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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Sober
By Jake Chism


You look down at the beer in one hand and your three month sobriety chip in the other. What a joke. Just two hours ago you played them all like fools as you discussed how hard the road to recovery has been. All the times you want to quit. The sleepless nights. The headaches. It was quite a performance.

As you glance around the bar you are reminded of why you chose this place. Not only is it half an hour from your house, but you like the way no one bothers you. You originally found this place on a whim, when you had taken a drive to clear your head. Two days without a drink had about killed you, and then suddenly this beautiful tavern beckoned to you like a glorious lighthouse through the fog. Here you could be someone and no one all at once. This is the kind of place where nobody knows your name, and thatís just the way you like it. For the last 3 months you have driven here straight from your AA meetings to drown yourself in anonymity and booze. What a life.

You look at the fateful tokens in you hands again and are startled by the polarity on display. One hand represents the miserable reality of who you are. A drunk to be sure, but oh so much more. Youíre a hypocrite and a liar, too. Not to mention a quitter.

The other hand represents all you want to be even though you believe you canít. Everyone in the group has come to believe that you are this mighty hero who is beating the disease. Who are you to disappoint them? You like that version of yourself so much better. If only you could be that guy. If only you could change.

The bartender glances down at your hands and gives you a disapproving glare before moving on. The kind of glare you are sure your sponsor would give you if he knew the truth. That same sponsor who has been so encouraging to you from the beginning. Your sponsor is a praying man, a believer in the true higher power. So he had said that first day.

Suddenly you are overwhelmed with the disparity of it all. Who are you kidding? You will never be who they think you are. You will never be who you want to be. At this moment you have never been more sober as you face the ugly truth. You cannot change. So why try? Why all the pretending? You should embrace who you are, even if that means youíre stuck with this mess. There is no way out, only a way to deal. To cope. To numb.

The demon of the drink is calling with ferocity. Just a taste to heal the pain. To make it all go away, if just for awhile. The others may not know you, but this is who you are. No more lies. No more games. Itís time to just be you.

You close your hand tightly over the cursed chip as if to crush it from existence. You grip the bottle with familiarity and ease. This is your favorite part. The moment before you surrender your will to the only higher power youíve ever known. The calm before the storm.

As you bring the bottle to your lips you are suddenly thrown into the bar as someone crashes into you from behind. You are aware of the cursing and the apologies. You feel the pain where the bottle rammed into your face. But none of it means a thing to you because all you can do is anguish over the loss. The beautiful cure that you so desperately need is flowing down the side of the bar. The one thing you desire is now out of reach and all you want to do is cry.

You hang your head to wallow in your grief. A few minutes pass and you are suddenly brought back to awareness by the distant vibration of your phone. You check the display and roll your eyes. A text from your sponsor. What timing. How convenient. You reluctantly open the message:


As the tears stream down your face you open your hand and stare at the chip. You place it in your wallet and walk to the door. No more lies. No more games. Itís time to be who you were meant to be.

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This article has been read 685 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw02/29/08
This moved me to tears. You built up the conflict and emotion so well, tipped it off with the brawl, and then allowed me to gasp a sigh of relief at your ending statement. WOW.
Dee Yoder 02/29/08
I have no way of knowing how it feels to be in this man's shoes, except through a well-written and beautiful story like this one. Ah. The problems of humanity and need for grace is so evident in this wonderful entry. Great writing.
Joanne Sher 02/29/08
I feel like you have been there - like "I" have been there. Absolutely excellent.
Sheri Gordon03/06/08
Congratulations on your 3rd place. The writing is very good--you capture the heart and head of the MC very well. Nice job with the topic.
Debbie Wistrom03/06/08
Congratulations, if this was written to get us to look at ourselves, you got your wish. KEEP WRITING and God bless.
LauraLee Shaw03/06/08
Congratulations on 3rd place in Advanced! EXcellent piece!!!!!
Glynis Becker03/06/08
Such a cleverly-done piece of writing. I loved the point of view and it really made me 'feel' his pain. Fantastic! And Congratulations!
Laury Hubrich 03/06/08
Congratulations, Jake! This is a very sobering piece, for sure! Well-deserved win!