There wasn't much Karen could do but sit and stare at the cooling liquid in her coffee cup resting on her lap. She listened to the rain hit the roof, a soothing sound. Karen packed a suitcase, made Aurora pack a bag and together they got in the car and drove. Karen for a good amount of time didn't know where she was going to go, until they pulled into the driveway belonging to George and Marilyn.
It wasn't until Karen pulled in and sat in the driveway for a good five minutes that she knew it was the right thing to do. Aurora was the one to knock and to explain why they were there. On her birthday no less. Aurora had excused herself to the one guest room that she'd assume she would share with her mother. And now her mother was talking with her grandmother about her father. It was worth eavesdropping on them, but with all the tears she had shed in the car, and the headache that was coming on, bed sounded more appealing than eavesdropping.
"He slept with Elizabeth's mother. My daughter's best friend's mother was in bed with my husband." Karen told Marilyn. "And he comes in and tells me I'm a whore?"
"He slept with her in your home?"
"No. This was years ago. He doesn't think I know. But he was drunk. That's what his excuse will be only it won't be an excuse. It's the truth. He's always drunk it seems."
"He drinks that much?" Marilyn asked. "When does he have time?"
"He drinks at work. He'd never do it at home. Not when Aurora is near by."
Karen shrugged her shoulders as if she were okay with it. But she wasn't. She would never be. It was what Stan did when he had a rough day at work. He would come home look himself into a room and drink whatever made him feel bad away. It was pointless, but she didn't say a word. She couldn't. There wasn't a thing she could say that wouldn't make her seem like an overpowering-control freak of a wife. His words.
"You're going to stay the night. You can sleep here or in the room with Aurora. It doesn't matter. But you're going to have to go home and put William in his place." Marilyn informed her. It was a rare occasion that she heard her mother in law call Will, William. It was when she was mad and frustrated with the boys that she ever used their first names. Or to make a point. "You're going to have to make him choose Karen. You or the alcohol, because if you don't, one day you're going to have to explain to that precious girl upstairs why her father is dead."
Karen nodded and watched as the older woman left the room, leaving her to her thoughts. And all Karen could think about was what would she say if she had gotten a call saying that Will was gone. What would she tell Aurora? How would Aurora react? How would she react? Everything would be on her shoulders because she's the wife, she's the one who had to do everything, tell everyone what happened.
She was going to sleep on the couch, or just lay there as the night passed. But before she set the blanket down, she went to check on Aurora. The girl was passed out, sleeping on top of her covers, her shoes still on her feet. Shaking her head and smiling, Karen pushed the door open with her hip and silently moved into the room and sat at the edge of the bed. Easily, from nights of practice, Karen slipped Aurora's shoes off her feet, sat them down at the foot of the bed and moved to draw back the covers. Hopefully not waking Aurora in the process.
"Mom?" Aurora mumbled, shielding her face, as if she were expecting the sun to come pouring in through the blinds. "What are you doing?"
"Tucking you in." Karen said. A urora moaned and sat herself up, bringing her knees to her chest. It was the first time Karen noticed Aurora's tear tracks. "What with the tears?"
"You mean besides the fact that you got called a whore in front of all my friends? Besides the facts that my father came home blubbering like an idiot because he was drunk again? Nothing. Nothing's wrong. And nothing ever is." Aurora said, shoving her feet under the covers, and pulling them over her shoulder.
Karen pulled the blanket down, watching Aurora shrink at the sudden lack of heat. "We're going to talk about it. And we're gonna talk now."
"Daddy is a drunk mom. Always has been. Please do you think I don't know what the smell of alcohol is? I mean really. Every night and I mean every night the laundry room is locked. Why? Because all of Daddy's clothes either smell like puke, alcohol, or both. Mom I'm not a little girl anymore. I'm going through High School for crying out loud. Do you really think everybody at my school are perfect?" Aurora asked. She sat up and turned to Karen. "Please. At least half of the girls in my class are on birth control. The other half is on some sort of drug or anti depressant and I'm straight and narrow as a pencil. I don't do drugs. I don't drink at parties. I can't bring myself to come home everyday knowing that I did something against how my parents raised me. I go to school everyday listening to how everyone love's their Dad and how wonderful he is and how great his job his. What can I say about mine? He's a lawyer. He's a lawyer who is a drunk."
