This was originally posted as part of the Train of Thought Blog project and is still hosted there. If you like it, go have a look at some of the other contributors works as well.
I normally enjoy trains and traveling on them, but I hate this one. An all stations ride that takes forever between each station and waits for eternity at every single one of them. At each stop I curse any passengers who need to use that particular waypoint. Muttering profanities in my misery.
It is midday on Boxing Day. The second worst day of the year to use public transport if you are in a hurry. Surpassed only by New Year’s Day and I am in a hurry.
I am on my way home and want this train to get there as fast as possible. I am running desperately from the fakery of having to act normal around my relatives. Hanging badly because I have been unable to silence the gnawing chatter of my cravings. It has been a week since I stoned myself into oblivion and I can feel it.
For five days I have silently teetered on the edge of screaming abuse at everyone around me. I made pleasant talking noises and tried to ignore my entire body screaming incessantly at me for more heroin. Just one hit to tide me over, a small one if it had to be, but a hit. A hit was all I needed to feel better. But, that cupboard had been bare.
It was Christmas, so I could drink without suspicion. But, it just made me drunk and edgy because the constant creeping itch that crawls my body won’t let me relax for a second. I dutifully hugged Aunts and Uncles and talked to cousins I hadn’t seen for years. The whole time just wanting to be alone so I could curl into a tight little ball and weep with frustration. Be able to let out those great, painful, tear-less sobs that I hope will exorcise the demon I carry. The one that sits inside my head, scratching at the back of my eyes with its insistent little claws. The one that screams “Feed me! Feed me!” Over and over again until it becomes a keening wail of loss and need that I cannot block my ears to. It ebbs and flows, but never disappears completely. It is always there, a fingernail on blackboard mantra that sets my teeth on edge. A demon dirge that makes me nervous, twitchy and unable to sit still.
I’d heard of food turning to ash and vinegar in people’s mouths before, but always assumed it was poetic license. Whereas now I understand it perfectly. Every time I had to sit at a table heaped with festive treats my stomach would turn at the thought of food. But, I would choke down as much as I could so nothing would seem amiss. Only to throw it up later while I ran the taps in the bathroom to cover the sound of my retching.
My family doesn’t know of my addiction so I hide my withdrawal symptoms. Because, if they knew, the sympathy would be unbearable and once I fell into those well-meaning hands I wouldn’t escape without a fight. Besides, it gives me something to focus on. Compared to my cravings, the challenge of appearing normal to a whole bunch of people is a welcome one.
But, that’s over now and I am on this frustratingly slow train home during what is my longest clean stretch so far. I could swear that some of the puffy bruises on my arms have begun to fade a little. A sign that I might actually be getting somewhere. Of course, the battle has only just begun and those bruises taunt me whenever I see them. Softly whispering entreaties that slither around inside my ears like satin tentacles, enticing and revolting at the same time.
I sit alone in the emptiest carriage I could find, staring out the window without really looking. The elation of the doors closing behind me as I stepped on board has long worn off and I have begun to slide down again into the dark places in my head.
I can’t just sit here any longer, it’s too much. Feeling the need to move I stand and walk toward the end of the carriage. Then it hits me. All of the horror that I have kept at bay. A physical wave of craving hits me like a massive breaker at the beach, knocking the wind out of me. I stagger as I walk, suddenly gasping for air. My stomach spasms painfully, punctuating the spinning of my head. I grasp the edge of a seat as my sight begins to strobe. Spots and great coloured splotches appearing in front of my eyes as I fumble my way forward. Knees suddenly too weak to support me collapse and I flop into the seat under the window. Huddling against the wall and clawing at myself as I begin to shake and shiver in my torment.
I remain there. Slowly rocking myself from side to side with the rhythm of the train as I wait for this feeling to fade, afraid to move in case I can no longer control my body. Waiting for it to return itself to me and hoping that this godforsaken locomotive will reach my station soon.