Vidisha Kaushik describes herself as a chronic over-thinker who loves writing, music, photography and exploring all the subtle nuances of her artistic side. A perfectionist who always ends up following her heart.
Please enjoy his winning entry in OWAQ’16, Alive and Drunk.
I twirl my fingers out of the car window and let them move towards the infinite blues. An old jazz song plays on the radio with uneven frequencies. I find myself gazing at the rear-view mirror with my fogged, hazy eyes. The blurred reflections of the city lights and unknown passengers intermingle to render drowsiness to my already impaired senses.
As I drive further away, my mind develops illusions and I feel adrift and at peace. We all need something to cling to after all, before our ashes become gray entities before we witness our grand downfall, before we fade away into nothingness and before our untold stories get etched in stars located far away.
I see a sign with neon lights. It says ‘alive’. I heave a sigh.
“You’re as alive as that incompetent business guy who knocks on doors in order to sell stupid things to earn a living”, I say to myself.
What does it even mean? Being alive?!
Such a strange little word. I know nothing except how every atom in my body craves for hard liquor, how words dance around me when it enters my bloodstream and how I magically disappear in my alcohol tainted tales. Alcohol. My guilty pleasure.
I never chose for it to make me feel this way. That’s where my guilt lies. That the only time I feel alive is when my parched mouth gulps down uncountable bottles all at once. When my lips kiss the cold, bitter liquid, that’s when I feel alive. My body feels electrified every time I taste hell in my mouth. And when I can’t feel my face anymore because I’ve had too much of it, that’s when I take one last bottle home to address my midnight musings and kill my aches.
Lost in my own less miserable world, I spring back to reality and realize that my phone has been constantly buzzing for the last few minutes. I pick it up and a familiar voice speaks to me from the other end. It’s my estranged lover, of course.
“…I know it didn’t work out between us. We have become these numb souls. We have felt so much that now we’re just empty…I know this world that we live in tires us out…but maybe, maybe we can figure it out…come back to me, please…” she says, almost in a whisper.
Mustering all the strength left inside me, I murmur, “Maybe you’re right for I know that the love we had still existed; but where did it go? We did let it out. All the love we had. And I still need love…from a real person, not from a bottle…I need you…there’s so much out there, it makes me drown…I need you.”
I can feel her heavy breathing through the phone. After a pause, she finally says, “Come back home. I need you just as much.” I can hear her crying now. Tears come easy. I discover translucent pearls falling down from my tired face too. I know what to do now as her voice continues to reverberate through my bones.
It is almost midnight as I’m driving back home. Driving back home to her. Tonight, I don’t need that last bottle. I feel alive as I drive through the deserted road. There’s so much darkness around me that I’m starting to see the light. She is my light. It is going to be alright, after all. And then suddenly out of nowhere, I see a huge silver oak tree as if waiting to consume me and I can already visualize the impending crash in my head and I’m scared and I’m trying to move the steering wheel but it’s not happening and suddenly there are too many visions dancing through my head like scenes from old movies.
I flirt with danger. Illusions mar me. And then I realize it, almost as a moment of epiphany. There was no phone call. I was hallucinating.
I knew it was going to end.
And the last thought I had in my head was this-
“My guilty pleasure was the reason I was alive and now it’ll be the reason I won’t be.”
#1 The self-destruction seems hollow. It does not take the reader on the agony ride.
The relation between his lover and him is briefly touched upon, hence, the reader is not sure of the relationship and how much his heart really aches for her. Too many words with too less of emotions.
#2 A moral lesson in the end? But the twist in the realization is commendable. Wish the narration was more smooth, like a smooth scotch down the throat and not the quick tequila shots! A good story overall.
#3 Some grammatical errors. Conventional interpretation of guilty pleasure but an unconventional description of what it feels to be in that state.
Read another of her winning entry from OWAQ, Ethereal.