What started off as an innocent exploration of cigarettes and booze, was now a torrid love affair of narcotics. She wasn’t just addicted to the drugs, but even the procedure of melting it in a spoon over the barely potent flame of a lighter, running out of fluid; the subtle sucking of the syringe – in its savage, insatiable hunger, the needle and Vivian were one and the same – and the bloodthirsty tip breaking into the inside of her elbow, amongst the many older, slowly healing pricks. She yearned the ritual, the gradual preparation of mind and body, before she offered her brain to the gods of stupor.

She’d made a small garden in her backyard for Mary Jane, and grew the plants with utmost care. She sold the best leaves in town, and smoked the better half herself. “Some use those gardening hobby classes came to,” Una had laughed. Vivian had known Una for five months, and that was a lot more than anyone else she’d befriended in the past three years. The constants remained her garden and her clients, everything else she’d learned to make insignificant. Not like it was difficult: a month after she tried coke the first time, her surroundings steadily increased to blur.

Lying on her bed, the sheets spilling onto the floor, she contemplated the small, rolled up plastic pouch with crystals inside, and four sugar cubes with diffused acid. She knew and understood the risk, and used the same explanation she’d employed ever since all of this began – she just wanted to know what it felt like. But the bedroom was no place for this. She had to go outside, rest in the grass, feel the leaves on her skin, and smell the damp soil soaking in sweat from the back of her neck. And so she did.

Times like this were delicate. She often found herself nose-deep in memories, of the times she actually cared, or could feel any kind of affection. Not like it mattered now, there was never any reciprocation, and she had grown weary of hoping for clarity. People never dissolved their ambiguity. Vivian spent most of her teenage years trying to decipher whether someone wanted her to stay, or couldn’t care less. Her first attempt at suicide was unsuccessful via rusted, thin, bending blades. Nobody had told her that they couldn’t stitch longitudinal cuts, so the horizontal ones on her wrists failed to deliver her resignation.

It was only after being subjected to morphine in her hours of agony in the hospital bed that she understood the comfort of the indeterminate. She learned that she could kill the need to comprehend social relations by converting her world to a hazy dream. Nothing need be fathomed, nothing needed attention. She could float through time and space if she didn’t stop to scrutinize.

But things were beginning to catch up. The people she made sure didn’t last for more than half a year caused a dull ache in her, an ache of regret, of loss. She couldn’t suppress her craving for requital, and it seeped into the inertia of her mind.

She looked around her without raising her head. She could see small outbreaks of weed, the kind with tiny purple flowers, and the dark stump of the apple tree she’d planted in her childhood. She smiled briefly, and put a sugar cube under her tongue. Before it had fully dissolved, she put the second, and then the third. She observed the grass next to her face, bending under the weight of her hair. The elation was short-lived, and she panicked when she saw the grass growing through her palms. She reached for her jab of H, tucked inside the pocket of her jacket. She administered more than her usual, to ensure she got out of this bad trip alive and unscarred.

An ephemeral image –

(brown hair, knowing smirk)

Do whatever you like, Viv,

(nonchalant shrug)

it doesn’t matter to me.

(his back turned)

– and then just the warm afternoon sunlight, pouring into her irises and blinding her.

“What the hell,” she muttered, and took the fourth cube.

Vivian watched the skin on her palms peel away, and little saplings pushed through her flesh to reach out to the sky. She smiled one last time.