Our house was full, and I knew, without a doubt, that everyone was sent by God. Some of us walked through darkness, some of us were brought in nice vehicles by loved ones, and others were sentenced by a judge to complete a long-term recovery program as a condition of their probation or parole. However, I was one of the people who walked to get there. My way of living wasn’t working for me, and I wasn’t happy. For things to change, I’d have to become willing to do something different.
It took me eight hours of walking, several bathroom breaks, and many prayers to make it. My route took me through some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city of Little Rock. Fortunately, there weren’t many people around except for the homeless, and most of the homeless around here are harmless. They just talk to themselves or ask for change for the most part. Needless to say, I wasn’t afraid. I knew God was with me every step of the way. He was sending me in love, and guiding me to something better. And if it’s God’s will, then it will be done.
I was sick of the way my life was, and tired — desperate for change to come. I remember laying in bed with my girlfriend when the news channel showed the front doors of a familiar rehabilitation center that I’d been to before. In my bones and deep in my heart I knew this was God telling me that I needed to go back. I needed to leave her and this house. I needed to fix myself before more damage was done. A few days passed and things got progressively worse. The tension between us grew and we fought every day. Then late one night, I discovered she’d been cheating on me with several other men, and that was enough for me to end it all. So, I made my move out of the door, but she chased me down. She grabbed me and screamed out, “Don’t leave us! You can’t leave us!” She said the word “us” instead of “me” because I was leaving more than just a girlfriend. There was also a fifteen year old daughter I was leaving behind, whose father didn’t care for her at all. A police officer sat in a church parking lot, at the end of our street, watching for speeding cars and she screamed for him to arrest me. I escaped with a few pieces left of my broken heart and the clothes I had on. My last words to her were, “You’ll never see me again!”
A few months into the program a man with a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder entered recovery. His name was Dove. He was an older man, probably around fifty years old, and with him was his service dog. The dog’s name was gentleman jack. This guy was the oddest character I’d met in the Nehemiah house. We didn’t really speak much but we did have a few conversations while he was there. When it was time for him and Jack to leave, he whispered something in my ear. He leaned in, shook my hand, and whispered, “Don’t ever let anyone influence the decisions you make for yourself.” I didn’t know what to say. So, I just wished him well and that was it.
God spoke through Dove that day. It was one of many messages I’d received from others who came to heal from drugs and/or alcohol addiction. We’re not just doing the next right thing by seeking recovery but we’re allowing God to use us according to his plan and his purpose for our lives. He is the creator of all and all things are made new. So, when we allow God to come into our hearts, we are freshly renewed.
I’m clean once again. I count the days one at a time as they pass. The sun does its dance around us until the music stops and everyone goes home. I spend hours thinking about the days that follow and I blame it on my “anxiety”. Truthfully, I’m waiting for happiness to fall from the sky like a parachute. That’s a problem, because happiness doesn’t fall from the sky. It comes from the ground. It’s a brilliant seed sleeping softly in the soil. It’s full of dreams and ideas that call for rain. These tiny dreams and ideas drink the water and they grow up into beautiful existence. Taking up space like big, thick green. A bright color that spreads for miles and runs as far as my eyes can see. There are no blind spots in love, and happiness. Nothing hides from it. No one runs from it. That’s what brings us together. It’s enough to keep me waiting. It’s enough to keep us counting.
