Chiara woke up with a jolt.
There it was again, that thudding from above. Sometimes, she liked to imagine it was a murder/suicide occurring; she was always a fan of the macabre; but it never was. It was just the hooligans in the flat upstairs that didn’t know how to turn the bass down (or what good music was; Pitbull certainly was not).
Another task to write down - provide upstairs neighbours with a musical education. Someone had to do it, why not her?
Checking the clock, Chiara realised it was about that time. Stretching out on the bed, a quick yawn and some measured breaths and Chiara was up and out of bed, two feet firmly on the ground feeling the soft carpet underfoot.
“Shower? Bath?” She thought to herself, counting out how many times she queried it in her head. She’d always been obsessive about the routine, today was bath day so even though she felt rushed she couldn’t steer away from her structure.
Taps running, she went to pour herself a quick gin, yet another compulsion. There’s a distintive difference between an alcoholic and a functioning alcoholic, don’t you know? Just ask anyone at an AA meeting - somewhere Chiara hadn’t been in months - they’re all functioning. Barely.
“I’ll go today, I will”, she said to herself, and to no one in particular. “Today is day one.”
She’d been here before (she recognised that tree), it just hadn’t stuck. Sober was boring, drunk was better, paralytic was best. Chiara started every day the same. Shower; or bath; followed by the first of many gins of the day - or whatever she could get her hands on. Let’s be honest, she’d suck the alcoholic out of a deodorant stick in a pinch. So what was going to make today any different?
Well, today Chiara just had nothing better to do. Having been “let go” from her job; a kind way of saying she’d shown up to one too many functions off her rocker; she really did have no where to be but a meeting.
“I better brush my teeth” - yeah, you better, lest someone smell that gin on your breath considering it’s a sober meeting.
Chiara had a knack of looking put together, she wasn’t even quite sure how - mostly because she couldn’t remember. Speaking of not remembering, how in ever-loving fuck did she end up sitting in a steel fold away chair surrounded by drunks? Who knew - certainly not Chiara.
Everyone was sharing their inner demons, their childhood traumas. The truth of it was Chiara didn’t have any of that shit, she just really enjoyed a drink and didn’t know when to stop, so she just kept on going. And it seemed it was everyone else who had the issue with it. If Chiara had her way, she wouldn’t be sitting there with all those dirty alcoholics, but there was a pesky court order that required her to be. Who that judge thought he was sending her here, I guess we’ll never know.
Chiara had zoned out for much or the meeting, no one ever had anything really interesting to say at these things. Until she walked in.
This glorious creature walked in and it was like the air was sucked out of the room. Chiara, a self described “dick-chick”, felt some tingling where there most definitely should not have been. This woman, in a head to toe black and cream outfit with dark sunglasses and hair coiffed to perfection gave off some kind of mystery. Chiara blamed the gin she had earlier in the morning for those tingles, but she still had to know who this woman was.
The meeting was over, time for the obligatory shit coffee and Arnotts biscuit. Usually, Chiara was out of here as soon as the serenity prayer was over - that was when she actually turned up - but today she hung around, just out of the periphery of the new woman.
Another meeting was set to start soon, so Frank - let’s call him Frank, God knows Chiara didn’t have a clue who he was - was attempting to usher everyone out. Knocking into a table, Chiara took her eyes off the tingly woman for a second and she was gone. All that was left was a little black book.
Chiara picked it up, contemplated thumbing through it, but was far more interested in its owner.
Racing out the door - that’s laughable, racing isn’t something a drunk does. It’s more of a stumble. Stumbling towards the general direction the luxurious creature went in, Chiara did not have luck finding her. This could have been because she had asked an alcoholic to tell her where someone went - not the most reliable source. She had no choice now but to open the book.
Stepping into her car - that’s right, she drove to her meeting, because she’s a functioning alcoholic - Chiara inspected the book and realised it wasn’t as small as she thought. And it wasn’t black either.
“I’ve got to stop drinking” Chiara thought to herself, laughing.
Properly holding the book and really looking at it, Chiara realised there was a thick bulge to the book with rubber band holding it closed.
Part of Chiara felt she shouldn’t open it, but her curiosity was telling her if she ever wanted to see that exquisite woman again she’d have to, and curiosity always got the best of her.
Off that rubber band came, and out fell several crisp $100 bills. Several is an understatement, there was at least 5 grand slotted between the pages of the book.
“Gasp...” Chiara said out loud - yes, the word, not the exclamation.
Then, a ute slammed into the side of her car...