she was young when she had her first drink. the first of many.

(too many.)

it's not like it was with her friends or in the movies. it wasn't under the bleachers at a high school game or straight from the bottle in a friend's basement. by the time she shares those sips and swallows she's already had more than her fair share. in fact, unlike so many other first drink stories, there wasn't even anyone else there. her first drink was with her alone.

(so are many that follow.)

she'd been deemed old enough to stay home by herself, even if she really wasn't. which was convenient since so often everyone else was gone. her older brothers had their own friends, or even work, and though they were close and always had been, teenaged boys don't want to stay home on weekends to hang around with their baby sister. as long as their father wasn't in the house, they didn't mind leaving her there. meanwhile, he and her mother were wherever her parents tended to disappear to, perhaps a movie premiere or a restaurant opening or game, somewhere they could be seen and be seen happy. it was fine with her, she didn't mind being alone.

(of course, alcoholics lie.)

though the large house was empty she tiptoed down the hall into her father's study. it wasn't really a place for children, especially not with a father like her's. on most days, on most occassions, she would do everything within her ability to stay out of and away from that room. anything to not attract unwanted attention. the study was less of an office and more of a shrine to his glory days gone by, retired jersey's mounted in frames on the wall, game balls and trophies encased in glass and a big screen tv to one wall, almost always playing some game or another. and of course, a fully stocked liquor cabinet. and that's where he'd sit, sunken into his large leather chair, yelling at the tv drinking whiskey or vodka or whatever could take the edge off.

(it would take years of drinks for her to realize this was exactly what she was doing too, and the shared connection made her despise it even more.)

with hesitation, she pulled out the first bottle her hand touched, the liquid sloshing inside a deep, frosted amber. she'd brought her own glass, a simple mug from the kitchen, knowing better than to expect to use one of the glasses on top of the cabinet and get away with it. not knowing how much she should drink, she slowly poured half a cup full, cautious not to spill anything. she eyed the bottle for a moment, wondering if her father would notice the missing measure. the idea was almost enough to make her change her mind, to pour the alcohol back into the bottle and retrace her steps before any harm was done. the amount of trouble she would be in if she was caught was tremendous. for being in his study without him, for touching his things, for drinking his liquor.

(after this it's easy enough to find a drink without him, luckily for her nerves.)

raising the mug, she immediately put it down again, caught off guard by the strong odor that hit her senses. her stomach knotted uncomfortably, nerves and the sharp scent mingling, and it took a long moment for her to work up the courage again. with a deep breath, fueling her resolve, she finally raised the glass to her lips, taking a deep swallow. undiluted, something akin to fire burned in the wake of the liquid. she'd heard of mixing drinks, of course, but her father didn't do that. she could have brought juice or soda from the kitchen but this had never been about enjoying, this was about understanding. what was is that attracted her father so fiercely? what was the inexplicable pull?

(later she'd try and answer these questions for herself.)

with a sputtering cough she drank again, ignoring the taste and the texture on her tongue, only focused on draining her glass. the heat had singed a path from her throat to her stomach, and already her cheeks felt flushed, though because of the sudden warmth she felt or the drink itself, she wasn't sure. she waited a moment, waiting for something, though she didn't know what. to feel different. to feel better. though the feeling of expectation wore off, the warmth remained, as did the lingering taste of alcohol on her lips. part of her felt disgusted. she'd risked trouble for practically nothing, but a small part of her felt something else too. a dull sort of thrill, coloring the edges of her nerves, keeping the butterflies flapping around in her stomach. as carefully as she began, she put the bottle away and closed the cabinet, leaving the scene exactly how she found it, tediously checking and rechecking the details. she took the mug with her, walking slowly to the kitchen, her head lighter than she thought possible. leaning against the sink, she stared at her glass for a moment, still confused, before leaving it behind, empty.

(it was only the first of countless times she looked for answers in the bottom of an empty glass.)