Thursday, January 13, 2011

Burntcore Week 34: Temptation


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Burntcore's Choice: Both


Moira had been bugging me all week to go out with her Friday night. There was this new bar downtown that we just had to go to see. I was ambivalent. I enjoyed going out but ever since Cory had come back into my life, I had become hyper-aware of my drinking habits. If he and I were going to have a relationship, I would need to curtail my drinking somewhat. I certainly wasn’t going to give up the occasional cocktail, but if I started to scale back my own drinking, I thought it would make the transition easier.

When Moira first asked me on Monday, I was all for it. I hadn’t gone out in awhile. The last time I drank was when I was at her house a few months prior. Most of my free time now was usually spent with Cory or talking to Cory. Moira and my friends from work ribbed me about it but I think they understood. I still hung out with them but I definitely made time with him a priority. Perhaps that made me a shitty friend, but I thought that rebuilding the foundation of a relationship with Cory was important. It wouldn’t be like this forever. Already, I was trying to better in balance my time between Cory and my friends. Going out with Moira would be another step in that direction.

However, now, I wondered. What kind of message would this send to Cory? Could he handle it if I drank when I wasn’t around him? He had told me several times that he didn’t have a problem with me drinking on my own, just that he didn’t want me to drink in front of him. Maybe some time in the future when he was farther into his recovery he would be able to handle seeing alcohol in front of him, but not yet. It seemed like a reasonable request, however I still felt weird about drinking period.... especially going out to do it. Drinking at Moira’s was one thing. Going out to a club where practically the whole place would be imbibing was something else entirely.

This would be a good test for us... I hoped.

Thursday night, I was talking to Cory as had become our habit. He had his AA meeting earlier that night and we were talking about some of the things they talked about during the meeting. This had also become a habit of ours. We would discuss what was talked about during his AA meetings and my Al-Anon meetings. This kind of sharing had really helped our relationship.

Going to Al-Anon had really opened my eyes to what it means to love a recovery alcoholic, what it means to not only love that person but to be there for that person. The stories that I heard from brothers, sisters, wives, husbands... it brought me to tears. It made me realize how much worse things could have gotten and what I had to be thankful for, and what danger signs to look for with Cory. Every one of them said that at some point, their recovering loved-on had regressed and had a drink. They stressed not to give up, that it’s a recovery so there will be set backs. When it happens, handle what happens, and start over the next day. They stressed religious beliefs. It didn’t have to be Christianity, just something, a higher power that the recovering alcoholic believed in to give that person a lifeline to hold on to when things got rough. I wondered what Cory believed in.

I found myself more at peace in my relationship with Cory after going to Al-Anon meetings for the past month or so. It really helped to be more aware of what I was getting involved in with a relationship with a recovering alcoholic.

Knowing this, could I still go to a club and get sloshed? Would he really not be mad?

“Holli, sweetheart, go out with Moira. I’m the recovering alcoholic here, not you. You know when to stop. You know how to stop. Please, don’t completely change your life because of me,” he pleaded softly as we talked.

“You changed my life the day we met, Cory.”

“You know what I mean, Holli. Please, I won’t be mad or disappointed. You need to live your life. Maybe some time I can go with you,” Cory said, his voice slightly wistful.

That surprised me. I didn’t think we’d ever be able to go out to places where we knew alcohol would be served. I certainly didn’t always need a drink, but it could be inconvenient at times, like if we got invited to a party or went out to a restaurant.

“Do you really think so?”

“I hope so. I always will need to be on my guard but I want to get to the point where I can go somewhere there is alcohol and be able to turn my back to it.”

“How long does that normally take?”

“It depends on the person, baby.”

I thought for a moment. I wanted to ask when he thought that might be for him, but I didn’t want to push him. I didn’t want him to think I was pressuring him to do more than what he was ready to handle.

“Okay, I’ll go. You sure you’re okay with it?”

“Yes, please. I want you to go. Just call or text me when you get home so I know you got home okay.”

“Alright. Well I need to head to bed, hon. I gotta get up in the morning for work.” I tried to stifle a yawn as I spoke but wasn’t completely successful.

“Okay, sleep well, sweetheart. We still on for Saturday?”


“Great, talk to you soon.”


I hung up the phone, hopeful that going out the next night wouldn’t do anything detrimental to our relationship or to Cory’s recovery.


The next night, Moira and I were dressed to the nines outside the club, waiting to get inside. The music was thumping, the base line reverberating in my bones. I had my hair pulled back into a high ponytail and heels taller than what I normally wore. I blamed Moira. Only she could talk me into wearing something like this.

Before too long, we were ushered into the club. The music was even louder inside, almost deafening. I had to yell into Moira’s ear just to be heard. The place was packed. I saw more bottle blonds, fake boobs, and bad weaves than I had ever seen in one place before.

“So what do you think?” Moira shouted

“Seems alright... just very loud,” I hollered back as we made our way across the club floor.

It was a nice enough place, noisy as clubs tended to be, and packed. Even before I met Cory the first time, I was never much of a club rat. Still, it was nice to go out once in awhile.

Eventually, we found a spot at the bar and signaled the very handsome bartender to get drinks. The bar was pretty cool looking, illuminated by pale blue light. It made it seem like the bar was carved right out of a solid block of ice.

People were pressed up against us from all sides, some stationary while others were moving to the pulsating music. It was all a bit dizzying. Our drinks were finally served and the cool burn of the liquor helped keep me grounded. We sat and people watched for awhile before Moira couldn’t sit still any longer and pulled me onto the dan ce floor.

“We did not come here to stand around!” she declared, throwing her hands in the air.

