Fragmented Existence

(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.








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