Sustenance was close. Only ten feet more. It may as well have been ten miles. His legs screamed as he stood there, gazing at the bottle lying tipped over on its side on the scratched and worn table. His aching back hunched over his bent knees. It was a struggle to stand straight, but he managed. The sight in front of him wavered, and he blinked rapidly. His body swaying wearily, he took one step, then another.
His knees betrayed him and he fell forward, palms skidding painfully on the floor. Better his hands, than his face, he supposed. He rocked his body back and forth, trying to gain momentum to launch himself to his feet. It took him a few long moments, but he finally stood there.
He could feel eyes watching him, but they said nothing. He felt alone in the silence, painfully so. There would be no guiding hand, no support to lean on. He was on his own.
If only the other furniture in the room was closer. He could lean on them, while making his way to his salvation. But the table that the bottle lay on stood alone, adrift in an empty space. Its solitary existence seemed to mock him and did not appear to have a purpose, other than to bear the weight of the elusive object he sought. Daylight shone through the sheer curtains, beaming on the table, illuminating his desire.
Tears formed in his eyes, and he rubbed at them with the back of his hands. Sleep pulled at him, but he shook his head. He would not fail, he would make it there. Staring greedily at the bottle, he forced his legs to obey him. He dragged them forward and forced each painful step.
He fell again, but this time his hands could not hold him. He laid there, his cheek resting on the floor. In the light, he could see specks of dust dancing in the beam. Fascinated, he watched until he heard a throat being clearing. Shaken out of his reverie, he fisted his hands and lunged himself towards the table in a crawl.
His mouth watered, he could almost taste it. Spittle formed at the corners of his mouth and hung there, before sliding down his chin. He did not notice. His eyes did not leave the bottle lying temptingly just out of reach. He reached out to the table leg and grabbed it, dragging himself upwards. He stood, leaning heavily against the table. Out of breath and dizzy, he closed his eyes for a moment.
He opened his eyes and snatched at the bottle. Tipping it back, he took greedy swallows. He could feel it leaking out of his mouth and falling to the floor, but he did not stop. He drank until there was nothing left. He dropped the bottle and fell back, landing heavily on his backside.
Suddenly, cheers and whistles rent the air loudly. He felt himself being lifted and thrown in the air. His stomach turned and flipped, and then settled, as he was held firmly to the chest of a woman with dark hair. He nestled against her and closed his hand around her hair.
“Isn’t my boy wonderful! First steps for Danny!”
He felt warm lips move against his hair, and closed his eyes, letting the darkness seep in. He could let himself rest now. He’d earned it.