"Only on a Friday"
(Oh, and it's angsty. You've been warned.)
In that last year, Friday became the worst.
She knew Monday was the traditional, stereotypical worst day of the week, expounded upon again and again every Monday in subways as the working class packed themselves into the dingy, slightly odorous cars and began the depressing sojourn to their respective offices, in high schools as students shuffled morosely to their classrooms flooded with self-consciousness and discontentment, and even in hospitals, when doctors would mutter and grumble as they changed from their civilian garb and replaced it with the crinkled, papery scrubs.
And she had to admit—Mondays were hard.
Usually she went in early, to get a start on the mandatory Monday paperwork. It made her stir-crazy, sitting in her office, squinting painfully behind the lens of her glasses, proofreading, notating, signing…after a few hours, her eyes would be spinning in her head, and she knew then she needed to get out. That was why she liked to schedule one or two surgeries for Monday afternoons, just to give her an excuse to escape her confinement.
But once all that was over, since it was usually late by that point and she was too weary to cook or do much of anything else, she would pick up take out for dinner, and include a special something as a guilt-free reward for surviving Monday—usually of the sinful, creamy, chocolate variety. And just that would take the sting out of Mondays.
No…in comparison to Friday, Monday was barely a contender for worst day of the week.
Plus, since it was so late by the time she usually got home on Mondays, he was almost always home before her, home when she got there. Even if it wasn't exactly marital bliss, it was still company. If she wanted to see him, hear his voice, touch him, he was there.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays were typically intensive surgery days, for some reason. She didn't know if it was that way for all surgeons, or it just so happened more babies were born on those days, but that's how it fell for her. She got home at different times depending, but usually after a busy Tuesday and Wednesday, she was so tired she went right to bed.
Sometimes he was already home, and sometimes he wasn't. But because her sleep was deep and immediate, like a coma, it stopped mattering.
Thursdays were probably her favorite day of the week, for her entire life, probably because she always had an inclination—slight, of course—to stubborn contrariness. Because Friday was always the touted "Best Day of the Week," she always felt Thursday became overshadowed by it. Really, Thursday was the most balanced day in her life. She would prepare a little paperwork first thing for the Friday meetings, attend one or two surgical follow-ups, and then go to the hospital board meeting in the afternoon and early evening. It was always calmly paced but efficient and accomplishing. Then, she would come home, make something herself, watch Friends, and by the time that was over, he would be home.
Thursday seemed to be his favorite day, too. Even in the last year, they both just seemed more at ease on Thursdays. Talking came easier, as did laughing, and sometimes, even sex, though that became rarer and rarer. But for most of that last year, Thursday was her favorite day of the week.
And, despite the tradition, in that last year, Fridays became the worst.
Maybe it was all the hype. She blamed it on that for a while. "Thank God it's Friday" was like a mantra, heard everywhere by anyone with any type of job. Hell, they even named a restaurant and subsequent pop culture staple on it. But really, what was so great about Friday? Sure, it was the end of the week. Sure, it was a day to meet your friends at a bar for happy hour and vent about the hellish week you had. Sure, it meant that for two days, there would be no—or less—work.
But when work was more than just a job, when work began to act as a kind of anesthetic, Fridays lost their charm. Hell, they became torture.
Pain is never clearer, deeper, or more damaging than it is in the moments right after the anesthetic wears off.
For Addison, Fridays were the end of her anesthetic.
Prior to that last year, nothing particularly specific had ever befallen her on a certain Friday to make her scorn the day so much. She worked a rather unpredictable schedule at the hospital, mainly with consults, but that didn't bother her. She just never felt quite at ease on Fridays. Everywhere she went, she didn't want to be. Even if it was a particularly riveting case, or lunch with Derek, or anything she would normally look forward to, it only filled her with a restlessness, and made the entire day one filled with latent dissatisfaction and as a result, unpleasantness.
And in that last year, Fridays got worse and worse with each passing week.
Because her day was relatively undemanding, she wouldn't be as weary as usual. She would try to wear herself out by going to the gym and running hard and fast until her lungs burned and her whole body felt rubbery, but after a scalding shower, she was even more awake. This seemed to feed her restlessness, in a way.
Derek worked late on Fridays. So late he worked that sometimes—often, in fact—he didn't come home until after dawn.
So on Fridays, unfailingly, especially in that last year, when Addison arrived home, the brownstone would be filled with that specific, stale, stagnant air that fills a place when it has been empty for a while, that nothing—aside from warm, breathing, living bodies—was able to extinguish. And if a person were to stay too long in that environment by him or herself, the smell had a way of clinging, announcing to the world that person's aloneness.
In the past, her remedy would be to change into something sleek and expensive, call Savvy, meet her at some bar or hotspot, and wash that smell off of her with an tasteful number of dirty martinis, a heavy dose of girlish giggling and gossip, and innocent flirting with attractive strangers. She would come home a little drunk and very sleepy, able to fall into that same comatose slumber that protected her from loneliness during the week.
