Fiction: Moving On

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. You might find yourself in there but that is a figment of your imagination or just the fact that you have the power to inspire.

Moving On

“It’s been a year. A year to the day.” there was a long pause.

“I still think about it every now and then. Its hard not to.” another pause. 

“But then I just get busy, you know. 

Try to do something to take my mind off it.” she looked to the floor, and then back to the Councillor whose face was painted with professional concern.

“It’s really hard you know.” she paused, tears welling up in her eyes like waves against a levy.

There was another long pause, the silence thickened the atmosphere and made it hard for her to breath as she sobbed.

“It’s ok.” said the Councillor, in an attempt to alleviate the pressure.

“How do you think that you’re doing in this whole process?” asked the Councillor, in a quiet voice, without pushing her too hard.

She reached for a tissue from a box on the table beside her and wiped her tears from her face, one streaming down the end of her nose where it fell to her lap.

“Good.” she replied, still looking down. 

“I’m doing good. 

Strong… you know and really good.” she paused looking at the Councillor with all the composure she could muster. 

She struggled for a moment and the tears came again, a little harder this time. She cried for a few minutes, before she spoke again. She thought about the events that brought her here while Councillor waited with patience.

“Measure progress by your own yardstick, no one else’s.” offered the Councillor. 

She wiped her eyes, grabbing another tissue.

Evelyn was already gone, deep in thought remembering her path, the one that lead to here and now.She had been in counseling for a year, one of the grounds to her probation. This time, there seemed to be some real progress in her case. It had taken a long time to get to this point. 

A few false starts. A few attempts at fooling her Councillors into thinking she was making progress. A few missed appointments. A run in with the police where she was picked up on breach of probation. Then one rainy night when she hadn’t made enough money for a hit, and she hadn’t had one for two days, she bottomed out. 

None of her supposed friends were there for her when she was hunched over a sewer grate, heaving her guts out from withdrawal sickness. None of her dealers, nor fellow addicts were there to carry her back to the stairwell that she had been crashing in for the last few nights. Her parents, who were on the other side of the country, had no idea that their daughter was hunched over a sewer grate, spewing bile from her guts as her body reeled from withdrawal. 

If they had known the severity of the situation, they would have been on the first flight out to the coast to get her and bring her home, although the distance that would have to be traveled to really get her, could not be measured in miles. Their world and hers were now as distant as the sun was from other stars. Nobody that mattered knew where she was or how she was doing. The people that did know were too busy with their own matters, which for the most part was looking for their own hit or next score. She had at that point moved from the point of being a person; somebody’s daughter, to being a statistic.That night, she had slept in a shop doorway, where she managed to get a few hours of sleep, before the shop keeper had shown up and shewed her from the property. She had asked for some food, money or a bus token which the shop keeper wouldn’t give to her. Not because he was particularly cruel, but because in his experience, it was like feeding pigeons. Another one would show up asking for handouts, and then another and so on. Besides, he paid taxes that were supposed to provide support for people in that situation. He understood what experience had taught him which was as much as he needed to know. She had told him to “go f#ck himself”, her street experience and withdrawal symptoms doing her thinking for her. She walked the short distance back to the neighborhood where most of the action was happening. Her thinking was that she might find something there from which she could get a hit. She did.She made her way through alleyways to a valley behind a low income housing complex. The valley had long been a place where they would hang out for the day after they had made a few scores. It was empty when she had arrived, mostly due to the weather. She scoured the area for any “droppings” left behind from before the rain had hit oblivious to the stench in the air. She found a lot of empty baggies, some makeshift pipes, which were often pens, tiny perfume bottles or anything cylindrical and were generally easy to identify by their cracked ends and burn marks. She scoured a few for remnants, lighting one or two hoping for a free hit. She had no results in that matter. She came upon a large cardboard box, that had once housed a refridgerator, but was now flattened and spread out over an area. She grabbed one corner of the cardboard and flipped it over, hoping to find some forgotten leftovers protected under it. The dank waft hit her square in the face, making her keel over and gag like she had the night before. There lay a body, that judging by the stench, had been there for a few days, maybe a week. She fell to her knees, choking with nothing to regurgitate, her stomach completely empty. She lay curled in a fetal position for a long while, strained from the reflex cramps brought on by nausea. Ten minutes later, when she was able to catch her breath, she struggled to her feet, still coughing, a long strand of snot nearly stretching to the ground. She wiped her nose on her jacket, while getting the courage to examine the body. The body was face up, one arm at its side, the other bent at forty five degrees to the ground. The head, partially arched back as if in pain, was capped with a hat and the face was not one that she recognized. The eyes were partially opened and the greyed over like a film of wax. There was a bloody wound on the shoulder, and several others across the chest. The wounds had caked over days ago, and there was no trail or pool around the body. She estimated that the body was seven to ten days old, and was dragged to this location and hidden here under the cardboard within the last three days. She choked again and fell to her knees gagging and crying simultaneously.She lay there unmoving for half an hour, unsure of what to do. It was when she thought of searching the body for a hit, that her old self intervened for the last time that it would have to.“That’s enough. That’s it! I’ve had it. Get this crap out of me you f#cker.” she screamed, waling and crying again at an imaginary assailant. She lay on her side crying and then stood up in a rage, and kicked the body several times, screaming at it. The body didn’t respond with any answers or apologies, it merely lay still eminating the vile aroma of death. She stumbled back to the cardboard which she grabbed and flipped over onto the body. Careful not to take the same path, she climbed the hill up to the housing complex that would bring her out onto one of the main streets. She trembled all the way up the hill, still cursing some imaginary foe as she did. When she arrived in the parking lot, she was startled by two men getting out of their car. They wore dark suits and black trench coats and had cop written all over them. They approached her with professional calm.“Excuse me m’aam. What were you doing down there?” one of them inquired, reaching into his jacket and producing a badge.She instinctively closed up when she saw the badge and continued walking as if she didn’t hear.“Hold it!” the badge holder exclaimed. “We need to ask you some questions.” spoken this time with full authority. He was at arms length from her, but he didn’t reach for her, and she didn’t run. She stopped, keeping her back to them, sobbing as she did. She thought about her father. She thought about calling him and asking him to come and take her away from this mess, like he used to when she was still his little girl. No matter what problems she would get into or what monsters would find her, he would always make it better, get her away to safety.“I want to go home.” she said, sobbing. “I want my daddy.”. The man with the badge closest to her recognized it as infantile regression syndrome, brought on by the stress of the situation. It was a defense mechanism the mind had when it was overloaded by a situation too difficult to deal with.“…We need you to come down to the presinct with us. We have to ask you some questions. Please don’t make this difficult for yourself. Follow our lead.” the officer said, pocketing his badge after he had presented it to her reaching for his cuffs.© Copyright 2011 Brian Joseph Johns