He sat in his lazy boy for hours at end, settling deeper and deeper into his imprint which had become all but permanent on the soft, yielding leather. He stared around at his living room. Chaos reigned.
The plastic bottles from the aerated drinks that he used to mix with his rum when he began the drinking binge. The crumpled mountains of plastic glasses that he had run through in the past few days, strewn in ever growing concentric circles around his lazy boy. The vast majority of them were right behind him, because what he could not see did not bother him immediately. Especially since it had been days since he could remember being sober. Also, mingling with the plastic bottles and cups were visible three days worth of cardboard pizza boxes.
His ashtray had filled up a long time ago and he had continued smoking and disposing of the ash and butts directly into his large dustbin. He hadn’t changed his clothes for the whole duration and the stench would have bothered him if it weren’t for the overpowering perfume emanating from the glass bottles that surrounded him in their preferential seats of reverence. The bottles were cube shaped, with the edges rounded off, and the top thinning out into a bottleneck. The picture of an old monk smiled up at him from each of their labels. He could not quite muster the will to smile back. Not just yet. A few more drinks, perhaps…
He glanced down at his feet, blackened by a layer of soot. He passed an uncritical eye over his shorts with cigarette holes in them, his unwashed shirt with pepperoni stains and ran his hands through his beard which was beginning to resemble the Amazon forest not just in its density, but its potential suitability to support an ecosystem within its undisturbed wildlands.
“When had it come to this?” he asked himself. He knew the answer to that. It had been this bad for only a few days now.
Just a few days ago, she had left him.
He remembered hanging out around the house as recently as a month ago. He had never been one to socialize or host parties or live the wild life. A book, a conversation, a piece of music and a bite to eat constituted his perfect day. Only that… and her.
When she left him, he flailed. Uncontrollably, unabashedly, he panicked. His mind reacted like a despairing man in the face of death would, irrationally, self destructively… dangerously. He had tried to stop the spiral by anaesthetizing it with alcohol. Nothing else occurred to him to arrest the perilous momentum his brain had gathered on its path to destruction. The alcohol had been lying around the house, but he had never needed it before. Now he drowned himself in it with the sole aim of flooding his brain with this heavenly poison and trapping it in a deluge of intoxication so that it would have no time to ponder its own emptiness.
From the moment she had left him, he had not left his room, unless it was a trip to the bathroom to relieve himself by urinating or vomiting. On many occasions, his state of inebriation had not allowed him to complete the trip all the way to the bathroom, which resulted in intermittent puddles of undigested pizza also finding their place amongst the plastic wilderness. For the rest of his conscious hours, he was drinking.
Even in the depths of drunkenness, he could see her flawlessness before him. Her beauty, her ethereal form ran through his head as if it were a melody. The gentleness of the winter sun’s heat upon chilly skin, the ecstasy of a cold brook’s ripples running over one’s feet, the beautiful descent into blissful repose that only accompanied sleep or death; all these delightful sensations could be encompassed in her person. If this were a mythology, she would be the Goddess embodying bliss.
And then, just like that, before his mind’s eye, just as in reality, she faded into nothingness. Her luminescence extinguished unceremoniously, her radiance quenched disrespectfully. Now, he could see nothing but darkness enveloping him. It suited him, this darkness. It prevented clear sight into the carnage that her departure had left in its wake.
He remembered the days when they had been constant companions. She had been a perpetual reassurance to his sense of self. She was his source of ambition and his anchor of humility. She was what he aspired to even as he held her within his grasp. With her, the world lay at his mercy.
And now, nothing. His room bore witness to his worth without her. A dishonourable wreck, loveless, faithless, purposeless. And what seared blindingly into his mind, whiting out every other possible thought in his head, was that she never looked back. She never hesitated. She never returned. She just up and left, and that was that.
He wondered how long he could continue like this. How long would his body hold out, how long would his funds last, how long would his sanity last? He considered a slow crawl back to reality. Maybe this should be his last bottle. He could take a couple of days to recover and then attempt to normalize his life once more.
But the mere notion of living brought back all too vividly the memory as well as the sensation of pain that had been crippling him for the last few days. It was this pain that had kept him from sobriety. It had been three days, but even now he trembled at the prospect of facing up to the excruciation without the aid of alcoholic numbness.
He raged at reality, at optimism, at life. There wasn’t a single peaceful patch in his life that he could recall that hadn’t been punctured by the most spirit sapping mishaps and mischances. She had been life’s one answer to his pessimism. And now, devoid of her presence, he felt akin to the lonely boatsman stranded at sea who sees nothing but a vast expanse of blue stretched out in all directions with no indication whatsoever to guide him as to which course he should pursue.
Like the boatsman, he now resolved to give up, to let his body consume itself, to let it give in. He longed for painlessness and he could see only one path to it. He sighed, resigning himself to wait for peace. A different peace from the one he felt just a few days ago.
A few days ago, before Poetry had left him.