Lead You On

Clara Roberts

When I tried to kill myself, I thought it would stop the pain of being a drug addict. I imagined an immediate escape from the constant cravings and the deluge of sickness.

 I am not keeping up with life anymore because it's moving too fast and I am left behind. I brush the hair back from my hazel eyes and still cannot see clearly. The disquiet from a recent fight with my parents this frigid January evening follows me in every room of my family's house, enclosing me in my luminescent purple bedroom. My parents talk about taking my car away and I snap because that means I cannot drive to my drug dealer anymore; meth already swallowed me whole this year---a humiliating and depraved habit being the one part of life I live for. The weight of this night makes my sensitive eyes flutter and close.  My mom slips out of my bedroom---out of Dodge to her dim room where she dials 911 and yells into her old landline telephone: "We need an ambulance! My twenty-four year old daughter tried to kill herself."

Before going downstairs to wait until the paramedics arrive, she returns back to the double bed I am lying on. Her face looks strained and eyes unfocused.

"I'm so sorry, love. I've never been able to give you a solution for the hole in your heart," she says to me while attempting not to cry; she almost never cries.

"Mom, I'm sorry. I failed you. Maybe it's best for me to go away," I reply with a shaky whisper. I even feel like apologizing for not being able to talk louder.

But my mom does not hear my apology because she runs down the stairs to answer the front door that the paramedics keep ringing. I remain lifeless like a mangled animal, my left arm dangling off the edge of my bed and my eyesight marred from not having my glasses on and not allowing my eyes to look away from the bright ceiling lights. I hear multiple footsteps this time approaching my room; my heart sinks when the two paramedics walk into my room because I do not want them to see the Gwen Stefani purse replete with illicit drugs and used syringes on the floor by my dresser.

"She's a drug addict," my mom says.

The paramedics look at her with indifference and say nothing.

At this point in time, the overdose of the anti-psychotic medication, Zyprexa, I ingested only fifteen minutes earlier begins to control my body by tainting my perception of reality with more fog. I am still semi-cognizant of my surroundings and long for the next pleasurable shot of meth from the Gwen Stefani purse. My room looks brighter and blurrier than usual. I do not remember being carried out of the house.

In the ambulance, I am aware I'm going to the hospital to get the Zyprexa pills out of my body.  A middle-aged and undernourished orderly has an IV in front of me and with disgrace I pull up the sleeve to my left arm. He attempts to connect to a vein many times.

"You're all scar tissue," he says in a soft voice. He makes steady eye contact with me and in that moment I wonder if he always smells like isopropyl alcohol. I pull up the sleeve to my right arm this time and point to an area where he might be able to get on.  At last, he is able to attach the needle to one of my small veins right as we make the brief drive to Union Memorial, the nearest hospital to my house. I scrutinize the plump IV bag next to me and the tiny drops that are dripping into the dehydrated veins on my arm.  My body is channeled onto a sturdy stretcher and I cannot get the smell of sulfur and chemicals out of my presently numb nose. I cling to the crisp white sheets because I am too scared to be touched by any paramedic. We arrive at the hospital entrance while the paramedic checks my vitals and produces a tempered smile---as though a smile will make the madness stop. The siren stops and I realize I never noticed it was on.

"Where am I being taken?" I ask without making eye contact with anybody transporting me. I think I already know the answer, but I want to hear the news from them.

"The sixth floor of Union Memorial---the psych ward. We've got to get these pills out of you first, though, and then you're going to psych," the paramedic says.

I am tearing up because this selfish attempt did not take away all of the emotional clutter burying my mind. I go through life, pass its various gates and detours, and erase it at the same time. I am used to ruining things. I'm used to feeling numb because drugs make a person travel through the foggy valley of memories with caution and doubt. There's now a broken melody to life as I sleep on a thin mattress in a dark empty room of the ER waiting to be wheeled up to a ward where I'm not the only one who is a shadow of her former self.

Clara Roberts is a graduate of the MA in Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University. Her literary nonfiction work and poetry has been published in Adelaide Literary Magazine, From Whispers to Roars, and Trampset. She lives in Baltimore where she finds material every day to write about in her journal.