Look

Kay lives on the streets, addicted and broken, she gave up on doing anything with her life years ago. Until she meets a stranger, a stranger called Harry, who is the first person to look inside.
(contains swearing and drug use)

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4. So cold

With a quick glance around, I knock on the scratched door. After walking the streets for an hour or so, silently fuming, I’d grabbed the money from the backpack to get something I knew would help. I wrap my arms around myself, a chill racking through me.The door opens suddenly, making me jump a little, the chain rattling as Jamie peers through it.

Enlightenment fills his features when he sees me, replacing the previous suspicion. “Hey, Kay. One moment.” The door shuts quickly, there’s sounds of movement behind it, then it reopens with the chain undone. His arm sweeps out dramatically, welcoming me inside. From crazed look in his eyes, he’s almost definitely sneaked some of his stock.

“Hey Jamie,” I say dully. He’s a hard person to like, one moment being friendly and welcoming, and the next you've got your back pressed against the wall and a fist in your face for touching something you shouldn't have.

The apartment’s a mess, several large boxes piled in corners, transparent bags of powder scattered across almost every surface, some spilt into the carpet and floor. Then again, it’s hardly a change from usual. “So, same as usual? I've got some new stuff in, brilliant, if you want it.” Jamie is bent down near some of the boxes, reaching inside them and pulling various things out.

“Usual, please. As much as fifty quid can get me,” I bring the handful of notes out of my pocket that Harry had given me last night, along with what I’d collected yesterday.

He stands up and holds his hand out, scrabbling around with the other hand on a bedside table, presumably looking for his phone, which is balanced on the corner and about to fall off. “Jeez, what did you do, rob a bank?”

“Just give it to me,” I reply, too weary to participate in conversation. With a shrug and a dirty look in my direction, he pulls some scales out of a drawer then tips the drugs into it slowly, until however much I'm getting is weighed out. He tips it into the cling film, skilfully wraps it up and passes it to me. A smile curls at my lips when I feel how heavy it is, thanks to the extra money. Suddenly, I'm desperate to take it. My hands are shaking, though it can’t be from withdrawal, and my coat feels far thinner than usual, like it’s the middle of winter in his apartment. “You mind if I have some now?” I ask, looking over at him.

The lowest of the low.

Weak.

Useless.

Can’t sink lower.

But must.

Addict.

Broken.

Weak.

“Knock yourself out.”

***

The sky is beginning to lighten as I blink, no elderly men waking me up today. There’s a pain in my leg as I stretch it, having been pressed against the armrest of the bench all night. I feel my body shaking in the freezing air, my teeth chattering, though it surely can’t be as cold as it feels. It’s only September.

A groan resonates through my throat as I remember snippets of last night. Going to Jamie’s. Buying the crack. Using it all at his, desperate to block out the broken thoughts resonating through my mind. Skittering through the streets, completely out of my head. Probably some other things. Then collapsing onto the bench after grabbing my blankets.

I sit up and wrap my blankets closer around myself, clenching my teeth to stop the clattering noise. When I stand up I have to put a hand on the nearby tree to steady myself, a thumping headache unbalancing me. My energy is all sapped, though I don’t know why, and my very bones seem to ache. Muscles screaming at the effort, I stagger over to the hollow tree and drag out my bag, then stagger back to the bench. I never should've taken so much at once, which has probably caused the headache. The coldness and the unbalance ­is new, though.

Quickly I rifle through my bag and pull out all of my spare clothes, pulling them on over the top and wrapping my blankets further around myself, trying to keep any warmth insulated inside me, though it quickly dissipates into the air. Though I know there’ll be nothing, I check the bottom of my bag for any remaining drugs, anything to stop the world that is beginning to blur into one, like a giant oil painting that someone has wiped their hand across.

My shaking becomes more violent as I collapse back down on the bench, no more energy remaining to hold myself up.

So cold.

So very cold.

Am I dying?

Feels like it.

***

Time passes quickly, somehow, as I drift in and out of consciousness. At least, I think I do. The sky is dark now, so it’s probably late night. Somehow, I have become colder, each breath rattling in my lungs, though they’re slowly getting further and further apart, shallower and shallower. The shaking stopped a few hours ago, though I don’t know why, as I am colder than freezing. I barely have the strength to keep my eyes open, watching the world pass me.

