100 Cocktails Later

Entry by: Olivia

21st August 2015
100 cocktails later
‘Well Mr Smith, we have managed to remove most of the nasty bits, but sorry to say we couldn’t get it all out’. He started to fiddle with the pens in the pot on his desk. The desk was polished and tidy, I couldn’t imagine that anyone actually worked at that sacred space. In fact the whole room was unreal, a figment of our imagination and he didn’t know what he was talking about, if we got up and walked out he wouldn’t exist, nor would the awful diagnosis that had been our constant companion through our whole marriage.
From the first day, when the GP’s surgery phoned I knew all this was on the cards. I knew the cutting, the drugs, the sickness and the pain. But we weren’t going that way. We were going to plough our own path.
From the outset we planned. We started with a bucket list, but we had no money and very little time. We had about a year and we reckoned we could drink that away at a rate of two cocktails a week. And when we got to a hundred we would make new plans.
Some cocktails were tame and we didn’t want to repeat them, but we worked our way through the book. It became a ritual. Wednesdays and Sundays we would prepare all the ingredients, lining them up like the sacraments on an altar. We measured, we poured and we shook. Pleased with ourselves and our recipes, growing ever more extreme.
Rum mixed happily with gin, cinzano with brandy. We fell off the pages, we shook and drank, we sipped and tasted. And we always finished. In the early days we thought we had forever, one hundred seemed such a big number. After all, none of us really knows how long we’ve got do we?
When we got to fifty we mixed with champagne. We sipped in lovely places in our minds. Sunny beaches, ski slopes, sweeping landscapes, but the cocktails always came first.
In the beginning he loved them as much as I did. He savoured the tastes, however bizarre. He swigged and sung, we thought we would prove them all wrong. I suppose it was after fifty that it began to get a bit tricky.
The days blurred. Sleep invaded many corners, coming when really it shouldn’t. Appointments got overlooked, forgotten, irrelevant.
Pain crept into the cracks, wedged itself in however high we set the barricade of pills and potions. But the cocktails eased and soothed. They slipped down where other liquids stuck. They stayed down where others returned. Time lost its boundaries. Some days were long and tedious. Dragging on, lost time invaded daylight and nights took on a feeling of tense wakefulness. Other days were filled with sun and joy; swiftly efficient, they passed, skipping like sunbeams on water. These were cocktail days, we didn’t ‘have cocktails’, we had ‘cocktail days’ – days of laughter, forgetting the end, enjoying the now – try it – it will do you good.
‘Why can’t everyday be a cocktail day’ you asked, ‘I want cocktails every day’. Well, we could, of course, but we only had thirty left. Shall we have thirty good days straight off, or shall we have much longer, interspersed with thirty blissful cocktails?
We tortured ourselves; we swung from a few good, to many mediocre with a splattering of good.
Twenty left to go. Bed was where we lived. We spent most of the time there, getting up only to see to the basics and refuel in a haphazard way. I lost the weight I’d struggled to lose for years, but I hardly noticed. I couldn’t really remember why it has mattered so much in the first place.
You drifted, returning always for the heady mix of spirits. The nice man from Tesco remained stoical, lucky for him he didn’t feel the need to comment on our new grocery order.
We made love in a lazy, half hearted way, because we thought we ought to. We considered the end and forgot where we were going. The phone rarely rung and the vicar forget to call. But the cocktails continued to go. The one thing we refused to consider was the 100th – we both knew what was going to be in that one.
At five we lost the strength to withstand. You slept through the long days and the short days. I lay reading, dozing and loving. Past hurts forgotten, lost opportunities put by, future dreams shelved. Today was all we ever had.
The cocktails crept to daily despite our resolve. We savored every drop and the absence of pain they brought.
One hundred cocktails later we downed the last matching pair, bitterly laced, lovingly served, finally shared.