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Viola is young, impulsive and she doesn't always put her best foot forward when it comes to her interactions with her addict boyfriend and love struck best friend. On her eighteenth birthday, her poor life choices come to a head and culminate in a murder and the discovery of a reviled family secret. She must now contend with the far reaching consequences of her actions that fateful night. And more importantly, she must learn to become a better person and stop shooting herself in foot.

Fantasy / Romance
Age Rating:

You Can't Win With Addicts

He always does this. He always does this and like an idiot I’m always disappointed when he does the inevitable.

I wonder what the excuse will be this time. It’s always something outrageous and sloppily cobbled together. He doesn’t even try to convince me. He just bungles through some half-assed explanation and then clumsily slaps on an apology at the end.

And I let him get away with it. This blatant disregard that he shows for me as a person. He lets me down time and again because I love him more than he deserves.

I love him because he is charming, charismatic and witty.

And if I’m being completely honest, I love him because he is breathtaking.

Jay is literally the most stunning human being to ever exist. He is devastating to look at. Nobody could ever compare.

And he’s mine. All mine.

I know this to be true.

Between me and his collection of addictions, there’s no time for other girls. I’m certain.

So if he’s not here with me on my birthday, he must be at the hotel casino, gambling away money that he doesn’t have and knocking back drinks that he cannot afford.

Oh, Jay. Just love me. Would it kill you to love me? Just love me a little more than you love being a disappointment.

The doorbell rings and I bury my tear streaked face deeper into my pillow. I know it’s not Jay. So why bother getting up.

A few moments pass by and I hear a knock on my bedroom door.

My heart jumps.

Could it be?

But then the door swings open and I hear Mark’s familiar and comforting voice, “Hey, Viola.”

I feel stupid for daring to hope.

I wave silently, but keep my face pressed into the pillow.

“Your mum let me in.”

“Why are you here, Mark?” I’m being shitty because I’m exhausted from crying, and quite frankly Mark just irritates me.

And he doesn’t really do anything to deserve my treatment of him. He’s my best friend. The best friend that a girl could ever hope for.

But – and I’m going to sound like a gaping asshole when I say this – he’s in love with me. I don’t know when and how it happened, but something changed.

He loves me and it’s creeping me out. His attention is suffocating and his actions feel calculated almost. Even his facial expressions feel like a show to manipulate me into loving him back. It’s like he does things for me in exchange for future benefits.

I kinda hate him.

But he’s always there for me. So I can’t really live without him.

I hear him ste towards the bed, and I jiggle on the bouncy surface ever so slightly as he settles at the foot of my bed.

“Your lights were still on. I thought I should stop by and give you your birthday present,” he says.

I perk up a little. Knowing Mark, it’s going to be really good and really expensive.

I turn on my side and face him.

He gives me a knowing smile. He understands how my brain works. He tosses a wrapped box at me and it lands close to my stomach.

I sit up and unwrap it. The sleek, black box has no text on it, and I immediately recognize the marketing gimmick from all of the unboxing videos I’ve seen online. It’s a phone. Such an exclusive devise that it doesn’t even need the introduction of the brand label.

I squeal with joy and my general state of constant irritation at Mark’s existence is quelled for now.

I throw myself across the bed into his waiting arms and hug him.

“I love it,” I gush as I pull back and look into his lilting eyes. The moment lasts a little too long and I pull away from him and sit beside him. I open the box and pull out the slim phone and look it over.

“We should probably set it up,” he says.

It turns out to be a great suggestion because playing with my new toy takes my mind off of Jay and his feckless ways.

Hours pass and Mark and I engage in smooth conversation, occasionally stopping to take selfies on the sharp camera of my new phone.

When Mark is just being Mark, I can’t get enough of him. I could be around him forever. I wish he would just stop pining away. It’s so tedious feeling a twinge of annoyance and guilt anytime a look of hurt fleets across his dumb face, whenever I subject him to a soft rejection.

Like just get over it. How many different ways can I make it clear that I just want to be friends?

He breaks me out of one of my many reveries. “You look terrible, you know.”

“That tends to happen when you cry through really well done make up,” I reply.

“You deserve so much more,” he says. He’s staring at me. He’s earnest.

Lately I have noticed that he goes out of his way not to mention Jay directly. He no longer points out his litany of flaws. He only points out my virtues.

I wish I saw myself the way Mark sees me. But I don’t.

“I don’t want more,” I say. “I want Jay.”

