Sequel: Stronger
Status: Finished.

Tongue Tied


Terrified, scared and nervous weren’t even adjectives that began to describe the way I was currently feeling. I felt sick to my stomach and worried that what I had to say wouldn’t come out right, or worse he wouldn’t listen to me at all.

It was part of my recovery; to make amends with everyone I had hurt throughout my “problematic times” and he was the last person I had on my laundry list of people. My parents had been first, then the Lemieux’s- who hadn’t even realized I had a problem, Coach Jack, girls from my sorority, my boss at the VA Center, family members I hadn’t spoken to since JP had died, JP’s family (his mother who I had taken the brunt of my anger out on after he passed away because she swore she would never come to her son’s funeral if he gave himself away to “fight for his country”) and finally came Sid.

He was the final puzzle piece to fit until I was able to move up on my steps. I had been sober for seventy-five days, and now I realized, for the first time since JP had died, that I had a clear head and everything made sense. I no longer felt like I was constantly clouded with guilt because I was living my life without my husband. I felt relieved, in fact.

Along with the rehab program, intensive therapy had shown me how to go on and live my life normally once again. Things I once partook in but quit once I lost my loved one began to filter back into my life. I used swimming (a hobby I had grown attached to once again) as my way to de-stress myself instead of a bottle of liquor.

I felt better; mentally and physically. As soon as I had returned back home from the center, I had changed a lot of things. First: physically I had changed my hair color. Instead of being red as it had been for many years, I went back to my roots and went blonde. Something about it felt so invigorating and new. Second, with money I had been holding hostage in my savings account, I did a complete revamp of everything in my apartment. You’d be surprised how much better you can feel with a new coat of paint and a brand-new dresser from Ikea.

So now, with everything new, fresh and clean, I was standing in front of Sidney’s apartment (he had since moved closer to downtown and I had managed to snag the address from Alexa) terrified to knock on the painted red door.

My heart pounded, my ears rang and I thought I was going to throw up. Just get the balls together and do this, painlessly, I reminded myself. This was going to be the hardest amend to make. Sidney had really been the one- inadvertedly or not- to make the push for me to get help. I owed him so much more than he’d ever even realize.

But would he even listen? Even give me the time of day to apologize for all the fucked up and shitty things I had done since I had met him? If it had been me in his situation, I wouldn’t have in a New York minute. I was just hoping, praying and wishing that he would show some mercy.

I was going to do it. I was finally going to just grab all the lone ounces of courage that I had deep inside of me and knock on the door. Sending waves and links from my brain to my hand, I balled up a fist and rapped on the door, after I pulled my arm away my first instinct was to run deep for the Pennsylvania hills where I would be safe and sound and away from everything.

He didn’t ask who it was, I’m not even sure he looked through the Peep Hole, but when Sidney opened the door all the color drained from his face. Remembering all the steps I had planned to do, I reached for my back pocket and pulled out the piece of paper I had written everything I had needed to say. The hardest part was about to be done.

“Can I have like three minutes, tops, of your time?” I asked, connecting direct eye contact with his dark brown eyes. My stomach pooled, but I was no longer uncomfortable. He nodded, but didn’t acknowledge or ask what was going on. Instead he opened the door wide, and made an ushering movement to invite me in. I took a deep breath and crossed over the threshold of his brand new apartment.


“Okay, this may not make sense, what I’m about to explain to you, but I have to do it; not only for myself, but for my treatment. I’m sure Alexa told you I was in SoCal visiting relatives, while I have family that lives in the southern part of the state, I wasn’t there. Eighty days ago I checked myself into a rehabilitation center for alcohol abuse not only at the urge of you, but of my parents. I didn’t realize I had a problem. So I’ve spent the last plus weeks learning of ways on how to maintain sobriety and living a healthy lifestyle. Eighty days I’ve been sober and in part, I have you to thank.” I paused and unfolded the paper in my hand. It was scrawled messily, and if I didn’t know my own handwriting I would’ve never been able to read it.

“So why are you here?” He asked, and for a second I was rattled.

“As a part of my step program I have to make amends with all of the people I have hurt since my problem. I’ve made amends with my family and friends, and you are my last person. I saved you for last because without you, I’d be even more fucked up than I already was.” I wasn’t going to make excuses or come up with lies, I was going to tell it like it was and hope for the best.

“Okay.” His response now made me feel sound and safe for some odd reason. Staring down at the paper, I began to read.

