Short Story · Short Story

DEAD.LINES (REVISED, 2021)

‘Dead.Lines’ is a fictional story based on true events.
Warning – Reader discretion; drug use, swearing, sexual references.
This piece has been revised (2021). The original was written in 2015 whilst undertaking the final year of my Bachelor’s Degree and can be found here: https://daniellamaylittle.com/2015/08/26/dead-lines/

Dead.Lines

‘Who the fuck is it?’ A large man with an unkempt afro is looking around the ajar door.
‘Lamar, it’s me. I’m in trouble,’ I say, moving closer.
‘I need money’.
As the door opens further, the smell of alcohol seeps out towards me.
          ‘My girl…I’m ‘bout to do a chase. Sweat beads on his upper lip as he smiles, revealing his teeth.
‘You wanna’ join?’
          Not giving me a chance to speak, he grabs my arm, pulling me forward through to his living room. Any response now lost to the wind.
‘Look Mar, I’m over this stuff.’
          ‘Oh, come on sweet ting. One little lick’a brown sugar keeps the doctor away,’ he says, pulling my hips closer.
          I watch as he prepares it, heats it, syringes it, preparing the needle for it.
This is the last time.
          Lying on the leather sofa, I swallow in anticipation. I can stop when I want.
         I look around for a reason to stop. Instead, I see a broken TV, a towel in place of curtains, and rotting floorboards. Before I can change my mind, I feel the needle plunging the syrup into my vein.
Lips on my neck… Hands between my legs…
          ‘Heavy, too heavy…’
          ‘You want money, right?’ He groans. ‘Well, you’re earning it.’
          I try to de-blur his face, to cry out, but he’s disappearing, and I know I’m passing out.
Chasing the dragon. It’s a serene silence. Utter bliss. Bright colours and soft edges inhabit my world. There is no pain. Pulsating energy seeps into my bones as I drift into oblivion. Letting the trip explore wherever it wants to go is infinite freedom. There are no bounds to an unparalleled silence. Until I feel a familiar tug. The colours fade. A shuddering echo worms into the corners of my mind I thought I had hidden. As the selfish sound pulls me from salvation, it becomes clearer. A memory playing on loop.
*
‘Mummy, I’m hungry,’ Jocelyn says.
          Rubbing my eyes to focus, I roll over towards the sound. Aching from the lumpy mattress on the living room floor, I sit up to find my four-year-old staring at me, her blue eyes seeping in.
          Taking a deep breath, I get up and edge towards the window across the room. The harsh light spills in. I close my eyes, cutting myself off. At the sound of a spluttering retch, I whir around. My gear now spread over the floor.
          ‘Joccy. Get that out of your mouth,’ I shout, delving my fingers down her throat. I retrieve the small plastic bag, unopened, intact, still carrying its contents.
          ‘Mummy,’ she cries out, throwing her arms around me.
Hours later and I’m looking in the cracked mirror propped above the gas fire, dark cheeks burning red. The guilt still rattling around my head. I need to get out of the house. Steadying my hands, I walk over to the washing pile on the floor and dig. Eventually, piss smelling jeans rattle with loose change. Not enough.
          On my way out, echoes of me calling down to the kids abruptly stop as the door slams closed. I could only think about one thing. Without heroin, I would stop existing.
*
Waking up on the sofa, I have goose pimples. I’m naked. The moonlight is shining through the holes in the towel at the window. I look around for my clothes when I see Lamar, and all becomes that little bit clearer.
           Leaning my head into my hands, I muffle a scream. He looks pathetic, spread out on the floor in stained boxers with vomit protruding from his mouth and a needle laying next to his arm.
          Putting on my ripped clothes, I try not to wince, tracing my fingers over bruises on my thighs. Searching Lamar’s pockets, under the sofa, in the bedroom, under the loose floorboards, I make sure I trash everything in my path. Finding three pounds sixty-seven, I clench my fists and throw the money to the floor. Cheeks burning and hands shaking, I punch the window, shattering it. Standing in the glass, I watch as droplets of blood fall from my knuckles to the floor. Maybe there’s another way.
          Standing over Lamar, I look around the dirty room. There’s no one to stop this. I slide the needle into his vein and return the favour of what he had done to me. The difference is, I don’t waste heroin. I inject air. Plunging air into his bloodstream doesn’t seem enough, so I do it again, and again until he begins to jolt. Unable to watch I run outside, close the door behind me and then kick it in, adding the finishing touches to the staged break-in.
          Doubling over, I vomit on the steps outside the house, overcome by tremors. Wiping my mouth, I suck in the cold night air before standing upright. Taking shallow breaths until I start to feel dizzy, my tears flow. I run to a house a few doors down and bang on the door. Moments later I’m performing a speech to concerned neighbours.
          ‘My dear, you poor thing. You look like you’ve had a terrible ordeal,’ the women says, trying to bring me inside.
          Looking past her, I can see cream walls and a Chihuahua sleeping on a plush rug. The smell of roast potatoes and chicken beckons me in.
          ‘I’d better call the police,’ her husband says, regaining my attention.
          Refusing to go in for a cup of tea, I return to the crime scene to wait. I could tell the police I was extorted by a local dealer. A twisted truth that would allow me to be with my kids, then this whole thing would be over.
          Standing at the broken window, I hug my arms tight around my waist, listening to the nearing sound of sirens. A lifetime passes by as the monotonous sound becomes intense. A small twitch in the corner of my mouth pulls into a smile.
          A policewoman steps out of a patrol car closes the door and puts on her helmet.
         On cue, I wipe the tears from my eyes. Everything’s going to be okay now.
          The paramedics rush past her, into the house.
         Fiddling with the buttons on my jacket, I look behind me to Lamar, and back to the policewoman as she approaches the front door. She enters and stands near Lamar, staring down at him as the paramedic’s swarm. Turning away, she says something into her radio.
          ‘Found him,’ she says, turning to me. ‘He’s cold.’
          Averting my gaze, I move my hands from my pockets to my hips, simultaneously trying not to gulp. I can feel the heat rising in my face. Squeezing my eyes tight, I’m on the edge of verbalising a confession when I feel handcuffs being slapped onto my wrists.
          ‘You’re under arrest.’
          Unable to swallow, I can’t seem to form words as I am ushered around Lamar, out of the living room.
          ‘Please, I’m a mother. I did what I had to do to protect my kids,’ I weep, hoping the bitch takes pity on me.
          Gripping my arm, she hesitates, glancing back at the body being zipped into a bag. I meet her eyes, looking for sympathy.
          ‘Addicts,’ she says in a hushed tone, scrunching her lips.
          ‘This was all for my kids. I can’t lose them… Please.’
          Her grip on me tightens. ‘You have the right to remain silent,’ she says.
          ‘Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.’ She pushes me forward to walk me out of the house towards the patrol car. She continues talking, but I refuse to listen, and the words blur out.
          Sitting in the back seat, I lower my eyes. There are no more tears. I don’t care what anyone says. I know I can change. I will…
Starting tomorrow.

© 2021, Daniella May Little, All Rights Reserved.

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