"is that for everyone?"
two circular confections stood, topped with numbers marking numbers so high in sobreity, that this 5 month-old newborn'll be well entrenched in medicare, or at least languishing, with camille-esque intention, well into her third or fourth transplant.
it was her tone.
i could feel her desperation before i saw it.
her breath on my shoulder; moist with misery, unshouldered pain.
and there she stood. her eyes, pinballing wilder than her matted, two-toned, head-and-shoulders shock. the very aa definition of, "the only the requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking".
and into those unfocused beady, benzo-ed, baby-blues i glimpsed october and stuck out my hand,
"hi. i'm henriette."
"hi. i'm d.d."
she didn't see the gentle irony in passing over coffee at an aa meeting, labeling it corrosive; no, she needed a "lemon lift", reaching for the tea with adolescent awkwardness, hormonal havoc. d.d was a study in unstep 1. her white, stained sweats stiff with stink; her posture loaded low with life. with her boisterous boom and unrespect of the room, there was a collective swinging of the heads our way and an embarrassing tsunami of "ssshhhh!"s...
but, it was post-meeting that this june bug relinquished her black lacquered sheen, and wiggled her soft, muted underbelly, warts and all.
in her chemical haze, her words ricocheted faster than the pinball wizard in his prime. we were on the east coast with her asshole ex-husband and 9 year-old son. we were in india. we were in turkey. we were in south central. we were on skid row defecating in the middle of the street. and amidst the sex, lies and rape, my heart seared open...
but for two choices, i am her.
but for one of mine.
but for one of his.
and so i did the only thing i could.
i gave her my phone number. and said to call me 24/7.
because the difference with d.d was one thing.
she had shown up.
our shackled hands steered her a handful of blocks to glendale hospital; then this phoneless? homeless? helpless? addict climbed out of our car, clasping two clear hospital bags of belongings and blistered my heart. with a profusion of thanks she headed towards the e.r., doubtless to stake another panic attack and claim its rewards. but, as i sighed into my seat, my husband finished my thought and handed me a bill.
"d. ddddddddd........", i screamed...
"did i forget something?"
and we came together like long lost friends.
"no. here." i breathed, holding out the $20.
"that's too much", she breathed back.
"just try not to use with all of it", realizing how ridiculous it sounded as it slipped my lips. "just try to eat something".
"but, i'm fat", she quipped, sounding equally ridiculous.
and then her eyes glistened. not with pill-popped, popcorned insanity. not with lip-licking anticipation of her next high. but with gratitude. and love.
at least, i'm going to believe that.