There’s familiarity in the scene. A sense of dread. Uneasiness setting in, like the cold dampness of a winter night.
A toxic presence of the gut-churning type. Presumably one sided.
Like psychedelic glasses distorting my enemy’s view of the world. The effects of a long history abusing drugs, extensive psychological trauma and perhaps even an acquired brain injury.
Did she recognise me?
I avoid eye contact, which wasn’t too hard. Her attendance to the place I was at, was due to a traumatic event endured by someone she loved. I’d seen her a few times over the past seven years but if she ever recognised me, it was never obvious.
I had changed. Perhaps she didn’t. She definitely looked the same, at least in a recognisable sense.
Presumably, the majority of society would be quick to label her as nothing more than a common junkie.
Despite my considerable lack of warmth I felt upon seeing her, I had always been fascinated with her mysteriousness. A hidden story locked away in various layers of consciousness. Self-preservation.
Underneath her pale and dry skin, dotted with the occasional meth sore, was a frightened and traumatised inner child. Damaged goods. A troubled childhood which may have started off quite well but after a series of sexual abuse experiences, her world was turned upside down.
Perhaps in her frightened state of not being able to tell, compounded with threats from her abuser.
The rebelliousness, frustrations and anger leading to outbursts, lack of trust and acting out. A stray group of kids soon take her under their wing, a temporary safe haven where she finally feels understood and accepted.
By the age of 11 or 12, her risk-taking behaviour increases, exacerbated by drinking and smoking, particularly marijuana. Regular bouts of running away to be with her friends soon follows.
By 14, heroin and speed becomes the drug of choice with occasional police interventions, resulting in appearances before the Children’s’ Court magistrate.
At the age of 16, I meet her through her boyfriend. Presumably through my friend first, who is the younger brother of her boyfriend.
By now, she’s living life in the fast lane. A regular drug habit that’s steadily increasing. Frequent shoplifting, snatch & grabs and thieving. Low-level robberies, burglaries and standing over other people whilst in the company of an alpha male, usually her boyfriend. Frequent prostitution when money runs dry, just like the drug supply, usually as a result of pressure and blackmailing from her boyfriend.
Now 17 years later, it appeared she had started to slow down. I’d seen her Facebook profile some six months ago and she’d married an older man. He looked as if he’d been a long-term drug user and perhaps he still was. Her face certainly looked better, especially with next to no meth sores. Perhaps it was a result of knowing how to use makeup. I still didn’t.
Her two children were now almost adults and although she hadn’t been able to have full-time care of them due to her drug use and extensive terms of imprisonment, she certainly appeared to be doing a lot better than most people with what I knew personally of her.
The cold feeling I always had when I saw her, returned. She’d never taken a liking to me from the day I met her. Perhaps because I never did crime or drugs. Perhaps because I had nothing in common with her. Or perhaps she was jealous of how much fun I would have, tearing around the city on my BMX. Mostly in a tipsy state.
I could have ended up like her. But I didn’t.
It’s funny how life turns out some time. It certainly makes me reflect and appreciate what I do have and what I have experienced.