As she drove her red Toyota out of the corporate parking garage, Cathy opened the sunroof and side windows and let in the sunshine and warm air of the May afternoon. Taking both hands off the steering wheel, she pulled back her long blond hair, banding it into a ponytail. It was Thursday and her workweek was already over. She headed home, feeling both excitement and anxiety at the same time.
Cathy looked forward to having Friday off, and she thought of the things she would do over the three-day weekend: painting Michael’s bedroom, visiting her mother, preparing the vegetable garden, shopping, and maybe taking a day-trip into Wisconsin with her husband.
But it had been a tough week at work, and her mom was not feeling well and was in a lot of pain. As Cathy thought of these things her anxiety increased. She lit a cigarette, inhaled, and then extended her left arm out of the open driver’s side window. She was ahead of schedule for picking up Michael from the junior high, so seeing a grocery store ahead she decided to pull into the parking lot and to go into the store to buy a few things.
Once inside she went to the liquor section and walked down the aisle she always walked down. Cathy now felt entirely at ease, protected on both sides by perfectly organized dark wine bottles, shiny beer cans, clear vodka bottles, and golden whiskey—all full, unopened, and neatly labeled. She picked up a four pack of eight-ounce zinfandels, and on her way back to the register picked up a small bottle of vodka. The cashier recognized her, smiled, and rang-up her purchase. As he wished her a good weekend she responded cheerfully, took the bag, and walked quickly to the exit.
When she reached her car in the sunny parking lot, Cathy opened the trunk and set down the bag by a couple of empties that had been rolling around back there for a few days. She pulled the new vodka bottle from the bag, closed the trunk, and got back into the driver’s seat.
Immediately after closing the car door, Cathy twisted the bottle’s cap, breaking the paper seal. Lifting the bottle to her lips she took a long drink. It felt so good. She took one more drink, capped it, and hid it in her purse.
Cathy then sprayed on some perfume, popped a slice of gum, and pulled out of the parking lot. She drove on, to the junior high.