When Andra and Gabe come out of the bathroom, they made their way to the dinner table, eyes gleaming and avoidant of our knowing stares . Things had changed since you left. They were now together, which we predicted. When I told you that over the phone, you yell ” I KNEW IT!” and I could imagine your face beaming at the novelties of discovering something so trivial. Everything was curious since you were no longer here to see it happen. Of course we had all heard the faint moans and occasional thuds against the paper thin walls of the house, months before we sat in the living room asking you to seek help. People had said things about this house on Lewis Street, you did drugs here, you collapsed in the bathroom on thanksgiving here, and there were rumors that you overdosed and died, here. Everything that happened to you from February onwards, happened to all of us.
” Stop.. stop saying that, stop doing that. ” I replied. My throat was dry, and my eyes searched my room in the darkness for the pamphlet I had with the sucicide hotline numbers.
” This is what this experience is like for me, I think about it all the time, you know in my sleep, when I wake up. They wean your body of it, but the battle is actually in here..” I hear the thud on the other end of the line, and I know you were tapping your head.
” Derek, I’m always here , you know that”
” I do, but what happens when you are no longer, like Gabe, like Andra, what happens when you go away because this is too much for you, because I will relapse again, because this is a disease, and sometimes the feeling is so consuming, I think I need it more than I need food, more than I need myself, what happens then?”
The line is silent, because I don’t know. I can’t make promises to you.
” I don’t know” I whisper. Because I don’t. I did not want to admit that though I loved you, this was a burden too, because I wanted to help, I wanted to extend myself, but I didn’t know what it felt like to be a slave to your own whims.
” You know.. when Gabe found you that night, he cried all the way to the hospital, he was whimpering like a child, finding it hard to swallow, bawling like a baby, you broke his heart” I say.
” I didn’t know that.” you reply
” Well there’s a lot you don’t know. Andra packed everything for you, packed all your shit from Lewis street and drove all the way to Boston to your mum’s, fought people in hallways when they called you a druggie. Them not being here doesn’t mean they don’t care, they’re grieving in their own way. They don’t like seeing you like this. “
” and you.. what happened when you found me?”
” I hated you for it. I wanted to never speak with you again, I blamed you for making wrong choices, the others couldn’t convince me otherwise. I hated who you had become , I didn’t think of this as a disease, I blamed you..” I reply. I was ashamed of my answer, but it had haunted me since the day you had been found, your mouth foaming frothing with white, and your body jerking all over the place.
” At least you’re being honest” you reply. The line is shaky and I hear a voice in the back ground say ” time to go Mr Clayton, we might need to start putting you on a leash”, and then the line went dead.