A to Z 2016 : ANNEX

Patrick gently rolled the vial of cloudy liquid back and forth in his calloused hands. The motion itself was soothing. Or it would have been if the knowledge about the vial's contents didn't spike his anxiety. The hope was for a subtle balance. An even, neutral plateau. Unfortunately, there were deeper, negative connotations tied to the product. Ones that would sometimes trigger shame and regret, emotions he knew all too well.

It wasn't a mystery. Patrick knew exactly how he had reached this point in his life. It wasn't something he was born into, but rather slowly transitioned to. A lifetime of not caring for himself, not taking the proper steps before being driven to the reliance of a drug. Something necessary to get himself through the day to day. To live.

He set the glass vial down and trailed fingers along the side of his exposed waist. Along the way, before meeting the intended mark, he brushed over multiple bruises and injection sites — a fleshy battleground. Eventually he came upon the most recent infusion location, a needle burrowed under his skin, held in place by a strong adhesive. Patrick sighed as he traced the thin, clear tubing from the infusion needle to where it connected with a reservoir chamber set within a device, which was about the size of a pager, attached to his belt.

The nightmarish scenes of a parasitic worm was something Patrick could never stop from dredging up from the darker recesses of his mind. An entity that was never satisfied, slowly sucking the life from him until he was nothing more than a shriveled corpse. He knew the comparison was not only dramatic, but incorrect. Nothing was being taken from him. Not blood, not energy, not anything. Exactly the opposite. It helped control the otherwise uncontrollable. It provided life.

But it depressed him, nonetheless. It was a burden. And while it wasn't some creature hellbent on his destruction, he couldn't help but attribute some life-like qualities. The most prominent of which: it needed to be fed.

As if on cue, a sharp beep sounded from the device. It was feeding time. It was hungry, and if he didn't feed the machine, attempting to snuff it out, then he too would suffer and eventually expire.

Patrick conceded defeat, begrudgingly snapping the vial back up into his hand, and prepared to administer a dosage that would, for the time being, quell the beast that was now forever a part of his life. A part of him. Even if it was a symbiotic relationship he would never be able to fully accept and embrace.