*Features adult language and themes.*
“So, Daisy. How are you today?”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Is there anything in particular bothering you?”
“What do you think?”
The counsellor looked down at the folder in front of her. “We’ve seen each other every day for the past week. You haven’t really told me anything about yourself.” She closed the folder and looked Daisy in the eye. “If this process is going to work for you, you’ll have to open up to me at some point.”
Daisy took another deep drag from her cigarette.
The best thing about these sessions is I can smoke indoors. I guess they relax the laws in this case. They prefer me smoking tobacco to meth.
Daisy looked back at her with steely eyes and refused to say another word.
“I don’t want to pressure you Daisy but I must remind you that you agreed to participate in this process of your own accord. You told the judge that you wanted an opportunity to get off drugs.”
“I didn’t have a lot of choice, did I? It was this or jail.”
“So you don’t want to break your habit?”
Course I don’t. “Course I do, but I don’t see how talking about it is going to help me.”
“Talking about drugs, your attachment to them, your dependancy on them and the reasons you started taking them in the first place might help you cope with withdrawal. It could give you some perspective and hopefully make you realise that you don’t need drugs to live your life.”
Daisy sniffed. I think I can smell bullshit.
The woman sitting opposite her wasn’t what she had expected. When she found out she would have to go through counselling, Daisy expected some morally superior, airy-fairy, tree-hugger that would want to hold hands and chant until she didn’t want drugs anymore. What she’d found was a woman not much older than her, with a shaved head, a nose ring and a hard penetrating stare. Her name was Miranda and she’d spent the last week doing most of the talking. She was a recovering addict. She’d been addicted to heroin, lost her family and destroyed her life before getting clean and deciding to try and help others.
Daisy came into the centre each day for an hour long session. She’d been given a bed in a shelter during her recovery, but was otherwise free to go where she pleased. As soon as she got out of jail Daisy had gone to a dealer for a freebie. She showed up to her first session high and failed the first random drug test. The subsequent tests didn’t seem all that random; done every two days.
The counsellors didn’t seem put out by her behaviour, in fact they told her they expected some use when starting the process but warned her if it continued, she would have to go back to court and would face imprisonment. That made an impact.
She’d been clean for a few weeks after being forced into sobriety while they had her locked up before the hearing. There was nobody to post bail and she didn’t have enough cash to pay for it herself.
Withdrawal had been a new kind of hell. She’d had some bad crashes before, when she’d struggled to find her next hit. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone more than a few days between highs. She hardly moved for the first few days. Breathing seemed like too much of an effort and sleep refused to take her. She stayed awake too tired to move while her stomach felt like it was gnawing on her insides. At times she shivered and couldn’t stay still. Her body was screaming for rest but she had to keep jogging her legs up and down or tapping her hands on the bed. The headaches were normal, almost comforting. Eventually sleep began to break up the unpleasantness. She would pass out for ten hours at a time, but wake up to the same torment.
By the end of the third day she had wanted to kill herself.
As she sat in front of Miranda, she was coming down from her last hit. She hadn’t crashed yet, but it wouldn’t be long. So far she’d been using on a similar schedule to the ‘random’ tests. Making do every few days. It was bearable, but no where near as often, or in the amounts, she would have liked. She was living on the kindness of others. The people she knew, her ‘friends,’ but that wouldn’t last forever. It wouldn’t be long before desperation set in.
“Tell me, Daisy. Why are you here?”
“To get clean.”
“No, I mean, what bought you here specifically. What did you do to get arrested?”
Daisy pointed across at the closed file on Miranda’s lap. “It’s all in there, I’d imagine.”
Miranda patted the file. “Yes it is, but I want you to tell me in your own words. Can you do that for me?”
“I stole something and got caught.”
“What did you steal?”
“You already know. What’s the point in me telling you stuff you already know? You’re the sort of person that watches the same film or reads the same book over and over again, aren’t you?”
