The Store: A Freefall

The days at the furniture store were monotonous and seemingly endless, with every ticking second feeling like an eternity. Despite being a temporary gig, the reality of my situation weighed heavily on my shoulders, as I pondered how to recapture my former glory as an artist and entertainer. The store, located deep in Queens, was a cavernous space filled with rows of mattresses, tables, and chairs. It was my job to stand in the empty store, keeping an eye on the few customers who wandered in, while earning a meager $50 a day. The air inside the store was thick with the sound of salsa music, a constant reminder of my Puerto Rican heritage. Even on the coldest days, the sun would find its way through the large storefront window, bathing the entire space in a warm, golden glow. As Christmas approached, the festive atmosphere was amplified by the arrival of coquito – a creamy, coconut-based Puerto Rican drink that was a staple during the holiday season. At the top of the staircase leading to the basement, a fridge stood like a sentinel, its shelves filled to the brim with a tantalizing assortment of liquor and beer. The temptation to drink was relentless, and in my solitude, the urge to numb my pain and failures with alcohol was overwhelming. As the hours dragged on, I would find myself sneaking to the fridge, grabbing a bottle of rum or whiskey, and slipping away to the store’s dimly lit bathroom. I would sample heavily from the bottle, trying to hide the sound of the cap popping open and the liquid pouring into my cup, all while keeping an eye on the security cameras in case someone was watching. The sharp taste of the alcohol burned my throat, but it was the only relief I could find from the crushing weight of my circumstances. Every day felt like a slow suicide, with each drink taking me closer to the edge of oblivion. My daughter’s birth was just weeks away, and I couldn’t bear the thought of her seeing me like this. I couldn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore, and I knew I needed to make a change. But the cycle was vicious, and every day felt like a new failure. The longer I spent at the furniture store, the deeper I sank into my addiction, and the harder it became to see a way out.

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