Escape From Guilt

Escape From Guilt

A Story by Alexander Emberson

A man must face his guilt after losing his brother's trial.


Escape From Guilt


            I found myself drinking again. I liked feeling numb. People didn’t understand that. It was always rum and coke. If they’d ask me what I was drinking, I’d tell them the same thing I had the night before, and the night before that. Then they’d leave me in my room. I’d sit in my chair and drink. I’d drink and drink and drink until the world around me spun into blotches and mixed hues of surreal images.

            Part way through the night I’d turn myself to face the window. I appreciated the world through this unmagnified lens, and I’d make myself believe that what I saw on the opposite side was the only real thing in life. What went on around me was irrelevant; nothing mattered when I hit the bottle. When I looked through this window everything seemed to click for me, and between drunken nods I felt free. I felt unburdened, and lighter because the problems I had everywhere but the window were gone. Then I’d drink more because the feeling was beautiful to me.

“Get away from here Stella! Get away from the door! There’s nothing you can do for me!” I’d shout in almost perfect rhythm to her persistent knocks on the door. It didn’t matter to me that she cared enough to check and see if I was still alive, or that I’d even lost the f*****g trial. I cared that I wasn’t able to save my brother from the juried fate he was dealt. When these racing thoughts came to a climax in their rampage through my mind; after kicking up horrible synaptic emotions, I’d feel the pain of what I tried so desperately to shut out. It would start small, like a prick from a rose bush, beautiful, perfect, and the embodiment of love. Then it would grow and grow until I began to choke. Then I’d find the world outside my window blur and crumble as the emotions inside me fought their way to the front of my inebriated mind.

            I’d then fall to the floor. The glass would shatter. The liquid would ripple. The beauty of the world outside my window would fade, and turn back into everything I tried so hard to escape.


            I woke up in a spinning haze. The room around me was dimly lit, but bright enough that it sent shearing pain from my eyes, into my brain, and down my spine. I gagged when I smelt the dry outline of the rum that had spilt the previous night. I managed to pull myself up and into my chair that sat facing the window. With one hand bracing my head, and the other on the arm rest, I sat and wished this time I’d not woken up.

            When I’d woken the second time I was hunched in an impossible angle in my chair. I was cold, and I could feel a draft coming in from the door to the hallway. My hangover had decided to leave a parting gift in the form of sharp hunger pains, and I pulled myself up once again in order to shuffle from my study to the kitchen. I had gotten to the door when I stopped for a moment in realization that I might see Stella. It had been days since our last encounter, and I preferred to avoid any further interactions from fear of whatever might be brought up. I turned back to the shattered glass of rum, it was a reassuring reminder, except that I hated when I broke glasses.

            With my trash bin full of small bits of jagged glass and crumpled paper I made my way down the hallway, past pictures of my father and sisters, and to the spiral staircase that led to the kitchen. Stella was there, and she was washing dishes. I let out a lengthy sigh as I put my hand to the railing, and began making my way down like Dante did with Virgil. The smell of cooked food sent warm reassuring feelings through my head, and I began to think of what I’d like to eat. This was my second favorite thing to do besides avoid my family, and I relished every minute of it.

            I had made it partway down the stairs when I found the one step that cried out in agony as I put my weight on it. It was like an alarm going off in a POW camp because Stella had turned in alarm at the sound of the step, and let out a loud noise in surprise.

            “James!” She shouted, putting her hand to her chest.

            “Stella, good morning.” I replied, making my way down the last few steps, and landing shakily on the cool tiled floor of the kitchen.

            “You scared me!” She exclaimed as she turned off the water and dried her hands on the floral patterned dish towel beneath the sink, “I’m glad to see you’re still alive,” she said with a smirk.

            I felt anger begin to bubble inside of me as I dumped whatever remained of my escape into the trash can, “Yeah, well what can I say?” I set my bin down, and made my way to the fridge. Whatever was inside would surly help ease the pain in my stomach.

            “Break another glass?” Stella said as she walked past me to the trash can and peered inside.  She let out a laugh and said, “When are you going to learn, James?”

            Upon opening the fridge I found a plate covered in seran wrap. It was like a biodome; the condensation hung to the ceiling of the plate like I hung to my booze, “I see you left me some food?” I was thankful, but not in any mood to continue the conversation further. I took the plate out and hastily removed the plastic. The smell of the food escaped, and I nearly fell over in anticipation as I placed it in the microwave to heat up. I cringed when I typed in the numbers. I didn’t want to be down here any longer than I had to.

            “James, I know you don’t want to hear it but I’m concerned. I never see you anymore, and I feel like I’m living her all alone!” She began to shout, and I could see tears streak across her cheeks and dive bomb to the floor.

            I turned away from her and towards the window overlooking the sink, “Yeah, well we all need time alone, right?” I stalled. The numbers on the microwave ticked down as if to signal me when Stella would go off.

            “Talk to me, James!” She came over to my side. I could feel her gaze against my face as I tried my hardest to ignore it, “What’s done is done! You can’t spend your days drinking away your problems! I need you!” Then she turned away.

            “You think it’s that simple? You think I can just walk away from this, Stella?” I didn’t want to get into it, but the microwave, in all it’s cruel irony had counted down perfectly, and I found myself facing the one person I loved more than my brother, “This isn’t something I can put behind me, Stella! This isn’t something I can forget about like some cheap date!” I was fuming. I felt light headed, but food could wait; instead, I took a glass out and filled it with water. I drank it as fast as I could.

            Stella had turned back to me. Her face was red and puffy, and she was crying harder than before, “You act like this isn’t hard for me either! Your brother is my family now too! You can’t blame yourself for losing his trial! You can’t escape everything through glasses of cheap booze!” She was shouting now. Her cries could surely be heard across the street, or by the neighbors who had a knack for asking about our arguments, “You’re my husband, James! Don’t do this to us!”

She had slid down the cabinets to the floor. I turned my attention back to her as she sat with her head between her knees and sobbed. I was speechless from the guilt I felt, and I clenched my teeth from the resentment I felt toward her because of it. Then, I put one knee down, then the other, and I placed my hand on her shoulder, “Stella, I love you more than you know.” That was all I could think to say. Then she brought her head up and looked straight into my eyes; they were gleaming fiercer than a star at night, and all I could think to do, was pull her into my arms, and hold her.

© 2012 Alexander Emberson

Author's Note

Alexander Emberson
This is the second draft of this story. The title is still up in the air, and if you have a suggestion for one, feel free to send it my way! Enjoy!

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register


This is so sad. how one thing can turn ur world upside down. ive known people in certain circumstances. well written.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


1 Review
Added on November 21, 2011
Last Updated on April 18, 2012
Tags: Law, guilt, love, family, brothers, sisters, booze, alcohol, windows, food, lawyer, jury, verdict, lies, fantasy, reality


Alexander Emberson
Alexander Emberson

Saint Louis, MO

I'm the editor in chief over at the literary magazine, Wednesday Night Writes. We're always accepting submissions, so get on it. My work can n.. more..