You try half of one.
With your size and disposition, your brother thinks you need to ease into it.
And you’re scared. So you agree.
You feel nothing though. Nothing of note, that is. It’s not working.
Don’t worry. Next time, try a full one.
Ah, here we go.
You watch a movie in the basement and settle into the pillowy comfort of a numb mind. Everything is pleasantville.
There’s positively nothing wrong in the world. Your body is more relaxed than you’ve ever felt it. You were born with your mother’s ball of stress, sitting like tightly-strung yarn in the pit of your stomach. You poke, prod, and realize for the first time it’s loose, untangled, perfectly relaxed.
And then it ends.
Your brother’s busy with his friends. Maybe next week.
But you start watching the gate, analyzing, calculating. You rummage for a Band-Aid and spot it front and center, in its tall, skinny cylinder, the color of apple cider—HYDROCODONE. Vicodin from your mother’s surgery a year ago. Still chock-full of candy-sized pills.
Nobody seems to notice one gone, two gone. Each time you rummage for a Band-Aid, you shuffle things around, pushing the bottle a little further to the back of the cabinet.
Until the stage is set. You snatch the bottle and run away like a bandit in the night. You hide it in a shoebox under your bed. The one filled with age appropriate miscellany: collected coins, notes passed in class, a book of autographs from Disney characters. At 14 years old, you’ve become the gatekeeper.
Your brother’s impressed. You high-five and run to the basement. You take one, mixing it with a few swigs of stolen beer, and put on a movie. Airplane or Space Jam, something easy and stupid. It’s a blissful routine.
You’ve seen addiction. That A&E show Intervention. People crying, people lying, people jabbing needles into their skin. These are just Tic Tac-sized pills. Pop one, sit back, zone out for an hour. Not addiction.
Months later, there are only a few left. When your brother asks for one, you resent him. You start saving them for special days. You’re proud that you’re being so strategic. You’re not crying, you’re not lying, you’re not jabbing a needle into your skin.
Your brother’s moved away to college. You’re lonely. Drifting about in a house built for six, now a family of three. Cheers to the last of the last. You sink into the now-familiar pillowy comfort. All is pleasant. Except for the ball in your stomach, stiff with the weight of knowing it’s the last.
Tears brim up and over and you’re crying. You didn’t see that coming. Your mind flashes stills from Intervention. No needles, no lying, but crying.
But closer than you thought.