Page 3 of 13For years she'd known the drinking was a problem, had been a problem for years before the years she'd started knowing it was a problem, but while she'd been with Chris she hadn't wanted to do anything about it. Chris had asked her to marry him, and she hadn't said no, which was a way of being engaged. She wanted to tell him: I need some space, and alcohol was the language in which she pronounced this distance—only she spoke so softly he couldn't hear her. He'd never realized how much she drank.
She snuck gin while she was cooking dinner, tumblers of liquor mixed with whatever—orange juice or tonic or anything—but usually taken like shots when she heard him coming up the stairs. She always rinsed the glass before he got to the kitchen. She wouldn't kiss him on the lips because she didn't want him to taste it. If he tasted it, she thought, he wouldn't simply realize that she'd been drinking, he would realize everything beneath the drinking: how much she'd needed it, been unable to imagine the night without it, how scared she was of being sober for all the dark hours of the rest of her life.
They kept a bottle of Bombay Sapphire in the freezer. Our immortal sapphire, Chris called it, because they were going through it so slowly. Claudia smiled politely at this nickname and even used it a few times herself. In truth she was buying a new bottle every week, filling the freezer bottle back up to half and keeping the new one in a box in the attic, until she used the second half to fill the freezer bottle again. It had seemed like a tricky system to manage, at first, until she realized it wasn't.