Karen stood up from the spot on Aurora's bed, and kissed her forehead. "I'll be here in the morning."
"Where are you going?"
"To give your father a sobering proposition."
She didn't know how she made it home in one piece. She didn't even remember putting the keys in the ignition much less setting the car in drive and pushing the gas pedal. But there she was, with her house key in the door, throwing it open, slamming it for good measure.
The place was the same as she had left it, hours ago. The wrapped presents were still on the dining room present, the cake was sitting on the kitchen table, the decorations were still up; Will either wasn't there or hadn't touched a thing. She was ready to call his name when he came stumbling into the living room with a bottle of wine in his hand.
"Hey Kare-" He said, stumbling into the couch. She drops her purse onto the table and slowly walks over to him, taking the bottle of wine out of his hand and tossing it over her head. The sound of glass breaking echoed behind them, his eyes wide. "I was drinking that!"
"You're done drinking Will." She said, stepping toe to toe with him, her voice dropping an octave. "You're done. You're gonna to listen to me. You're going to listen to every word I say. " He nodded, a small smile playing on his lips as if it were a rouse. "You're going to go through this house and throw away every bottle and can that contains alcohol. Then you're going to call this number," She said producing a white card with black blocked letters. "You're going to call them and arrange a meeting with an AA counselor. After you do that, you're going to wash every piece of clothing you own and make sure it doesn't reek like alcohol."
"Where is all this coming from? Does my drinking bother you?"
"It doesn't bother me. But it does bother Aurora." Karen pointed out. "She's laying in a bed at your mother's house crying because she can't gloat how great her father is because he's drunk every night. She can't have a single conversation with you about something she needs her father for, because he can't comprehend two words."
"Who doesn't? Hell Will I knew before you walked in the door what type of night it was going to be." Karen placed a hand to his cheek, smiling as he kissed it. "You're going to do every I asked you to or I will leave you. I will divorce you and take Aurora away from you."
"Make your decision Will." Karen said backing away towards the door, her purse in her hand. "It's me and the baby or you and you're alcohol."
A very tired Karen and a very wide awake Aurora made it through the front door of the house close to nine in the morning the next day. The aftermath of the party had been cleared. The apartment was cleaned, the carpet vacuumed, the tables wiped down; everything was clean. There was a note on the living room table, labeled 'Read Me.' The note had been short, having her go to the phone machine., where it was labeled 'Listen To Me.'
"Hi Will. This is Margaret from AlchoAid. I just wanted to let you know that I got your message and I'll be seeing you on Friday at eleven a.m. "
Karen couldn't help but smile. She looked around and assumed that Will had put Aurora's presents in her room, which she probably escaped to. Karen flipped open the pantry, where they kept their alcohol and it was empty, with the exception of a single bottle that's empty, with yet another note attached to it.
Karen flipped it open and saw his writing.
Everything is out. All of it. The wine, the beer, the Tequila. Hell even the mouthwash in the bathroom. Now go to our room and smell my laundry.
Karen did exactly that. It smelled like baby powder. It smelled like laundry soap. It all did. And Karen couldn't help but smile. Things were changing for him. She wanted to call him and tell him he was done for the day and she was going to ravish him, because eighteen hours of not being able to really touch him was driving her wild. She was ready to knock on Aurora's door, when she heard the phone ring and the machine pick up.
"Mrs. Truman, this is Dr. Samson over to New York University Medical Center. You're husband was brought in a few minutes ago with a severe head injury-" It was all Karen heard before she pulled Aurora out of her room and shoved her into the car.