A violent bright light awakened Annie Danielson abruptly, and when she opened her eyes, she was out of breath, with her hands sweating and her heart pounding. She heard the following thunder roar across the sky, as a cold feature came from the open window across the bedroom; she felt the chills embrace her lower back and pulled the quilt tightly around her body. She looked at the clock that hung in the red-painted wall; it was three am.
While in bed, she started to think about her husband, Peter Jackson. She felt pretty lonely; it had been so many months since the last time she’d slept alone like this. How could she be able to survive these next weeks without him? Her husband was away on a long trip with his job, and with no kids or pets in the house, she would feel endless loneliness. Oh, crap! This is really going to be the worst weeks in my whole life, she thought. Annie Danielson was totally dependent on her husband; without him she felt lost and helpless.
Bright and early a few days later, her friend Susan Johnson walked through her front door.
- Hi Annie! How are you doing? she said loudly.
- Hello! Eh, to be honest with you, Susan, not very good. Peter has been gone
for two days now, and I’m already missing him like hell. I really don’t know what to do without him.
- I understand your point of view, but... at least you have to try! It won’t get any
better if you just stay in the house all these weeks. It’s the holidays, so let us
do something fun together instead!
- That’s not in dispute! The thought of being without him for so many days, is really breaking me down, Annie said.
- All I want is to stay in my house, waiting for Peter to come home, she added.
- Please, Annie! Both of us know that you’re a lot more independent than this. You’ve got to stand on your own feet and forget about your husband for a while, she said and smiled hopefully.
- Just forget it, Susan, I’ll rather be asocial than going out without having any fun. Maybe I’ll join you when Peter’s home; then all the three of us can have some fun.
- Annie! You’re really obstinate as a mule. I can’t believe you’re acting like this when I’ve just tried to help you, Susan said, clearly disappointed over her friends reaction.
- This is not like the friendship we’ve had before; I’m hardly recognizing the person I met for the first time eight years ago! Sadly Annie noticed the tears in the corners of her best friend’s eyes, and spoke more softly then before;
- Susan, please! Do not say so, Annie began, but she was too late: Susan rose up from the kitchen chair and walked straight to the door. In anger she closed the door behind her. Annie was left alone at the kitchen, staring at the white roof. She thought things had been ill since Peter had gone at his trip, but now she felt really bad.
Day after day, Annie stayed in her house, doing nothing at all. She often thought about Susan, she couldn’t get her out of her head! The more she thought about it, the more ashamed she got. It was impossible not blaming herself for the silly behavior she had put up. After a week, she couldn’t handle this bad feeling anymore, so she picked up her phone and called her best friend. Luckily, Susan wasn’t angry at her anymore, but to fix up her earlier mistake, she promised to join her at a night club. Annie didn’t want to go at all, but realized that to keep Susan as a friend; she had to do something to let her friend know she really was sorry.
Annie finished her breakfast before she went up to her bedroom. She lay down at her bed and started thinking. At the second thought, she actually looked forward to joining her friend at the nightclub. Susan hadn’t gone out without her husband since God knows when. She decided to call the beauty salon to make an appointment, and she also went to the nearest shop buying some new clothes. Annie was totally unaware of how the night could turn out to be, but now she’d really looked forward to go out of the house.
Susan gave Annie a worried look, as she opened her mouth:
- Annie, is something wrong? You said going at the nightclub was a great idea,
but now when we’re here, you’re quiet as a mouse. Susan looked frustrated. Annie took another sip of her alcohol free drink, before she apologized about her indifferent attitude.
- It’s ok, but you have to remember having fun, Annie, Susan said with a tightly
smile at her mouth.
- Excuse me a few minutes; I’m going to the toilet, she added. Annie watched
her chubby, short-haired friend walking away as she sat left alone at their table.
- Oh, you’re the very beauty I wanted! A dark, teasing voice said from behind her. Annie turned her head around and saw a tall, dark-haired man staring at her with a big smile. She considered him quickly, before she answered:
- Excuse me? I would appreciate if you let me enjoy my drink alone. She gave him the cold shoulder by turning her head the other way. Only five seconds later, he had settled down in the chair next to her, laughing.
