1 | Liquid Courage
I cursed at my luck. "Shit."
Turning the volume down, a mash up of increasing static and Stevie Nicks singing 'and the landslide brought me down...' was not exactly the reassurance I was after as I drove blindly into a suspected snow storm up a mountain side.
Granted, I was prone to exaggeration at the best of times, but this was, quite frankly, precisely why packing my bags based on the rantings of a mad woman was proving to be one of my more questionable life choices.
But the note was clear. You will find the answers when you get to Haven.
I had no reason to believe it of course. But what did I have to lose? The death of the woman who raised me brought far more questions than it did closure.
Up until the point of her passing, I had no idea that she was not my mother. In fact, calling her the woman who raised me was unnecessarily heartless. She was an angel, and despite always feeling that I didn't quite belong, she herself was never cause of those feelings.
There wasn't a memory that I had that didn't include her in it. And why would a child ask questions when the life they were gifted was idyllic? But like most things, when they are too good to be true, they often are. For what broke my heart wasn't her posthumous disclosure that she was in fact my paternal aunt, and thus not my mother, but the fact that she couldn't bring herself to tell me before she left me here alone.
And now I was quite literally alone. And in the middle of nowhere no less.
I tasted the sound of it as it rolled from my tongue.
I couldn't think of a more ironic name for a mountain town that threatened me with imminent death on a one way road up a winding cliff face, but alas, I was at the point of realization that nothing worse could possibly go wrong in this disaster of a year.
I mean, finding out your mother is not your mother, but in fact your aunt tops the list. But to further test my mental resolve, my partner of almost two years turned out to be a cheating bastard leading me to wish that I could dive between the legs of a woman. But, as much as I tried to picture doing that very thing, I just couldn't convince myself that I could in fact go through with it.
So, not only was I more or a less a grown ass orphan, I was destined to be spinster who had a craving for all things unholy and not one hope of experiencing it because, frankly men.
I was doomed. Doomed.
And as my slow, clunky car hauled ass up the bumpy road, I was convinced right then and there that I would die. A 24 year old brim full with regrets that I didn't live life on the edge like all my college friends back home and go to hell with it all.
I could see it now-
Edie was... well, she loved her true crime documentaries on Netflix and was an avid runner on the days of the week she had three Nutella sandwiches for her afternoon snack. Oh, but she had nice hair. When she brushed it.
And that right there would be the mark I left on the world all because I denied myself spontaneity and tried to follow the unrealistic expectations I placed on myself to live a perfect life and wait for the perfect guy.
But who was spontaneous now, huh? Huh?!
My almost maniacal laugh echoed through the car as I gripped the steering wheel, as if doing so was stopping me falling into the depths of insanity.
And just as I was about the choose the color of my coffin, the steepness came to a stop as the road flattened before me. Trying to focus between the thickening clumps of falling snow, and the blanket of fog descending around me, I nearly missed the decrepit sign, Haven. Population 387. But what I did happen to notice was that the 7 was crossed out and the number 5 was scrawled on top of it in crimson red.
Weird, I thought. Not Welcome to Haven. But simply, Haven. Oh, and the crossed out and replaced digit. That too was odd.
Thanks Mom. You got me on to a winner here.
Continuing on for all but thirty seconds, I first noticed the string of baubles to the right of the road first. Then, Full Moon Bar & Restaurant. What didn't surpass my attention was that the car park that sat on the corner of the gravel driveway was completely packed.
Sweet, sweet mercy. I had found civilization.
Flicking down my blinker for the zero traffic passing by, I turned into the drive way before pulling up to park along the muddy sidewalk. Even with the engine still going, I could hear the music vibrating the sides of my car door.
What even was I doing? Okay Mom, you got me. I can turn back home now.
Trying my best to dismiss my negative self-talk I reminded myself that I was one tough cookie, that despite having a doughy center, was more than capable of entering a bar full of wild, drunken strangers in the middle of nowhere.
I got this.
Grabbing my jacket, I slammed my car door shut before taking my first bold and brave steps towards the front porch. Andddd then I faltered.
Keeping my head low, my façade wasn't fooling anyone as I felt their eyes inspect me.
And as quickly as I was running away from my problems, my palm gripped the icy cold handle and swung open the door to salvation. Turning back, I offered a pensive smile to a beautiful blonde woman who was nestled under the arms of a rugged mountain type, whose response was simply an arched eyebrow and barely registered smirk.
And then the smell hit me and I was reminded why I never was the going out type. Steak, salt and stale beer. The trifecta.
Scrunching my nose, I surveyed my surroundings. The place was dimly lit, the fairy lights but enough to create the warm and inviting atmosphere that filled it. A sunken bar was nestled to against the back right corner, while the floor in the middle was filled with pool tables and seating areas- a mix of stools, small lounges and mismatched coffee tables.
Up a few steps to the left was a row of booths for those dining, which were set against open windows that connected to the porch that wrapped around the entire building. It was massive. The timber floors swept the room, and the matching railings around each designated area added to the charm.
And it was only then that I'd finished staring in awe, that I noticed that every single person was staring back at me.
I didn't move a muscle.
My vision moved from the quirky girl bartender with the purple hair, to the older couple enjoying their burgers, to the young crowd by the pool tables and every other single person in between.
Wiping my mouth, I was convinced the remnants of the earlier chocolate bar were on full display and began to bite my lip nervously.
Get a grip Edie, I told myself.
Taking a deep breath, I ignored the stifled whispers and made my way to an empty booth, nestling myself in as far as possible into the corner.
What the fuck is this place?
And before I could get any answers what so ever, the music died and the place went black before I heard two heavy footsteps making their way closer beside me.
There was no point trying to hide the tremble. It was clear that I had gotten myself into something way bigger than I could handle. So naturally I asked the single most stupid thing I could possible think of, before mentally facepalming myself in embarrassment,
"So, umm. Can I grab a drink please?"