Finally Clean

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Short Story #2: Finally Clean

Inspired by: "Clean" by Taylor Swift from the album "1989"

The night is black with the exception of a few street lights that are shining. The air is cool but just enough to cure the breeze with a light hoodie. I can't believe I'm back at it again. After all of the classes and months of rehab, here I am back at it making late night trips to my dealer.

I walk with my hands in the pockets of my hoodie, making sure I keep my supply safe. It cost me my last bit of money and I wouldn't want to lose it because it slipped out. My mother worries about me and my father has basically lost hope. They're good parents and they have sacrificed everything for me yet, I can't stop my ways.

They've put me in every program and spent countless dollars on my recovery but I can't seem to stick to the straight and narrow road. I want to get better but for some reason I can't. I've tried my best but my best hasn't been good enough.

I grew up with the best education and my parents did all they could for me but nothing was ever enough to keep me clean. I think I was wired this way.

My car was taken away from me as a precaution so I won't do things like go on a late night run to my dealer's house; but not even the lack of transportation could stop me from my urges. I pick up the pace as I walk the distance to my home. It's a bit of a walk from my dealer's to my house but to me it's worth it.

I'm a few blocks away from my house when I hear sirens coming up from behind me. Oh no! I can't afford to get caught again. I turn around as I continue walking in the middle of the street to see a police vehicle heading straight toward me. Strangest thing, they don't seem to slow down. As the car gets closer I quickly jump over to the side walk. The patrol car races past me, never even acknowledging that it almost ran me over.

"Prick!" I yell out in anger even though I know the car is long gone and the driving officer couldn't possibly hear me.

Who does that? I think to myself as I continue on my walk home. A few seconds later I hear more sirens. I stop walking to see what's happening as a firetruck, more cop cars and an ambulance pass me by. Something terrible must be happening nearby. Maybe a fire or something. The good news is that they'll all be too busy worrying about the current crisis that I won't stick out like a sore thumb on a school night.

I'm only 16 years old and where I live, the neighborhood is pretty strict about curfew times. A young kid like me out after 11pm without adult supervision is bound to be heading into trouble. Parents around here like all minors to be in by 7pm on weekdays and 9pm on weekends. They think it helps us avoid trouble. It never worked out for me.

As I get closer to where I live, the commotion of the sirens resurges and from afar I can see a crowd forming. There's yellow tape blocking certain areas. This must be a big one, I think to myself. I haven't seen this much action since my neighbor Mr. McIntyre suffered a heart attack in his home. Thankfully he lived but from the amount of people that crowded outside his home, you would think it was a home-going service for him or something. I shake my head at the thought of how people can never grant others privacy during times like these.

The closer I get I can see the lights from the sirens lighting up the night sky. I duck under the tape to walk onto the block that I live on. I stop in my tracks when I see the house that's causing all of the commotion belongs to me. I quickly push through the crowd but no one seems bothered by it. In fact, they're acting as if I'm not yelling "excuse me" over and over as I try to get to my home.

The first person I think of is my mom. What if she's hurt? What if the stress of everything has finally gotten to her?

I go up to the first officer I see. "What's going on? What happened?" The officer seems to ignore me and continue on with speaking to his partner. I hear something over their radio about the victim being a female.

It must be my mom.

Tears fill up in my eyes. Victim? What happened to her? Maybe this is my fault. Maybe I should have been home instead of going out for a quick fix? What if someone broke in and harmed her? If I was around I could've stopped it or done something. Immediately guilt consumes me.

"The victim is my mother!" I yell out to another officer but again, no one hears me. He walks past me as if I don't even exist. They must think I'm just another nosey neighbor looking to get more information to gossip about.

"What a shame. She was still young," I overhear someone say. I couldn't make out if it came from the crowd or from an officer or paramedic.

Was? Does this mean my mother is dead? Did the intruder kill her? Why wasn't I home? Why couldn't 10 months of being sober be enough for me to stay away?

My soul goes numb. I can't feel a thing. I let a tear fall as I stand there silently waiting for some kind of news. That's when I see it. The paramedics bringing someone out on a stretcher inside of a black body bag.

"MOM!" I scream out. "No, mommy!" I fall to my knees and cry but it seems as if everyone ignores my state.

That's when I'm forced to look up after hearing the distinct sound of a familiar voice. I look up to see my mother standing next to my father. She's feet away from me as she cries to a police officer. My father is trying to console her and at that moment, I am more confused and worried than I have ever been in my life.

I walk closer to my parents but they must not notice that it's me. I pull my hood from off of my head to reveal myself. "Mom, Dad, what's going on?" I ask.

No one replies. "Who was in our house? Who's in the body bag?" I question as I walk closer. Everyone ignores me.

"So, did she drown or was it an overdose?" my mother asks through her tears as she speaks to the officer in front of her.

"Well, Ma'am, that's not possible to tell at this moment. We believe your daughter drowned as a result of overdosing on drugs. So far, the theory is she took a little more than her body could handle before she went into the bath. She passed out and drowned. I am very sorry. Of course we won't know anything more until she's taken to the morgue and an autopsy and toxicology test is done. Again, I am very sorry. I could only imagine how hard this must be."

I stand there feeling all alone. I have flashbacks of the police car almost running me over, the people in the crowd who wouldn't respond to me pushing them aside, the officers who wouldn't answer me...

How could this be possible? I close my eyes and it all comes back to me. I already made the trip to my dealer. I went home, ran a hot bath and shot the needle into my veins. I don't remember anything else after that.

"I kept calling her over and over. She just wouldn't answer me. I saw the water leaking from under the bathroom door..." my mother cries as my father holds onto her. I can see the tears on his face as well. They really did love me.

"I don't understand. She was sober for 10 months," my father says.

"That could be the problem, sir. Usually when an addict becomes sober for long periods of time and they go back to using, their body can't handle what it used to. I'm afraid your daughter may have made the mistake of thinking she can use as much as she did before she got clean," the officer informs.

I want to say something. I want to tell my parents it'll be okay and they were good parents. I want to say a lot but it wouldn't matter because they couldn't hear me. This is it. This is the life that I lived.

The problem with being sober is that you still miss it...so much that you'll risk your life for it given the chance. So much for finally being clean...

The rain started to fall slowly, only adding to my parents' tears.


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