He seemed to be writing the same story day after day. In the afternoons we got together in the attic of the People’s High School in Hørsholm during our 14-day drama-writing course and read aloud to each other what we had written.
He read the same story every day even though it became more and more elaborated with more nuances. This made me curious. Who was this blond-haired, slim man, who hardly ever said anything? He kept to himself. It was like he was carrying some bottomless sorrow. Why was he writing the same story without an ending? Maybe one day he could figure out the ending and I would learn what his story was about.
So far I only knew the beginning. It was about a little boy sitting on a sunny beach, playing with sand. He was looking at his hand full of fine, dry sand. Slowly he opened the fingers and the sand started trickling down on the beach. Soon the hand was empty. He stared at the hand. That was the whole story and even on our last class day, it ended there.
At our farewell party at the end of the course, that last evening we happened to sit next to each other. I drank a lot of wine, maybe because I was disappointed at the course. In fact I had signed up for a journalism-course, but the school had forgotten to inform me that it was cancelled. Therefore upon my arrival they just offered me a drama course as a replacement.
He didn’t drink wine. When I asked, why not, he told that he was an alcoholic who had stopped drinking. It sounded weird. How can you be an alcoholic if you don’t drink alcohol?
“Because alcoholism is a chronic disease, he explained. If you suffer from it, you cannot tolerate any alcohol”, he responded.
That was new to me. I learned for the first time about the Minnesota-treatment of alcoholism and the AA-principles. Encouraged by the fact that he was finally speaking, I asked how he had realized he had this disease and how he sought help.
This was his story: he had been happily married. For years they had wanted to have a child and finally succeeded in having a baby boy. One day when they were driving on a highway towing a horse trailer, his wife lost control of the vehicle in a curve and the car ended up in a field. The man had been sitting on the backseat with the few months old baby in his lap. When the car suddenly stopped, the baby was thrown against the car window. Everybody seemed to be fine after the accident but to be sure they took the baby to the hospital where it soon died due to some kind of chock.
The accident worsened the man’s long drinking habit. Alcohol seemed to be the only thing that numbed the pain after the loss of his child. Over a few months he lost all interest in his work, in his domestic life, in everything. Soon his body became so intoxicated that he ended up with delirium. That was when his father and wife drove him to a Minnesota-clinic in the countryside, where he felt like a prisoner for weeks, before he finally could think clearly and take responsibility for his own health. Back home after six weeks, he found the house empty. His wife had started using drugs and left him to share her pain with another drug addict in another part of Denmark.
On that farewell evening started a relationship that resulted in us having a beautiful baby daughter together a couple of years later. When our relationship had ended, he married again and had three more daughters. I believe his life is now so busy that he has stopped thinking of the boy on the beach with the sand in his hand.