I took a deep breath, slowed down a bit and looked up towards the artificial suns mounted at the hub of the colony. For the first time in a while, I was outside the salvage yard - and alone.
I checked my pocket for the note. Hilde had given me a shopping list - or rather, she'd given Duo the list, and he asked me to come along. It took me a glance at the short list to realize it wasn't help carrying groceries he was asking for. I think I caught my frown in time. It was true I hadn't left the yard much lately, though - if at all.
I suggested I go instead of him - alone. Duo was taken aback. "Are you sure?" he asked.
I'd released the frown then. "I'm not a kid, Duo. I can handle going to the store alone."
For a second, it almost looked like he didn't believe me. I didn't miss the sudden quiet over at Hilde's chopping block either. Still, he handed me the shopping list and some bills, doodled a crude map on the back of the list and let me go.
I checked my map again, took a right at the next intersection.
Across the street was a hardware store. I made a mental note. The broken dishwasher badly needed some replacement parts. After spending a few nights battling the damn machine, I was beginning to understand why Duo hadn't been able to fix it.
I was not about to give up, though.
A barber shop to my left. The model posters in the window made me slide one splayed hand through my ever-growing bangs. I needed a trim soon, unless I wanted to mach Trowa's hair style.
A look back across the street - and I froze. It was a small liquor store. In the show window all the bottled temptations of the world were lined up. My throat dried up. I swallowed, pursed my lips. Frowning deeply at myself, I forced myself to start walking again, steps quick and hard, walking to jogging to almost running before turning a corner.
Short of breath and growing dizzy, I leaned up against the brick wall of the bakery I'd just run past. Calming down, I glared towards the corner. I was angry with myself for being tempted. I'd felt the money Duo'd given me burn in my pocket. If I'd lingered a minute longer...
I checked the map again. I don't think Duo mapped this route intentionally - he probably didn't even think of what shops were on this street. It was an understandable mistake. The liquor store was small enough to be easily missed by anyone not looking for it.
I hoped I could find another way back. With my luck, I'd pass an open bar.
Being an alcoholic is not a matter of drinking or not. I'll never escape being one again. Sometimes, it's a very fine line between being a recovering alcoholic and an alcoholic wreck - perhaps not so much a divider as a tightrope of sobriety, the deep abyss waiting the moment you stumbled.
I had my two greatest addictions pitted against each other - and I knew one would destroy the other for me in the end. Which, I could only hope for. The only thing I appeared capable of was running away from my problems, instead of facing them.
I would have to change that.