Hello everyone, here is a new short story. I have never done heroin.
You call 911 and wait for the firemen to plunge their big ladder into you. By this point, you’ve become a routine call for them and the ladder has no problem finding its way through your window; it enters a clearly designated point, deploys the little firemen, the ones who are going to save you, and then it withdraws again. The firemen don’t come out of you but they never manage to stay for long. And they’re giving you less and less of their time.
You gasp and moan and shrink as that first little fireman drops down, hits you right there with a wink and a nod and a grin and then all thought ceases besides just fuck, repeated verbatim until it becomes a little mantra, the only thing tethering you to that place you were in before you allowed that fire wrecking your soul to be put out. Because you don’t want to untie yourself completely; then you’re just a satellite, orbiting whatever life you used to know, and it’s much easier for something to knock you off course that way and then what? You’re just floating, lost, without anything but vague memories, little judgmental ghosts running around in your head. You don’t want that. You want to come down, eventually. You want to be able to not have to call the fire department every day, eventually.
So in your head, a little spell, a counter-enchantment. fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck for the first few minutes until the fog of possibility begins to fade like sleep. Like a dream. And then you blink and notice you’re on the floor and you’ve been crying a little, it looks like, but you don’t care. You are floating, hovering a few feet off the ground. If you could feel anything, you’d describe it as good, but you can’t and so you don’t.
Somewhere on the floor is a dirty rubber tourniquet and a spoon whose underside is charred a deep, angry black. You wonder if it’s so burnt that you can’t see your reflection in it anymore or if that’s just your reflection now. A wall of black, a universe of nothingness. An absence. An after school special playing out on an unplugged television.
You have enough foresight to find the needle and wrap it up in a tissue and drop it in the little metal chainmail wastebasket you own for that exact singular purpose. Hazy little chunks of your mantra bump around your head like astroids. fuck. Wasted. fuck. Fuck.
When you wake up, you feel the most extreme emptiness you’ve ever felt, except you’ve felt it so many times now that you can’t keep count. You used to be able to do that, keep count. Every time you did heroin — because, now that you’re sober (or not high, at least) you can lay off on the stupid fireman metaphor — you would make a little notch in some invisible bedpost. But now, it’s a mess of hashmarks, a little jungle of scratches in the headboard. Trace them with your finger. Try to find the first one, the one where you meant it the most, the one you scratched the deepest because it was a caution against having to make more scratches, which lasted for all of, what, two weeks?
You wish — fuck, stop it. I wish. I’m the one writing this. There’s nothing second-person about this. It’s just me. Singular. Very much alone and mired in loneliness and angst and a drug addiction and the silence of everything that’s so much louder than it was when it wasn’t silent, when it was actually too loud to bear.
My family. I wonder how they’re doing. I wonder if they wonder how I’m doing. Probably not. That whole thing kind of got fucked a long time ago, and it’s not the sort of thing you can un-fuck, you know? That’s fine, though. It’s fine. I’m fine.
I scratch at my face until I don’t feel like doing it anymore, and my nails are stained a little red at the tip. Shit. This loss of feeling, this is…it’s indicative of…it confuses me.
I’m floating again, which is weird. I shouldn’t be floating. The needle is in the garbage, where I left it. The spoon and the tourniquet and the lighter, the little yellow one that reminds me of my old friends, are in a trail on the floor, ordered by me dropping them once they did their part in getting me high. My sentences are getting worse now. They feel weirder, every day. Like they don’t fit when they come out of the innermost part of my brain and into the part that’s right at the forefront. The consciousness. Is that a thing? Why don’t things make sense anymore? Am I still high? I can’t still be high. I don’t feel high. I feel bad. I feel sober. I feel dead. I feel like I feel every second there’s not tar gunking up my veins, only this time it’s worse. Is this it from now on?
Is this some side-effect? That wasn’t my first hit from this batch. Was it purer than the other shit? I’m still floating. I’m starting to panic now. I’m panicking. No. No no no. Stop this now. Fuck. FUCK! I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’M SORRY!
My memory ejects itself from me and wraps itself around my body, weighing me down. It gets tangled in my hair, like a spiderweb. Some of it gets in my mouth and I choke on it a little. Everything darts back and forth across the room, brought into being from some cosmic slide projector that doesn’t mind that we’re sitting in different dimensions. Fishing trips. Marriages and divorces. My mother sitting on the toilet, crying, because she doesn’t want to lose us in the divorce. Hatred, misplaced and correctly categorized. Clichés. Bad grades, good grades. Turning into a bad person. Riding my bicycle in the freezing cold night, alone and alive and the happiest I’ve ever been. Blowjobs and real jobs, clocking in and worrying about money and leaving home and losing home and doing things I didn’t want to do to get what I wanted to get. Suicidal thoughts. Digging the teeth of my keys into the pale, fatty underside of my skin and striking like a match, watching as the little lines started to fill in with blood and get puffy. Some thoughts are clearer than others. Some are in high definition and some are coming out of a bad radio transmitter. Smiles. Warmth. Beckoning.
I’m hit with the knowledge that I went too far, that — yeah, that I fucked up this time, bad, and I think I might be dying. It doesn’t upset me, because what does it matter now? I’m still floating, but I haven’t moved. The projector is showing things that happened, like, this week and that’s how I know I’m close. My life is almost over flashing before my eyes. It blinks a few times, makes a little click, and then shows me lying on the floor. Dressed in what I’m wearing now. Today. We’re here. It clicks again and it shows my family, and they’re doing family things. They’re not sitting around worrying, they’re not experiencing some immense sensation of loss as whatever life I had left in me leaves, and that’s fine. I shouldn’t have expected them to. I’m not worried anymore. They’ll get over this eventually, because the whole point of death is getting over things and I get that now. I get that. I’m here, I’m ready. I’m healed. So take me. Take me.
The projector goes dark and I disappear and it feels like I’m falling, that’s the only way I can describe it. Like I’m falling, but not into a bad place. Just…falling.