A Chunk of Ice Tumbling in a Thunderstorm
– Nonfiction by Adam Fout –
Second Place Winner of the 2021 Dreamers Flash Fiction and Nonfiction Contest.
We are in my girlfriend’s apartment in Lawrence, a room of white walls and carpet crisscrossed with fresh vacuum trails and neatly stacked books on genetics, anatomy, calculus. The day before, I stole five hundred dollars she saved for her trip to Hawaii.
“You’re the only one here!” she shrieks. “Who else could have done it?”
“You’re crazy!” I say. “If you really believe that, I’ll eat all this oxy right now!”
She stares. I walk out of the apartment, pills like blue pebbles thrown to my gut.
I cannot say if death or life is better.
I do not call it life.
Dopefiends don’t have lives.
My new coat turns the Kansas wind and traps snowflakes like coins of foam in pockets my hands cannot warm, the sky a silent, colorless thing. I know the music that will sing me to hell. The momentum is unstoppable. I smile.
Freedom is coming.
My headphones die.
I will listen on my new iPhone’s monaural speaker.
It has five percent battery.
It cuts to black in my hand.
I walk past the alley I planned to die in to a staffing agency. I fill out job applications in a town I no longer live in. I hit on a pretty girl.
I must have passed out mid-sentence.
I come to in an ambulance, pain like God carving his symbol in my skull. NARCAN, but I swear to you they injected it into my femur with a sword.
“My fucking leg!” I scream. They shout questions.
I weep when the doctor asks me if I intended myself harm.
In the hospital, a woman sits with me at all times, knitting in silence as I watch TV, dopesickness thick and hard—bones filled with sparks and fire, body an ocean of sweat, heart a drum.
I’m taken in an ambulance to a psych ward.
It is nothing and everything like the movies.
“So how did you try to kill yourself,” I ask a girl with a face like dreams.
She laughs and says, “Oh, I just went off my meds.”
I don’t understand.
Why would you come to a place like this if you hadn’t tried to escape?
“If you tell the nurse you have anxiety, he gives you Ativan,” she says. “If you tell him you’re an addict, he gives you Suboxone.”
I cling to her certainty.
My roommate is sixty. He sleeps for twenty-three of every twenty-four hours
If I cracked his skull open, would I find hidden stores of heroin?
If I tell the doctors it was an accident, would they release me to the blizzards of Kansas?
If I beg the gods of the people we burned so many centuries ago, would they send someone to cut out my beating heart, tip it with gentle hands, pour out my madness?
I want to return to the snow I tried to die in.
In three days I am out and high again, a chunk of ice tumbling in a thunderstorm.
About the Author – Adam Fout
Adam Fout is an addiction/recovery blogger who writes nonfiction and speculative fiction. He has upcoming work in Flash Fiction Online, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, december, J Journal, Another Chicago Magazine, and superstition [review]. He is a graduate of the 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop.
*This story by Adam Fout has won Second Place in the Dreamers 2021 Flash Fiction and Nonfiction Contest. See the full results!
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