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Friday, January 18, 2008

Fiction Fridays: A Very Bad Thing (part 1)

Here's something I've been working on, on and off, for a few years now. Mostly, I just open it up, re-read it, maybe fix a bit of wording, and then close it again. Every once in a while, I'll extend it by a couple of paragraphs. It's nowhere near finished, but I think it makes an interesting read, what I've got so far. I marked it as part 1, but there may never be a part 2 (or more). Anyway, enjoy.

When I was seven years old, my uncle did a very bad thing to me. He's dead now though -- I made sure he paid for what he did to me. It only happened once, but it made me feel like I was bad, and in my seven-year-old mind I couldn't see that it was my uncle who the was bad one.

By the time I was nine, I had sunk to a level, emotionally, that no child should ever have to reach. With two years of hating myself behind me, I had developed a pattern of angry outbursts, destructive behaviour, and self-degradation that marked an indelible path in both directions of the map of my life. I was well-positioned to become the "problem child" that teachers had already labeled me as.

I started doing drugs in grade seven, when a boy from the high school next to my school offered me a pill that he said would make me "hate life less". It worked, too well, but of course only temporarily. I went back to him for more, and he gave me my next two hits for free, but then he told me I had to pay, "just like everyone else." I gave him all the change I had in my pockets, which wasn't much.

He took the money, and gave me my pill, blue on one end and yellow on the other. Then he pushed me against a tree with his left hand clutching my collar and snarled that next time I had to pay full price, or I'd get nothing. As he walked away, I hated him, hated myself, swallowed the pill dry, and waited for it to work its blue and yellow magic. It worked; I stopped hating for a while.

After two days of not knowing how to get the money he demanded, I stole all the change off my father's dresser before going to school, and paid full price for the drugs. I paid full price for stealing that money too, but not right away. It wasn't until a few months later that my father caught me. He had suspected for a while, but didn't want to believe it at first. Finally, he pretended to leave the house with a loud "Good-bye!" and "Have a good day at school!" call up the stairs to me as I lurked in my bedroom waiting for him to go. He followed that up with opening and closing the door, but instead of going out, he quietly took his shoes off and caught me with his coins cupped in my small hands in the doorway to my parents' room.

"What the hell are you doing?" he demanded, holding his black leather shoes in his right hand, and all his anger in an awkward clench of his left fist. My feeble, sputtered explanations were lost in the clatter of the coins as they fell to the hardwood floor. The noise seemed to shatter him, and his face scattered as he told me in a low voice to clean up the coins and put them back on his dresser. Then he turned away from me, sat on the top of the stairs, and put his shoes back on. He went off to work without another word, and that silence was the beginning of the end of my father's love. I paid for my drugs with my father's love.

After that, my memories are blurry for a while. I gave the drug boy my Walkman, and he told me it was worth ten pills. I tried to make them last as long as possible, but having them all at once was too hard to resist. I was back for more, with my expensive cross-trainers hanging from my fingers a week later. That got me ten more pills, but they only lasted five days.

Backpack, Game Boy, jean jacket, CD's, DVD's -- I told my mother that I had lost the items I traded for drugs. She believed me, but my father wouldn't let her buy me new ones. That made me angry at the time, and I broke a lamp as I raged about the living room, but in retrospect, I can't blame him, or her. Just myself.

After a week, and two more fruitless tantrums at home, I went to the drug boy and begged him for more pills. I didn't think it would work, but he gave me one anyway. Then he told me he didn't want to lose my business, and he knew a way for me to get more money for the pills. That was just what I needed to hear, and the freebie was stirring up my brain again.

I went that very afternoon, while the buzz was still on. I knew I'd never do it otherwise. A twelve-year-old girl in a Wal-Mart by herself has the potential to attract attention, but I just stayed in the toy section looking at Barbies until I stopped getting funny looks. Then I wandered around for a bit until I came to the hair care section. It seemed almost too easy to slip a curling iron up my skirt, one end tucked in my panties to hold it in place against the inside of my thigh, and then casually wander away. I thought I was so clever then, waiting 15 more minutes looking at greeting cards, before leaving -- and it turned out I really was, since no one stopped me.

I gave the boy the curling iron when I saw him the next day, and he told me it was worth two pills. So two days later I was back in the Wal-Mart, and emerged with an electric shaver. After that it was a digital clock, and then another curling iron. But I was getting worried, stealing so much so soon. I wasn't stupid, just addicted -- I knew that someone was going to notice me if I kept it up at that store. So I branched out. I hit the Zellers, then the Bay, then a couple of smaller stores in the mall. I managed to get an expensive pair of suede pants out of a clothing store, under a pair of tear-aways. The store was new, and busy, and they hadn't set up their sensor equipment at the entrance of the store yet. Those pants got me ten pills all by themselves.

Then, one day, in the air conditioned comfort of the mall, protected from the oppressive fever of a ten day heat wave, but not from the all-consuming fever of my year-long addiction, I got caught.




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