Crack the Spine Issue 96 - Page 11

or long cut to forgiving oblivion. The television screen waves of white noise. “Are you alright?” Ellie asked. I jumped. “Oh, yes. I’m fine. Thank you.” I could be a polite drunk, like the southern debutante I never was getting tipsy from her first chilled mimosa on the veranda. Or fouled mouthed, I could scream at my horrified mother, “Kiss my ass,” when she threatened my air supply. “We have the white chip for anyone who would like to give up the high cost of low living and join us,” Missy said. On dry land, some addicts laughed easily, confession, indeed, good for the soul. Others clung to any flotsam floating by, their smiles guarding their secrets and their bottles. I inhaled and held my breath. “Would anyone like a white chip?” Adrenaline rushed up my legs. An alcoholic by eighteen, I went with my mother to a church camp with seventy-fivemile mountain views. I stayed high that weekend on the living water of Christ. On Sunday morning, perched on a rock outcrop, I floated on the blue horizon. I drank for four more years, but mom and I would attend country revivals, altar calls drawing me down the red-carpeted aisles, strangers praying “hallelujah.” I don’t remember when I learned to swim. But by ten years old, I swam a solid backstroke. I could dive—sleek and long—off the starter’s block, hold my breath and paddle my feet in mermaid waves, pushing my body farther and farther before breaking the surface.