Tortoise, by Carolyn Smuts
Life is just one long, drawn-out suicide attempt. I’ve been dumping shit into my body for as long as I can remember and eventually, it’ll probably be enough to kill me.
At first, it was just cigarettes but by the time I was 19 it was heroin, ecstasy, stolen ‘scrip pills—anything I could get my hands on.
A few times, I crashed a car or came home fucked up and my mom tossed me into rehab. It was cool; you get daily massages and acupuncture, but it never made me stop using for long. God, the people I hung out with were such losers. Half of them are dead now though a few managed to clean up and live normal lives with kids and jobs and stuff.
I outgrew all the crazy shit by 25 and since then, I’ve made more sophisticated stupid choices that threaten my health, mostly abusive relationships and raging hypochondria backed by a doctor who has no problem feeding me pills for whatever I think ails me. And trust me, I think a lot ails me. My file at the clinic is a litany of imagined allergies, esoteric diseases, and rare syndromes I think are killing me. Handling the doctor and my pills is basically my full-time job.
One thing that eats at me more than anything these days is Ian. Ian has been in and out of my life since the heroin days, in fact, he WAS my heroin days. We’d spend weekends at his apartment, smacked back watching Law and Order marathons and having sex. Then he turned into an epic asshole and disappeared for a year.
This pattern has repeated a dozen times but changes a little bit each go-around. One thing that never changes is I fall in love with Ian every time and I die a bit every time he packs up his controlling ass and leaves.
Ian’s all clean now; he won’t even take an aspirin when he has a headache. He spews shit about “clear minds and strong bodies” and I think he got into Scientology or something. My pills bother him and since he’s been back in my life this last time, he’s been such an asshole about it. He doesn’t hit me like he did when we were younger, but he’s meaner—he calls me a fat, repulsive troll, he tells me he can do much better than a junkie like me, but he also tells me he loves me.
Ian is my soul mate and I’ll always love him, but I’m not completely clueless and pathetic. When he yells, I tell him I’m leaving and the prick—he just laughs and tells me I’m too lazy and stoned to go through with it. He’s wrong. I’ve been breaking up with him for years now. I’ve had enough.
I’m back chain smoking again and I’ve doubled-up on my Oxy prescription. Ian will be sorry when I die of lung cancer in ten years and he’s all alone.
Carolyn Smuts taught history before fleeing academic life to write. Her work has appeared in a bunch of stuffy magazines and a few cool ones, too. Her recent fiction works were published by Akashic Books, Jitter Press, Wordland, and Omnific, though she is proudest of her erotic novella about Alexander Hamilton published a year before the Broadway show got all crazy-popular. Coincidence? She lives in Southern California and drinks coffee in the morning and booze at night.
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Tags: break ups, Carolyn Smuts, relationships