“I do know, Daisy. But I want to hear your interpretation of events. All I’ve got is the police reports. It’s all a bit dry and boring. I want to know how it all happened from your point of view.”
Daisy stubbed out the cigarette and immediately lit a fresh one. She paused to glance around the room looking for a clock. It felt like the hour should be up soon. The room they were in was quite small but comfortable. She was sitting on a big squashy chair, the carpets were thick, the air was warm and there was no other noise apart from her breath hissing in and out of her lungs. If Miranda wasn’t in the room with her she would have had no problems falling asleep. Try as she might there wasn’t a clock to be seen anywhere, but she took some time to stare at the gentle abstract artwork on the walls. They used soft colours and wavy lines. The room had been designed to feel cosy and calming. Daisy felt a stab of irritation as she realised the decor had lulled her into its desired state of mind. Miranda showed no outward annoyance, she simply rode the long silence.
Daisy’s fag was half ash, the end threatening to fall into the carpet, before she decided to talk. “I stole a gold necklace from the girl I used to live with. I took it into town and tried to sell it on to a jewellers. They all asked too many questions so I took it to a pawn shop and sold it at scrap value.”
“How much did you get for it.”
“What did you do with the money?”
Daisy sighed. “Another question you know the answer to. I went and bought drugs. I went on a binge. I didn’t sleep for four days, took a lot of meth, had a lot of sex and had a really good time.”
“How did you get caught?”
“By being stupid.”
“I went back to the flat where I stole the necklace. After four days I thought Julie either wouldn’t have noticed it was missing or the worst of it would have blown over. Apparently, I was wrong.
“Turns out the necklace had a bit of sentimental value. It used to be Julie’s grandma’s. She went mental when she noticed it was missing. She called the police and reported it stolen, gave my description, as well as telling them a load of other stuff I’d done in the past.
“When I went back to the flat she forced me into the bathroom, locked me in and waited for the police. She was really pissed off.”
I trashed that bathroom too.
“Can you blame her?”
“No, not really. I deserved it.”
“You deserved it? You accept that what you did was wrong?”
“Yeah. I know stealing is wrong. I’m not a child.”
“If you knew it was wrong, why did you do it?”
“I didn’t care. It wasn’t a choice between right and wrong it was a choice between doing something wrong and not getting my hit. That’s not a choice.”
“Do you feel bad about it now, looking back?”
No. “I guess.”
Miranda paused. Her dark brown eyes staring out of her bony skull, boring into Daisy. She expected her to continue. After a while she carried on. “How do the drugs make you feel?”
Where do I start? The high makes me complete. I’m the best person I’m capable of being. I have endless energy, my mind works at full speed. I know everything, I can do anything. I feel powerful, I feel invincible. It’s what I imagine Superman feels like but I don’t have to worry about hiding my identity, I don’t have to blend in. I live life in the moment. My whole focus is on the next second of my life, nothing before it and nothing after it. I don’t have to think all I need to do is feel. It’s like the best orgasm you’ve ever had multiplied by a million without the mess. There are no restrictions or consequences. Nothing can hold you, nothing can touch you. It’s freedom from the world, freedom from your body, freedom from your mind. “They make me feel good. Better than I do without them. Why would I do it otherwise?”
“OK, how do you feel when you can’t get drugs.”
It’s like the Wizard of Oz. You know how it starts in black and white, then Dorothy arrives in Oz and the world is full of colour and wonder. I never understood why she wanted to go back to the real world once she’d experienced a better place. When I’m not high the world is drab. Monotone. “Shit. Like I do now.”
“Is the high worth feeling like shit?”
“Yeah it is. Like I said, why would I do it otherwise?”
“Do you know the full toll the drugs take on your body? Have you noticed how they affect your health?”
Daisy probed the inside of her mouth with her tongue, where a tooth had fallen out a few weeks ago after her binge. The gap was near the back of her mouth on top. It couldn’t be seen when she smiled. If she smiled. “I’ve looked in the mirror. I know.”
