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Ever since the day I was dropped at her family’s door
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Tyson Payne, age 12
THE MOTEL WE were living in let us pay by the week and was the nicest place we’d ever stayed. Sure, there were still bugs and rotting shag carpeting, but at least the towels and sheets were clean-ish, and the place didn’t smell like puke and old cheese.
We’d been there two weeks, which was a record for us, and in all that time, I’d only heard gunshots once. Most nights, I didn’t sleep, but at this motel, I knew I could since the door even had a lock that worked.
“That’s it, Ty, do what Daddy says,” my father muttered through rotting teeth.
I once saw a picture of my father when he was younger. He looked a lot like I did with a bright white smile, a freshly shaven face, and short, dark hair. Now, you could barely see his dirty face since his beard was long and scraggly, and his white smile was definitely a thing of the past.
The needle pierced his aging skin, hitting the target vein, and I pressed on the end of the syringe the way he’d taught me, pushing the drugs into his system.
Once the syringe was empty, I sat back on the rough, plaid loveseat and watched as my father relaxed into the molding cushion with a sigh. The effects were instant, and his eyes slowly closed to dark slits on his dirty face. The side of his mouth lifted as he attempted a smile and failed.
“Good boy,” he slurred. “That’s a good boy.”
I’d done this many times, but this time was different. This time, after I stuck him, I waited until he was roaming in the clouds with a relaxed smile on his face. Then I put another tiny chunk of heroin on the spoon. I added a sprinkle of water before I held the lighter beneath the spoon and watched the powdery chunk melt into the liquid, turning the clear bits of water brown. Picking up the needle, I filled it once again, sucking the liquid out of the spoon.
His eyes were closed, and his skin was flushed from his high. Once he was totally still, I squeezed his arm to make the vein pop once again. I stuck him a second time in the same spot, filling his body to the brink with his favorite poison.
I knew what I was doing. I was aware of what would happen if someone were injected with too much. I’d once seen a man do too much. He lay on the sidewalk outside our old room and foamed at the mouth. An hour after he died, the police came, and a man wrapped him in black plastic.
My father would surely die from the amount I dumped in him, but I didn’t care. I wanted away from him—away from it all.
He was dying a slow death, and I was the one who killed him. At twelve years old, I shouldn’t have the knowledge of how to shoot someone up with heroin, but I did. I knew many things a child my age shouldn’t know—things they didn’t teach me at school on the days when I could make it.
I’d seen the darkest of the dark—the lowest of the low.
The disgust of the world.
I’d lived with those people most of my life.
I’d shot my father up so many times over the last two years of my life. He was always too high—too broken to even try anymore. It was up to me to continue his high, and so I did.
Between his fingers.
Between his toes.
Wherever was convenient.
I’d stick him, and he’d melt away, leaving me at peace for a little while.
All I ever wanted was peace.
I was twelve. I wanted to go outside and play. Maybe go to school every day like I was supposed to instead of only a few times a week. I wanted the normal life of a child, but instead, I was Frank’s punching bag. Frank’s everything. His hands were always on me in one way or another, and when he didn’t have the money for his drugs, he would hand me over to others as payment.
I was dirty and broken—tortured and abused—and if something didn’t change soon, I knew I’d be found dead in a back alley somewhere one day. They were murdering me mentally with every touch of their filthy fingers. So much, in fact, that I’d considered killing myself instead of my father. Not only was I weak, but apparently, I was a coward, as well.
The things they did to me would never be forgotten. The mental and physical scars would always remain—tarnishing my soul and keeping me away from heaven. Because of my father and his ‘friends,’ I’d never know happiness or goodness. It didn’t matter how far away I got from all the terrible things in my life, I knew the memories would continue to haunt my dreams at night, waking me in a panic and leaving me breathless with gripping fear.