Through the daylight hours a few people would walk past, one or two asking if I was okay. When I didn't reply, they simply walked away, casting an anxious glance back. One teenager, probably a few years younger than me, had walked off with my rucksack. In my current state, I’d been unable to stop him. Thank God I’d taken most of my stuff out of it.

I don’t know what was happening to me. Was I ill? If so, bad timing. Fucking parents, kicking me out after they found the parcels under the bed. Fucking friends, going off to their universities and leaving me behind. Fucking kid, taking my rucksack with my mobile inside.

But now it’s night. I can only hope I’ll make it through, though there’s no chance of me falling asleep. The world had slowly blurred more and more, till it was just a mess of colours, now mostly midnight blue.

A shape appears at the edge of my vision, a kind of pinky-grey. “Kay?” it says, shaking my leg a little. “Are you asleep?” I open my mouth to reply, but only a moan comes out.

“Sorry if you’re pissed with me. Yesterday, I just didn't know and was acting like a prick, I'm sorry. Sorry for not apologising earlier too, the band had some shit to sort out.”

When I don’t reply, they speak again. “So, um, I came to say sorry, and hope we can still be friends. Well, whatever the hell we are, considering we met like last night.” Speaking is impossible, I know that. My mouth has become incapable of putting together words.

“Kay?” The blurry person bends down, their face filling my sight. I can only stare out at them, eyes terrified.

Kay, can you hear me?" They wave a blurry pink thing in front of my face, but my eyes refuse to follow it. 

Moving slightly, I think the figure does something with their hands. When there’s the tinny sound of the dialling tone, I guess that they got out their mobile. “Mate, I need you to get up a health symptoms website thing,” they say.

The street is silent, meaning that I can hear the other person’s reply quietly, at the other end of the line. “Why?”

“Just do it, I’ll explain tomorrow.”

“Are you okay? Just call a doctor.”

"Just shut up and do it, okay?"

"Calm down, I'm doing it now. What are the symptoms of whatever you're on about?"

"Um, like really cold." Something boiling hot is placed to my forehead briefly, then removed. "Yeah, really cold. And unconscious, but eyes open. Pretty shallow breathing too, I think."

"God, that's pretty serious. I'll look it up now. You gonna tell me why the hell you're on about this?"

"I'm just curious, okay? What did it say?

“Harry, I'm in your fucking band, tell me what's happening.”

"Just tell me what it said! I'll explain later, but I really don't have time to spare right now."

"Fine. There's, um, low blood pressure or something, sever hypothermia and-"

"Shit, I think that's it. Okay, how do you fix it?

"Hypothermia?"

"Yes!"

"Haz, you can't just fix it. If someone's got it, you should call an ambulance straight away. Says here it's fatal if they're left. Call one, like, now. They could die."

“Well, what if the person couldn't go to hospital?”

“Harry, what the hell’s going on?”

“Look, it doesn't matter. Just tell me, what do I do?” The person’s beginning to sound stressed, moving back and forth as they stand up. I feel as if I recognise their voice, but don’t know where from

“Fine, let me google it, hang on a minute…” There’s a pause, and the person near me sighs loudly. “It says get any wet clothes off them and just warm them up as quickly as possible. But you should take them to hospital, not do it at home or anything, or they could die. You'd have to be stupid to try it. ”

“’Kay, thanks, mate.”

“Harry, what the fu-“There’s a small beep, as they presumably hang up. Their face appears in my vision once more, eyes appearing as huge pools of black. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, hold on till then, okay? Just please, stay alive.”

Then they disappear, leaving the world black once more.

Cold.

Empty.

Confused.

Suddenly there’s a roaring sound, something silvery sliding into the darkness, then the noise is cut out. A clicking noise sounds, and then there are arms underneath me. I hang loosely, a rag doll in their arms. There’s nothing I can do to stop them opening something in the back of the silver thing, then gently lowering me inside it, the blankets still covering me.

The door to outside shuts and the roaring noise starts again, the person sitting at the front looking back at me. “I’m going to keep you safe,” they say, and I fall unconscious. 


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God, this chapter actually got me all worked up to write :) xx

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