If it were possible to know how many days your life will last, would you want to know or not? I’ve lost count by now. The only thing I’m sure of is the number of my age, and sometimes that even seems to be untrue. There are days when I feel three times my age, and days when I feel like I’m blowing out candles covered in icing. I’ve died so many times, in different ways, that sometimes I feel like I haven’t truly lived or that I don’t feel alive anymore. Almost convinced that this is some big dream, and when I die, then I’ll wake up and then counting will feel good again. These numbers just keep going, turning into shapes and then small specs on the map like grains of sand from my sock. I can just stop counting, close my eyes and sleep. But even my sleep has a number and now I wonder how many hours I’ve spent in my life sleeping. I’m a counter. I’m a sleeper. I’m a dreamer. I’m just glad that there’s something to count. That’s proof I’m alive. I’m glad there are still things to dream. No one has it all but I’ve said all the words there are to say. So, I think I’ll start over. It feels good to start over. Maybe that’s why I’ve given up on myself so many times because of the feeling I get after I quit and start again. It feels like I’m in control of my life when I make these kinds of decisions. This tells me that deep down I know that I’m out of control. I’ve been lost and walking with my hands tied behind my back for far too long now. I’ve held myself captive. I did things I never dreamed I’d do, good and bad. So, I think of happiness as something that grows. It grows as long as I’m watering it properly, feeding it truth, and singing to it a lovely little song. My new seed is sixty days old. I want this seed to grow big and strong. The sun will dance around it and then I’ll sleep in it. I’ll dream of things that I’ll forget the first fifteen minutes I’m awake. On my way I might see the pictures from my dreams in the clouds. Pictures of the things we talked about and then I’ll remember your face. I’ll try to remember the love in my heart and the songs we sang. We’ll all go home when the music stops and the numbers will fade into shapes and the ideas will find their place in the miles of green to rest their heads. They’ll call for rain. They always do.
The Temp Agency
We were standing in a single file line in what seemed to be some sort of ballroom. It was a big wide open space. The room could’ve been used to host a football game or even a soccer match. I rubbed my eyes and pinched my cheek to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The opposing wall had a mirror placed in front of it and stretched all the way across the length of the room. I looked to my left and then to my right. I could see about twenty others on either side of me in the mirrors reflection. They were all doing just as I was, measuring the room with their eyes, and studying each other. I can feel my stomach turning. My legs begin to shake, and my knees nearly touch each other from the nerves due to the suspense of this room. I can hear others asking questions like, “Where is this? What is this about?! Is this a test?!” The hairs in my ears twist and curl. My toes bounce against the cold tiled floor. Suddenly, a sound from a door opens behind us.
The footsteps are short and light. Whoever this person is must be small. A voice appears in the room behind us and it’s a child. “Welcome to the Ever After Class. My name is Sam. I’ll be your instructor today. You might be thinking I’m a bit young to be a teacher but don’t let that fool you ladies and gentlemen. You’ll see that I’m well qualified to be in the position I’m in.”
Sam was just a boy but he walked around like a giant. He wore a shiny silver vest covering a long sleeve shirt and had on black slacks with shoes to match. He counted us with his finger one by one as he passed. “It seems there’s more of you than expected but that’s okay. Whoever fails today will remain here. You’re here because you’ve been chosen. So, none of this has happened by mistake. Evidently the man upstairs has given you something special. So, my advice to you is to use it.” The boy spoke with the power and thrusts of his fist. “Today’s test will be a single dive!” Sam smiled through a cloud of dust falling from the massive ceiling fans above us. “A dive is simply walking through the mirror behind you. And when you make the dive you’ll notice another mirror we’ve placed. To get back you’ll need to perform another dive in that mirror.” My eyes felt heavy as I turned to look at Sam. We all looked at him like he’d lost his mind. Why was this boy smiling so much about the task he’s given us? And what else would we find on the other side of the first mirror?
The tops of my feet were damp from sweat running down my legs. My belly button is an overflowing cup of water. I rubbed my eyes and looked down the line of recruits. Their reaction seemed similar to mine. Some of them had even walked to the end of the room where the door was. They couldn’t believe it. Some of them tried arguing with Sam, asking him questions. “Gentlemen, remember what I told you. You’ve been chosen.” Sam straightened his sleeves and glanced at the shimmering of the buttons on his vest.
