I met her several years ago and she made a drastic impression on me. She was in her early twenties and very pretty in a frail, delicate way. She was the kind of person you immediately want to protect or rescue. Epic, punishing drug use had turned her into a damaged shell. She had vacant, permanently-glazed eyes. A kind of dead gaze. She moved gradually, as if she had to concentrate on the smallest gestures and spoke slowly, forcing out uncomfortable-sounding words. She stumbled through sentences in a halting manner. She was so fragile and edged I was afraid that if I surprised her she’d shatter like glass. She told stories and they all involved drugs. Like the time she kicked heroin (cold turkey) while watching a Leave It to Beaver marathon. The show became a traumatic trigger for her; she couldn’t watch it without suffering flashbacks. She bragged about shooting meth at her grandmother’s house and spending two days rocking in a chair on the front porch. She stole cocaine (and a car) from her mother. She told me that she once ran out of heroin, so she shot up with water just to shoot something. I asked her if shooting water had made her feel better and she shrugged and replied, “No, not really.”
She seemed doomed and carried the weight of tragedy like an anchor. She was dancing with death and I still think about her often. I wonder what happened to her. I can’t seem to remember her name.