Waking up, I snatch my watch from the bedside table. It’s just after half four in the morning. I take a sip from the glass of water Lorna used to make up the hit. I turn to the other side. She’s in the bed next to me. We have our clothes on. At least nothing’s likely to have happened that I should have remembered.
“Are you awake?” I ask.
“Hmmm,” she grumbles.
“Do you mind if I make myself another hit?” I hope she doesn’t because I need one now. When I close my eyes, I can see my youngest sister, Milly, bleeding. When I open them, the sight in front of me is the same. There’s no escape from that image. Only a fix can fix it.
“Go for your life,” she whispers.
I prepare another hit. This is how it’s going to be. I know the cycle. I know it well. Once I’m back on it, it takes me over. I am a robot controlled by a powder. How did this happen to me? I knew the damage heroin wreaks, especially knowing Shelley. But after what happened last year, there was nothing else to take that pain away. The crack and the coke made it worse. With the amount of heroin I’d been using, I was expecting to be dead within weeks. But this doesn’t seem to be a fast death. Maybe I need to do something different. If I honestly want to die, there are other ways. Am I a coward?
Selecting a vein at my wrist, I wrap my tan belt tightly around my lower arm. I insert the needle then pull back on the plunger. Staring at the barrel, I watch the blood meet the liquid. It twists like skinny, red ribbons. I push the plunger hard. I want the hit quickly. I want to feel the rush pulsate through every cell in my body. I want it to take me to oblivion.
I feel a hand rubbing my right breast. I open my eyes. Lorna’s face is next to mine. Slowly, she moves forward. Our lips are touching. I open my mouth slightly. She slips in her tongue. It’s like jelly. I don’t like how she’s kissing. This isn’t good. I take her shoulders and turn her to lie on her back. I pull her white long-sleeve t-shirt over her head. I kiss her neck then her breasts. On her tiny frame, her breasts seem huge. I like them.
Sucking a nipple, I pull down her jeans. I kiss her ribcage and her stomach as I make my way lower. I lift my head up as I tug her knickers. She’s shaven. There’s agony in my stomach. Electric shocks power through my legs. My body’s screaming from the inside silently; I can feel it. Not again. I have to stop.
“Sorry. I’ll be back in a minute,” I say, pushing myself up from the bed.
In the bathroom, I light a cigarette. This never used to be an issue. Psychotherapy is what made it one. Okay, that’s not completely true. It’s what made me realise why a woman who’s bald there sparks a flashback. I’m used to having flashbacks near enough every time I’m with a man. But with a woman, it only tends to happen when they’re shaven. And somehow, a flashback feels worse when I’m with a woman. With men, it’s usually a psychological flashback I have – in my mind. But with women, when I do have one, it’s more often a physical flashback – a body memory. Perhaps that’s because women are the gender I feel safe with. I can’t stand this re-feeling of my past abuse.
I slide my hand between my legs and feel my wetness. The body responds even when the mind doesn’t. That’s been discussed countless times in therapy too. I hate that. I drop the butt of my cigarette in the toilet then return to Lorna in the suite.