15 February 2016 | 4 mins

A sharp, piercing scream penetrates the air like an arrow whistling through the trees. You awake violently, the pain slamming into your head like a sledgehammer, instantly regretting any sort of movement as you slap blindly at the source of the noise. Who sets an alarm for a Sunday morning?

A warm, thick fog envelopes your head, swirling around your thoughts and diluting your vision. You roll over, gently. Sudden movements will bring back the nausea. You try to sit up straig.. nope, not yet. You’re not ready. You lie back down, rub your forehead and close your eyes.

Blink, slowly. Take stock of the room; wait, who’s in the bed with you? Is this even your bed?! Never mind, they’re sleeping. Future you can deal with that can of worms. Perform a mental assessment of your body. The head is a lost cause, but no external injuries to speak of? Good. Lie still for a while; the room stops spinning eventually.

Is there any water nearby? Did you manage to plan ahead that far? Reach out blindly. A bottle! Salvation! No, wait, it’s a half-empty bottle of beer. You struggle to contain your dry-heaving; each one setting off atom bombs across your skull. Deep breaths. Just because you feel like death doesn’t mean you’re actually going to die. As much as you might want to.

Try to sit up again. Slowly, slowly. There we go! Can you stand, or is the vertigo crippling you? Take your time, there’s no rush. On your feet? Are you standing unaided? Well done, I’ve never been more proud. Look around the room. Is there any vomit? No? What about on your clothes? Yes? That’s okay, those are trash now. Take a step forward. Gently does it. Can you make it to the door? Did you have to hold onto the wall to get there - it’s okay, we’ve all been there.

Wait, we should have checked this before - are you wearing clothes? Sweatpants? Okay, good. Hold up, what are those stains - no, never mind. I don’t want to know. Something is better than nothing. How bad is your head? Would you like a shot of tequila? No, don’t throw up, I’m sorry. That was mean.

The inside of your mouth is dry, and tastes like garlic and shame. Scrape your tongue against your teeth; do you really want to know what that is? Rinse your mouth out. Let the water soak into your tongue. Rehydration is priority number one now. How bad is your head, on a scale of “no pain” to “a flock of woodpeckers are using your skull to nest”? Drink. The water will clear the woodpeckers, but it may take a couple of hours. Sorry.

The warmth of the hangover has spread throughout your body. You feel unclean; not dirty, like a Labrador running through a muddy field, but impure and polluted down to your soul. A shower won’t save you, but it’s a start. You shake your head slowly from side to side; grenades explode behind your eyes. This won’t be a fun experience.

Turn the water as hot as you can stand, close your eyes and let it flow over you. No, don’t close your eyes, that brings back the vertigo. Drink in the warmth. Literally, if you think it will help. What’s that on your arm - damn, how many stamps do you have? Where’s your wallet? Actually, that will just cause you more pain, you can check your balance later.

How much time has passed? Ten minutes? Half an hour? Get out of the shower. You’re as clean as you’ll be for the rest of the day. Dry off, go back to your bedroom. Is your “friend” still asleep? You’d forgotten about that little issue, hadn’t you? Climb back into bed - how nice does it feel to lie down? Just close your eyes; you won’t fall asleep again, honest. Before you go, repeat the lie you’ve told yourself oh-so-many times before:

“I’m never drinking again.”

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