But in that last year, she stopped going out with Savvy on Fridays. Savvy, alive and vibrant and content and funny and happily married, made Addison realize—though she didn't consciously acknowledge it—everything that she and her life was not. So she stopped.
At first, she would bring work home. Then, she began investing in various subscriptions to medical journals, reading them with intense concentration on the cushy leather furniture in the living room, usually with the television or stereo blaring in the background and take out of some kind cooling in its cartons on the glass coffee table. This practice would last well into the night, and often she woke up with her face in a journal, the television on, and her body very, very cold.
If she was lucky, this wouldn't occur until Saturday morning, and in response she would saunter up to their bedroom to find Derek facedown in the pillows, snoring softly. Only when he was there could she bring herself to ease her body in between the sheets and sleep. If he wasn't, she pulled the comforter from the bed and went back to the couch.
After a while, no amount of medical research or editorials could make her drowsy. She'd finish, and it would be far from dawn, and she would be painfully alert and awake. That would be when the worst would happen. In the vast emptiness of the house, she would cry, but the sound of her sobs and sniffling would barely travel beyond her immediate person. After all, no one was there to hear them, and furniture and walls and hardwood floors could provide no solace. After she would finish, if she did, she would be nearly paralyzed with loneliness, often resorting to simply staring out the window, watching blindly as Manhattan teemed outside the window. This began about six months into that last year.
That's when she got the prescription for Ambien.
She didn't think anything of it. She was indeed not sleeping. Not just was she not sleeping, but also she was unable to even force herself to. A sleep aid was a sound medical decision.
But when she found herself refilling it two, three, and then four times, and increasing her dose ever so slightly, she knew she was descending down a slippery slope. So she stopped the prescription.
That's when she discovered a taste for Sambuca.
As a rule, she never drank during the week. And in the past, her Friday nights with Savvy culminated with a maximum of three cocktails. She held her liquor well, but she still never liked to push it.
But one evening, post-Ambien, she had been rummaging through the liquor cabinet in the den, mostly full of single malt scotch for Derek, and discovered the bottle of Sambuca, tucked away and still wrapped in the red bow it had been when they had brought it back from Italy.
Lacking the appropriate glassware to drink the drink simply in shots, she would barely fill the base of a snifter, and drink. In the beginning, it took two of these to make her drowsy enough that if she laid down in front of mindless television, she would be asleep within the hour. After a few weeks, it took four. Then six.
The last Friday, the Friday to forever make Friday the worst day ever, she had eight.
In her dizzying haze of alcohol, when she heard the doorbell, she had immediately thought it to be Derek. It didn't occur to her he probably wouldn't ring the doorbell of his own house.
She had just emerged from the shower and had neglected to dress. She pulled her white satin robe tighter around her body when she opened the door in an effort ward off the outward chill of the damp autumn night and maintain her inner alcohol-induced warmth.
She had to blink several times and work with difficulty to focus before she registered the identity of the man standing before her speaking. She knew it wasn't Derek, and it took her only a few more seconds of close examination through bleary eyes to see it was Mark.
She didn't quite hear him, and by the time she concentrated enough to listen, he had stopped speaking.
"Addison? Are you all right?" She heard that.
She attempted to speak, but instead nodded slowly.
He stepped closer. He had that frosty scent of someone entering the indoors for the first time in a while, a combination of the city streets, the fall air, his cologne, and a plethora of other unidentifiable aromas. His hands were cold when he put them on her shoulders and frowned into her eyes.
"Have you been drinking? Alone?" he asked carefully, as if he couldn't actually imagine that to be the truth.
This time, she found words. Well, one. "Yes."
She wasn't sure if he spoke again, but she was sure he looped his arm around her waist and smoothly guided her up the stairs. She smiled dreamily, mistaking him occasionally on their walk for Derek.
When they approached the bedroom, she stopped the limited motion she was granting to her legs. He stopped too, and gazed at her in confusion.
"Addie, are you okay? Are you going to be sick?"
Her face fell. No, he wasn't Derek. He was Mark.
That thought, that damning thought, was her last thought for the rest of the evening. People often say, "I wasn't thinking," but in Addison's case it was literal. Everything that happened from that point on was simply movement.
She knew she kissed him. She knew he tried to stop her.
She knew she persisted, but she didn't think about it.
She knew he was holding her, carrying her to the bedroom, but she didn't think about it.
She knew he was laying her with unusual gentleness onto the bed, but she didn't think about.
She even knew when her robe was gone and his hands were on her, but she didn't think about it.
She didn't think about a single thing until that potent, terrifying, sobering instant when her eyes opened amid ecstasy and saw Mark above her—sweating, breathing, moving—but also, in the distance, blurred by alcohol and sex, saw Derek.
That look, that obscene contortion of betrayal, disgust, and pain on his face and the exquisite self-hatred that flooded her heart at that moment killed Friday for her. Definitely, permenantly, for the rest of her life.
Note: This was meant to be a little innocent drabble, inspired by a particularly soggy, drizzly, somber day here in Philadelphia, but it kind of took on a life of its own. It's all angsty, but I kind of like it, and I might continue. Hmm…
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