Sidney, you’re my last person to make amends with. I know I hurt you. I know that last day we spoke was not on the best terms, and the night before had been on even worse. Throughout this whole process of rehab and intense therapy I realized how big of a stepping-stone you were for me, metaphorically speaking that is. I was really lost and very broken when we met. I was still dealing with lingering feelings of a bad loss, and because I had been so young and reckless when I lost JP I didn’t take the right precautions to make sure my life didn’t tailspin into a ticking time bomb. Eventually the before happened, and I was slowly killing myself. It wasn’t until I met you that something changed- deep down- about me. Even though I’m sure I never showed it to you, I felt comfortable around you. That was the first time I felt that way since 2008. I let myself open up to you in ways I hadn’t since I was 22. I inadvertedly let you be my therapist by telling you things you probably didn’t want to hear, and I thought that would be enough. I don’t know whether or not during that time you knew I had a problem, honestly if you did, I don’t want to know now. When you told me that morning that I needed help, something inside of me- even though I knew it might sound stupid to you- flashed inside of my brain. I was in a downward spiral and there was no way I was getting up from it. The first two days after you left that morning I cried. I was upset at how brutally honest you were, but then I realized something I should have before: I had an alcohol addiction stemmed from the coping I had to do after the death of my husband. That’s not an excuse though. I shouldn’t have taken it that far, but I did, and now I pay the price. Two days after you told me to get help I dragged my ass out of bed, and started searching online for rehabilitation places. I found a quaint little place in the mountains of Washington that dealt specifically with alcohol. It was the perfect place for me. With the help of my family, I began to get the help I needed. According to my counselor, within a week of being at the facility, I was a brand-new person. While I don’t know if that is entirely true, I’d like to think I have changed now. I saw myself through somebody else’s eyes and they showed me where exactly I would be if it hadn’t been for you. I thank you for that. At the rate I was going, I probably would have had liver disease by thirty, or worse, dead. Nothing in my life has ever been easy, and when I say rehab was hard that isn’t even beginning to describe it. They strip you down to bare emotions and then tear you apart to see exactly who you are for yourself. It’s brutal, but I’m glad I did it. There isn’t enough apologizes or thanks that I could give you in the world for you to know how thankful I am. But believe me when I say this, you’re probably the main reason why I am still alive today/

I was crying by this point. Still staring at the paper- my rock and refuge- I began my final descent.

I didn’t mean to hurt you. No alcoholic does, but I did. You may not admit it, but I did and for that I apologize. You were so good to me, through the thick and the thin, and for that I am eternally grateful. Through it may not seem like it from the outside, I am slowly recovering and getting better. Everyday is a difficult struggle to stay away from the bottle, but I know that one day I will prevail and I will win this fight. I saved your amends for last because yours was the most difficult to write. I had so much I wanted to say, but knew it wouldn’t be an appropriate time. So I’ll stick to this: thank you and I’m sorry. It’s simple, and may not mean a goddamn thing to you, but saying it out loud lifts so many barriers off my chest. I feel whole and I am beginning to feel one.” I looked back up at him and I saw him wiping underneath his eye. I wasn’t going to call him out on it, but I could have sworn he was crying.

“I’m sorry.” I reiterated, shoving the crumbled piece of paper into my back pocket. So far, Sidney hadn’t said anything and I didn’t know if I should take that to be terrible or not; but I did what I needed to and I felt so much better. He stared back and me (probably wondering if I was pulling some bull shit on him) and I looked down at the ground. I was about to make an awkward joke about how beautiful his wood floors were, but he cut me off before I started.

“Thanks.” It was a simple word, yet so powerful. I nodded my head, embarrassed at how this wasn’t going anyway how I had hoped. I had automatically assumed he would slam the door in my face (and I wouldn’t have blamed him). Picking at my cuticle, I looked back up at him.

“Well I had better get going now.” I replied, making my way back towards his door. He took a deep breath and then nodded.


I made it all the way to his door without turning around. He was standing in the same place he had been since I began talking. Slowly he walked towards the door.

“I guess I’ll see you around?” I nodded and pulled my jacket closer around me for comfort. I heard the door close behind me as I walked towards the elevator, the crumbled piece of paper feeling now weightless in my back pocket.

There was a silence that could be felt for miles through the corridor, and slowly I pushed the button to send me back down to the ground from the seventh floor. I didn’t notice, but Sidney’s door opened, and his head popped out. He called my name down the hallway and I turned around before I got into the elevator. For some reason he was running down the hall, he waved his arm in front of the sensor and it opened up, he was sweaty and red just from that short jog.

“Hi, my name is Sidney. Have a met you before?” He asked, a small smile playing on his lips. At first I was confused, but eventually caught on to what he was doing.

“You look kind of familiar, but I’m not so sure. I’m Caroline Sutton. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I extended my hand to meet his and he placed his large and calloused hand in mine. It was a perfect and awkward match.

“Well Miss Sutton, I hope to see you around soon.” Before I could reply, he hopped off the elevator. I stood, sort of confused and dumbfounded. Had he really just put everything behind him like that? Was that handshake the start of new beginnings? Sighing, I pressed the button for floor one, and leaned up against the wall. “It’s nice to meet you too, Sidney.” I whispered to nobody but myself. More weights had been lifted off of me and this time I didn’t feel relief, but I felt new beginnings.

♠ ♠ ♠
Last chapter :)

What did you think of it? Please comment, I'd love to hear what you have to say. As of right now, I do have a sequel planned, but I don't know when I will be starting it. It's title is Stronger, and you can find it here.