Clarissa, the addicton
Coming to in a hospital bed, I thought, fuck. Not again. Apparently, a botched suicide attempt; pills and liquor—nothing beyond the norm. Just more this time. It surprised me, really, because I never saw myself as a suicide case.
Clarissa was in the bed next to me for similar reasons. She had cut her wrists the wrong way.
“Come here often?” I ventured.
She gave a morphine smile. “Yeah. The food is great.”
Clarissa and I were soon moved to a separate facility where we were put on watch and made to attend group therapy. Here we shared things about our pasts in front of other fuckups much like ourselves. Step four of the program, I recall, was a recap of all the terrible things we did because of our addictions, for which we were to write a kind of story for the group. As one might imagine, this was a bitch of a step for me.
“The State took away my twins,” Clarissa said. “I had it in my head that if I made enough scratch, I could get them back. So I started selling my body.”
She went on to say that she systematically broke every single promise she had made to herself, one at a time. At first, there was no prostitution, just drug dealing. Then, it was only one guy at a time. Then, only two. And certainly nothing on camera. Never that…
Women are a hell of a lot stronger than men, I realized yet again. They may have a hard time with spiders and rats and cockroaches, and perhaps they need your help to move the sofa—but they can carry the weight of the world on their narrow little shoulders without flinching. And though Clarissa weirded me out to no end and I knew a relationship with her was the last thing either of us needed, I admired her queer interpretation of strength. I’ve seen a lot of shit. I’ve hurt. But, after hearing her stories, I knew I never could’ve bore what she went through. She was only 26, yet she had seen and felt enough to last 50 lifetimes. Part of me wanted to run and hide. Part of me wanted to swallow all of her pain like a war hero who leaps upon a grenade to save his fellow man.
It’s an odd thing about addicts. They’re addictive. They’ve seen the cold black mirror. Why this is attractive, I have no idea.
The night before my release, they deemed she wasn’t yet ready. Turned out, I wasn’t a suicide case. It was just an accident. I was troubled, for sure, but not in need of medical control. When I went to find Clarissa, she wasn’t in her room. I wanted to say goodbye and to thank her for being my friend in this terrible, sterile place.
Eventually I found her in the bathroom, sitting under the running water of the shower, a polaroid of her twins in hand, eyeliner running down her face.
Tears in her eyes, she looked up to me. “It will never be clean, Knox,” she said.
Fully clothed, I climbed into the shower with her, sat down and held her hand. “I—” I began. Then I thought better of it. There was nothing to say. Some things will never wash off.
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