It was long after midnight when I woke up and realized Charlie had not come home, again. I didn’t want to think he was with someone else. I never did.

Over the lavender scent of AirWick I could smell the pungent stench. That’s how I knew he was somewhere in the house with an exorbitant amount down the drain, or because I was attuned to the fumes by the memory of my father. The reek hit me like a tornado and pushed me against the wall of back in time. On the contrary, I did not take the walk down memory lane though the past is the blueprint of the present.

In the toilet that’s where he was, propped against the toilet seat, his legs splayed out awkwardly. A bottle of Tusker lay on its side, dripping into a puddle that ran to where he sat. He held a second bottle by the neck. His eyes rolled back in their sockets, their whites an obscene gob popping out. He breathed in slow shallow gasps, and he had vomited on himself. Add peeing to that.

For an instance I couldn’t move a muscle, even my mouth to call him. A knot tightened around my chest making it harder and harder for me to breathe. A cold curl of fear unravelled at the pit of my stomach before the thought – he is dead – crossed my mind.

The he stirred. He began to waken. Without thinking, I took the bottle from him and emptied it in the toilet. Next thing was to help him up, but he was twice as big, and drunk.

You’re doing what a wife should, a voice whispered. It was my mother’s. She did it religiously till it killed her. Some other woman does it today.

I know, I told the ghost of my mother. It runs in the family.

But I knew it was the last time I was doing it; if not for me, for my daughter.