(This story was written starting with the bottom paragraph and moving up to the beginning)
The clerk handed me the bag without meeting my eye. He looked to be about eighteen and was probably annoyed I had interrupted his game of Angry Birds. No one came to the corner store at this hour, and that was probably the way the kid liked it. I didn’t mind it either, no one around to dial 9-1-1 or kick up a fuss.
I turned the corner and pulled out my one and only purchase, leaving the plastic bag on the sidewalk. The wind would pick it up later and throw it against the fence with the rest of the garbage.
This was it. I was really going to do this now. No one was here to stop me. No one would stop me. I was really going to do it this time.
I was certain that the bottle in my hands would do the trick. I had chosen it off the shelf without much thought. It looked dangerous, and its contents were probably meant for car maintenance or shining shoes, not human consumption.
The letters were in a language I didn’t speak, but the bottom of the bottle had an array of pictures in triangles; a hand being corroded by a drop of water, an explosion, and a skull and crossbones, just like the pirate hats I had made out of black construction paper and liquid wite-out when I was seven. I imagined those things happening to me; the exploding, the corroding, and turning into that leering skull. But then, that was what I had wanted. I was almost certain.
I turned the bottle over and over in my hands. There really was no reason not to. Twisting the cap off I raised it to lips and gulped it down. It smelled like fermentation and mint and fire, but I swallowed.
My teeth ached, as if I had drunk a glass of frigid water, but my tongue burned. It felt like I had thrown back a shot of Irish whiskey in one gulp. I opened my mouth wide as if I expected flames to come out. I took a step forward, trying to look purposeful, but the street lamps in front of me swayed. They looked like grass blowing in the breeze rather than solid iron posts.
I waved my hand in front of my face. I think. There was motion that started in my shoulder and extended to where my fingertips usually were. Something pink passed before my eyes. It could have been five fingers; it could have been the finger, or a bloody stump. All I saw was a blur. I closed my eyes, head drooping, like a person drunk for so long she no longer knows she’s drunk, and then, drunk, awoke to the world which lay before me.