Gerald sat at his office desk, one knee bouncing to a steady rhythm. He fingered his bottom lip and stared across the room where, sitting on the bookshelf, the bottle stared back. It called out to him.
C'mon, Gerry-berry. You know you want to.
He couldn't deny it. He was strong, he was weak, sometimes a savior, sometimes in need of saving, but right now he wanted that bottle more than anything. Even with the high demands of the new job, and then the weekends filled with home improvement projects, tonight his thoughts eventually turned away from the cold daytime numbers and the annoying weekend smell of paint to the warmth and peace he always found when it was just him and the bottle, both of them riding the wave. He had never completely lost the desire.
Gerald stood up. He walked around the desk and stepped over to the bookshelf. He reached up, but then pulled his hand back, a part of him pleading not to do it. Really, what good had the bottle ever done for him? Hadn't it only wasted his time? He could do something more productive right now, couldn't he? Maybe even leave the office and put all temptations behind him.
Why? he wondered. How can something so wonderful be so wrong?
He reached up anyway and clutched the bottle, and the anticipation wrapped its warm arms around him. It filled his chest and made the air as sweet and fragrant as roasted almonds.
Maybe just a little bit, he thought.
Yes, Gerry-berry. Just a little bit. That's all we need.
He turned and stopped, the voice of doubt trying to reason with him again. But what about tomorrow? Would he be able to step back into the office and do his job? Or would the stories the numbers told finally surrender to those the bottle always gave him?
Gerald gripped harder and shook his head. No, for the moment he didn't care about tomorrow; let it take care of itself.
He quickly walked back to the desk. He needed to do this now, before anything else crept into his mind. He opened his desk drawer and took out a piece of paper. He also grabbed the fountain pen his wife gave him on their first anniversary. He unscrewed the cap, dipped his pen into the bottle, and...
The sun burned across Janie's shoulders as she stood looking over the edge at the street twenty stories below.
Gerald smiled. After being on the wagon for months, he had finally stepped off and penned a line. A flood of warm joy washed over his body. Yes, he thought. Now, that's more like it.