Her enthusiasm was infectious. I laughed and let my body move to the music. It felt good to let loose and be free. The mild buzz from the alcohol only heightened the feeling. We were having fun and giggling, dancing together like we did when we were kids. I had just started to rethink my choice to not go out that often when two large hands gripped my hips from behind. A male body, an excited male body at that, pressed against me. I immediately stopped dancing and tried to pull away but the man’s grasp tightened. I looked over to Moira but she was in her own world, eyes closed as she danced.

“Come on, sweetheart,” a deep, male voice rumbled by my ear. “Just one dance.”

“Let go of me!” I yelled as I continued to struggle to get away.

Moira’s eyes flew open when she heard me cry out. She immediately rushed over and tried to pull me from him. “Get your grubby hands off of her, asshole!”

“Take a hike, bitch. Me and her are dancing.”

My blood boiled and I angrily stomped on the man’s foot. He finally released me and began cursing at us. I whirled out of his reach as he favored his foot.

“What the fuck?” he yelled, his face turning red. “You’re gonna pay for that.”

Adrenaline shooting through me, I lunged forward and kneed the man swiftly in the nuts. His face turned purple before he toppled over, one hand on his crotch and one on his foot. I saw a couple of bouncers approach us as I tried to calm down my panting breaths.

“You alright, miss?” the bigger of the two asked. The other bouncer picked up the hurting man off the floor and started dragging him towards the door.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I huffed.

Unbidden tears threatened to fall as my anger worked its way out. Moira pulled me into a tight hug and walked me over to the bar. I managed to retain control of my tears.

“Holli, are you sure you are okay?”

I shrugged and plopped down at the bar. “Yeah, I’m okay.” Sighing, I looked across the throng of dancing bodies and strobing lights. “But I think I’m done for the night. I want to head home. Do you want to stay?”

Moira checked her phone briefly before digging out her credit card to pay our bar tab. “Nah, I think I’ve had my fill. I think I’m getting too old for this and the guys suddenly don’t look that good anymore.”

I chuckled, thinking the same thing. While we weren’t the oldest in the room, we certainly weren’t the youngest anymore. The grabby guy certainly didn’t improve my opinion of the guys present either.

“Okay, great. What do I owe you for my drinks?”


“Moira!” I protested.

“No, you don’t owe me anything. I’m not going to make you pay for your drinks when I had to talk you into coming out here then manage to get you pawed over like a piece of meat by a guy with less brain cells than an amoeba.”

“Fine, fine. Whatever makes you happy,” I caved, not wanting to get into an argument about a small bar tab. However, I would find a way to make it up to her later on.

We grabbed our things from the coat check and made it out into the early winter air. It was becoming bitterly cold as a storm front rolled in. My thick wool coat didn’t do much against the wind, nor did it protect my almost completely bare legs. Moira shivered as she stepped out to the curb to hail a cab. I turned and looked down the road, the street lights glowing.

The lights reflected on the back of a familiar head of hair. The last person I expected to see was standing outside of the club, staring at the bar entrance with a mixture of fear and determination.


His head whipped around in surprise.

“What are you doing here?” I murmured as I walked over to him. Moira was talking to a cab driver through the passenger window of the cab.

“I was testing myself. I wanted to see if I could handle being in a place like this.”


“I want to be normal for you,” he said softly, so quiet that I almost missed it in the wind.

I chuckled and took his hand in mine. “There is no such thing as normal, Cory.”

“Maybe,” he hedged. “But I want to be able to take you places like this without you having to worry about me.”


Cory took a deep breath and looked up into the night sky. “It... it’s... scary. I want to go in and order a jack and coke so bad. I can taste it.”

“But you didn’t, right?”

“No, not yet.”


Cory’s face fell as he muttered dejectedly, “My willpower is failing. Before you came out, I was about to go in.”

“But you didn’t,” I repeated, trying to encourage him.

“No, but I couldn’t fight it any longer. I failed.”

I took his face between my hands and looked at him square in the eyes. “Cory Hamm, you did not fail! You stood out here, mere feet from alcohol and did not go in. THAT is not a failure. That is a success. Maybe next time you’ll be able to withstand it longer… maybe even go in. Baby steps, hon. Baby steps.”

Hope burned in his eyes as my words sunk in. “Do you really think so?”

I dropped my hands from his face but kept his hand in mine. “Yes, I do. Everything we’ve learned about alcoholism has told us that there is no quick fix. You made a big step forward and you may stumble, but you are heading in the right direction.”

He nodded and looked past my shoulder at Moira who was waiting somewhat patiently for me.

“Stay put, I’ll be right back.”

I ran over to Moira and told her to not wait for me. I wanted to talk to Cory more. She asked me to text her when I eventually got home. I agreed and gave her a quick hug before she hopped in the waiting taxi to a relieved cab driver.

As she pulled away, I turned and looked back at Cory. He stood right where he was before but turned towards me, watching. His gaze followed me as I walked slowly back towards him.

“I’m proud of you, Cory. It took a lot for you to come out here and you did it.”

“Thank you,” he said softly.

Before me stood the man who I first fell in love with so many years ago. He was finally finding his way back. Overcome with love for the man I was never really sure I’d see again, I pushed him up against the side of the building by his jacket lapels and kissed him.

We had kissed plenty of times since he came back into my life, but nothing like this. I had always held myself back a little, never really sure how much of myself to give. Tonight was what I needed to see. I poured all of my love and affection into the kiss. Cory eagerly responded as he kissed me back, his arms wrapping around my waist and pulling me even closer.

A passing car illuminated our bodies clinging to one another and honked. Someone shouted, “Get a room!”

My lips curled up into a smile as I pulled away slightly from Cory. His lips were swollen, probably just as much as mine were.

“Sounds like a good idea,” I murmured.

Cory’s face broke into a huge smile as he nodded.

Hand in hand, we quickly hailed a cab and went home.