It wasn’t just the addiction though. She couldn’t be sober because then she remembered what she’d done.
Fuck, the memory of it makes me sick.
“She’s not with me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help her.”
“You can’t help everyone, Jase.” Carter’s hardened voice is clear in my mind. He looked me in the eyes and told me, “You can’t help her. You can’t and shouldn’t. You shouldn’t have brought her here.”
“I don’t want to help everyone.” I bit back the answer, feeling the anger rise inside of me. It was the first disagreement we’d ever had. I had to do it, though. “I want to help her. Just one person.”
“Why? She’s not yours.”
He didn’t get it. For the first time, he showed his confusion. He didn’t understand that I didn’t want her, I just wanted her to be okay. Even if she was nearly a stranger, even if I’d never want her to walk through the doors of the bar again once she left.
I needed to feel like I could make it right. We all make mistakes, but it’s okay if you can make it right. I just needed to make it right.
“You shouldn’t have brought her here.” That was the last thing he said to me as I made my way back to the guest bedroom, questioning everything I’d done. I’d like to think that was why I thought things were off when I got to the door. But it was something deeper than that.
With my hand on the doorknob, I remember how I told her to just sleep before I left. Get some fucking sleep to help her with the withdrawal. Her eyes were so sunken in and dark as she screamed at me. It could have been the cocaine or the heroin. She looked nothing like the woman I’d known before.
I had to empty the room out to keep her from throwing things. She liked comic books, so I went out to get her some. It would only be weeks. Only weeks of helping her get back on her feet, then she was someone else’s problem. Then she’d be able to think clearly and choose whatever she wanted to do next. But as it stood, the addiction made every choice and it was leading her to an early grave.
I remember the way my scar shined on my hand, the light brighter there than on the metal knob as I pushed the door open.
It was quiet, too quiet for her not to be sleeping in the empty bed.
The bathroom door was closed and I glanced at the clock. 3:04 a.m. Someone once told me the Devil gets a minute every day. 3:07 to come and do his darkest deeds. I stared at the clock, knowing the Devil’s deeds were done all day long, whether he was here or not.
Every second I sat on the chair in the room, I thought about what to tell her. I didn’t know her well enough to know what to say. All I could think of telling her was that it would be better tomorrow. That she just had to take it day by day. It takes weeks to get through the worst of it, sometimes longer.
She didn’t listen the first time, or the second, but maybe she’d listen now. Maybe tomorrow. Back then, I had hope.
The next time I looked at my watch, nearly forty minutes had passed. It was then that I realized it was still too quiet. Far too quiet.
I knocked at the door, but she didn’t respond. “Angie?” I called her name, and still nothing.
I knocked harder, feeling that gut instinct that something was wrong. I remember the way her name felt as I screamed it and hammered my fist against the door, all the while, it was far too quiet.
Testing the knob, it wasn’t locked, so I pushed it open. I knew then though, the Devil had come and gone. And that I was too late.
She’d shut the shower curtain, but even through it I could see the slash of red on the tiled wall. I’ll never forget that first sound I heard that night when I went to check on her. It was the sound of the shower curtain opening.
The blood was all over her hands and arms. The first thought I had, was that she must’ve regretted it and tried to stop the blood from the cut at her throat.
She tried to take it back.
I didn’t cry for her in that moment, but I leaned back against the wall, taking in her red hair and how it matted to her bloodied skin. Her eyes were still open, so once I could move, I closed them for her, even though my hand shook.
I failed her. I did this to her. It was all I could think.
Falling to my knees next to the tub, I prayed for the first time since my mama died. I asked God to take over for me. To help her and forgive her and forgive her sins.