“How long have you been clean?”


“Just saw my psych nurse for my shot.”

“That’s good, right?”

“I don’t know. I have these pills. Want to buy them from me?”

“No. I’m good. The pills are for you to get better.”

“I have some things I picked up. Maybe, you want to buy them.”

“I don’t need anything. I’m going over the mountain over there.”

She was a doctor once. Her hands still move like the wind. Quickly. With a kind of purpose. She moved fast through the ranks with the same type of encouragement you see all over social media.

“I don’t know who needs to hear this..”

That was her thing sixty years ago. Then, she could not sleep after a long shift—one of those hospital nights where every kind of disaster comes through the doors. A colleague pulled some pills from a drawer. Hands them to her.

“Take them to get through the rough months.”

She hasn’t been clean since. She was almost in her eighties and dismissed from every hospital job. She raised a few kids. One was only hers, but she’d grab onto the pain that came into the hospital. Trying to hold up the world with only her hands working flesh like a seamstress. A homeless lady had a baby and walked off. That’s my cousin. Another addict had a kid. Another cousin. A half dozen kids in this quilt of a family from one woman’s hands.

“I had a drink when I left the psych ward. Oh gawd!”

“You’re not ready.”

“I’m ready. I’m just tired of being told what to do all the time.”

“I have to go.”

“Help me out with a dollar. I’ll give you these pills.”

“I have to go.”