Life is too much sometimes.  I need more alone time.  I’d have more if I wasn’t raising him alone.  When I find it, the release is sweeter than cracking knuckles, emptying a bladder or a good lay.

I’m still in control, despite what Mom and Dad think.

I can feel it immediately, as soon as it hits my veins.  The wave of relief that hits me is enough to make me weep, the day’s worries shake off of me.  A shiver runs up my spine in the best way imaginable, and I slump back into the sofa; letting the tired cushions swallow me up.

The light is no longer fluorescent; instead the room is cast in a golden glow.  Everything has gained a hard edge, definition from blur.  Colors, once dull and fading, now pop out with enough vibrancy to make me squint against them.

Sweetly, wonderfully, nothing crosses my mind.  The leaky toilet, Christopher in the other room, the bills stacking higher and higher on the coffee table… it’s not that I ignore them, it’s that they no longer exist.

I think I’m smiling, but I can’t feel my face so I’m not entirely sure.  The Joe I brought home grins at me from the other side of the coffee table.  Things get hazy, but I see him press the plunger down on his own ride.  I see the same contentedness sweep over him.  He smiles once more and pulls the needle from his arm and catches my eye.

He crawls on top of me, unbuttoning my blouse, running greedy hands over me.  Somewhere in another world, a baby is crying.

He’s heavy against me, his breath smells like stale coffee and day-old booze.

Then nothing’s there.  It’s just me and my alone time.  Not even the lights get through the shroud blackness of my high.  Not even the clumsy body on top of me.

A sound comes tearing through my euphoria, Christopher’s shrill cry from the other room, trying to ruin my high.  But it’s too late, I’ve sunk back into cool waters, feeling relief wash over me and letting the world fade from consciousness.

Everything is simply white noise among static.

*      *     *     *     *

The engine roared.  Truck shaking, sputtering, coughing.  Symptoms of a perfect cocktail: made one part age, one part poor maintenance.  It turned heads when it howled past people, put a pair of curious eyes between parted blinds, searching for what caused the commotion.  The blue black brackish smoke— the color of her hair, her eye shadow, her clothes—trailed the rattling beast, settling an acrid haze thick as San Francisco fog.

She checked her rear view mirror and cursed under her breath.  He was awake.  Idly sitting in the car seat, examining a rattle.  His lower lip pouted, an image of constrained thought.

Someone shouted outside the truck as she sped past, probably something along the lines of, “Slow the hell down.”  In her rearview mirror, he flailed his arms, shaking angrily and tossing something to the ground.

She knew she should be happy, she was getting what she wanted and it was her idea, but she couldn’t. She would have felt at ease before, but now it seemed wrong.  No, not wrong.  Disrespectful.

The tires screeched as she rounded a stop sign without stopping, foot back on the pedal.

Their house was just around the corner.  When she turned, she found them standing shoulder to shoulder on the front lawn.  In front of their four bedroom house, with their small dog named Rex, or Tex, or Flex, or Who The Fuck Cares.  White picket fence, two car garage and a Barbeque the perfect size to comfortably accommodate the whole damn suburb with burgers and brats and the bullshit they spoon fed each other.  The image of it was enough to make her ill.

“What are we doing at Grandma and Grandpa’s?” He asked from the back seat.

She said nothing, scratching at the marks in the pit of her elbow, and takes him from his car seat.

“Mommy’s sick.” She said.  “Mommy has to get better.”

She hugs him, longer than normal.

“Mommy,” Christopher says, “Why are you crying?”