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  • I found him curled up at the bottom of the stairs on the 3rd floor. This was the first winter in my walkup apartment and I was not truly enjoying the experience for many reasons. For one, I don't like being alone life forced me into this situation. Secondly, anyone who has really bad anxiety or paranoia needs moments of reassurance and calmness in their life. Living in a rickey old walkup with zero protection from the world does not do much for that reassurance.

    I was having a really really bad night. My mind was swimming with awful thoughts about killers, robbers and my own brain which was still recovering from a deep long depression of its own. But this night was an anxious and sleepless one and I comforted myself by watching TV and cuddling with my dog on the couch. I often grabbed him when I heard noises in the hallway. Because the front door was so damn thin, you could hear conversations, footsteps and keys turning in neighboring apartments. I was just about to finally go to bed when I heard the sound of someone falling down the stairs at around 2AM.

    I usually never open the door to peek into the hallway regardless of what I hear because I am small and cannot really defend myself in a bad situation. But this noise was awful and genuine. Had I thought about it, I would have left him there to get up on his own but instead I jumped out of bed and against all my instinct opened the door. He was curled up not 15 feet away from my front door and could have taken a fatal fall. Miraculously, he was OK and I ran and helped him up.

    I was shocked to see that the boy could did not look a day over 19 or 20 though he might have been older. While I am petite myself, he might have been even smaller and he was pretty thin. He was dressed impeccably, like an East Coast Hampton's resident or something, but he reeked of alcohol. His nice sunglasses were ejected from his pocket and broken a few feet way from us and his pretty flask was right next to his feet. For some reason, I ignored the sunglasses for now and picked up the flask.

    When I helped him to his feet he seemed embarrassed and tried to wriggle away and go up the stairs himself but he kept tripping. He kept telling me that it was fine and that he can do it himself but I was not having it. I grabbed him by arm and we went up the 2 long flights of stairs to his apartment on the 5th floor with him in one hand and the flask in the other. The whole time he was telling me that it was fine and to basically go away. When we finally got to his door I waited for him to open it after he struggled with his keys and when he finally walked in, thee thanked me with his slurry voice. I said "I think this is yours", and handed him is flask. He took it and closed the door.

    I did not get any sleep that night. I was shocked, scared, adrenaline pumping and WHAT IF thoughts running through my mind. What if he had been bigger and I could not have helped him up? What if he was a violent or aggressive drunk and I might have ended up his victim. This showed me how easy it might be to get tricked. What if he was really sick or hurt and I should have called the ambulance. What if he needed someone to stay with him to make sure he didn't have alcohol poisoning. WHY oh why did I give him back his flask? What if he finished it and died because of me? What if I made things worse? Why did I feel this responsibility? Should I go up and check on him? What if he fainted and hit his head and was now really hurt? Why was I losing sleep over someone else's incompetence?

    It was weeks until I saw him again because I rarely saw my neighbors. He greeted me with a warm but shy smile and asked how I was doing. I nodded back. We both knew and we remembered everything. I left his glasses on the radiator outside the front door hoping he would know it was me and would pick them up or have them fixed. He never did. They laid there for weeks. I wondered if he was grateful. His smile told me he was, but he might have been ashamed too and thats OK. In a few months he moved out of the building as no one seemed to renew their lease and I never saw him again.

    It was only now that I have written this story that I see a parallel with my own. I have only been this drunk once in my life. I was deeply unhappy, deeply depressed and deeply in denial. This was 2 years before when I myself drank too much wine and took a nasty dive on the pavement right outside the building I lived in then. The street was icy and I was not careful. I was woozy and slow and did not protect myself in the fall. I injured my face, almost knocked out my teeth and was badly bleeding. Some people saw me fall and I heard them say "are you ok?" from a distance. But all I wanted was to hide my face and go upstairs and sleep. I woke up to a bloody pillow and an impending dental bill. I get it now, I do.

    I just hope that whatever that boy was trying to escape from even if he thought he was just having fun, has been resolved and that he learned his lesson. I was shocked that I left my apartment to help a stranger even though I so feared doing so. Maybe one day should you ever find yourself at my door I can help you too even though no one helped me at the time. But thats OK, I didn't want the help because I thought I could do it myself. And I did. I helped myself up and I am well enough to share this story with you today.

    Week 28 of 52 - Story a Week in 2014
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