Lay Down Your Burdens

A happy piece about guilt. This is a reworked piece from ages ago.

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Lay Down Your Burdens

The sunset paints the sky crimson across the dusty plain. Sinking towards the ground, the waning light bends the long shadows of the trees and lampposts, extending and warping them like Pinocchio’s nose. They stretch until night comes.

The whiskey by her side tastes awful, but she is not sure if that’s just her taste, or if the whiskey really is that bad. She takes a sip. It burns, but she forces it down, feeling it in her stomach, warming it up. The chair on the veranda rocks back and forth again and she goes with it, crossing her legs and letting her body sway. Her hair blows in the evening wind. She closes her eyes and imagines she is on a swing. One that her dad would have pushed her on when she was young, but it’s been so long since she saw him.

The wind picks up, catching the iron-gate and making it to creak. They need to buy some oil, but never do. Much more pressing things to buy. The last time they went shopping it looked like the most random assortment of items: various flavours of ice cream, energy drinks, bottled water (lots of water), mild painkillers, stronger painkillers, vitamins, several cans of soup, and cheap alcohol. The cashier gave them the strangest look.

Inside the house he screams and moans. He’s been like this for days. She went through it all a few days ago, her body a dictionary of scars and wounds. They are scattered across her body like fairy dust, settling at random points and glistening, deadly and telling.

The first time was painful; the needle poised centimetres from her flesh. It was not like the films, or the books. She had not been pressured into it, she wanted to try something new and different. It was her idea. Life was dull. They were bored so they fell into something darker than your regular addiction. And a few years, from this hole they had been watching their world fall apart. The powder bubbled and spat in the spoon. Then it was ready. Soaked into a cotton bud, sucked up into the syringe, now touching her vein, inside her vein, sucking blood out into the syringe, a dragon or supernova floating, pulsating in the syringe. She said she was ready, and he plunged down, sending the poison into her. She was crying, but then the warmth and euphoria hit her. Moments later she was sick.

Touching the scars on her arms and legs, she is scared at how routine all that had become. These scars that would never go away. How easy she had ruined her life on a day-to-day basis, but also how boring life became. She had dreams once. After that, she had need, and life itself became dull. She went through it all. He watched and through her pain she could see his terror; he would have to go through this soon. He held her hand as she threw up and spasmed, doubled up in pain. No, not pain. Her body was just learning to feel again. Nerves long dead and drugged at the tips of her body came back to life. She curled her toes in agony, just feeling again.

She remembered the first time they made love, before the drugs. Her hands pressing against his back as he moved in her. The gasps. Him on her lips. His lips all over her curves. Her toes curled up as she saw the beautiful colours every woman deserves to see, but many do not. That amazing rush. She bit her lip as the wave hit her.

Oh he loved her so much, and she loved him too, but that was then. This was before the drugs. Now she could not bear to see him in this state. They had been through too much. She imagined the interior of their bare flat, naked from where everything of value had been sold off to pay for other habits. She imagined the space behind the door, under the letterbox. So many letters. So many how-are-yous, where-are-yous, what-are-you-doings. She thought about running again. This time alone. She had come this far.

She takes another sip of whiskey, savouring the taste, and stares into the sunset. She smiles.
She takes another sip and lets the ashen taste float on her taste buds for the first time in so long. It’s the little things, after all. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from all your worries.

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