You Fall to Rise

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I have the biggest headache known to mankind.

I roll onto my side, trying to escape the sunlight, and something catches my arm. The surface I'm lying on is cold and unforgiving, tugging my shirt as I move, but it's easier to breathe like this. Even with my head hanging and the side of my neck stretched, it's easier to breathe.

"Morning, Dan," William says.

I smile, picturing him moving around our bedroom with his hair a mess and glasses smudged. My eyes won't open yet, but the sunlight is coming from the wrong direction. I'm sure I'm lying on my right shoulder, so the window should be behind—

"Stop grinning. This is serious and we need to talk."

His voice hits me with a wave of nausea.

Slowly, like sunlight reaching over a mountain top, I remember what happened. I remember leaving work and choosing to not go straight home. I remember seeing the paper-thin chance and lunging at it, squeezing myself between buildings. My right arm feels heavy beneath me, like the blood is replaced with lead, and I stop breathing.

If I had filled myself with lead, rather than heroin, this would be so much easier.

I squint at him between dry eyelids and feel the pressure in my shoulder suddenly break. Face down, I recognise this rough, cold surface as concrete.

I struggle to sit, but the biggest challenge is hiding my weakness from William. My arms shudder as I push myself far enough to tip my weight backwards, onto my knees.

"Right," William sighs, hands folded over his lap. He's wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans which, any other day, would make me smile. "What do we do?"

It's unfair of him to ask. This isn't a 'we' problem—this is something I have to work out and I shake my head, ready to answer, when a different question crosses my heavy mind.

"How did you find me?"

"Doctor's instinct," he mutters, looking down at his fingers as if they're more interesting than me. "Or a partner's instinct—I don't know, but I found you and that's the one positive we have."

I can't speak. He looks cold and tired, like he's been sat on the concrete with me all night. I have no memory of him finding me, and no idea how I came to be lying down in this alleyway.

"I'm gonna get you some help," he whispers. "I hadn't realised you still—we'll make it better. I wish you'd told me you wanted it again. I'll get you into therapy and anything else you need. But you have to try, Dan."

I don't have the strength to tell him he's wrong. I didn't want it last night and I've never wanted it—even when I needed it so badly it nearly killed me. Getting over this a second time is impossible.

I nod and let him think he can help.


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