This story is by B. Wright and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I’ve been here before, but it’s different than it was eight years ago. The scent of decay and depravity permeates the living room that once smelled of pot, cigarette smoke, and lavender incense. This vacant house was once a home that held consequential memories. Amanda bought this house on her nineteenth birthday. She was different from most of my friends, as I was a very shallow teenager. Her weight much exceeded 200 pounds, but she had a beautiful face and an even more beautiful heart. I’ve always been small and attractive, but I was discontent with my appearance and personality. I was aware that I was pretty, but I didn’t regard myself as pretty enough. I was aware of my unquestionable intelligence, but I didn’t know how to be witty. I was shy and awkward because I didn’t know who I was. Amanda loved people and she knew how to talk to them; she exuded confidence despite her weight, and I envied her for that. She was my best friend and I loved being around her. However, beneath her carefree exterior, she was broken inside… just like me.
I had always envisioned my perfect man to possess very particular physical characteristics. He’d be neither tall nor short. He’d have dark features, tan skin and short black hair with just the right amount of facial hair. I’d know that I had found him when his dark brown eyes would penetrate my soul.
On a cold winter day nearly sixteen months ago, at an auto-detailing shop where I was employed, I saw those dark brown eyes that I’d only imagined in my dreams. They belonged to my employer’s cousin who was also a former employee. He began removing the snow from the bed of a shitty pickup truck I was detailing. I knew a little about his past, but I didn’t know his name… So, I asked him. His dark brown eyes that infiltrated my heart told me much more than his mouth did when he told me his name was Michael. I saw a boy that was broken but repairable. I saw a good man present behind his distant eyes, and I knew in that moment that I wanted to belong to that man for the remainder of my life.
I sit in this room for the first time in over eight years comparing the stark contrast between what it once was and what it is today… These thoughts distract me from contemplating the events leading up to my presence here, and the object in my hand. How did I go from genuine happiness to immense sorrow in only two days? I’ve been asking myself this question since I got here and no logical explanation has surfaced yet, so I begin examining my surroundings instead. The carpet is plagued with cigarette butts and burn holes. It’s become dreadfully apparent that I’m not the only person who has trespassed here. It disturbs me that this home that once held so much meaning has become nothing more than another abandoned home than inhabits junkies. It’s quite ironic, really… Amanda and I never considered ourselves junkies back then. We naively believed we were just having fun; we couldn’t see the tragedies that would inevitably occur. She didn’t know that her addiction would take her life before she made it to 30… And I certainly didn’t know that it would take mine here today, with 1,171 days clean.
The first five months of our relationship were trying, but I wouldn’t give up. Despite his attempts to get clean, he couldn’t stop using. Finally, he boarded a bus that took him to a treatment facility over 700 miles away. I sobbed uncontrollably as I said my farewells. I couldn’t shake the foreboding feeling that I’d never see him again, that I was saying my final goodbye to the soulmate that I never believed I would find. I’ve suffered profound loss in my lifetime, but none of those losses hurt me to my core like the thought of losing Michael forever…
Nearly three months later, Michael returned to find a shell of the woman I was prior to his departure. I hadn’t picked up heroin because I knew that it would kill me, but I still engaged in self-destructive behavior. I was barely sleeping and had basically stopped eating entirely. I was down to 97 pounds and I was broken in every sense of the word. It was hard on him, as he was still adjusting to inclusive sobriety, something he’s never accomplished before. Regardless, he managed to succor me as I gradually gathered the broken pieces and put myself back together.
I use the string from the band of sweatpants to tie off my arm. I imagine the innocent expression on my daughter’s beautiful face as my mother delivers the news and the rivers of tears that will stream down her angelic face, knowing she will never be the same again. I think about my mother, and how broken she’ll be knowing two out of her four children had taken their own lives. Then I think about Michael’s reaction; I worry that it may lead him down a destructive path. I pray to God to give him the strength to get through it. I’ve never seen Michael cry before, and I wonder if my suicide will bring him to tears… I can’t help the fear that incapacitates me when the thought occurs to me that it may not.
I ruminate the events that transpired two days prior. He was supposed to be working, so I elected to surprise him and bring him lunch. When I opened the front door, the house was eerily silent. I followed the faint muffled sounds to the master bedroom. I saw an obviously strung-out naked young woman, bent over and begging him to “put it in” as he stood behind her with his pants around his ankles. He wore a blank expression and no words of consolation were coming from his mouth. I snatched the whore up by her neck and squeezed until her face turned purple and she pleaded for her life. Regardless of the rage that was coursing through my veins, I was no killer, so I released her. I walked away, despite the words that were being stuttered through Michael’s mouth. I couldn’t even hear him; all I could hear was her begging him to put it in and it killed me that he was prepared to do just that had I not walked in.
I’ve tried to get over it, but despite my efforts, I cannot move past it. I know without a doubt, that once I inject this shot of heroin, I’ll finally be able to forget that moment and move on, even if not in this world. As much as I want to continue living for my little girl, I am simply too broken to go on without him. He became every part of me; we spent our days together, we slept together, and raised my daughter together. I don’t know how to do it alone anymore, and I don’t even want to.
I look up at the ceiling, searching for some sign from God, but I see nothing. I look down at my arm as I pierce the skin where the only evidence of my past addiction exists as a small white line. I pray for God to save me, to provide me with a sense of constraint or the strength to leave. I am not bound here by chains or physical restraints, but my emotional pain will not allow me to move. I’ve miraculously survived umpteen unintentional overdoses, but even God couldn’t save me from this lethal dose. With 1,171 days clean, I no longer have the tolerance I once had; therefore, this shot will undoubtedly kill me. I pull back on the plunger, and watch as my blood mixes with heroin, verifying that the needle is properly inserted.
I think about my daughter that will never see her mother again. I think about my mother that will never see her daughter again… The daughter she has watched come so far after a lifetime of struggling. My very last thought is of Michael. He wasn’t my first love, but he is my true love; he sets my soul on fire in a way I’d never experienced. He’s my soulmate, my other half, my best and only friend. The thought of losing him forever tears through me and breaks every piece of my soul that remains intact. I shed one last tear for the relationship that I thought would last a lifetime. As the tear falls onto my hand, I compel myself to push the heroin into my vein. The memory that I desperately needed to erase finally dissipates… a mixture of peace and sorrow consume me as I take my final breath, close my eyes, and fall into a deep sleep… A sleep I’ll never wake up from.