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The translucent threads in the bare electric bulb under the ceiling tremble. I feel them in my nerves.

“Can you lend me forty bucks?” I say, fast.

Mom blinks—I know that blink.

“Please, Mom,” I say, my voice whiny and nasal.

“Sorry,” she says and looks at her carnations.

“I promise, I—“

“I have to go,” she says, and I see a cold little tear on her faded cheek. It glints.

“Can you at least take Maddy with you, I have a flu, I need to rest,” I say, stepping closer.

“Sorry,” she says, stepping back. She falls in the car and shuts the door. A pink carnation slips from her lap and gets smashed in the door jam, sticking out like lace covered in blood.

“Can I just watch TV?” I ask through the half-open window.
She looks at me, blinks, says “Yes, sure,” forces herself to add, “love,” and backs out of the garage. Wings grow.

I go inside, put Maddy on the red leather couch in the living room. She just looks at me. Like a bird in a storm she looks, little and grey, huddled in her brown blanket, quiet and so small. I’ll get a fix, and I’ll quit next week. We’ll go to a zoo, or something. Next week.

Maddy smiles and points at the Christmas tree in the corner. It flickers. Mom hasn’t finish decorating it. Cardboard boxes, old cotton wool, silver trains, and foil stars are scattered around the floor. A Christmas Angel looks at me from a yellowed newspaper, eyes transparent and sad. Its soaring glass wings scare me.

“TV,” I say, my teeth shattering. I press the buttons on the remote. The bright pink and blue of the cartoons and shrill voices pierce my brain. The sand scorches, the wings grow, the blades burn.

I stumble to the bedroom. The dresser. The jewelry box. The glint of a broken lock. Mother-of-pearl shining smooth, just like when I was little. It’s empty, except for a pair of surgical tweezers.

“Bitch!” I whisper. She hid it. I open the drawers, one by one. There, in her worn, silky, miserable underwear. The peacock brooch with a ruby eye. Torn necklace with a locket, Dad’s picture. And the yellow gleam of her engagement ring. The dim sparkle of the diamond next to a fat, olive-greenish roll of dollar bills, a twisted rubber band around it. Nausea covers me like a dirty plastic bag.

The wings grow, grow, grow. By now they grow all over my body. My bones twist and turn in their sockets like old keys in rusty locks. My tendons turn into ropes. The ropes are fastened to a torture wheel. The wheel gyrates. I’m brittle like old chewing gum. I’m made of glass dust, like the Christmas Angel. I slip the ring into my pocket, and keep the money in my fist. I can’t look at the light. My stomach churns. My eyes, my nose, my mouth are oozing. I wipe my face with a sleeve, sniffle, and, holding on the walls, stumble through the living room and outside, into the car.

With that money, I know I’ll make it. I can see the smooth syringe, I can smell the worn leather of the belt squeezing my arm. The needle would bite my hungry skin, and the warm wave would wash me out onto a lovely shore, envelop me in love and light, lull me to sleep. It will melt the sand in my veins and illuminate me and everything around me from within. Oh how I love its balmy amber glow. The cobweb in the corner, cactus on the windowsill, and the Christmas Angel will fuse like puzzle pieces. The shattered world would be one.

Heroin Wings continues...
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About Zarina Zabrisky

Zarina Zabrisky started to write at six and until now she burnt everything she wrote, including her first novel about trafficking drugs from Ukraine to Russia and her last novel about moonlighting as a dominatrix in Oakland. She wrote and burned short stories traveling around the world as a street artist, fur...read more coat model, translator, kickboxing instructor, and a hot dogs brand ambassador. When not busy writing, Zarina likes to set the world on fire.
  3 months ago
Powerful. Well done.
  15 months ago
Heartbreaking. You do an amazing job of pulling the reader into the 'crawling hunger' as Nancy says.
  25 months ago
I read this story a day ago and, as an alcoholic and addict, my mind keeps returning to it. I can almost feel the crawling hunger of the narrator, but also can also sympathize with her desire to be a good mother, and feel her shame and guilt. This is very powerful work.
  25 months ago
This story, the narrator's voice, invaded my head. I can't quit thinking about it. Everything about it propels the story, facilitates the story. Impressive.
  25 months ago
I'm blown away. Great story.

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