I felt like this was a good moment to say a prayer. I looked up at the fan. It turned slowly and I could feel the cool breeze landing on my eyelids and cheeks. I wrestled my hair, fitting it all inside my smelly hat. I whispered to myself, “You’re chosen, Paddy. You can do this.” I looked at myself in the mirror approaching slowly and all the others turned to watch. Some of them laughed and a few cried out. I just focused on my steps and the cold tiles on the floor. My toes popped as I got closer. I noticed my reflection started to decrease in size. Ten feet felt like a walk through the park. The recruits behind me grew like tall buildings in a city reaching for the sky and just as I made it to the surface of the mirror my breath made a cloud. My eyes closed and I heard yelling of my name. Before my eyes opened the voices stopped and the breeze from the ceiling fan felt much stronger. A gust of wind blew and that’s when my eyes opened again to see big green pastures. There were big white clouds in a rich blue sky and I saw trees in the distance. This was amazing I thought until I turned around to see no one was behind me. I hollered out but there was nothing but my own breathing. The air was so nice and clean. Every color in this place was so bright and clear. I spun looking up into the sky yelling and cheering, “I DID IT! I MADE THE DIVE! I’M CHOSEN!” The birds sang in the blue above me as they flew by. My mustache brushed my teeth. I couldn’t help but smile like a kid on Christmas morning at first sight of gifts under the tree. I ran across the green open field. My toes caught blades of grass and the bugs jumped in alarming fashion but I meant no harm. I was happy. I felt alive. I carried a purpose and the best chapter of my journey just began. “Let’s take another dive, lovely.”
January in October
It’s early morning in late November and we’re together once again. I feel like I’ve had my fair share of happiness this year but it’s gone now. Things are quiet. The days are short and gloomy. Christmas will be another day for us and this breaks my heart. I don’t know who or where I’d be without a broken heart. It seems that we’ve always been there for each other. Especially when times are tough. Why does life do this? What are we not doing right to have families of our own to spend the holidays? Are we cursed to live and die alone? I refuse to believe that to be true. That’s not my future and I know it can’t be the future for Josh either.
I can hear laughter coming just beyond the pine trees and up past the hill. Tonight we decided to make a bonfire. In the distance I pay close attention to the headlights of cars that race down the freeway as laughter plays steadily in the background. I know these moments might be similar to the ones you may have had at a young age but mine were different. I’d often drift away in the midst of them. There was somewhere else I needed to be. I could feel it in my bones. This wasn’t it. This wasn’t forever. These people would move on and out of my life. I thought I wouldn’t mind if things stayed the same. That I’d be okay with it if these were the only friends I’d ever have. I thought we’d grow up to be something big and somewhat important in the world. I was wrong. Life cannot and doesn’t cater to the cares of young teenagers. No matter how much fun it is making fun of each other around camp fires. Life changes. People grow up. The wind from storms and headlights of cars take them away.
The rain falls down from the grey coat in the sky. The world knows that I’m sad today. If I wrote you another letter, would you believe it? We called them birds. We sent them filled with hope and love. I wrote how I’d always wished it’d be you I’d marry. There was a night in a car ride I saw two falling stars and one followed right after the other. Somehow in that very moment I thought of you. I remembered years before wanting to run away with you but I was scared. I was addicted to drugs. I put you before me. If I called you up right now, would you answer it? I’m scared of living without you. I’m scared of falling without you. I’m afraid that I’m still in love with you, and that my days are numbered. I’m terrified of living the rest of my life without feeling your lips press against mine. I reach deep into my heart and it feels like you. It sounds like you. I know you’re still there. Maybe our birds will fly again one day. But today the rain falls. The streets have been washed of yesterday. Do you still feel me in your heart?
The Temp Agency
Ever wonder why your birthmark looks different from mine? It means that I’ve been assigned certain tasks and responsibilities. Furthermore, it means that I’ve left this world and come back again. I’ve been reborn. The birthmark was my pass back to life. I know this may sound a little crazy right now but I’ll try my best to explain it the best that I can. I figure it’s been around one year since I died. My time on earth was spent mostly traveling from country to country. I grew up an orphan. I never had the privilege of meeting any of my relatives or siblings. So, when I turned fifteen I decided to run away. I made tiny flags and placed them in various towns. There’s plenty of beauty in this world to heal a broken spirit, but it can also cause one to never want to leave. I’m proud to say that my travels haven’t come to an end. I get to visit places you wouldn’t believe, and see landscapes you’ve only dreamed of. We’ll get into all that some other time, but I’m heading back up for now. I’ve been called to meet with the other chaps. They’ve all been given the eternal pass or the birthmark just like the one you see on my arm. We were picked from the litter long ago before anyone knew who we were or what we looked like. My birthmark has changed into a small blue spot, but originally resembled what looked like an upside down sailboat. At times I still check for any trace of the brown sailboat shaped smudge I had just above my right elbow. I miss my upside down sailboat.
