Since the age of four, I had been given alcohol to make me compliant to the men’s invasions. If the men did not bring it with them, my mother would give it to me before they came. At first, it tasted repulsive and astringent, too bitter to swallow and caused a gagging reflex. Not to be defeated, she simply added Coke to disguise it’s poisonous taste. Coke became the elixir of life. A strong, bubbly, black, sickly sweet reliever of anticipated violation. As it snaked its way down my throat and entered my stomach I knew I had to wait but a short time before it would suspend the present and allow my mind to enter the crack in the wall behind the roses where the fairy lived. My fairy, my mental liberator, if even short lived. The alcohol made me light headed at first and sick in the stomach particularly if I had not eaten but then slowly it flowed through my tiny body releasing me from my dementors.
That was my introduction to the clear fluid contained in the bottle with the red label, with its embossed emblem and red cap. Red like her shoes that kicked indiscriminately when she was in its grip. When I was kicked out by her at eighteen and lived on the streets of Dublin it was my first time in fourteen years to not drink. It was hell. Excruciating headaches, vomiting, and uncontrollable shaking. Night time was the worst. Sleep was elusive and when it did come it brought nightmares of the unimaginable kind. The street was not a safe place. Men circled like hungry wolves, plying food and more alcohol. I wanted neither. I just wanted to be free. (excerpt)