Addiction.

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Addict. One word. Lives change.

Addiction. Some believe it is a state of mind. Others: a disease. Either way, it consumes a person. Worse. It consumes the family. Affecting how the family is perceived. The love for the addict consumes the Mother. The Father, an addict of a different sort, understands. The Sisters. They see the Brother. See exactly what he is doing. What he is doing to himself, to the family. His disregard for the Mother. Always taking, never changing. Mother says: “He says he’s trying.” “He says this is the last time.” “He says it is money for the bus.” But the Sisters know better. Heroin. Crack. Marijuana. Alcohol. Their brother can’t stop. He won’t believe He has a problem. No job. Bad apartment. Bad lifestyle.

“Beat It” by Michael Jackson plays. Don’t answer it. She knows it’s Him. Knows what He wants. She answers. She always does. “No... No... Stop... Listen to me... No... Stop. No. Listen. I’m sorry, no.” Sweat begins to bead on her top lip and forehead as she struggles to stay strong in her convictions. Her voice wavers. “Please listen to me. No I won’t give you money. I do love you. Just please. No.” Her eyes glaze over as she begins to envision the little boy in him. The one she raised. “Oh Mommy PLEASE?!” She hears the little boy beg. But that’s wrong. It’s hard for her to think of him like that. He isn’t that five year-old anymore. Twenty-four years have passed by her little five year-old. Yet still begging. “I need it Mom. Mom. It’s just twenty bucks, Mom. I’ll pay you back tomorrow. MOM. COME ON!...” The youngest sister is still living with the parents. She can hear Him on the phone. Yelling. Yelling at their mom. Her dislike of her Brother only grows when he calls. Why can’t He just get it together? Every time she hears her mother’s phone ring... “Just Beat It.” She cringes.
Visit Him. Everyone lock the doors. It’s a bad neighborhood. Pull in, park. Slowly, very slowly, while trying to keep one eye on everywhere, they get out of the car. Hearts beating. Not realizing they’ve stopped talking. They walk. The family. Walk to a door. Once it had a color, but no longer. Reach the Apartment. Knock. Knock. Pause. Chains scrape against the lock. Informing the family he is opening the door. The hinges creak with old age. Walk in. Clothes cover the floor. They are the floor. Walk in on the clothes. T.V is on. It is always on. Everything in the one bedroom apartment has a layer of filth covering it. Even the air feels dirty. Crusting dishes piled on tables. Counters layered with partially consumed meals and half filled drinks. Cigarette butts put out on plates. Ash everywhere. Stale smoke blends with the smell of dirty laundry. A pungent odor. A poison he can’t detect. They don’t want to be here. Who would want to be here? Forced to come along: the youngest sister sulks, counting the seconds until they leave.
They just came to drop off milk and dog food. His tiny dog. Black, sleek, sweet, a Daschund. Master Chief, quietly slinks out to investigate the new visitors. They drop off what they came to donate. They start to leave. With the insincere hug from the Sister, the hopeful hug and kiss on the cheek from the Mother and a handshake-pat on the shoulder from Father, they leave, knowing they’ll get another desperate call soon.

All around the youngest sister she sees kids her age experimenting. One joint. It’s just one. Cigarettes. She doesn’t understand. They see the movies. The pictures. They’ve been to school. The redundant lectures they get once a year starting at age six. But they choose to smoke. It doesn’t make sense. She’s seen what happens when it gets out of control. When it’s no longer just one joint. One hit. When it becomes one joint a day. One gram a day. One cigarette a day. One pack a day. When it becomes too much to handle. She knows she will never make those stupid mistakes. But what will happen to the kids that do?
They don’t all turn out like Him. What makes Him so special? They say He has an addictive personality. To her it sounds like an excuse, but she hopes it’s true. It allows this sister to keep some form of respect for her brother. She wonders what happened to the big brother. The big brother she needed. He wasn’t there. Always selfish. He wasn’t there. At her recitals, at her basketball games. He wasn’t there when she needed someone to talk to. She hears that’s how some siblings are. They come. They’re there. The older sister was there, some of the time. But He never was.

The Mother has so much love for the family. She lives and breathes with the way it works. She always has hope. She has to. She has to believe it will all work out. They can become a “normal” family. She has to believe that the little boy is still in him somewhere. Somewhere, despite the drugs. Somewhere, beyond the manipulation. What happened to that little boy? The true brother of the Sisters? She knows he is somewhere inside. In His drug consumed mind. The Mother will always hope.

Some recover.

My brother: As of the Thirteenth of December 2008, 120 days sober.





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