My name is Paddy Maddox. I’m one of the newest members of the “Ever After Class” or the “EAC”. That’s what the chaps are calling it these days. Can’t seem to remember what the big wings call it. You’ll find I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I’m a stubborn one. Took me an extra few months to get my blue shoes. My blues allow me to cross over into the spiritual realm. There are several different items you must earn to graduate from the EAC. One of which are these nifty blue shoes of mine. I’ll admit that I’m quite proud to wear them even though the wings are small right now, but they’ll grow over time. One of these days I’ll have big wings, and land a seat closer to the big guy.
A massive line of chaps throw up their hands, and occasionally look back at the next. I tried peeking around the crowd to see just how far back we were but it was no use. Every single one of us in this line are known as dots. Dots are good spirits that can travel throughout the entire universe. We protect humans and other life forms from evil spirits. We’re the ones fighting against what you cannot see. The multicolored tiles beneath our feet begin to glow into bright orbs of light. A loud thud struck beneath the glowing surface, putting a stop to the chattering voices. “Welcome to all who’ve been called here today. Congratulations to our newest members, and graduates!” The light was far too powerful for anyone’s eyes to penetrate.
Paddy had long red hair that wrapped around his shoulders connecting his beard. He always wore a wide brim fedora to try and cover it all. It seemed to be an important part of him. “Hear me now, Paddy.” The voice was so powerful that it caused the wings on the man’s shoes to spread open and grow twice the size they were before. “You’re heading back down now to see this finished.” The man smiled under the mask of his beard and said “Good, Maddie. Good.” The snow hill of light beneath my feet began swirling, and the wings on my shoes took me back down to earth. A radiant blast of golden yellow stretched for miles, fading into a bright orange blanket hanging over the tops of trees. Every single thing here had its place, color, and appointed time except for brown. This color was very special. Brown was strong, and far better than anyone here ever realized or imagined it could be. The brown eyes had the ability to bring others together. This color saw the world through a lens no one else had. It was the deepest eye of them all, and behind them, the most beautiful mind.
On the second day, I found a beautiful woman sitting alone. I thought, why would someone so lovely choose to sit alone? It truly bothered me, and so I spoke to her. A part of me wanted to know that she was a real person, and not just some figure of my imagination. She was actually on a short break, waiting for her training class to continue. So, I wished her luck, and moved onward to fulfill my daily tasks. A few moments later I noticed that she’d grabbed her things, and moved to another sitting area. Now I’m thinking, she just didn’t want to be bothered. I tried to leave her in peace, but keeping quiet began to hurt. I said, “So, do you attend church here?” She smiled, and answered no. “We’d love to have you come attend church with us if you ever feel like it.” She grinned, and then turned around to see if others were beginning to head back to class. But before she could leave, I said, “God still loves you.”
I find it very important to let people know there’s no end to the love of God. I felt as though this woman had been going through some serious stuff, and maybe the stress of life had its grip on her, but I discovered this sincere concern for people that I didn’t have before coming to know Christ. I hope that meant as much to her as it did to me. This is just one way I know he’s at work in my life. Plus, he’s gifted me with this pair of deep beautiful brown eyes. Truthfully, there’s nowhere I can’t go, and nothing I can’t see.
“Let’s grab a bottle and drive to the river.”