“Viola, let’s not pretend anymore,” he looks me dead in the eye and holds me there. “I love you and you know it.”

I’m taken aback by this declaration. I feel my eyes grow wide and my face get hot. I know it’s not news. I’m just shocked that he had the balls to actually say it.

Why now? Why say it now? He’s been dancing around it for so long. Where did this inconvenient surge of bravado come from?

“Mark,” I stutter. There’s no follow up. I have nothing to say.

My phone goes off and I lunge for it like a life line. It’s a number I don’t recognize. Normally I would never answer an unknown number, but I will do anything to bring this conversation to a crashing halt.

I answer it.


It’s Jay.

“Where the fuck are you, you piece of shit?” My voice is a low hum of resentment.

“I’m in jail.”

“Jail?” I’m surprised, but not really. It’s only inevitable that an addict should have at least one brush with the law. “Why?”

“Trumped up charges.” His response is short.

“I would still like to know what the charges are,” I hiss.

I hear him sigh on the other end. I can feel him bracing himself before he finally says it. “I’ve been accused of stealing a fridge.”

My brain stops for a moment, while I try to work out whether this is real. How? Who? Why? Well, I know why: he needed money for drinking or gambling or both. But a fridge? Really? That is such a specific item to steal.

“Who brought the charges?” I ask.

“Listen, Viola, we don’t need to go into all of that right now. I just need you to come and bail me out.” He has the nerve to sound testy.

“If you want me to come and bail you out, Jay, tell me the whole story.” I’m digging my heels in. He gives an impatient sigh, but I can tell he’s getting desperate. He’s not used to me having a spine. And I’m not used to having all the power.

“My mum is pressing charges,” he finally says.

I feel myself lose a little a respect for him. “You stole your mum’s fridge,” I say, quite gobsmacked by the nature of the crime. Why not just steal the money out of her purse, or make off with her laptop like a normal person?

“Yeah.” He has the decency to sound abashed.

“Because?” I press.

He’s clearly at the end of his rope and he snaps, “Because I needed the money and I had already sold the oven.”

Now I’m upset. “Don’t you dare take that tone with me, you fucking addict! You have the nerve to get an attitude with me, when you are supposed to have been here five hours ago for my eighteenth birthday.”

“Oh, shit. That was today?”

I feel my eyes bulge with rage as I scream down my phone, “Of course it was today, Jay! We had an entire conversation about it this morning. Are you back on crack, Jay?”

He’s quiet for a moment and I can sense that I am losing the thrall that I held over him. “You know what, Viola? Fuck you. I’ll ask someone else.”

And he hangs up.

I’m shaking. I feel a stab of panic.

The power got to my head and I pushed him too far.

I look at Mark. “We have to got to the county jail, Mark.” There’s a quiver in my voice and I realize that I am crying.

“Viola, calm down.” He is the picture of concern as he steps forward with his arms outstretched as if to hug me.

I reflexively put my hand out and motion him to stop. I cannot take anymore of his love today. I need to get to Jay. “I have a boyfriend, Mark. I know you think that because you’re the better man I should just drop everything that I feel for Jay and turn to you. But I don’t want to. And you have to respect that.”

I start to look around for my bag and my jacket.

“I don’t know how you can love him. He’s literally the worst person I’ve ever met,” Mark says. He looks confused and enraged at the same time.

“Then you should get out more,” I bite back.

“What kind of twenty six year old adult man asks his eighteen year old girlfriend to come and bail him out of jail? How big of a loser does he have to be to scrounge off of a child for money?” he demands.

This is what Mark does. He never lays the blame at my feet even though I am clearly feeding into this toxic cycle with Jay. To him I am untouched. Too pure to involve myself in the earthly affairs of mere mortals like Jay.

I’m only eighteen and even I know that this is the worst form of love. The kind where someone puts you high up on a pedestal. So high that when you fall, you fall far and you fall hard.

I would never tell Mark but I have given Jay money before. He’s a drunk and a gambler. And sometimes he smokes crack. So he always needs a small push. And when I can, I push him. I do it because I know that if I don’t do it some other woman will. Even at his lowest lows, people still want to be around him. He’s that handsome. And because he’s so handsome, he’s very charismatic. He just draws you in. And you forgive him for everything.

I forgive him.

“Viola?” Mark is tracking me as I move to get my shoes.

I sigh, “Mark, I’m not stupid. I have no delusions about my relationship with Jay. Now will you please take me to the police station?”

And he does.

Bitch ass.

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