“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.” — Louise Erdrich, Tracks
I was weary, weak beyond anyone’s mind could see. It wasn’t just my physical pain that had failed me, I was used to pain. It stayed with me like a shadow every day and night of my life. This was different, this was emotional, mind pain that wrapped itself around my neck and pulled tight. I knew I could breathe but I felt like I couldn’t, like some evil demon was choking me, I could practically see inside myself, red, raw lines around my throat from the choke marks. This would be my undoing. I hoped it was.
I knew I couldn’t fight and the hysteria that I felt came bubbling up like a spring on a hot, dry day. I was out of control, lots of pills, lots of pills. Weed too. I could see the water but I couldn’t taste it or feel it. As much as I knew that logically, it didn’t prevent me from continually trying, again, the pain getting deeper, the vice holding my throat deepening every second. I was only thirteen but I had lived a thousand years already, I wanted to die, I was not scared of death. That was not a fear I had.
I knew what I was up against, I already had been living on the streets my whole life. It didn’t matter. No pills I bought from the street, that I dry swallowed, could lessen that inside feeling of feeling out of control. It was a horrible feeling, so I tried more pills, pink, blue, white, lots of colors. Like in a magazine, little pretty children wandering alone, not being able to find their mother in the middle of a busy city, constantly calling out, yet nobody would answer them. They were lost but not found. It did not have a happy ending. All these children could do was cry and be afraid and the story would finish just the way it started. I knew better than that. I kept popping more pills, nothing was happening to me. Yet.
Sometimes that’s the way the world works. Not everything gets tied up perfectly with a pink, lace ribbon, curled on the ends. Not everyone is a tiny ballerina on stage, showered with perfect red roses after a performance on their pointed pink ballet shoes. No, that was for dreamers and I was no dreamer. That was for people, the very tiny amount of people that lived in the rich life I never came in contact with but I heard about or read about it. My mother was a junkie, she lived on the streets, sometimes but not with me, no. I saw my mom who I called “Destiny” shooting up heroin in a corner, on a street. We didn’t say hello to each other. Usually she was so out of it she wouldn’t know me. When I recognized her, I pretended I didn’t. Me, popping pills, her doing heroin.
I was a street child, a crazy one at that. I lived here and there, whatever place I decided was mine for the night. The only name my mother ever called me was “gutter-child.” That’s the only name I knew.