For whatever reason, we seemed to be in a hurry tonight. We pulled into a dark empty parking lot. I chose to jump out first and collect myself before walking around to meet her. I hadn’t felt this way in a long time. I grabbed her by the waist, we kissed, and danced right there beside the truck. I remember walking ahead of Barbara and turning back to watch her. My walking backwards found me in the middle of a spiderweb. I hate spiderwebs even more than spiders. This had me confused. There were no trees anywhere near the walkway. As I reached the gate, I gained a better view of the steel beams overhanging the bridge. All the handrails and beams were covered in spiderwebs. I’d never seen an entire bridge caught in a spider’s web. Neither one of us took more than a few steps across the bridge that night. If only the itsy bitsy crawlers could speak. They would’ve said something like, “The bridge is closed. You’re walking backwards in the dark. You’ll get caught up in a place you don’t belong. Turn away from this before you get bit. You’re playing with a creature known for its bite.”
That night felt like a dream. Lights on the bridge bounced off flowing waters of the river. We climbed back into the seats of her truck and lit a cigarette. The empty bottle laid on its side in the seat between us as we pulled onto the main road. Barbara decided to take a different route back. I was buzzing hard. The window was cold, pressing against my cheek as I stared at my blurred reflection in the side mirror. I tried counting the passing trees to sober up but it wasn’t working. My eyelids fell to rest for a moment and then I heard a loud clank noise in the floorboard. Suddenly the truck began swinging sideways, and spinning out of control. There was a loud scream right before I realized my back was against the ceiling. We were tumbling down a hill and that’s when my eyes closed again. Sirens rang out in the night from a distance, and the smell of gasoline forced my eyes open. I could hear the hissing of smoke coming from behind me, but I couldn’t move. I tried calling out for Barb. It was no use. The sound of sirens grew louder and louder. I heard yelling from above but the mouthful of pine needles and blood prevented me from lashing back. My attempt at pointing my finger back behind me fails and spotlights land on my face.
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What time is it? I wish she’d start turning off the television at night. It wakes me up every time. My eyelids peel back enough to search the room. That’s a first. Barb fell asleep in the chair. Something doesn’t feel right. It hurts to sit here knowing the problems we’ve been having. I glance back at the television and notice her phone sitting there. The perfect opportunity to find out what’s really going on even though it’s an invasion of privacy and can’t help thinking she could be messing around. Not to mention, she’s been different toward me.
There’s no lock screen or anything. I opened the first text thread and someone’s talking about coming over. She responds, “Now isn’t a good time. He’s here. I’m trying to figure something out.” There’s one more thread without a contact name and it reads, “I don’t love him anymore. He hurt me. I want to be with you.” My suspicion was right. She’s been cheating. I fought the urge to react so I put her phone back.
She’s right. I know walking out must’ve hurt her, but leaving never had anything to do with seeing someone else. It still hurts, even though I’ve been expecting this to happen. My guard’s been up for the entire relationship. She took me in when I had no one left. I lost count how many times she asked when we’d get married. I always said the time wasn’t right. Who wants to marry an alcoholic? Who wants to tie the knot with a junkie? She looked past all of it, and risked everything just to have me. But I was living for myself, and whoever got close, got hurt.
I walked over to Barbara and gently grabbed her shoulder. Baby, wake up. I need you. “Wait. What? What time is it?” She threw off the blanket, stood up, and went for her phone. “What do you want? It’s late.”
There were many nights I walked out on Barbara. Sometimes I’d walk the streets for a week or longer. I wasn’t happy, and neither was she. Our relationship was suffering, and we both knew it.
The reflection of street lights run up and over the windshield. I watch them gather in a straight line behind me. The road had long turns through clusters of trees. I love to see connecting branches, creating nature’s tunnel. I’ve always dreamed of living in a house with something like that as my driveway. Makes me remember being a kid and riding in the backseat. I had all the time in the world to sit and wonder about things like this. I’d draw circles on the window and daydream inside a machine that was once a window for another finger to make circles. My Dad would mess with us on the way home by asking if we were taking the short cut or the long cut. Nowadays, times are flying by, but I’m definitely still taking the long cut back home.
