by Peggy McFarland
A disembodied voice. "Had enough?"
Sounds like Zeke. I don't answer. Yes, I've had enough, but no, not enough. Never enough. I crave more.
But not today.
Nausea waves. He's not here. Zeke cannot be here.
"Are you a quitter?" Zeke's voice again. His derisive laugh.
I am a quitter. One hour at a time.
I hug my knees and shiver on the bare mattress. A spring stabs. All I've got. Dirty clothes piled on the floor among ashes and rot and I don't know what else. A torn shade blots the window, but does it cover cracks or glass—windowpane? window-pain? only pain—I don't know what's on the other side.
I am a quitter. One minute at a time.
My room. My world. All that's left. And it reeks. Sweat. Vomit. Despair.
I am a quitter. One dry heave at a time.
Just have to make it to the other side. The clean side. Withdraw.
...all I see is black light within a red haze. My world is a negative. From the corner, a crack pipe glows. His laugh mocks. He should not be here. Zeke is dead....
My negative hand floats before my vision. I reach for Zeke.
An ember flares, ignites, takes wing. Not a pipe. His force. His soul. I push. I could follow.