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Twilight of Life (standard:other, 974 words)
Author: Andrew DaytonAdded: Nov 30 2012Views/Reads: 1981/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Contest entry dealing with someone sending a bottle out to sea in search of help.


She could hear the buoy bell ringing in the distance but it was too dark
to see anything beyond the receding foamy water. She shivered as the 
wind picked up, knowing a late-season Nor'easter would hit in the next 
few hours, and knowing this was her last chance. She raised her arm and 
threw the glass bottle into the darkness... 

Her eyes followed the bottle's flight and she thought back to the reason
she was here.  She felt a stab of fear.  She felt this way often but 
this time knew it was a good thing. 

Alysse had been a young girl when she first vacationed at this section
of the coast with her family.  She had stood on this very cliff with 
her father and watched the waves crash against the rocky hillside. 
“Ali” her father would tell her , “Look at them waves smacking the 
rocks.  Year after year they pound away and never make a bit of 
difference to the shoreline.”  If he had been imparting a lesson it was 
lost on Alysse.  If she had considered it she might have thought he was 
talking about futility but he never elaborated. 

It was pure coincidence that years later she would move into a house in
this very town. She had met Jonas at college.  He had lived in his 
family's old house alone since the passing of his parents just 2 years 
before they met. Alysse and Jonas had many things in common and their 
courtship was a slow steady thing that naturally directed itself toward 
marriage. They both read, liked the same movies and, of course, they 
drank together.  They drank every night and on the weekends they drank 
and drank long past bedtime. 

After their first child was born Alysse slowed down her drinking for a
while if only because the rigors of motherhood allowed little time for 
her indulgence with the bottle.  After her second child was born she 
again slowed down for a couple of years but by then Jonas was working 
from home and was able to help her tend to the children and her 
drinking resumed its former headlong pace. 

She truly felt she was a good mother and a good wife.  She could
honestly say that drinking never interfered with her duties as a 
mother, in her relationship with her husband or in maintaining her 
friendships.  Oh, she felt the occasional twinge when her children 
would include the nearly empty bottles in the liquor cabinet on the 
grocery list.  Or when they would ask to visit a friend from school and 
hurriedly add that they could ask to spend the night so Alysse or Jonas 
wouldn't have to pick them up.  Night time was when the drinking began 
in earnest and neither Alysse or Jonas would get behind the wheel after 
drinking.  They were, she felt, responsible parents but nonetheless, 
her conscience would be pricked. 

Occasionally at these times Alysse would think about not drinking for
the night.  She would talk to Jonas about setting aside one night a 
week where they would not drink.  Jonas would look uneasy at these 
times.  Whether from a similar pang of conscience or simply because it 
was a change that he knew they couldn't sustain.  But they never slowed 
down as a result..  Looking back she knew that their tempo of drinking 
would actually increase for a short while after these conversations. 

Her son had come out to visit last weekend with his wife and newborn
daughter.  Alysse was tickled to be a grandmother and to see her son 
hover over his little girl so attentively.  Watching him and feeling so 
very proud, she nonetheless felt something heavy turn over inside of 
her.  She knew her son didn't drink and that he would never regard his 
little girl with eyes veiled by bloodshot capillaries.  The sound of 
her gurgles and chortles would never be muffled by a hangover.  She had 
looked up and met Jonas's eyes and known he was feeling something 

Later that afternoon Jonas had come to her and told her what she knew
had been on his mind.  That maybe it was time to stop drinking.  She 
balked and refused the notion that anything was wrong with their 
drinking.  This had been one of the rare fights in their marriage and 
that upset her more than anything. 

She had gone to the kitchen to pour a drink but stopped, bottle in hand.
 She got her coat on and without a word walked out into the late 
afternoon gloom.  She found herself here on the cliff, bottle in hand 
but without the slightest desire to take a drink.  She had been furious 
with Jonas and thought about the words they exchanged but something 
pierced her heart when she thought of her son and her granddaughter.  
She thought about missed opportunities in life and they way her son 
grew up never having taken a drink.  There were no catastrophic moments 
to make her realize their lifestyle was in any way a bad example.  But 
maybe, just maybe, she had robbed herself.  Not by the bad things that 
happened as a result of drinking but of the good things that didn't 
happen.  If she and Jonas, her sweet gentle husband, were alcoholics, 
well maybe it was time to stop.  If alcoholism is a disease like some 
say, and if it is passed genetically, then they had won the great 
lottery in life that neither of their children drank.  Maybe her 
granddaughter's visit would be their salvation, and thank God 
salvation, like heredity, can sometimes skip a generation. 

She heard Jonas walk up quietly behind her and felt him slip his hand
into hers.  She spoke aloud to her departed father, “The waves do wear 
down the rocks, Pa.  It just happens too slow to see.” 


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