All the creatures of the wood sing tonight. I approach my turn off the main road. The tires chew up and spit out gravel along the edge of the pavement. The motor gets louder as I reach underneath the carport. I know it when I’m in trouble with my girlfriend because she’ll meet me at the door.
“I said to pick me up when you finished donating. I don’t understand what’s so difficult about that. I feel like I can’t trust you to do what you say you’re going to do. Where did you go? What took so long? Is there any gas left in the car?” She continued to pile on while fumbling through the dresser drawers. I just kept my eyes down, crushing big rocks into little rocks, and the little rocks into powder. This was my desperate attempt to defuse the situation.
The news was on television, and spoke about the rise of addiction in our state. There were short interviews with a few different peer support specialists in the surrounding areas. At this point I’d been kicking around the idea of going back to rehab. “Hello? Are you really gonna ignore me right now?” said Barb. They’d even filmed the front of the rehabilitation center I’d been to before. I raised my left index finger pointing at her. I didn’t share my plan, but there was nothing she could’ve said to change my mind. I’d soon be leaving her for the final time.
This drive is constantly taking place in my head. The chase for this drug is nonstop. It begins the minute I wake, and lasts until I close my eyes at night. I’m obsessed with it. Mr. Glad was right, I’m back in the cycle. Stuck in a neverending loop. It’s my very own dark, and twisted version of groundhog day.
I can see the phone lighting up beside me in the cup holder. It’s her again. She likes to ride along, but she’ll just have to deal with being at home this time. The pain of my aching body is just too much for spending extra time on the road, and I’m the one who pumped blood through a machine for an hour to make this money. The clinic takes my plasma. They use the plasma to create life saving medicine for patients with various diseases, and I just donate for the money. I’m selling myself. We live in a world that’s all about money. It makes me sick, but I’m no different from the rest of them.
The bandage around my right elbow makes my hand fuzzy, and numb. The night was filled with red lights, yellow lights, and cigarette smoke trailing from my sticky nicotine coated fingers. Oasis begins playing on the radio, and I wonder who else might be taking a road trip.
The parking lot always seems full of vehicles, and it’s difficult to find an empty space near the apartment. I circled around the property a couple times before giving up. Tonight the street lights glow in a burnt orange, and the buildings all look the same. There’s a cold breeze in the air, and the trees shed a few leaves with every gust. The environment here is quite unsettling, but a hot spot for anyone looking to score. I walk up to the door and knock twice. “Who is it?” It’s me.. Leonard fumbled with the door for what felt like an eternity before opening it. He always gives me this cold stare before letting me inside. I don’t think he likes me very much, but I don’t care. “Who is it, babe?” Katie yelled from the back room. “It’s Tyler. What do you need, man? Your woman’s been calling me nonstop for the past twenty minutes. Did you let her know you were coming here?” I really wanted to tell him to mind his business, but I knew that wouldn’t be good for business. Of course, she knew I was stopping by for a second. “She’s calling me again.” Leonard answered his phone, “Yes? Yea, he’s here.” Then I hear Barb on the other end.. “Tell that mother******, if he doesn’t get back home with my car in the next five minutes, I’m going to call the police, and tell them he stole my car.” I just shook my head, and covered my face. Leonard ended the call, looked at me, and said “Dude, this is getting out of control. You need to put your girlfriend in check, man.” I looked over at Katie, and she just stared at the ground, avoiding all eye contact. I noticed new sets of bruises down her arms and legs. I looked back at Leonard, and he handed me the bag. I’m out of here. Thanks again for looking out. “No problem. Just tell her not to call my phone with that mess anymore.” It pained me to take that kind of talk from this guy, but I always did my best to brush it off. Dustin was the only cool one, but he wasn’t there. Dustin was the roommate. He was also Katie’s ex-boyfriend, and occupied their living room. A few cardboard boxes along with a couple hampers stuffed with dirty clothes took up space in the walkway. There was an old acoustic guitar laying across the air mattress in the corner. I took a seat in one of the dining chairs, and sampled some of what I’d just purchased. Just enough to ease the pain in my body, and settle my stomach. I really don’t want to go home, and deal with this woman. There has to be something I could say that might distract her from jumping on me as soon as I walk through the door, but I got nothing. I’m afraid this night still burns in orange, the cold wind still blows demanding respect, and every leaf falls to the ground.
