Need by: rage_against_the_machine
2 a.m., and it begins again. The tremors rolling up and down my body, shaking my skin as if a million tiny bugs have crawled under my flesh. The sudden, deep chill, resonating in my bones, tearing the warmth from my body with icy fingers. I know what is coming next before it arrives, and brace myself, curling into a ball on the grimy alley floor. A burning pain, so contradictory to the chill and yet offering no relief from it, sears through my brain, breaking off all patterns of thought. I cry out in pain and suffering, a few tears escaping my bloodshot eyes and carving a path to freedom through the dirty film coating my face. My coherent thoughts have been decimated, reduced to wordless aching, yearning NEED. I grip the sides of my head with numb fingers, keeping the fragments from falling victim to the pain and separating altogether. One, pure, simple thought slips out: I cannot live like this. And I know what I must do.
I wrench myself to my feet, bracing myself against the brick wall at my back to keep from sinking to my knees. Trickster shadows play with my weak eyes, leaping out from behind dented trash cans and dirty piles of garbage. The dilapidated buildings on either side of me raise up into the dark sky, encompassing me like bars on a prison cell, closing ever nearer to my spent form. I stumble out of the way, towards the lamppost standing tall and imposing at the corner; the impassive guard to my weary prisoner.
He’s there. He always is, like clockwork. The only stable thing in my skewed, messed-up life is him. Standing at the corner, observing my desperate form as it staggers to him with coldly calculating eyes tinged with amusement. He knew, of course. Knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay away, no matter what I had said last night, out of bravado from the high I had been experiencing. I don’t meet his eyes as we perform our nightly dance in the harsh light of the streetlamp.
My tremors, by the time we have finished, have grown into full-blown shudders. My body reeling from the effect, the short trip from my position to the alley seems interminable now; a distance as wide as the Sahara, and just as uncrossable. I collapse to my knees on the filthy sidewalk, adding yet another layer of grime to ripped pants that had once boasted of a color other than Street Filth. Somehow, the icicles on my hand peel back the sleeve on my left arm and tie a shoestring around it; a ritual I don’t even have to consciously do anymore. It just comes.
I lift the needle cradled in the blackened palm of my right hand. The liquid inside glints in the moonlight- my very own elixir of life from the heavens. I stretch out my arm. The low light throws shadows across the track marks that mar the crease of my elbow, connecting them in a network of lines. My arm wobbles again, and the illusion is broken, my need once again surpassing everything else. Quickly, I slide the needle into the soft flesh, sighing as I hit the vein easily, instructed by years of practice doing the same. I push down on the end, and cool relief soars into my bloodstream. I feel the familiar glow surround my body, my spirits lifting as if attached to balloons set free into the atmosphere. My strength returns in full force and I feel invincible, absolutely unshakable. And yet, there is a darkness beneath my elation that I have not noticed before. A shadow that is slowly surfacing, enveloping my body in a black numbness. It’s wrong, all wrong- this shouldn’t be happening! The balloon deflates, my spirits crashing back into the disgusting ground, along with my convulsing body.
The streets remained silent, uncaring as the wasted form of a youth turned cold and still atop the curb. The body lay slumped amongst the black plastic and putrid stench of garbage, covered in filth and sweat, emaciated and adorned in rags, a needle still clutched in his fist. Indistinguishable from the other trash.