Sobriety: Days Two, Three By Marley Stuart

Sobriety: Days Two, Three

In my experience, the second day is hardest.
Day one is easy—after a binge, the knee-jerk
reaction kicks in. But the second night
there’s no reason to abstain other than to keep
the streak going. And the streak isn’t even long enough
to hold real weight. I shouldn’t be counting in days,
but nights. That’s when I’m forced to choose.


I shower early, cold, and get in bed.
I give up on a book and toss and turn.
My wife asks what’s the matter.
It’s the light of her phone—I can see it
even with my eyes closed. It’s the room, too hot.
It’s the sound of trains outside.
It’s none of this. I tell her, nothing.

My mind keeps going back to Bill.
Not long ago, a friend and I went over
with cards and beer, and Bill was delighted
it was Schlitz. Shlitz! He couldn’t believe it,
wiping bloodshot eyes behind glasses.
I knew he had two chips for two years sober,
but I asked anyway, you want one?

He tapped the top for two hands
before cracking it, and didn’t even drink
it all. We played bourré, let the pot build up.
No one won—my friend and I left without counting
our chips and took the ice chest with us.
The next time over there, Wild Turkey
in the cupboard. And then I got the text—Bill’s dead.

I sweat through the sheets, dream of big houses
with strangers in all the rooms. I get through
the next day. Now it’s night three.
Did I say the second was hardest?
That was so naïve.

By Marley Stuart


Marley Stuart is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Xavier Review, L’Éphémère Review, and About Place. He lives in New Orleans with his wife.

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