The Last Time

***Warning: This story contains descriptions of potentially sensitive material regarding drug use

When she left work, she was aching for it. Actually, she’d been aching for it for hours. Days. Maybe even years. Ever since her first time. She knew there was some at home—he always had something. She stumbled out of the office and barely noticed the looks that followed behind her. Eyes averted, glancing at the black wake swirling over her footsteps, downcast, the slightest shaking of heads. Thin fog had crept over the city while she worked. Inside for eight hours, too far away from the window—separated by too many cubicles decorated with pictures of children that made the days spent away just that much more tortuous—to see outside into the gray of winter, the frozen promises of a coming spring. Her cubicle was bare.

Driving can become an act of numb unconcern. With practice, the road can be almost completely ignored, with only infrequent glances at mirrors to make sure there isn’t some idiot who’s forgotten his mother’s advice entering traffic on foot, or an out of control semi-truck caroming straight toward her with a swift, loud, but thankfully painless end. One day it might happen.

At the end of her road lay what she wanted more than anything else in that moment. The pinprick at the corner of her left elbow that never quite had time to fully heal was sparking with anticipation. The car more floated than braked to a stop in the driveway that inclined just enough to make deploying the parking brake a mildly inconveniencing necessity. Every second not spent getting inside the house was pure waste, drifting out of reach forever.

She hardly notices him, supine in the middle of the shaggy gray carpeted floor. When she enters, she makes straight for the spindle-legged table beneath a three-bulb chandelier (only one bulb functional) and the needle that awaits her. Not until its point has slipped into her vein and the muddy liquid is coursing with the blood throughout her body does she go to him. Crawls to him. On hands and knees, she crawls back to where he lays, glassy eyes trained on nothing above him, a fatal amount of the drug just barely pumping through his quivering heart. She doesn’t notice that he’s stopped breathing. She takes his hand in hers, lays beside him, stares upward into nothing. Not knowing he is on his way out, leaving the conscious world in a swirling torrent of careless pleasure. She will wake. She will be sober. She will know horror when she realizes just how cold his hand is in hers. Stiff the way only a dead hand is stiff. The morning will come, and every morning after it will be painful. Right now, she swims in a hazy pool of incandescence. She is beside him, happy for the last time.

Photo by Lalesh Aldarwish on Pexels @lanophotography

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