She’s worried sick, and I’m in the middle of trying to kill myself. However, I could care less. I’m already streaming the next episode in my head as I lay here. This place feels like one big service station. I recall another time almost dead, and as they’re rolling me into the back of the ambulance, I came to, and asked if I had to go. How do people do it? How do they work in these places? How can they go home to their families after seeing people like this all day, and night?
A familiar man’s voice begins to chuckle right outside my door. What was the joke, or were they only catching up on some new television series? The next time I decide to relapse, I’ll staple a note to my chest that reads, “To whom it may concern, in the case of an emergency or if at any point I should become unresponsive, please take me to the service station across the street. I’d prefer any hospital where the people don’t know me.” My door makes that loud obnoxious click sound, and it swings open. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s Glad, or Mr. Glad (the familiar voice I heard talking outside). How did he know I was here? Does he live here? They must all live here. How does he always seem to wear a slight smile on his face? What is there to be pleasant about? “Obviously you aren’t feeling well, so I’ll spare you the questions. I assume you’re back in the cycle again. Here’s my card. Please call me when you get serious about wanting help.” The door closed.
“He told me we were going to get a few pills from someone he knew, and that was it.”
I can see Barb pacing back, and forth behind the windows of the hospital lobby. The entrance doors slide open, and the smell of her cigarette quickly fills the hallway. She spots me, and starts to power walk toward me. She throws her skinny arms around me, and says, “Don’t ever do that to me again! I thought I lost you!” She begins to cry, and my hands stick to the back of her shirt. She’s soaked with sweat, and I’m punched in the face by the smell of whiskey on her breath. Barb liked to drink, but sensed that she’d had way more than normal tonight. Maybe this really did scare her? Maybe she really does care for me? I still wouldn’t allow myself to feel one way or another about it. She cussed up a storm the whole walk back to her truck, and we fought all the way back to my apartment. I guess she assumed I’d submit, cater to her feelings, and forget all about my drugs. She hopped down from the driver seat, slammed her door shut, and then tried straight for the apartment door. “Hold on. Where’s the rest of my stuff? I know you have it. Hand it over.” Barbara got loud with me, and said, “Seriously?! You almost just died. Fine. Here!” She reached into the space above her trucks’ headliner, and with force– struck me in the chest with it.
BEEP.. ZING.. BEEP.. ZING..
I look up at my light, but it’s still blue. My legs won’t stop messing around. My bones feel like they’re bending, and twisting inside. I can’t begin to explain just how much I hate donating plasma for drug money. Possibly one of the worst things a person could do while detoxing from heroin. “Excuse me, sir. You’re gonna have to sit still, and firmly pump your right hand for me. Okay?” I can’t seem to get comfortable with this bed. It’s not a “bed”, but that’s what they call it. My phone receives a text message, “I don’t want it to always be like this. Tell me it won’t always be this way.” My thumbs stall. How can I keep her hoping? Once we smoke, she’ll drop it. She’ll come around then. “Well, you’re all set, sir. You receive seventy five dollars today, and we’ll see you next time. Thank you for your donation, and enjoy the rest of your day.” It’s about time. I made my way out, struggling for steady feet back through the clinic. My phone starts to ring, but I decline the call. It’s like she’s watching me, or something.
5 missed calls, 1 new message
The bell hanging from the door to the gas station slings off the hook, and crashes behind me. A-T-M, WHERE ARE YOU? The funny thing is, I’ve been here more times than I can count. I’m running out of time. I’M HURTING, AND STILL have a drive ahead of me.
“Your money is being dispensed..”
COME ON. COME ON. COME ON.
Now, let’s just hope they’re home.