Miranda decided to leave that where it was. Daisy could feel the counsellor’s gaze travel around her face, taking note of every defect she saw. Her thin face, sunken eyes, pale skin. The burns around her mouth and nose. The stare was so hard she probably saw the gap in her teeth, the damage in her lungs and the defects in her brain.
“Despite everything you know, you still want to take meth?”
Yup. “It’s got nothing to do with what I want. Do you want to breathe? It’s not a conscious decision. It’s something I need to live.”
“Have you ever wanted anything else out of life? Relationships? Kids? A career?”
Miranda referred back to her notes. “Do you mind if I ask you about your family, where you grew up?”
“Why would I mind. You probably know the best part of it already.”
“I have no idea what you’re background is, Daisy.” She pointed to the folder. “There’s no proper records here.”
Daisy had started to shake a little. She didn’t think it was noticeable, but she felt the quivers through her muscles, the itch was spreading from her chest. She got up out of the chair and started to pace around the room. “Grew up on a council estate with my Mum and older brother. My Dad would come and visit every now and again. My mum was scared of him, so she’d give him what he wanted until he got bored of playing family and fucked off again.”
“What was your Mum scared of?”
“He’d hit her.”
“Did he ever hit you.”
“Yeah. Mum would too, so would my brother. Shit rolls downhill, you know. If you’re the youngest you don’t have anyone else to pass it on to.
“Anyway, the estate was what you’d expect. Teenage boys doing what teenage boys do. Robbing, setting stuff on fire. There were drugs floating about as well. My brother was into weed pretty hardcore. I think my Mum started him on it. I had my first puff when I was 12, my Mum let me have a drag on hers. I was smoking baccy at 11. Weed properly at 15 just before I left home.”
“Why did you leave home?”
“There wasn’t a place for me. My brother left a few years before I did. He never kept in contact. No idea where he is now. My Mum became an addict. She couldn’t look after herself, let alone me and I wasn’t going to become her keeper. She had loads of men coming around to see her. She was probably turning tricks for a fix.”
“What did you do when you left?”
“I sort of attached myself to people. I was like one of those fish on the side of a shark. I found a boy or girl I liked and became part of their life. Started staying with them, eventually moving in. It’s easy really. I jumped from person to person as the relationships ran their course. I got to know a lot of people. I had a lot of friends. At one point, I could probably’ve slept at a different place every night of the year if I wanted to.”
“So you had a wide circle of friends?”
“I’m a friendly girl. Course some of those friends were into drugs and I got sucked in. It’s a simple story.”
“You’re missing a few bits out though.” Miranda’s glare had ratcheted up another few notches. She was imploring her to go on.
“No, not really. I’m sure it’s a pretty standard story. I’m lucky in a lot of respects. I never got up the duff. No serious illnesses or diseases.”
“Hmmmm. Tell me more about your Dad.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“I just want you to be honest.”
“Seriously, what are you getting at. You want me to say Daddy touched me? That I was abused? Would that make me fit into a nice little box for you? So you can say I take drugs to forget? Well he didn’t. I had a shitty family, and made crappy decisions. End of.”
The reason I use don’t matter. The fact is I do use. It makes me happy, then it makes me sad. I get extreme highs and lows, but it’s better than living a life that’s perpetually flat and in the middle. My highs outshine the lows. I’ll never come down and live like an animal trapped in the box.
Fuck the lot of ‘em. Freedom comes at a price. If I’m willing to pay it, it’s got nothing to do with any other fucker.
“OK, Daisy. I think we can leave it there for today. Is there anything else you’d like to share?”
The shakes were taking over. She tried to light another fag, but gave up the attempt. Miranda leaned over and lit it for her. “Cheers. Yeah, there’s something I’ve been wondering for a few days now.”
“Really? Go ahead.”
“What’s with the shaved head?”
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