. wine.

You run to the kitchen and put the kettle on the stove, plop two spoons of coffee in a mug, but that won’t be enough. Add another spoon. The whirling vapors give its taste before touching the tongue. It will arouse your delusional brain.

You lumber towards the brown sofa. Its color shifts to yellow in the slithering sunlight, piercing through the window. The clip in your pinned back brunette hair slips when you carcass it. You sip the coffee and peek. He is settled in a corner. Turn, shift your gaze, close your eyes like a little kid who believes he disappears by shutting his lids.

You go back to the kitchen. The chicken is marinating for lunch. Look again, He is still there, silent. No fried chicken today. You switch to salad. The fridge has no vegetables. You cut a lemon, make some lemonade. And dial a number, order lettuce, carrot and beans.

Vegetables arrive. The delivery boy smiles, holding breathes, you stand steady. He greets, “Good day mam.” The reply is just a nod.

You cut the veggies into pieces, toss it with some olive oil, salt and pepper, the salad lunch almost chokes you, it’s dry as hay.

You are drained. Your heavy head weighs on your neck. You blurt out to the reaper. What do you want? You expect no answer, and there is none.

Your body shiver at a balmy temperature of 25-degree celsius. The diagnosis cannot be accurate. You are a vigilant fifty-one. The phone dings. It’s the nurse. A follow up appointment with the doctor has been scheduled. You scrutinize the reports, heart dabs against the chest wall, knocking like a crazy lover on your door.

You are a defense lawyer, but negotiations won’t work with the reaper. Why is this happening? Maybe because of Charlie. It wasn’t ethical to help him with the bank robbery charges when you knew he was guilty. But you also volunteer in the soup kitchen every Friday.

You stride past the pictures of your daughter, Alex. The portraits she made of you and her together. The portraits of Missy, your cat.

Is it too late to reverse the bad? You remember your mother. The lullaby she sang about the sapphire moon. How life changed after she passed. Your chest tightens, you cough.

After Mark left, abandoning you and Alex. You became reckless. The wine became your pal. Did you lose your worth? Did you forget your daughter?

The reaper is still ghost-silent, shifting corners. You blink promptly, expecting him to disappear, but he is still there. His face, shrouds in a black mist, is fixed on you.

You grab a pillow, pressing it against the chest. Then, succumb to your thoughts and slumber on the brown sofa.

You wake up. The reaper is gone. The hallucination is over.

Alex is back. She got flowers, white roses, your favorite. She smiles, arranges them in a vase, as she tells about her day. “Did your reports come?” she asks. You stand fixed. Her forehead creases.

She checks the laptop on the table. Her eyes wide, hand covers her mouth.

your liver is ill, it drowned in liquor you had almost everyday starting from 11 a.m. to gleaming night.

Alex hugs you. With every second, her grip tightens, as if striving to seize you within herself so that you can never leave. She asks, “You will be fine, right?”

You nod and hold her tight. You can fight this.

You empty the wine bottles in the sink. The fridge is crammed with veggies.

You sit with Alex in her room and get a gym membership online. The laptop shows athletic clothes. Alex chooses among them.

“Buy this green shirt. The green will remind you to eat healthy food.” She orders L size shirt, tights and size six running shoes. You take the laptop, turn off the lights and kiss Alex good night.

You plonk on the brown sofa and make a call.

“Are you up? I need the case file of Charlie Morgan.”

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