I can see Froggy in the distance, stood waiting for me where we agreed. He leans against the wall, cigarette in his mouth, as he watches the world like he has no cares. I wish I was like that. I wish I could just stand and watch and not feel anything.
The dull heaviness I feel inside is a constant battle. Life seems like one long sigh and getting to tomorrow feels impossible. I wish there was a way to induce the simplicity that some people seem to have. That zest for life, like they can’t wait for a new day, yet I wonder why they don’t see the truth like I do. Why are they happy? I don’t really understand it let alone know how to feel it.
Maybe they are fortunate enough to experience the highs without medicated help, or perhaps, they take the health service’s offer of wonderful happy pills. Perhaps that’s it; prescribed happiness.
I drop the piece of metal from my father’s garage over a wall, and into someone’s front garden. The evidence of my shame is discarded and hidden behind the picket fence of someone else’s happy life. I push everything aside the same way I pull the sleeve of my coat down over my physical self-inflicted wound. I pull the inside sleeve down as well and cover everything with a smile.
I hold up my twenty pound note and nod at Froggy to show him my victory. He smiles back as I pocket it again and offers me a cigarette.
We walk back to my place and Froggy tells me about the phet he just scored. It’s like music to my insides that I can’t quite hear, but the desperation of it has me straining my ears until, not only can I hear the words, but I can feel them, too.
“Do you want some?” He asks me.
Every part of me screams yes. Yes, I want some but, I can’t even bring myself to turn him down. I can’t make the words come out. I force my head to shake from side to side and that’s about all I can manage. Pathetic, but it’s one of the hardest things I ever had to communicate to anyone.
“I can’t afford it,” I say.
“You’ve got that twenty,” he says, and nods in the direction of my pocket.
I’m grasping for breath on the edge of what’s right and what I want to do. Colin isn’t my child. Why should I care? Why is it my problem to feed him? I want to reach into my own mind and break up the war that reigns within. I can’t make either side shut up. I want what Froggy offers. I want it so bad; perhaps even more than I want to be able to live in happiness. Its right here being offered right in front of me and all I have to do is say yes. Just three letters and its mine, but I can’t. I can’t do it. My guilt worms its way through me. Torturing me.
“What’ll I tell Joanne and Maz?” I ask him.
I’m not really asking, I’m just saying my thoughts out loud. I can see their faces. Maz’s in particular with the look of disappointment on her face when I tell her.
“F**k ‘em,” he says. “They don’t have to know. Tell you what. Split that twenty with me and I’ll sub you the phet. Some for Joanne too, then she won’t moan about it.”
It’s possible. My mind gets excited at the thought of it.
Yes, yes. I can. I tell Froggy okay. I’m getting the television tomorrow. Easy money. I can pay him back then.
I smoke a cigarette and drink a coffee while I wait for Froggy to cut the phet. He does it with heroin, not glucose, but I don’t care. He can cut it with mud and I’d still want it. My mind can’t say no now, not now that it has a way. That would be worse than anything.
It takes everything I have not to snap Froggy’s hand off as he offers me the wraps for Joanne and I. I give him the twenty to change.
“I’m just going over the road to buy cigs, you want some?”
I nod and he leaves.
I light another cigarette and grab the envelope of needles from my bathroom. I sit with my back against the door in my bedroom and roll my sleeve up. I stop and look at the wound on my arm. I guess it’s my own fault. Its scabbed over, but the blood that was there is dry and smeared along my arm. I look at it and remember the disgust at myself, hours before. I pick at it, reciting each word my father said, in my mind; one at a time, spitting them with my thoughts as I pick and make it bleed once again.
Failure. That’s what it amounts to. That’s what I am and always will be. I prove it each time.
I grind my teeth. My breathing is harsh as I look at the phet and my needles.
I am nothing. I know this. I am useless and worthless. I can’t even put a child’s needs before my own. No better than my own father, I am sure.
I get the cigarette from my mouth and the urge to run the hot end along my skin is almost too great. I could take the phet and do it wrong. If there’s air in a syringe, won’t it cause a heart attack? I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere. I wonder if it’s fast; If it hurts. Do I even deserve such merciless things as time and pain free?
I’d be gone in an hour. That’s it. Sixty minutes and it would all be over. No one would know.
But I can’t. I think about Will alone without me. What would he do? Would he end up like Colin? Or like me even. I can’t do anything. I can’t leave.
I cry at the unfairness of it. I want to hold it in but tears of frustration roll down my face and I clutch my head to try and make them go away.
I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to exist. I wish someone would just kill me and get it over with. I curl up in the corner. The pain in my head bangs with my heartbeat. I wish it would all just go away.
I close my eyes, pick up the needle, and plunge it into my arm. I don’t care. I don’t pull it out when the contents are gone. What’s the point? I open my eyes and stare at it. This is me. All I have to offer. Colin needs better than me. Will needs better. I spent their food money on my hit, again.
As each thought of pitiful self-hatred begins to fall away, the euphoric release of adrenaline rises up my spine and I can breathe again.
I stand. The person I was, moments before, is gone; nothing but a laughable memory as I clean everything away before leaving the house to acquire food for Colin.
Once again, I am happy.