|The laughter had finally died down and a calm quiet replaced the noise. Playing cards had been swapped for beer bottles and were tossed on the floor. James and Ben sat on the floor with a bottle in their hands. On the bed, Audrey and Jen sat in comfortable silence like they did every Friday night when both couples got together.
"I'm not gonna lie," James said as he brought the bottle to his lips, draining it in one swallow, "I'm an alcoholic." The blood drained out of Jen's face.
It was so non-chalant, like it was just a trivial fact and not something that could kill someone or tear a family apart. And, to say it in front of their friends, to make it known. Jen stood up quickly, a pack of cigarettes fell to the floor. Everyone stared at her.
Taking a deep breath, Jen sat back down on the bed. Staring at the dirty jeans and the piles of hoodies in the corner suddenly seemed better than answering the questioning looks. After a few minutes of silence, conversation hesitantly started up again.
"Well man, that's the first step," Ben said," admitting you have a problem."
Jen gritted her teeth as if that statement had struck her like a physical blow. The following wave of nausea was overwhelming.
"I'm an alcoholic," James said. Jen looked up, her eyes meeting his. She looked away.
"I'm an alcoholic," he whispered.
"Yeah, I got that," Jen snapped. She clenched her fists to keep her hands from shaking. James stood up.
"Damn Jen," he yelled," we can't ignore this like we did the baby, just because it's too painful."
"So, both are my fault," Jen whispered, her voice taking a dangerous edge, "She was stillborn you sick bastard." Audrey and Ben shared an awkward glance.
"Christ Jen, no. I'm saying -"
"Fuck you James. I don't want this," she gestured between them, "I don't want any of this."
"You're always doing this Jen," James said as he ran his fingers through his hair, "you're always running away."
"Because I'm always fucking running away from you," she screamed. Jen snatched her purse and headed towards the door. James grabbed her wrist as she past the doorway.
"Stay," he said, "for just this once."
"Drown in your bottle asshole," Jen said as she wrenched her wrist free and walked out the door. Audrey raised her eyebrows at Ben and James winced as the door slammed shut.