loading...
Home > All Fall Down

All Fall Down
Author: Jennifer Weiner

PART ONE

Down the Rabbit Hole

ONE

Do you generally use alcohol or drugs more than once a week?

I hesitated with my hand over the page. I’d picked up the magazine to read the “How to Dress Right for Your Shape” story advertised on the cover, but it had opened to a quiz that asked “Has Your Drinking or Drug Use Become a Problem?” and something had made me stop. Maybe it was the black-and-white photograph of a woman in profile, bending sadly over her wineglass, or maybe the statistic beside it that said that prescription painkiller overdose was now the leading cause of accidental death of women in America, surpassing even car crashes. I had a pen in my hand—I’d been using it to fill out the stack of forms for Eloise’s five-year-old well-child checkup—and, almost without thinking, I made an X in the box for “Yes.”

I crossed my legs and looked around Dr. McCarthy’s waiting area, suddenly worried that someone had seen what I’d written. Of course, no one was paying any attention to my little corner of the couch. Sleet ticked at the panes of the oversized windows; a radiator clunked in the corner. The lamplit room, on the third floor of an office building at the corner of Ninth and Chestnut, with a volunteer in a striped pinny at a knee-high table reading Amelia Bedelia to kids sitting in miniature chairs, felt cozy, a respite from the miserable winter weather. Three years ago my husband, Dave, my daughter, and I had moved out of Center City and into a house in Haverford that I refused to call a McMansion, even though that’s exactly what it was, but I loved Ellie’s pediatrician so much that I’d never even tried to find a suburban replacement. So here we were, more than half a year late for Ellie’s checkup, in the office where I’d been taking her since she was just a week old. We’d parked in the lot on Ninth Street and trekked through the February slush to get here, Ellie stepping delicately over the piles of crusted, dirty snow and the ankle-deep, icy puddles at the corners, complaining that her feet were getting wet and her socks were getting splashy. I’d lured her on with the promise of a treat at Federal Donuts when her checkup was over.

Ellie tugged at my sleeve. “How much longer?”

“Honey, I really can’t say. The doctors need to take care of the sick kids first, and you, Miss Lucky, are not sick.”

She stuck out her lower lip in a cartoonish pout. “It isn’t FAIR. We made an APPOINTMENT.”

“True. But remember when you had that bad sore throat? Dr. McCarthy saw you right away. Even before the kids who had appointments.”

She narrowed her eyes and nibbled at her lip before dropping her voice to a stage whisper that was slightly more hushed than your average yell. “I am having an idea. Maybe we could tell the nurse lady that I have a sore throat now!”

I shook my head. “Nah, we don’t lie. Bad karma.”

Ellie considered this. “I hate karmel.” She smoothed her skirt and wandered off toward the toy basket. I recrossed my legs and checked out the crowd.

The room was predictably full. There were first-time mothers from Queen Village and Society Hill, who wore their babies wrapped in yards of organic cotton hand-dyed and woven by indigenous Peruvian craftswomen who were paid a living wage. The moms from the Section 8 housing pushed secondhand strollers and fed their infants from plastic bottles, as opposed to ostentatiously breast-feeding or slipping the baby a few ounces of organic formula in a BPA-free bottle with a silicone-free nipple hidden under a prettily patterned, adorably named nursing cover-up (I’d worn one called the Hooter Hider).

On the days when you use drugs or alcohol, do you usually have three drinks/doses or more?

Define “dose.” One Percocet, from the bottle I got after I had my wisdom teeth pulled? Two Vicodin, prescribed for a herniated disc I suffered in a step class at the gym? I’d never taken more than two of anything, except the day after my father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my mother had set up a temporary fortress in our guest room. Could three pills count as a single dose? I decided not to answer.

Do you use drugs or alcohol to “unwind” or “relax”?

Hello. That’s what they’re there for. And was that so bad, really? How many times had I heard my husband say “I need to go for a run,” or my best friend, Janet, say “I need a glass of wine”? What I did was no different. It was, actually, better. A run was time-consuming and sweaty and hard on the joints, and wine could stain.

“Mommy?”

“Hang on, sweetie,” I said, as my iPhone rang in my purse. “Just one minute.”

“You ALWAYS say that. You ALWAYS say just one minute and it ALWAYS takes you for HOURS.”

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology