"Hello, I'm Onika, I'm 22 and I'm an alcoholic" Her eyes focused on the ground as she finally admitted her problem to herself and to the rest of the people in the room. It was sad to her that she was only a year over the legal drinking age and had to come to terms with her alcohol addiction. Her doctor had highly recommended going to an AA meeting, it was obvious that she needed help but it was like everyone saw it but her. And even though, she had heard some of the other sufferers speak about their alcoholism, it did not make it any easier. The chorus of hellos echoed through the room and Nicki finally looked up to see their smiling faces. From what she could see there was hint of judgement and it comforted her.
"Would you mind sharing with us why you are here?"
She took a deep breath before starting. "I found myself drinking alcohol like it was water daily. It freed me from my problems but created even more. There was a point in my life where I thought why am I still here? And my alcohol use increased. Then 12 days ago, I got really bad. I drove myself to this ledge I always forget what the place is called and I was going to end my life, I had had a couple drinks before. My best friend found me, I don't know how, but he did. He talked to me and convinced me to go back to his. When I was at his, he offered me a drink and I had a couple glasses of one of his strong drinks. In that moment, I felt invincible and I ended up sleeping with him. We were both aware of what we were doing and that's what made it even worse. Afterwards, I realised that I loved him and my actions were not that of a drunken woman, I acted out of love for him. It scared me, it scared me so much that I ran away like I ran away from my problems. I don't remember much after that, but I woke up in a hospital room. I had had a car accident. No one was badly injured, thankfully, but I was to blame. A lorry had served into me because of my reckless driving and I hit my head pretty hard. My whole body ached and I had broken my arm, it's still broken but it's healing. In that hospital room, surrounded by people who loved and cared for me, I knew I needed help. I talked to a therapist, she told me that I was showing signs of depression, I'm getting help for that too. But I'm here because I don't want to suffer anymore"
"Good for you, Onika" The group leader said and clapped as the others joined in. The meeting continued, other stories were shared. Some similar to hers, others not so much. Knowing she was not the only one having these sorts of issues was soothing. She had a chance to speak to a few of the people at the meeting. Discovering that there were not as bad as they seemed, joking and laughing with them even exchanged her number so they could hang sometime.
She walked out the building heading to the bus stop, she hadn't drove anywhere since her accident. She took a shortcut through the car park only to have someone grab her arm from behind. "Could you let go of me, please"
"Sorry. You were walking so fast, I almost missed you" She recognised that voice anywhere. It was him. She turned around and hugged him tightly, he buried his face in her hair, breathing her in. He had visited her at the hospital but wanted to give her some space so this was their first time seeing each other again.
"They told me that you'd be here, I hope it’s okay"
"No, it's fine"
"Well get in the car because I know you do not think I'm letting you take a bus home" She laughed and followed him to his car. Smiling at him as he opened and closed the door for her before getting in himself.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Sure, why not. So it was actually pretty fun, I met some fun people and the meeting was helpful. I'm excited to go back next week"
"That's good. Now here's the important question, are you okay?"
"Truthfully no. But I'm getting there and that's all that matter right?"
"Wanna talk about what happened between us that night?"
"Not just yet. But when I'm ready, we can"
"How is therapy going?"
"Fine. She says I'm improving already which is good and the medicine she prescribed is helping too. Let's talk about you though, how have you been doing? What have you been doing? Are you okay?"
"I've been good. Just working my ass off and living life to the fullest. But I'm so glad you are okay, you had me worried sick. I don't even want to shout at you, but what the fuck were you thinking?! Driving and driving?!,"
"Aubrey please" She rest her head in her hands. "I've already had this lecture"
"And I don't care. Do you know what could have happened? Do you know how this would have affected your family? Do you know what it did to me? You have no idea! I almost lost you forever, I've felt you drifting away from me. Seeing you in that hospital bed fucked me up, the doctor said they had to resuscitate you because you stopped breathing. You died for a few seconds but I bet you didn't know that. You're fucking important to me, do you understand?" By this time, he was outside her apartment complex. He moved his hand from the steering wheel to touch her face, she looked away from him so he didn't see the tears falling down her face but he did. He used his thumb to wipe them away and feeling him touch her face, she leaned it into it and kissed his palm. He slowly pulled her towards him, he could feel her breath on his lips. He softly kissed her tasting the saltiness of her tears, it only lasted a second. She opened her eyes shortly afterwards, his hand still on her cheek. Both of their eyes were glossy with tears. She nodded, "I understand"
"Stay with me" She whispered, after he kissed her again.
He didn't say anything else, he didn't need to. He pulled into the car park and parked his car. She got out the car first and he followed after her. Nicki opened up her apartment door and headed straight to the kitchen, she made her and Drake a cup of tea, then went to the bathroom while Drake headed for the bedroom. Drake stripped down to his boxers and climbed into the bed, it was a good while before the other side sunk in and a head rested on his chest. He brushed her hair away from her face so he could kiss her forehead and wrapped an arm around her. "I'm picking you up from every appointment and meeting from now on"
"Okay" There was a comfortable silence as Drake stroked her back until she fell asleep and he fell asleep too.
Drake stuck to his word and every therapy appointment and AA meeting, he would wait outside for her. He made it a tradition to bring her a caramel frappuccino from Starbucks to drink.
