Ours is a twelve-step, and we have addictions of all kinds: sex and love, overeating, gambling, drugs. We take turns and hold it in our apartments because we do not like church basements.
We sit on beige couches, or a purple futon, or in Cindy’s case, the floor. We hate folding chairs and styrofoam cups. We hate smoking (except for Shawny—that’s her particular compulsion, but she respectfully takes it outside.) There are no refreshments. No seven-layer dip. No Pinot Noir. There are, however, ten boxes of Kleenex, one for each of us, so that we can honk and mist and clear our throats while we confess.
Deanna fucked her coworker in the bathroom of a Starbucks. Frida traded her mother’s ring for painkillers. I ate two gallons of rocky road covered in a half-inch layer of hardened chocolate Magic Shell. Some of us think we got this way because our dads didn’t love us, or because of that guy sophomore year who farted while we went down on him, or because our dopamine’s not right. Some of us have no idea why. Our addiction’s the thing we do that makes our brain go blank and pure and white. Our habit makes the committee in our head go silent for a full three seconds. Until the moment passes and we return to ourselves.
For now we wait in this room together, the quiet sound of New Age flute in the background, and listen to each other in the space between our next mistakes.
Chelsea Voulgares grew up in a Rust Belt town in Ohio, trapping lightning bugs, watching horror movies, and singing in the show choir. Now she lives in the Chicago suburbs, where she’s working on a collection of flash fiction and a novel. Her work has been published in journals such as Passages North, New World Writing, gravel, and Jellyfish Review. Her story “Hotbox” was longlisted in Wigleaf‘s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions of 2019. She is the editor of the literary journal Lost Balloon.