(Practicing intertwining factual with personal history pieces along with form)
Sitting in the back of the classroom again,
staring at the above the influence posters
on the wall. Consistent ticking in my ear
from the manual clock set at 2:00pm.
The assignment: Write about your childhood
influences. Aunt Sara used to wear her hair
up in a fancy bun before I moved in. Used to
care before Uncle Ray came back again. Self
inflicted holes are far more severe than any bullet
wounds. She gladly accepted settling for less and labeled
it a life. There he is again: Aunt Sara spots Uncle Ray
strutting to the corner store. Catwalk motion into the shadows
like he was made of gold. She finds a place on the bed, carefully
avoiding the needles. Sharp objects creating a landmine in the safe haven.
They look like grime covered knives with tints of red on the tip.
It’s okay to let it pierce your heart through your arms
but never sit on them. Heroin was first manufactured in 1898
by the Bayer pharmaceutical company. How had I not noticed
anything before? Her eyes glazed over like a corpse
who hasn’t slept in days. Both heads thrown back in absolute bliss
at two in the morning. His body strewn haphazardly over the wooden
chair for the kitchen table. Magical white powder piles covering
the teal tile of the bathroom floor. I was never able to find a clean spoon
to eat Frosted Flakes with. All the hazy memories and drooping faces.
Locked brass doorknobs covered with milky hand smudges. Memorizing
the cops on television every Saturday night. Watching the syringe cascade
back and forth like a game of Hot Potato. They were still perfectly content
once my alarm clock read 5am in red marquee lights. I was forced to
vacuum the trails of missed dust ingrained deep in the brown carpet.
No escape from the convoluted state even when I’m not at “home.”
People who use it describe a feeling of warmth,
relaxation and detachment. Don’t go outside without
a jacket, she says. You have to remember to cover the
arms at all times. Don’t go in the backyard when he
is already out there. We wouldn’t want a repeat of
the Christmas fiasco. Don’t leave me, please, I got some
she says. How can anyone really be above this? Under
the influence of this liquid terror for as long as I can
remember. The effects of heroin last three to four hours after
Keeping track of time only left room for disappointment.
Barricaded with each other at the break of their dawn, a little past noon.
Emerging from the bathroom only to exchange tips
that had gone dry. Abandoned bedrooms with lighters
and miniature Ziploc bags. No goodnight kisses, just
moans of artificial joy from down the hall.
He’d wake up the next morning, blank slate. Did you do
your homework? He murmurs. Desperately trying to conjure
up what grade I am even in. The clock strikes three, fifteen
minutes to go. A quarter until I retract to exhibit A and
exhibit B. On the outside within the domestic walls and bottled up
in the open. Heroin users develop a tolerance, needing more
of the drug to achieve the same results. Junkies quickly sucking up
the juice creating room for the less than pleasant withdrawal.
Cold sweats and shrill cries of emptiness without the “good stuff.”
Experiencing something far beyond second hand smoke. Pulsating veins
just dying to burst open. Synapses in the brain unable to recall yesterday
and yet I was left to fight the monster. This dragon drained every part
of my being. No such thing as dinner time in this dungeon.
Always laughing when I would constantly refuse a “trip.” Always
bringing an eerie smile along with the tying of cloth around the biceps.
That same toothless smile flashed when Uncle Ray walked directly in
front of our car. His eyes wide and empty on the other side of the glass.
Roaming make it impossible to meet his gaze. Sensing the disconnect through
the dirty windshield. The front seat still warm from the previous “last time” he left.
But he always maneuvered back to her, slithered back
in with ease. Baby I’m sorry, he cries. It will be different
this time he says. His absence never lasted long enough.
Aunt Sara always chose to jump back into his pale frail arms.
Easily melting down the utensil into scattered bits on the kitchen
tile. Blood stained white t-shirts and brittle straw hair became the daily
attire. The sanctuary of the classroom interrupted by cautionary tales.
Right next to the poster is a big red circle crossing through a still
burning cigarette. The circle materializes in the facade of reason or
common sense. Shaped by the empty vessels scattered in the living room.
Tobacco sticks seem like they would be easier to cope with. Seeds of nature
turned into weapons of mass destruction. Remnants of surrogate mom and dad
everywhere I turn. There is no such thing as a cookie cutter heroin user.
Did Aunt Sara even know I went to school? Who was paying the bills? Is it
even a childhood if you aren’t allowed to call them your parents? The wheel barely
spinning for them to respond yes, we are legal guardians. I didn’t need to
put on my glasses to grasp this altered reality.
In a short amount of time, regular heroin use destroys
the body. Translating everyday into “Home is where
the fix is.” Diminishing love for anything besides
the hand-held tubes. Constant reminders of the screams
followed by the even more dreadful silence. This shack I reside in transformed
into a cloud of euphoria for complete strangers. Uncle Ray used to give
me advice. Try to keep me on the right track before he lost his own direction.
Pure substance in the midst of an infected environment. No use closing
your eyes because they would open to the same emptiness. Embedded into this cycle
of increase and re-use. China white, Dead on arrival, Dope, Hell dust,
White junk. Would I be granted the gift of jagged marks up
to my shoulders if I tried it? A final glance up to the face of the clock.
Watching the black big and small hand spin begging for it to slow down.
Ten minutes gone by and I only wrote down four sentences. Attempting to
piece together my life in a few paragraphs on lined paper. The dragon
increases in size every five minutes. It’s a fast high, but just as quickly,
it can take over your life, and become fatal. Leftover bodies crowd into the living
room every night and there is a vacant space available. Without conscious effort,
history tends to repeat itself. Time for them to pass out.