"I'm Onika and I am now 4 months and 5 days sober" Nicki took a playful bow which caused her group to laugh at her.
"And how does it feel?"
"So good, so so good" She happily high-fived her friend Sophie that was next to her. Nicki was the last member to talk so the meeting ended.
She walked out the building with Sophie on her left and her other friend Layla on her right, arms linked. "So how about we go out tonight?" Layla suggested.
"To the club?" Sophie said, the excitement clear in her voice.
"Babe, did you forget where we just came from?" Nicki laughed.
"Oh no hunny, I go clubbing to get a man. Just because I'm a recovering alcoholic doesn't mean I cannot hit up the drinking spots"
"Amen girl! A guy can offer me a drink and I will accept the d" Sophie reached over and high-fived Layla laughing.
"Gladly" Sophie added.
"Lunatics" Nicki laughed. They were so deep into their conversation that they didn’t notice Drake standing outside his car with his leg up.
"Wait, how's that hella fine guy that's looking at us??"
"Damn. You hitting that because... Shit!" They stopped in their tracks and looked at him.
"He's just my best friend" Nicki clarified quickly but reluctantly.
"Friends with benefits, most definitely"
"Shut up! He's here to pick me up so you two can go with me but I want to know all the deets. Text or call me, both of you"
"Good, love ya" Sophie and Layla kissed her cheek before unlinking from her and walking off hand in hand.
"Fresh caramel frappuccino" Drake handed the disposable cup to her which she gladly took with a smile.
"I'll wait till you finish because I do not want a repeat of last time" The previous week, Drake had driven off straight after giving her her drink in the car and Nicki's drink had spilled over her, him and his backseat. It was pretty funny but the drink was freezing cold so they got an ice shower.
"I agree" Nicki ran her thumb over his hand that was on the hand rest as she drank. She put the empty cup in the cup holder and put her seatbelt on.
"Another successful meeting?"
"Yes. I'm going to miss it when they say I've recovered and don't need to attend anymore, it's full of so many memories good and bad"
"But you can keep in contact with everyone so it's good"
"I know and I will. So what's this surprise you were telling me about?"
"It's a surprise so I can't tell you about it but you'll like it, trust" Drake put the car in drive and drove to Nicki's surprise. He got out the car and led her inside the building. He led her through the pub area through the back and up the stairs.
"You go first then" Nicki shrugged and walked into the room ahead of him.
"My surprise is an empty room. Wait, did you rent this for me? Because this would be the perfect place for me to make an art studio. Yes, I took up art. My therapist said I should find a hobby and apparently I'm actually good at it so boom!"
"Why aren't you replying?" Drake pointed to the arch in the door and Nicki cut her eyes at him and walked through it.
"SURPRISE!!!!!" Nicki was taken back by the amount of people in the room. Her eyes widened even bigger when she saw her friends from the AA meeting group there.
"Fuck off! What is this?" She said over the group hug.
"Your four month sober party!" Drake shouted. Once she was finally released from the hug, she took in her surroundings. There was a large table with about 30 seats, full of food with small buffets and all of her favourite foods. Balloons everywhere, tied to the walls, hanging from the ceilings, randomly on the floor. A massive banner with the words 'Happy four months sober!".
Nicki sat at the head of the table which gave her a great view. She could see her old friends mingling with her new friends and it made her smile, and most importantly, she saw Drake at the other end chatting away and laughing. They had grown even closer than before, if that was even possible. They had spent more time together, it was like she left her alcohol addiction/dependency only to get hooked on a new drug called Aubrey.
She must have eaten a lot because her stomach was super bloated. She felt like she was pregnant with a food baby.
"Are you deaf now too?"
"I'm sorry, I was a little distracted"
"I'll repeat myself, you have to give us a speech. So stand up" Nicki took the mic and straightened out her dress.
"Um. This is my first sober party, literally. I don't think I've heard of a sober party but here I am. So it's been a journey, a long one and I've still got a long way to go but I'm hanging on for the ride,"
"Yasssss" Sophie cheered.
"Thanks Soph," Nicki chuckled. "Four months is only a short amount of time but it's been the longest and most endearing three months of my life, I've probably achieved more than I have my entire life. My alcoholism was and still is a problem but through this problem I've made some great friend, grew closer to people and made some changes to my life that have had amazing benefits. It turned out to be more good than bad. So thank you all for sticking it out with me and supporting me and here's to me having a full recovery" Nicki raised her glass of water. "To my recovery"
"To Nicki's recovery" They cheered back.
"Oh and thank you for not having an alcoholic beverages here" She gave a thumbs up and sat down. The gathering slowly came to a close and everyone was starting to leave.
"I'm spending the night at my parents so you can go now if you want"
"Alright" Nicki dragged him out the room to speak to him privately, she interlocked their hands. "I want to give you a personal thank you, for everything. I know it must be hard having an alcoholic best friend and you still stuck around and helped me even when I almost relapsed one month in. And I know we have been fighting our feelings for each other for a while but I'm not ready to be in a relationship anytime soon but if you're willing to then, maybe,"
"I will wait on you, don't worry" Drake looked down and smiled at her. "I will always wait for you"