Mulled Wine

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Linda was sure she’d rolled her eyes so far back into her head they were finally stuck, just like her mom had always threatened. To her amazement, her eyes rolled back up to the front, and she stared down at her plate of salad and the smallest scoop of mashed potatoes she could take while making her plate look fuller than it actually was. Her husband was hammered at Christmas dinner. Not that she was sober, mind you; she’d arrived at her mother’s house earlier with a crockpot and several bottles of red wine to make hot mulled wine. Linda then proceeded to drink most of it, although she suspected her slightly-underage niece of swiping some of it for herself. 

Linda was on a perpetual diet, for as much as her husband made her crazy, she did love the man. She liked to keep herself fit and, even though they were far from rich and she had to work, she considered herself a trophy wife. Hence the plate full of almost nothing and consuming most of her calories in liquid form.

And the moment she’s about to open her mouth and tell her husband that his jokes are not nearly as funny as he thinks they are, he starts to tuck the tablecloth into his collar like a napkin, upending her wine glass and spilling the last few drops of her precious mulled wine. 

“Dammit, Steve!” she yelled, snatching the bottle of booze from his hand. “Nobody let him drink any more booze. I'm going to get him coffee.”

Picking up her empty wine glass in the other hand, she carried the bottle of Wild Turkey to the kitchen and emptied the dregs down the sink. She started the coffee, making a generous pot to sober up her husband. As it brewed, she hunted in the kitchen for another bottle of wine; at this point, any kind would do. She found a bottle of Frangelico under the sink; blech. No thank you.

When the coffee was nearly finished, she had reached the top cabinet above the refrigerator and found an old box of wine. That’ll do.

Taking her refilled glass out to the table, she handed her husband a piping hot cup of coffee and settled back down in her seat. Pies and cakes had appeared out of nowhere, but she declined all invitations for dessert. Her mother took a tiny sip from her mug of absinthe (which she’d randomly started drinking lately, much to Linda’s confusion, and who drinks only out of coffee mugs?) and protested that Linda looked like “a skeleton with a cheap wig on,” leading Linda to finish her glass and head back into the kitchen under the ruse of getting more coffee for Steve. Instead, she pulled the bag out of the box and played a solo version of slap the bag, by herself, in her mother’s kitchen. Taking the coffee pot off the burner, she returned to the dining room and sloppily poured Steve a cup of coffee. He was sober enough to thank her, and she was drunk enough to smile happily, until she heard her mother make a comment about how surprised she was that Linda’s wrist could even hold a coffee pot. Linda grimaced and returned to the kitchen, putting the put down and picking the bag up, chugging the rest of it straight out of the bag without a second thought.

She threw the bag away, then walked into the dining room and complained of a migraine. Her husband offered her some coffee, and she said she was going to go lie down in her old bedroom. She stumbled out the door, up the stairs to her old hot pink bedroom; she hadn’t been inside in years. Whenever they came for the holidays (which, thankfully, was not every year), they stayed at a hotel, and left after dessert and presents. She was honestly surprised to see her pink walls, old canopy bed, fairy lights, and ripped-out magazine pages were all still on the walls, along with her old Mathlete trophies she pretended did not exist (who wants to admit they were a Mathlete, let alone a multi-award-winning Mathlete?). 

She was seized with the notion of going through all her old boxes, her dresser drawers, and her closet, but the grip of the wine was too strong, and she closed the bedroom door, fell onto the twin bed, and fell asleep immediately on top of her old pink satin duvet, shoes still on, snores lightly escaping from her wine-stained mouth.

Scent notes: Red wine mulled with cinnamon, oranges, brown sugar and pepper, grapefruit and cardamom, and a hint of bitter accord.

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