Puncture Wounds (fiction)

He'd promised Nancy he'd get himself straightened out. It had been the only way he could get her to come back to him. Promised he'd quit the stuff, and maybe find a job, though sure, that was six months ago, now. And here he still was, retching over the side of the bed, holding on to his soiled sheets for dear life. You could say life had pulled on over them both, except Ian never said much about Nancy now. Reckoned he had no right. Three months ago, he'd seen her last. It had been brief, with him fighting to seem presentable, and her, not really looking at him. She'd walked out after about ten minutes, holding a hand to her mouth, like she was about to barf. Well, Ian knew all about that, and he knew a pair of carefully manicured fingers sure as hell wasn't gonna stop it. Still, nice of her to have taken the time.
He, of course, hadn't been able to stand up and go after her, so he'd remained quietly in his chair, not making a fuss. If there was one thing his junkie days had made him weary of, it was kicking up a spectacle.

Ian couldn't remember the first time he'd met Nancy, though the precious little he knew about the event, he cherished dearly. It had been night, and he'd felt sick in his mouth. He always felt sick. Sometimes, it felt as if the past eighteen months of his life had been one big vomit bonanza, and he was the lucky winner of some kind. He thought he'd won when he met Nancy. Twenty-six, two years older than him, and stunning. It wasn't her body, because he couldn't remember the first thing about how she'd looked that night. It was the words, even if he couldn't recall what had been said, either. He just knew he'd woken up the next morning, thinking for the first time, he could be something more than this.


Nancy was the first person since the orphanage who'd looked at him like he didn't have the words "junkie" or "bum" written on his forehead. And frankly, it terrified him, so for the next couple of months, he'd avoided her like hot water. He'd actually left parties when he heard she was gonna be there, and once, once he'd even walked past her on the street. Truth was, he hadn't been very good to Nancy, and so, Nancy started looking at him a little less.

They'd ended up together through a mistake, and had stayed together through an even bigger one. Ian should've never reached for her, and she, she shoulda never accepted a junkie, because once he saw he could get away with shooting up next to her, he'd done it. Over and over, until his body was riddled with puncture wounds, and his hands grew too shaky to tie himself up.
He'd done things he wasn't proud of. Begged Nancy to do it for him, and it was then he saw the image of himself die. That better man he'd always somehow dreamed of becoming, he went down as fast as Ian's pride. He'd pushed Nancy away, then convinced her he could change. Waited outside her apartment, because his phone had been disconnected and he couldn't call. Pestered her into a second chance, though he knew now he should've left it at goodbye.

"You know, I blame myself, baby," she'd said, the last time she'd come to visit him. He'd lost weight, and must've looked appalling, judging by the grimace she tried so hard to hide. "I brought you to this, I...".
Ian had nodded, and reached out. Held her as she cried her eyes out, and understood that she hadn't come here to try and patch things up. She'd come to beg his forgiveness, before the inevitable happened, which was her choice of a euphemism for his impending death.
Told her she had not, so she could be on her way, and allow him to die.

After they made up the first time, he'd really tried to turn things around, but Ian's had been a particularly nasty case of withdrawal, so he'd had no choice but to go back to the drugs. And Nancy, like an idiot, had stayed with him, thinking this was temporary, thinking he'd kick the habit, though it had really been the other way around.

They'd found the cancer by accident, one time, when they brought him in to St. Eve's, to pump out his stomach. Turned out, the reason he was feeling like shit whenever he went off the drugs hadn't been addiction, just his natural state. And Ian had thought it funny, though Nancy, she had not. Said she couldn't really go through this with him only to watch him die, not when he'd put her through so much already. Ian said he understood, though really, he'd just wanted her to go peacefully.

See, Nancy, she thought secretly it had been the drugs that brought on the tumors, only Ian knew better than that. He knew the cancer had sprung up when she'd stopped looking at him with that certain light in her eye. So in a way, she had brought him to this. She'd given up on him, and Ian, well, Ian had never believed in himself to begin with.

So here he was, retching. Going in for appointments to have poison dutifully pumped into him, in the hope that one day, he might be strong enough to do the pumping on his own, once more.

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