“The Open Road” by Victoria Brinson

I kept the bottles. Doled out a few pills every day, and pretended I was in charge. And we had good days. Sometimes good weeks. Times when he could laugh at my jokes, make jokes of his own. Times when we could curl up together and watch reruns of our favorite movies.  Then he would get unreasonable. Angry. His speech would slur, he couldn’t understand simple things like which button on the remote to push or how to send a text, and so I would start hunting. Sometimes I found them. Another prescription, bought over the internet, begged from his doctor, traded from other addicts. Sometimes I didn’t find them, I just went crazy hunting. The legal prescriptions I gave him every day, which he let build up in a futile attempt to prove to me that he wasn’t taking anything – it was just a joke. A terrible, gut-wrenching joke on me and my attempt to control a situation that was out of control.

The therapist said I was being unreasonable, to want him the way he used to be. Fun and sweet and kind. He wasn’t that person anymore. Did I want him the way he was now? With his chronic pain, with his drug abuse? She said to quit trying to make choices for him, that he had to decide how he would live. That my decision was simply whether or not to be a part of his life. That I could not control this situation.

I lined the pill bottles next to each other on the grey marble counter. Hydrocodine. Furenol. Oxycodine. Flexeril. The list went on, and I was oh so familiar with all of them. My throat ached. It felt surreal. Me. Living in a world of prescriptions and addictions. Me. So afraid every morning of what the day might bring. Me. Holding on so tightly that I was suffocating.

I laid the bottles carefully, one by one, next to him on the bed. Pain-weary eyes met mine. “I’m done.” The future stretched out before me. Uncertain. Open. I curled up close to him, feeling the warm comfort of his body.

Published by


The literary journal of the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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