“Heroin enters the brain very quickly. This effect makes it very addictive. And each time you use heroin, the more you need to get high. One of the greatest risks with this drug is how extremely easy it is to become dependent.”

As we lay in the bed that you tumbled into almost an hour ago, shaking and sweating, I cradle your head in my arms with your face against my stomach. I’m sitting with my back against your undecorated, cold, bare wall, literally and figuratively. I run my fingers delicately through your hair, which by the way is getting longer than I’m used to seeing. I can tell that you haven’t had it cut in quite a while; just another reminder of how you no longer care about anything, especially yourself. I glance around your tiny room that used to be a utility closet. You haven’t lived here for long, but as you put it, it’s somewhere you can lay your head at night. There aren’t any photographs or anything personal to let someone know that a living, breathing human being lives in here. It makes me think of your old room; the one where we spent long days and even longer nights loving each other desperately. That room had life; you would find photographs and posters on the wall, love notes strewn across your dresser, various movies that we had “watched” but had never actually seen because we were too busy watching each other, and a box full of nostalgic treasures underneath your bed. That room had a heartbeat. The room we are in now is an empty, dead corpse.

When you called me, my heart dropped down to my stomach, then slowly liquefied, oozing down to the ends of my toes. We hadn’t spoken in months. Of course, I kept up with you through mutual friends and the double-edged sword known as social media (Myspace, at the time). I knew you had moved and found a new set of friends, a new job, and, more importantly, drugs. You had essentially morphed into a completely different person. I can’t say, looking back, that it surprises me. We were both teenagers, trying on different personalities to see which one fit the best, just as a girl at a retail store might do when trying on a new dress. However, I never imagined that you would go down this path. 

“I need you. I know we haven’t talked and you don’t love me anymore, but please. I need you.”

Within minutes, I was in my beat-up thunderbird, driving like a maniac to get to you. I didn’t know why you needed me. I didn’t know what to expect when I pulled up in your driveway. I just knew that you needed me. That’s all it took for me to drop everything and run to you.

When I got there, you were standing in the driveway. You looked so different. You resembled a ghost, your skin white and lifeless. You forced a half-smile as you watched me slowly climb out of my car, making eye contact the entire time. As I slowly walked towards you, your features became more prominent. You had lost weight. Your eyes were somewhat sunken in and underneath them were the faintest of dark circles. I think it was then that my heart broke into a thousand pieces, never to be fully put back together again.

“I’ve gone cold turkey. And the withdrawals are a bitch.”

At that, I had to giggle to myself. You always were so blunt and direct. That was one of the many different things I loved about you. I immediately wrapped my arms around your thin neck and rested my head on your chest. You released a long breath, one that seemed to have been held for months. Your body seemed to crumble at my touch, as you collapsed into me. It caused me to realize how much the roles had reversed. You used to be my soft place to land when I was spinning out of control with my self-destructive ways. But now, you acted as if you had finally lain down in your comfortable (and much longed for) bed after a painful and exhausting journey. I was your home.

Looking down at you, you looked so small. You were miniature; a smaller and generic replica of the boy I used to love. I wanted to scoop you up and put you in a locked jewelry box, to protect you from this cruel and horrible world, to protect you from yourself. You seemed so fragile, so frail. I ran my fingers along your arms, hesitating at the markings, as if looking at artwork that told a depressing and heartbreaking story. There were some red dots, some bruising. I wanted to kiss each and every coloration, as if that would somehow make them disappear. 

You turned your head so that your face was peering up into mine. Your deep brown eyes met my sea-green ones. Your eyes that had been so empty when I first arrived were now filled with pain, regret, and fear. 

“I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I just need a fix.”

“No, I’m here. I will be here until you don’t need me anymore. We will see this through together.”

“I will always need you though. I have always needed you.”

My phone rang. You asked if it was him, the guy who had been occupying my heart, the place where you used to be. I lied. I slowly slid out from underneath your head and rose, walking over to your nightstand, the only other piece of furniture in your room. I turned my phone off and came back over to the bed, sitting at the edge of your feet. I lightly put my hand on top of yours.

“I knew you’d come. I knew you would save me.”

“You’re my Heroine.”

You used to tell me that you were addicted to me; I was your drug. At the time, as an angsty and naïve teenager in love, those were the most romantic words you could have ever said to me. I was intoxicating to you. You couldn’t get enough of me. In my 16-year-old mind, that is what true love was: wanting to spend every waking moment together, indulging in each other and forgetting that the rest of the world existed. 

Reflecting back on our tumultuous relationship, I realize now that we were in a toxic and unhealthy co-dependent relationship. I think that even at 16, I realized that. That is why I did everything I could to sabotage it, even though I loved you madly. I chalked it up to self-destruction and being a typical teenager, yet I think that I subconsciously knew that we could never live happily ever after. You made me feel wanted and needed; something I had never felt before I met you. I felt that because you loved me, I was worth something. 

You loved me intensely. Maybe you loved me too much. When we were together, we didn’t do drugs, other than a couple of Xanax here and there because we loved the calm feeling we’d get after taking them; we were always running on a higher energy level than everyone else, almost in a manic state of mind, when we were together. We didn’t even drink that much except for when we were with friends and wanted to be “cool”. Maybe that’s why it took me by surprise when I found out that you had dove head-first into the drug world, almost immediately after we broke up.

I realize now that you were only trying to get back that feeling; the feeling that only I could provide for you, and vice versa. I remember the sleepless nights and the emptiness I felt in your absence, when I finally pushed you far enough away. I know that feeling of wanting the “high” again. I understand that even though we didn’t smoke weed or snort crack or drink until we felt invincible, we were on drugs. We had an addiction, on the verge of obsession with one another, and didn’t even realize it. You were mine, and I was yours. When I finally kicked the habit and forced you to do the same, you had to find something else to fill that void. 

“You’re my heroin.”

The same sentence, two completely different meanings. Which one did you mean, my love? I was trying to save you, while in turn trying to save myself. I know that in the end, I could have never saved you. Saving you meant that I would have to love you again, but you are no longer that 18-year-old boy from down the street, nor am I the 16-year-old girl-next-door. 

Was I your Heroine? Did I help you grow into a decent and loving man, no longer jaded and scarred? Or was I your crippling addiction? Your heroin? Was I your gateway drug that led you down the destructive path that you continued to travel even after I left you for good?

I guess I will never know, as that was the last night we ever spent together. I hope that I was your Heroine. I wanted so badly to save you from yourself. TC Mark

Maureen is a 20-something pre-med student at the University of Central Florida. She hopes to one day become a neurosurgeon. She enjoys running, writing, being a hot mess, and complaining about the weather. Email her: maureen.townsend09@gmail.com

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