by Julie Winkler

The moon hung menacingly, looking down at Angela while she stumbled over another curb.  Being a very
tall and large woman, with manly features, such as a square jaw and broad shoulders, Angela looked like
a linebacker who could play for the Dallas Cowboys. She was not normally afraid of anyone or anything.  
Nevertheless, on this particular night there was a feeling of imminent danger of some sort, although she
did not know why.   

Suddenly, she heard footsteps hurriedly coming toward her and a low growl that followed, unlike that of
a human, more of a wild animal sound. She kept walking; hoping whatever it was would pass her quickly
and find other prey.  The footsteps now turning into eerily sounding clomps like that of a horse grew
closer, and the growl took on an even more animalistic nature. “Was her mind playing a trick on her?
She thought.

Having one too many drinks after leaving the bar, Angela decided to turn around and face the creature
all the while putting on a stoic face and wide stance. After all, if this thing were coming after her, she
would need to brace herself.  She wheeled herself around and felt a breeze of hot hair and soft wetness
brush across her forehead. Everything was silent until the thing let out a gentle braying noise. She
looked up and realized it was not growling at all, nor was it chasing her.

She quickly hopped into the Clydesdale drawn carriage and paid the man, then relaxed while he taxied
her around Central Park.  “What have you been up to this evening?” asked the man with the ruddy
complexion, but softness in his voice that Angela found appealing. Angela was ashamed to say she had
just come from a bar; after all, she just had her 6-month anniversary with being sober. “I was just
meeting a few friends out for happy hour tonight.”  “Happy hour?” the man replied. “It is 1:00 am in the
morning, that must have been some special night,” he laughed whole-heartedly.

Angela leapt out of the carriage, her aura surrounded by guilt and remorse. How could she have made
such a bad decision tonight, she had worked so hard to overcome her alcohol addiction, and come so far
in the past 6 months, just to throw it all away. She needed to call a friend. “Who would answer this late
at night or morning actually?”  “I’ll call Jackie; she has always been there for me.”  Angela had known
Jackie for about 5 years and had met her at work. The two became fast friends as they had many
interests in common, the main one being liquid cheer.

The phone rang twice before being picked up. “Hello,” said Jackie. “Hey, it’s me-I’ve been drinking
tonight and I don’t know why, am I a complete failure or what?”  Not one to mince words, Jackie replied,
“Yes, you are. I have to go back to bed now, go home, you ass.”
Thinking back to when they met, Angela realized now that Jackie had not always been there for her, she
was more of a crutch to lean on, and every now and then, the crutch would leave in a hurry if it suited
her.  

Angela snapped her cell phone shut and muttered a few profanities. “What the hell was I thinking- that a
friend would truly be there for me if I needed one?”  She walked past her apartment building to a local
coffee shop she knew would be open. The wind picked up and the air smelled musty and cold. Clenching
the scarf tighter around her neck, she ran into the coffee shop for warmth and hydration. She ordered a
tall, non-fat, decaf latte and sat down to reflect upon her past behavior, and most recently, her
inclination to drink again.

“What is my problem?”  “What caused me to start drinking again?”  “At least I had the good sense to
stop, no, the bar closed and I had too leave.” Angela was 43 years old and felt as if she had lived nine
lives; having been married twice, countless jobs, and endless nights of bad adventures.  Her inner voice
was telling her that she was no good and she fought hard to control it.  “I have a masters degree in
business, own a nice apartment in the city, make a good salary, and take care of  my ailing mother, and
I still feel inadequate, why?” she said out loud.

The coffee tasted good and Angela kept sipping it, drinking it, gulping it down as if she could never be
satiated. In the midst of getting ready to exit the coffee shop, who walks in but Jackie. She had
bloodshot eyes, wild blond puffy hair, and her latest 22-year-old boy toy on her arm. She had not been
in bed at all, in fact, she had apparently just taken a breather before going to an after hours club.
Angela looked at her with cold steely eyes and said, “I thought you were in bed and couldn’t talk to
me.”  “Well, heeerre I am now, let’s get sssish party started!” she slurred. As Angela walked out the
door she replied, “Whatever, see you at work tomorrow.”  Her buzz was wearing off and she
contemplated walking back into the coffee shop to take Jackie up on her offer.

She shook her head and started walking back to her second story walk-up with its high wrought iron
front gate and ornate 18th century details intricately designed into the structure.  “What a beautiful
place I live in, why do I have to be such a hot mess?” she thought.  “Maybe I can quietly come in and
not wake up mom; she’s probably fast asleep thanks to all those pills the nurse has been giving her.”  
The door opened with a faint creek. Angela proceeded into the hallway without tripping over anything
and just as she was walking up the staircase, she heard a sharp crack, snap, crack. She had forgotten
about that annoying fourth step that seemed to collapse under any amount of pressure, no matter how
miniscule or slight.

The blindingly bright sun made its presence into Angela’s bedroom the next morning, on her less than
fresh face. She had made the decision now to go to an AA meeting before her afternoon appointment. “I
refuse to give up. I did it once and I can do it again!”  She drank water like a camel preparing for a
summer trek through the Sahara, popped a few ibuprofens like a pro, and came to grips with herself.  
“Today will be a chance for a new beginning and a better Angela, “she said adamantly to herself.  
Walking down the staircase cautiously to not arouse her ill mother’s suspicions, she skipped over the
creaky step, walked steadfastly to the front door, and strolled out into the bright, clean day ahead of
her. Then, without a moment’s hesitation, she stared straight ahead. A deafening, hardening “thump”
could be heard from miles away. Angela was hit by a car and instantaneously died without a sound or
worry.
One More