The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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Nick is a heroin addict and alcoholic who does “not want to use anymore” but struggles with staying clean. He relapsed at a Leftöver Crack show for the first time in 6 months and used heroin and crack cocaine on Halloween. Currently, he is using again but does not believe that he has a habit.

The guitars come loud and fast, the drums hammer, and Stza Crack, the legendary vocalist, writhes around onstage, pointing at young kids who were too young to remember when Leftöver Crack formed and at older punks, like myself, who remember being smacked out in the front row ten years ago. 

The band finishes its set and packs up and everyone clears out. The air is warm outside for the mid-October night and the kids hang around the corner smoking cigarettes and comparing patched vests. I notice someone leaning against the side of the building, alone, greasy-haired and skinny. His neck droops down and his head rests against his chest.

I approach him and he slowly looks up at me. I can feel the craving — an itching in my arm, a shortness in my breath, a tightening in my stomach. It’s been six months, but it hasn’t gone away.

“Got any dope?” I ask him

He just nods at me and I hand him a twenty dollar bill, crumpled and sweaty from a night of moshing and stage diving. The man moves into the alley next to us and I follow. He hands me a baggie with a black, tarry substance and three clean needles. 

I don’t even thank him as I rush back to my car, slide into the front seat, and dig around for something glass to cook the smack in. I pull a mason jar that my daughter used to hold buttercups out of the backseat, pour some water in, and hold my lighter underneath, letting the tar dissolve. 

The needle sucks up the syrupy concoction easily. I tie my bandana around my bicep and in seconds, my veins are showing. Six months ago, my veins were gone. Collapsed. Fucked. Now, I’m strong again. 

I see my face in the rearview mirror, see brown eyes resigned. I don’t ask my higher power for anything. I want to use and that’s on me. 

The needle slides into my thin arm so easily, fitting in as if it never left. I push down on the plunger with a steady hand and watch as my blood mixes with the dope before it is all in my bloodstream. 

Whoosh. That is the sound that I imagine hearing as warmness envelopes me. I am calm. Nothing else matters. I am back in the womb. The feeling is that of an old lover you never quite forgot wrapping her soft arms around your throat, reminding you just how beautiful a dangerous love is. 

My eyes roll back in my head and my body goes slack in the front seat. Six months is gone like that. I know that this will make me want to drink and smoke crack, so why am I doing it? 

I can’t function without it — I don’t know how to. I lose my job, ignore my family, destroy every relationship I have when I’m sober. I should ask my higher power to help me, but I’m weak. I have no power over it. 

“It’s not up to me”

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