- I think someone got up on the wrong leg this morning, don’t you? he said ironic. His self-confidence was really irritating her.
- Then why don’t you find somebody else to bother?” she answered quickly.
- Because you’re the only girl I find interesting in this room, he said, and Annie couldn’t help feeling charmed.
- It would also be me an honor to serve some excellent wine for you! he said while he drew up a big bottle of wine from his bag. On the bottle it stood “Pètrus, the taste of France”, and Annie suddenly thought: Holy crap! He must be damn rich; one bottle of that costs more than a thousand dollar! She raised her eyes and looked at his face: he was pretty handsome, she admitted to herself, but her husband was more gorgeous than anyone else.
- Say when! The man said, and quickly started to fill her glass.
- Stop, stop, stop! I can’t drink that much, she said, but her glass was already full.
- I’m sure you can, he said and gazed flirty at her.
The man’s name was Robin Johnson, an author who just was in London in the holidays. While they were drinking his expensive wine, they talked together and laughed a lot. Annie didn’t see Susan the rest of the night, but didn’t care either. She really enjoyed Robins company, and didn’t notice how drunk she slowly became. Suddenly Robin considered Annie a couple of seconds, before he said:
- Annie, why don’t you bring me to your home, and then we could have some fun together? First she got speechless and didn’t know what to say, but after a while she told him that it wasn’t possible. His face looked both surprised and disappointed.
- I bet you’ll never have the nerve to do something like that, do you? He said teasingly and raced an eyebrow. Annie was so drunk now that she failed to reveal any clear thoughts. She also felt dizzy and confused. Peter stared at her, unsure about what to do. Then he started smiling.
- Can you at least let me follow you home? I can get us a taxi, Peter said hopefully. Annie just nodded, despite she couldn’t understand what he said; the alcohol had really taken the control of her actions and decisions. Before she knew it, they stood in front of her house. She was so drunk that Robin had to hold her arms for not collapsing. He smiled to her, followed her up stairs, and laid her in her bed.
Annie Danielson woke up with a really bad headache, and when she opened her eyes, she gazed straight into the face of Robin Johnson; the man she met at the club last night. She gasped: Oh my god! What in earth have I done now? Luckily the guy was sleeping. The thought of that she perhaps had slept with this man, scared the shit out of her. How could she do this to Peter? And how could she get out of this predicament?
She lay frustrated in the bed while she began to think about her last night with her husband. She suddenly noticed tears rolling down her cheeks. She had been crying that night, because he was going at the trip next day. Therefore he had laid his arms gently around her, kissed her neck and whispered in her ear: You mean so much to me, Annie. You complete me, and I trust you more than anyone else. I have always loved you, and I always will. I promise you that, my darling. I promise.
Peter Jackson smiled from ear to ear as he hummed the song played on the car radio; he really looked forward to see his lovely wife again. He had bought her a present and was very excited for surprising her: he came home almost a week before planned. Every time they had talked together in the phone Annie seemed so sad, and the trip was unsuccessful anyway. Therefore he sat in the car now, almost home. Oh, life’s great! He thought.
Robin Johnson stared at Annie with a confused look in his face.
- Hey girl, why are you so angry at me? Is something wrong?
- Please, just listen to me! You really have to get out of this house. This is wrong; I have a husband for God’s sake! Annie shouted frustrated.
- Yes, but you said he was on a trip, right?
- You are really not getting it, are you? Just go immediately out of my house! Robin Johnson looked shocked, but took his bag, and slowly started walking down stairs. Annie sat left at her bed edge. Crap, crap, crap! I have to call Peter and make sure that it’s still a couple of days until his arriving. At the second the thought crossed her mind, her phone started ringing. She answered:
- Hi, darling! It’s Peter.
- Oh, Peter! I miss you so much.
- And I’m missing you! But guess what? He said.
- I’m coming home for you! Now!
- Now? That’s wonderful! But... how many hours driving do you have left? Annie said nervously.
- Well, I was thinking about surprising you, so... I’m actually standing right outside our front door! He said and started laughing.
- No, Peter, you don’t have to... Annie was too late. She heard Robin open the door.
