Storms Never Last
Chapter 4

Copyright© 2010 by Jake Rivers

When I got back to the house, Annie had finished crying, but her face was still red and blotchy. Clearly, she hadn't been having fun while I was out freezing my butt trying to figure things out. I took her hand, and led her to the sofa in the living room. We sat down, and I pulled her close, with my arm around her shoulder, in an embrace that showed the love I felt for her.

I waited for a long moment—I guess to make a quiet emphasis on what was to prove a total break in our way of life. "Okay, Annie. I'll listen without interruption. Say what you have to say, and then we will figure out what we need to do."

She looked up at me with a glance that clearly expressed her love, and then never looked at me until she finished. She had to stop several times when she would break down sobbing. I would hold her then, but said nothing. I wanted her to get her story out in her way. As she started, I became surer that she hadn't cheated, but I was hardly an expert on the subject. If she had, then we would have to address our future and try to see where that led us ... either together or apart. The thought of being apart from her made me feel like my heart was stopping.

"Terry, I'm sorry. I'm a mess ... I ... I need your help. Don't stop loving me; God I would die!" Even with that she did not look up. She was bent over, her hands clasping at her stomach like she had cramps. She was looking down at the floor—or had her eyes closed. "I guess it started after I lost the baby."

She started the first of her heart rending crying jags after saying that. When she had recovered somewhat, she continued, "It wasn't only the loss of something that was a part of me, of us, but that we would never be able to have children. I know it bothered you, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I threw myself into my work ... and I know I didn't give you the time you wanted and needed from me. I was doing a lot of surgeries, even volunteering to cover for other doctors whenever that came up.

"I was having trouble staying as alert as I needed to be when doing an operation, so I got a prescription for amphetamines from my doctor. She renewed it once but wouldn't do it again. She said it was too dangerous. I didn't listen to her. I got more from other people at the hospital—it wasn't hard. I was close to being addicted, and it scared me. I was at the point becoming addicted when the fellowship came about. I stopped, but it was really hard.

"Then I was okay for a few weeks, until I started doing surgeries regularly. I got stressed out and finally the nurse anesthesiologist that I mostly worked with noticed my behavior—I guess he was an expert at this—and after a short discussion, he got me a bottle of amphetamines."

Time out for another period of sobbing, this one longer. Annie finally got up and washed her face in the hall bath. I heard her in the kitchen, drinking a glass of water. When she came back, she avoided looking at me. She slipped back in her former position, curled over as if hoping the world wouldn't notice her.

"My life became hell. Sometimes I'd be dizzy and I worried about what would happen if that occurred while I was operating. Thankfully, that never happened, though I'm sure it probably would have at some time. I would be either drowsy or not able to sleep; it seemed sometimes like both at once. I had headaches and nausea. Terry, I was, am, a mess. When I took a pill, I would be on top of the world, feeling wonderful, and then I would sink into the most awful depression. I was trying to find courage to talk to you. I knew you would help me. Then the nurse, Donald, started charging for them.

"At first it was a dollar a pill. Then two; then five. Lately, I've been paying ten dollars a pill, and I knew I couldn't keep on paying that. You would notice. Yesterday he told me that we could work out a deal, and I could go back to paying a dollar a pill, and he would never raise the rates.

Terry, he told me, "I gotta ask that much 'cause that's what I pay for them"

At first I was excited; I could go on with my life like I had been. Then I realized that I didn't want that—I had a horrible life ... except for you. Then Donald said the most awful thing."

"Annie, I really like you. If you have sex with me once a week I'll give you all the pills you want for a dollar each. Hell, baby, I'll give them to you for nothing as long as I get to enjoy your body."

"I was aghast! I had never heard such a horrible thing in my life. Then he made it worse. I guess he saw the revulsion on my face."

"If you won't put out, bitch, the hospital will get an anonymous note letting them know that someone in their fellowship program is hooked on drugs. It won't take long for them to find out it's you."

"He said he would give me two days; that he was reserving a room at a motel, and I'd better show up." She finally glanced at me, a look full of pain and humiliation. "Tomorrow is the day. I would never have gone; God, I couldn't have. I could never do that to you or to myself. Terry, you have to believe me. I was going to talk to you tonight, to ask you for help. Then you told me, 'I know what you did.' "That killed me. I didn't even think how you found out. The thought came to me that you thought I was going to cheat on you and ... and, I just died."

She looked at me again, and then looked down like she was afraid of me ... or of what I was going to do. I thought about what she had said. I wasn't that upset at what she had done; I knew we could get by that. I felt the pain she had been carrying—it must have been terrible for her. I guess the only thing I was bothered about was that she hadn't come to me earlier. In my direct manner I didn't get hung up on that. I needed time to think things over and figure out what to do. I took Annie's hand, helping her up, and led her down the hall to our bedroom. I lay her on the bed, took her shoes off, and covered her with a quilt. I pushed the hair out of her eyes and kissed her softly.

"Honey, you're exhausted. Lie down for a while. I'll help you—you're stuck with me, so we have to find a way to move on."

I got a beer and went into my office. Sitting in my chair I thought over everything that she had said. It was pretty clear to me, at least in broad brush strokes, what we had to do. I knew I would have to be firm with Annie. She would push back but I felt strongly that, "it was my way or the highway." I didn't think it would come to that. I was sure that Annie's love for me was bigger than her dreams. It was more a question of whether or not she realized that. I got on the computer and made a list, in no particular order, of what would have to happen.

· She was going to have to leave her internship.

· Annie would have to start therapy.

· Move back to California (tied to the therapy).

· I had to focus more on my writing. This would provide the most income for some period of time. I was in the middle of my fourth novel and had the next one outlined.

· What to do about Donald?

· Clean up Humpty Dumpty's mess.

The first one is what she would fight the most since it would affect the rest of her life.

I would be quite rigid about the therapy. This would happen or our marriage was over. I knew enough from the research I'd done over the years for my novels that I couldn't live with a drug addict. That would be destructive behavior for both of us. I didn't want to do the detox in Austin. I wanted it where we would have the support of our families.

I had to smile at the last item on the list. Annie had been too distracted and the egg crap had hardened. I went in to do this right away. It was a mess and a bigger chore than I had expected. I hoped our life would be easier to put back together, though right now Annie seemed about as fragile as an egg shell. I grabbed another beer and went back to the office to research some stuff on the internet. I looked up amphetamine addiction, and what I found scared the hell out of me.

That drove me to look for a treatment center in Sonoma County. I found one that looked good and spent some time finding out its reputation. I called them and got someone at the desk. She gave me the info about costs and space availability. Then I asked her, "Should my wife stop taking the pills she is addicted to?"

She begged off on that and got the night doctor. When he got on the phone, I explained the situation, and then asked, "I'll be out in a few days to see if your place looks like the right match for us. I do want to find a place in Sonoma County where we have roots. We should be there sometime next week. What I need to know, should she keep taking the pills she has or should she stop?"

"No, have her keep taking the minimum dose she can get away with. We will work at getting her off her addiction under a more controlled environment. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No, that's okay. We should be there in a few days."

"We appreciate your calling us. Give us a call when you arrive. By the way, I'm Doctor Ferris—I handle all drug addictions. I don't normally work nights, but we have someone out on vacation this week. When you get here I'll give you a tour and answer any questions you have. I like to think we have one of the better treatment centers in Northern California. We are expensive, but we do a good job. I'm sure you will also like the facilities."

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