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I didn’t like what I saw in the old, dirty mirror. I was pale, tired. My eyes were sunken in and I was far too skinny. My own fragility was far too evident in my own reflection. And I knew it was all my fault. I had wanted this, wished it upon myself. What I had wanted wasn’t here.
I picked up my bag, left the gross public restroom and started walking. Slowly, of course, broken as I was. I carried all I owned- it wasn’t all too much. Yet my burdens were much too large for me to bear. I was so stupid for not knowing this would happen. So this was my last shot, the knot at the end of my rope before I fell into the darkness below me. I could only hope the knot would not come unraveled. I knew I deserved the darkness- but that fate was horrible. I’d do anything, anything at all, to get away from it.
The concrete was cold and hard under the worn out soles of my shoes. My feet throbbed in protest. The city was dirty- smog filled the air. These were the slums, the lowest of the low, where crime was survival. There were other people like me on the side of the road, begging for food. Their wide eyes were pitiful, sad- broken, like me. The same thing, the same addiction as mine had put them there, and we all needed out desperately. I promised myself that if I ever found the answer, ever got out of this mess, I’d come back and save as many of them as would listen to me. There were other people too, people who looked okay. But I looked in their eyes as they drove past me in their fancy cars and I knew they weren’t. None of us were okay. We were all falling, all addicted. And I was in too deep. I would try to stop, but the hold on me was too strong. It was a habit- and one that I couldn’t give up.
The apartment building was subtle, and in all appearances, nothing special. But there had to be something for me here. Had to be, or I was lost. It was all the hope I had left. But as desperate as I had become, pressing the buzzer to send my voice through the intercom was difficult. I didn’t want him to see me this way. I wanted to hold on to my pride, pretend I was okay on my own, pretend I could beat this, get better. But I wasn’t and that overcame whatever pride I might have had left. So I pressed the buzzer.
“Hello?” came the voice over the intercom. Did he know it was me? Would he have sounded angrier if he did?
The words I needed to say stubbornly refused to come out of my mouth. I opened and closed my mouth, but I couldn’t say a word. There was too much to say, to explain. I was scared.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” the voice came again, sounding confused.
I started sobbing. This was all I had left. And he shouldn’t still want me and I knew it. He should be mad, turn me away, and threaten me to never come back. Tears were pouring down my face now. Could he hear my sobs? Would he know who I was, what I needed? Would he be willing to give me what I didn’t deserve? I sobbed harder.
The door swung open in front of me, but I didn’t see who was there. I looked up, my vision blurry through my tears. I stepped inside- it was warm, comforting. I dropped my bag and fell to the ground, exhausted, beyond caring anymore.
I wanted to curl up in a ball and fade out of existence. I didn’t deserve to be here. I didn’t deserve anything but darkness and I hated it, hated myself, hated what I had become.
I felt someone next to me pick up my bag and slide it on to their back and then there were strong arms underneath me, carrying me deeper into the apartment. I couldn’t see who it was or where I was going through my blurry vision.. All my strength was failing me. It had taken all I had to come collapse on this doorstep. How pathetic of me. My eyes closed, and consciousness faded in a rush of dizziness.
Time went by in a blur as withdrawal set in. as much as I had hated my addiction, I had no willpower to withstand this torture. The pain was excruciating. I screamed. I didn’t know where I was, didn’t know anything. My body didn’t have what it needed, the drugs I hated depending on. I craved them, tossed and turned, looking for that which I hated, needing them, but hoping I wouldn’t find them for my own sake.
And then, in time, the pain subsided. My body balanced itself out without the drugs. I wasn’t high. I was normal. For the first time in a long time I could breathe right, sleep deeply. It was amazing. I felt cleaner, lighter.
I became aware of my surroundings slowly. I was in a large comfortable bed in a room all alone. My bag, my burden, was nowhere to be seen. It was calm here, now that my turmoil had ended.
The door opened, and someone entered the room. Tears filled my eyes, but this time they weren’t sad. I threw the covers off, jumped out of bed and threw my arms around him.
“Daddy!” I cried.