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Remedy  •  18 February 2021  •  Fiction

Finding New Vices

By Kate Rafferty
Content Warning: Disordered eating, drugs & alcohol, addiction
Finding New Vices

She spent the year devising solutions‭. ‬

At night‭, ‬she’d list ingredients in a notebook‭. ‬Shape out ratios and new blends‭.‬

A walk as dawn breaks‭, ‬a smoothie for breakfast‭, ‬a yoga class at noon‭, ‬a podcast as her head hits the pillow‭. ‬

She knew the perfect combination would come‭, ‬and then‭, ‬she’d be fine‭. ‬Remedied‭. ‬She’d make her bed and lie in it‭. ‬Build herself a‭ ‬‘positivity palace’‭, ‬carve her name into the doorframe‭, ‬then everything bad would melt away‭. ‬Manifest‭, ‬and it comes‭, ‬right‭?‬

But it failed‭. ‬And when it did‭, ‬she blamed anything‭. ‬The stars‭, ‬the odds‭, ‬the underwear she chose to wear that day‭. ‬Perhaps‭, ‬the‭ ‬preparation was flawed‭. ‬So she’d reshuffle the order‭. ‬Maybe red wasn’t her lucky colour‭. ‬Maybe yoga should only be from 3‭ ‬p.m‭. ‬Because an almond latte at the right time of day should make the world‭ ‬shift‭. ‬

By March‭, ‬she knew better‭. ‬So she started leaning on liquids‭. ‬Ones that stained and smoked‭. ‬She flirted with new vices‭, ‬and they‭ ‬readily responded‭. ‬They just worked‭. ‬They soothed‭, ‬numbed and felt good‭. ‬They always felt good‭.‬

She only wished they weren’t quite so charming‭, ‬so warm‭, ‬so constant‭. ‬Because in the end‭, ‬melancholy never left her‭. ‬Not really‭. ‬Her new friends were no problem solvers either‭, ‬it seemed‭. ‬

As June phased by‭, ‬she lost her grip a little‭. ‬The same melodies of last year‭ ‬caught on repeat and her lens had greyed‭. ‬A black puddle appeared at‭ ‬the doorstep‭. ‬Most days she made the fairy step over‭, ‬but sometimes she’d blunder‭. ‬A toe would graze the murky surface‭, ‬or her dress dipped into the blackness‭.‬

The result was horror‭. ‬In seconds‭, ‬her body stiffened‭, ‬and she counted the seconds before icy hands seized her by the ankles and‭ ‬dragged her in‭. ‬

When she returned to the surface‭, ‬choking on mud‭, ‬she would grab her robe‭ ‬and go back to the kitchen‭. ‬A clink‭, ‬a sip‭, ‬a smoke‭. ‬Then‭, ‬silence‭. ‬Glorious‭ ‬stillness‭. ‬Until it unnerved her‭. ‬Then she’d turn mechanic‭. ‬Arms moving‭ ‬before neurons‭; ‬she’d line-up her vices and repeat‭. ‬

And so days ended earlier‭. ‬Often before her toes hit the floorboards‭.‬

But‭, ‬even a homebody grows tired of home‭. ‬Her mind memorialised the palace she left her spirit in‭. ‬In a patchwork of dreams‭, ‬she‭ ‬remembered podcasts and strawberry smoothies‭. ‬Day trips with old friends‭. ‬Rosé and giggles‭. ‬Her palace appeared hyperbolic and‭ ‬beautified‭. ‬Dipped in glitter‭ ‬and seashells‭. ‬Yet‭, ‬it seemed better‭. ‬Better than ice‭, ‬mud and scraped knees‭. ‬

She tried the doorbell once more‭, ‬just for kicks‭, ‬but it rang through‭. ‬Turns‭ ‬out‭, ‬a palace is no place to shelter in‭. ‬Truth was‭, ‬within those walls‭, ‬life‭ ‬ was sugar-coated and shaken to fizz‭, ‬and the bubbles made her nauseous‭. ‬

So she grabbed her notebook‭. ‬On her bed‭, ‬she mapped out a tonic stronger than steel‭. ‬A new potion to transport her‭. ‬Even then she shrunk away‭. ‬

No tonic would quell this‭. ‬She needed grit‭, ‬and earth and soil‭. ‬Something real and incalculable‭. ‬Greater than numbers and Gatsby‭. ‬More solid than liquid‭. ‬She needed disappointment and wonder‭; ‬something fuller than an‭ ‬almond latte‭. ‬

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