Peter met Robin at the doorstep, and started shouting and swearing loudly. Now Robin had left, and Peter stood in front of her; she could hear her own heart beating wildly.
- How dare you! Peter shouted in anger.
- It seems like I really caught you red-handed, he added, close to tears.
- No, it’s not like that! Darling, you have to understand, she begged him.
- Annie… I can’t handle this; I’m leaving.
- I’m so sorry! I know you’re upset, but I’ll never do anything like that again, Peter, never! She whispered, almost crying. He stared at her with an angry and hurt look in his face.
- You’re right about that: you won’t get the chance, he said sharply. Annie opened her mouth to say something, but at that moment she realized that it wouldn’t matter anymore. Peter turned around and walked with quick steps out of the house. As she saw him leaving, she’d fell down at the floor, sobbing and crying loudly; now she had destroyed her own life.
Nobody could imagine how much Annie Danielson blamed herself the next weeks: every night she sobbed and wept, more vulnerable than ever. The young woman’s life had turned out to be such a terrible nightmare. She got fired at work, and she never went out of the house any longer. She had lost all her hope and faith: all she wanted was to dig her own grave and then disappear from the surface. Eventually the alcohol started to take over her life...
Day after day she tried to drink her pain away; Annie Danielson just couldn’t handle reality anymore. Few months ago she didn’t drank at all, but now she wasn’t sober for just one hour. Every night she fell asleep clinging to a bottle of whiskey: the whiskey became her teddy bear. But no matter how much she drank, she never got drunk enough to get Peter off her mind.
Peter Jackson sat at the corner table at a restaurant outside his new apartment. By his side, his best friend Gus Lennox sat. They sat there for an hour, talking about sports and older days, before Gus mentioned Annie. He saw Peter’s sad look, and understood that something was wrong. Peter told him all about what had happened between him and Annie one month ago.
- Peter, life’s not a bed of roses, you have to realize that. People often forget to look before they leap, Gus said.
- I know that, but… thinking about that awful man that lay in my bed, really sends chills down my spine! How could Annie let me down like that? I thought she loved me, Peter said frustrated.
- Yes, and she probably does! She’d just made a mistake. You were the one leaving her. Peter stared at him. He didn’t know what to say; his mouth was all dried up.
- You’re still deeply in love with her, aren’t you? Gus said seriously. Peter swallowed hard.
- I don’t know. I suppose so. I can’t just stop loving her, no matter how much she overstepped the mark.
- Exactly, Peter, that’s the point. You have to do something before it’s too late.
Peter stared at his friend, totally out of words.
- Will you contact her? Gus urged.
Peter smiled halfhearted and nodded slowly.
- I’ll do that.
The clock was ten am while Annie lay in her bed. She tried to catch some sleep, but the thoughts of Peter kept her awake. She immediately started crying. God, what am I doing? I’m just laying her in my bed, all day and long, drinking of my whiskey. And where is my life going? Nowhere! She started realizing that this never would make the pain in her hear to disappear, and suddenly, she understood that it was only one thing left to do. She went down stairs, picked up her two last bottles of whiskey, and then returned to her bed room. She lay in her bed drinking profusely much, and eventually she drank away her memory of Peter.
After ringing on the doorbell for five minutes, Peter let himself into the house.
- Annie? He’d said, but no one was answering. The house was quiet and seemed totally empty. He stood in the hall, nervous of going any further. He called his wife’s name again, but there was still no reply. He knocked gently at the kitchen door, before he opened it: nobody’s there. He thought she may have gone out with a couple of friends or something like that, but decided to wait in the kitchen. He took a seat, and suddenly noticed a long row of bottles at the disk: wine, brandy and whiskey. They were all empty, and Peter got really worried: he hoped more than anything else that Susan hadn’t drunk all these bottles on her own.
After sitting in the kitchen in almost an hour, he couldn’t wait any longer. He went out of the kitchen, ready to go home. He jumped in his shoes, but in the doorway he paused. He got a special feeling, like something was wrong. Checking the second floor will just take me a minute. The faster I can talk with Annie, the faster we’ll figure out things, he thought, while he slowly walked up the stairs. He stuck his head inside the room.
- Oh, Annie! What… Can you hear me!? Annie?! Annie!!!