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Austin Elmo Stone

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Endings: Volume Two

Jonny's story

This is the second and final part of  “Endings”. You should probably read Volume One first.

The church hall creaks and groans. Tim stands at the lectern. His raspy monotone voice gets lost in the cavernous room and a few people shout out for him to speak up. Tim is not his real name, after all – it’s called Alcoholics Anonymous for a reason.

Tim is talking about his “inner strength”. Apparently he’s found some kind of peace from completing “step 8”. Good for fucking Tim.

“Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.”

Tim is an alcoholic. He’s also a lawyer. Criminal law. That’s the first thing that hits you at AA. Everyone is represented here. Not one social circle is left out. It’s an all inclusive disease. It’s very welcoming and never discriminates.

My name is Jonny and I am not an alcoholic. Sure, that sounds like denial. Michael (one of the organisers of this AA) is just as sceptical as you, dear reader. As I tell him that I’m okay and that I’m not an alcoholic, his eyes fill with pity. He rolls his head slightly to one side and nods gently. As if to say, “we’ve all been there buddy.”

I’m not an alcoholic. I do have a problem. I drink too much, I know that. The problem isn’t that I can’t stop. The problem is that I don’t want to stop. I drink because I want to forget. Because if I don’t drink, Sara comes back to me. She seeps into my waking thoughts. The life we lost. It comes flooding back. I drink because logic has failed me. I can’t convince myself that everything will be okay. I can’t convince myself to move on.

Only now, I’m afraid that I’ve lost myself too. I can’t seem to remember who I was or how to get back to him.

Like I said, I’m not an alcoholic, but I do have a problem. They say that admitting it is the toughest part. I’m not so sure.

I remember everything about that day. I caught the bus to college and Sara wasn’t on it. She’d been ill for the past week. She said it was flu and that I shouldn’t go and see her. I knew things were tough at home, but I was going to see her straight after class regardless. Just to make sure she’s alright.

Yas was waiting at the gate for me. She handed me a note from Sara. This was weird.

Turns out that Sara had knocked on Yas’s door the night before and asked her to pass the note on to me. She was clearly upset but had pleaded with Yas not to read the note. It was for Jonny’s eyes only she said. She made Yas promise. They’re best friends, especially since Aimee moved away. Sara knew she could count on her.

Being a good friend, Yas she kept the note and she waited at the sixth form entrance to make sure I got it first thing in the morning. Then she waited for me to open it. To this day, I don’t know if some part of her had guessed it was bad news, or if she was just being nosy. Regardless, it was clear to me that Yas wasn’t going to move. She’d not read the note. She’d kept her promise, but she was sure as hell going to find out what was going on.

She never got chance to read the note.

As soon as I finished reading it, my body just failed me. I fell to my knees and the letter, so beautifully written, slipped from my fingers. As I cried and as Yas panicked and as school kids all around stared at this weird sixth former on his knees in the quad, Sara’s letter twirled and danced in the breeze. It floated down the street, past cars and past children, and drifted out of sight.


Sara was, is, and always will be the love of my life.

Sara was the most terrifying person I’d ever met. She was effortlessly beautiful. She had a gift of making you feel as if you were the most important person in the whole world, but then she could turn it around in a moment. With a crushing grin and wicked line she’d bring you tumbling down.

When Aimee first introduced us I was dumbstruck. I could barely string a word together. Playing it cool is impossible when your brain is screaming at you “OH MY GOD THIS GIRL IS AMAZING. DON’T YOU DARE FUCK THIS UP FOR US!”

It took me weeks to bottle up the courage to ask Sara out.

Of course, eventually I did it. There was no romantic gesture. There were no harpists playing. No-one released a dozen doves into the night sky. Nope, I just took her by the hand and asked if she’d go out with me. I was fourteen years old. What more do you expect?

It was utterly impossible to avoid falling in love with her. The greatest shock was that she fell in love with me. We were teenagers, so of course it was the most intense relationship in human history. Nobody’s love could compare to ours. The world had never experienced anything quite like this. Only, as we grew older and as we moved through school years and passed our GCSEs and moved on to college, this schoolyard crush became something else entirely. It became a real relationship. We talked about our future and what we’d study at University. We discussed how these decisions that we made would affect the life we’d live together.

Sara’s note talked about the moment she got the result from her pregnancy test. She wrote that she was so nervous as she waited, but when the result appeared she was overwhelmed with joy. She hugged herself and cried and couldn’t wait to tell me. Part of her wanted to pack a bag and run away together right then and there.

Sara’s note talked about her dad. I always knew he was a bastard. Turns out he was a violent bastard.

Sara’s note talked about the future. She talked about her dreams and the baby and the life she thought we’d have been able to share.

Sara’s note broke me. Completely and utterly. I nearly didn’t make it back from that.

She didn’t talk about how she lost the baby. She just said it was taken from us. What more did she need to say? She’d lived a nightmare and she’d borne it all alone. How on earth are you supposed to relive it in a note. So instead, she talked about love. She talked about memories and she said goodbye.

And then I failed her.

You see, I’d seen the future too. After that note and after the funeral I’d seen the future. I’d seen the future and I couldn’t fucking stand it.

The first time I was arrested it was for putting her dad in the hospital. I hadn’t started drinking then. I think that probably saved his life. I still had some measure of control. The police knew of Sara, they knew what happened and I think every last one of them wanted to pick up a pillow in the hospital room and smother the life out of her dad. No charges were brought against me. I still don’t know if it was Sara’s mum, or the police or the college or what, but I just know that somehow I was allowed to go home.

That’s when the drinking started. That’s when life spiralled out of control and that’s what brought me here. You see, depression doesn’t make sense. There is no logic to it. You can’t reason with it. You sure as hell can’t can’t find the solution at the bottom of a bottle.

Turns out that the solution isn’t to be found by throwing yourself off a roof either. I tried that. Well, it’s not technically a suicide attempt if you don’t go through with it I suppose. Still, I climbed onto the ledge. I thought I was drunk enough to see it through. It was certainly high enough to do the trick. Painless, quick and desperate.

Like I said, I failed Sara. She didn’t want this for me.

Something pulled me back. In the back of my mind I knew that I could come back. I knew I could get help. So instead of taking one long step forward, I tumbled back. Right onto my ass. And then I laughed. A manic laugh of a broken man. Then I rolled over and was sick. And then I fell asleep.

And then I ended up here. My name is Jonny and I’m not an alcoholic. I’m a coward. I’m an idiot, I’m not particularly nice. I fight too much and I hate myself. But I think that I hate myself a little less each day. I know that Sara fell in love with me. That means that somewhere inside is that man that she wanted to grow old with and that man can come back.

My name is Jonny and this is not my whole story. It’s just part of it. The rest isn’t yet written.

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