They say deep down criminals long to get caught. The same way chain smokers are relieved not to be allowed to smoke while on an air plane. They say we, as human beings, want to be stopped from doing things that harm us (and others). Because we want to confess and we want be forgiven.
For as long as it lasted she never consiously contemplated forgiveness. For some reason she didn’t consider herself in the category of people worthy of such luxury. But she did wish for someone to stop her. To the point of taking away the option entirely and without asking.
When she was 30 years old she moved into an appartment in Copenhagen that her uncle had bought for her to live in, and she was sober. Barely, and recently, but still, she was sober. For the first time she would the one renting out a room instead of leasing her way into other peoples appartments on temporary basises. It felt like some sort of step. A sign maybe, even.
She spend the first three days painting the walls and the panels and listening to radio documentaries on Danish national radio. First the bedroom, then the kitchen, then the two living rooms, and then finally, the small, long, narrow hallway that seperated the two rooms ment for her and someone else. At night she read Anna Karenina under the flash light from my smart phone and slept on a mat on the old wooden floors which the former owners, to her disappointment, had lacquered. she prefer things raw and in its natural state. Not unlike whiskey. No rocks, no water back.
One lazy afternoon that first week she sat on the window sill and reached her arm out through the pane in order to allow the smoke from her cigarette to evaporate into the fresh May air outside. For a long time she gazed down at the junction and watched the cars slowing down, speeding up, and dissapearing. Right then, she needed nothing.
Three weeks later it was election day. She was into politics as much as the next girl with a MA in International Politics, but in reality she only pretend to be. But she does like the social fuzz around it. Only late that day in the afternoon did she realize she had no one to spend the evening eating popcorn with and watching gifted national journalists make pointless efforts to try and guess the results based on polls that no one can rely on.
Over the course of the next couple of hours she texted two girlfriends to watch it together. Both of them had made other plans. At last, she texted a guy, the carpenter who had fix the door in the appartment two days earlier and who had flirted with her over the kitchen while washing his hands.
”If you let a guy live in that room,” he had nodded slightly toward the wall into the bigger room and his gaze had sunk a little, ”he for sure is going to want more than to be friends with you and I wouldn’t blame him.”
She sat down on the sofa, opened up the laptop and picked the semi-public TV channel where journalists where at full swing predicting the unpridictable. And then, she waited.
For a reason she didn’t want to admit to herself she had kept the bottle of port that one of the MP’s had given her as a goodbye gift at the end of the intership as a speech writer at the Danish parliament half a year before. Then she remembered that a friend who knew about her drinking habits had offered to take it off her hands. It had happened the day she was packing her stuff to move out of the upstairs room in the friend’s house where she had been living until she moved back to Copenhagen. Packed boxes had sat in the hall way when they passed eachother, her with the bottle of port in her left hand when the friend had made the offer. She had said,
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to drink it. I’ll serve it to guests one day.”
Her manners had prohibited the friend from insisting and she crinched at the thought of it. She lay back on the sofa and looked at the black screen on the phone one more time before she got up and walked into the kitchen. Without hesitation she reached up over the top cabin next to the window, grabbed the bottle neck and brought it down in front of her. She cocked the cork and poured the lilac liquid into a small wine glass all the way up to the brim.
She brought the glass with her into the living room, sat back down on the sofa and placed it next to the laptop. She was trying to convince herself to go throw it down the kitchen drain when a message came through. It was the carpenter. He said his girlfriend would be upset if he were to go out and watch the election with her. Pausing for only a second, she set the phone to silent and took the first, long sip. As results came that Denmark had moved towards more right wing politics, she finished the bottle.
Since that day up until a year and three months later, she was never sober in that appartment for more than a few days at a time, and only just. There was a longer strech of sober days right around the time of finish writing and handing in her thesis, but that was is.
Drinking became that thing she did. Again.
Paralel to beginning writing news stories for a local news paper she was getting drunk on a daily basis and every week she had to take down the empty wine bottles that were gathering in the corners of her room and in the kitchen.
The bottle container sits in the middle of the apparment building’s square under a half way roof and everyone who lives on the right side of it and looks down has view of it and the people standing in front of it. She feared neighbours accidently looking out their windows and observing her as she walked through the yard towards the container or that someone should come around a corner and figure it all out. She feared the feeling that would follow from having them shame her for being such a fuck up and let her know she was wasting her talent. Her armour had been worn down long ago and it would have destroyed her. Especially painfull were the neverending seconds it took her to lift up the seperate bottles from the yellow plastic bag she carried them in and then, the sound they made after being freed from her grip and shaddering in the deafining meeting with other broken glass inside. That sound.
Honestly, she didn’t particularly long to be caught right then.
She did not connect that desastrous chaos she imagined from having her inner life fall apart with feelings of relief or forgiveness. So she never gave anyone a chance to get to her and in fact, stop her. She speed walked in a straight line across the yard to throw away the bottles, ignoring that sound, and half way run through the last of the inner yard and out onto the side walk on the other side.
Three years have past, and today she often walks past the same container. She sometimes feels like she hears that sound of bottles chinking even though no one is around and the mere memory of it leaves her having to shake the shame all over again. But, she thought, they were right. It does feel good to confess and be forgiven.