"So impressed with all you do. Tried so hard to be like you. Flew too high and burnt the wing. Lost my faith in everything." —Trent Reznor Nine Inch Nails "Somewhat Damaged"
As I race home, the flash of a red light lifts my foot up before shoving it into the brake pedal. The car skids to a stop just inches behind a pair of glaring red eyes on the back of a white minivan.
I laugh briefly at the first thought that crops up: ‘And my parents fear drugs will kill me.’ I’m sitting at the longest traffic light, sweating through what's been a month of consecutive triple-degree heat. As the light changes, my attention is directed toward my chest—a knocking as if something wants out.
I recognize it instantly. My heart pounding in anticipation of being home on my couch, pushing the plunger of a syringe filled with a sweet, warm, black liquid.
It stirs the slumber of my empty stomach, sending a wave of nausea up to my head. It’s a ceaseless reminder of an aching sickness to come if I don't get this drug in me.
Should I run the light?
No. If I get pulled over, the officer will wonder why I'm pale and sickly, sweating, and will then feel the need to ask why in the hell I am shaking.
After asking me to step out of the car, he'd pat me down and find the dope I'd just bought. There's no way I could withdraw from heroin in jail. No fucking way.
Instead, I observe the other cars and the drivers inside— normal people living their normal lives. I'd trade my life for theirs in a heartbeat.
As the light turns green, I notice a stale, pungent odor that reeks of trash and cigarettes. It’s been circulating throughout my car’s ventilation system, no telling for how long.
One of the many symptoms of heroin withdrawal is a heightening of the senses.
Lights are brighter, every noise is piercing, even water cascading down onto your body during a shower can feel like millions of tiny spears stabbing into you.
With nothing in my stomach, the smell inside rolls back and forth like waves on a closed, abandoned beach.
Stronger than the sickness is the immense mental craving. It's not like any mere craving for chocolate or sugar, which aren’t even cravings in my opinion. Those are a joke in comparison.
It's something of a phenomenon; nobody can truly understand what it's like without experiencing it themselves. I don't recommend that though.
I roll down the window letting a thick waft of heat singe my face as if I'd just opened an oven door. I remember the news saying this summer being at a new record heat.
I had to go out and buy fifty dollars' worth of dope since my dealer/roommate wasn’t home when I woke up—strange. It would be enough for a good shot and a little leftover, but I would have gotten more had he been there. He’s the reason why I now have a two-hundred dollar-a-day heroin habit.
My eyes fill with water from yawning profusely, along with my nose and every other orifice leaking from the initial symptoms. I drive faster and more recklessly, trying to get home so I can plunge all of it into my body. It’s the only thing that will make me feel better.
Shooting dope for me, now, is not to get high; although, I get a little high when I consciously do too much—hoping that shot would be the one that did me in. Heroin is now my elixir that makes me feel like a normal and functional human being.
My heart springs up into my throat every time I think about it. It's no way to live, but it's how I survive. Besides, I don't live anymore. Life lives me these days, while I merely exist.
It makes me sad how I ended up this way and seeing other people in the world not have to worry about how they’re gonna get their next fix. I pull out and light a cigarette. The smoke fills my nose and the yearning void inside me that replaces my fuming jealousy and envy with synthetic pleasure.
It's a temporary fix to my everlasting struggle against thine own self.
I've fallen headfirst for this fix.
Anything that prevents me from feeling the grudging resentment that dwells inside me.
Why do I fall in love with things that kill me?
I arrive back at my place a little after 3 in the afternoon and find my friend still asleep in my bed.
"Geez, come on, time to wake up,” I yell into the air. No response.
I need her to wake up and leave, so I can shoot up and have this sickness taken away. There is no way she can know I'd been shooting dope, again.
It has been tough enough keeping it a secret when she comes over sometimes unannounced every other day. But I love her, so it doesn’t bug me.
However, now, my lack of patience boils over. "Wake up, girl."
I enter my bedroom more curious than angry and annoyed.
I find it odd her still lying in the same position: on the right side of the bed, on her stomach, with her head facing the left.
She also doesn't look like her normal self as if she had a fraternal twin trade places with her in the night. Something seems off.
She is still in the same glitzy clothes she had on the night before, leading me to guess we didn't have sex. That's probably a good thing though.
It always seems to screw up things between friends, but I'm not saying it doesn't happen
When we go out, we are each other's wingman--I'd help her get a date while she would help me, and if we are both unsuccessful, we'd hook up. Not a bad deal.
I could never date her though. If anything were to happen, breaking us up, it would devastate me. I'd never risk losing my best friend in the world.
I'd lose a special and important part of myself; the one person that can still make me laugh.
I believe something phenomenal happened when she entered this world; that something meant our paths to cross.
Even in the darkest trenches of my drug addiction, she can still manage to turn on the light. I'll do anything to protect this.
She is the girl who spends hours getting ready whenever we go out.
She is the definition of what the two of us call "fabulous," and always makes an entrance--sometimes drunkenly--letting everybody at the party or club know she has arrived.
I cling to her at these places while she mingles with a new face in between dances with me. I envy her confidence.
I walk over to the side of the queen-sized bed where the sleeping beauty lies, still in the last night's outfit. I gently shake her shoulder as I whisper her name.
I slide my finger down her left cheek.
A bolt of lightning runs up my arm, quickly retracting from her face.
It's ice cold.
My stomach sinks. Heart stops. Everything in the room, in my apartment, in the world, comes to a halt. I put the side of my face in front of hers as if she were about to whisper a secret.
But no words come out.
Not a sound or the soft feel of warm breath.
My heart comes back to life, pumping at an alarming rate. I use both hands and flip her listless body over.
I gag and choke on the stale air of something no horror movie could ever create.
Now visible in the light, my eyes stare down at the side of her face that was pressed against the pillow. What used to be a blushing hint of rosy peach across glowing skin, has become bruised; a giant stain of deep purple.
With both hands, I palm her ears and shake her gently.
"Wake up, sweetie,” I cry, panicking. "Wake up!" Nothing...
Blood surges to my head as I draw myself up off the bathroom floor. I'd nearly made myself sick moving her body to the bathroom, thinking the shower may wake her.
My muscles had given out from carrying her and a spell of dizziness comes over me. I sit down with my back against the wall.
I hold my best friend's body in my arms as we lie on my bathroom floor, her ashen face colder than the linoleum underneath. There are two bodies here, but only one heartbeat is felt.
She's gone I realize but I don’t want to believe it. If my body weren't so weak, I would scream in despair. Thoughts race in and out of my head—How did this happen? How did we end up here?
I've read and also heard through others that we create our own reality. I feel foolish for ever considering such a claim. How could anyone manifest this?!
Born and raised from a rational introvert and a devout Catholic, my idea of reality has been a tug-of-war of controversy, never left without a question mark.
Looking down at what used to be always be a gaping smile, I shove my eyelids down into themselves. The image of her jaw clenched shut burns through my eyes and burrows itself into my head.
At this moment, I want nothing more than to join her. To take a fatal shot of dope while her head rests on my lap. Like a drug-addicted Romeo and his beautiful Capulet.
To have the police put the white homicide tape around our two bodies, binding us together for eternity.
But I know, of course, none of this will happen. Instead, I do the only thing I can do and apologize to the hollow body before me.
(To be continued...)