Wolf's Song Challenges - Rated G to PG-13
By "Song Challenges" I mean short stories inspired by music. I'm a very aural person - phrases and images get stuck in my head while listening to music and sometimes it gets away from me. I may have to split these into two. A lot.
-----------Seize the Day – Avenged Sevenfold -----------
Her hands shook as she loosened the tourniquet on her arm, the cool drug in her blood running through her veins more freely as she relaxed against the alley’s brick wall. Her head rested against the rusty dumpster to her side as she pressed her hand against it, the nausea going away as the heroin kicked in, and she closed her eyes, exhaling.
“Carin?” The voice was one she hadn’t heard in what felt like ages and she struggled to lift her eyelids, squinting at the figure in front of her. The man’s skin was dark – though that was probably just the sunlight – and his hair seemed to have orange streaks in it. “Holy hell, Carin.” He knelt in front of her and she felt ill again; she never wanted her old band mates to see her like this. Especially not Hani, their drummer; he’d been the youngest when they’d started at seventeen, Carin was twenty at the time and the guitarist and bassist being twins at eighteen. “What are you doing out here?”
“G-Go away,” she mumbled. He ignored her demand and hooked his arms under her armpits, picking her up with little trouble and hugging her tight to him. “Hani, just leave me alone, don’t want you to see me like this…”
“Come on.” He picked her up in his arms and she just rested her head limply against his shoulder, not really feeling like fighting him. F*ck, that must’ve been stronger smack than what she was used to, everything felt like it was going really, really slow. Hani didn’t live too far away, and she felt like an absolute moron for picking the alley right outside his apartment building to shoot up in.
His apartment was small and fairly dull, she noticed in her daze, walls bare except for a handful of pictures in frames. Pictures of the band in their heyday. She smiled dizzily and grabbed his shirt when he put her down on the couch, muttering something he couldn’t hear. “I’ll get you something to eat.” He knelt down in front of her and brushed her dirty, matted hair out of her face. She looked absolutely pathetic: the pink streaks in her hair had grown out and were hardly visible under the grime, her face filthy and smeared with dirt, her clothes tattered and her white boots the only thing that looked as though they’d survived the years. Her glazed blue eyes picked up little random details about him; his eyes were still deep green, he’d finally stopped wearing the yellow contacts. He still had the orange tiger stripe tattoos on his arms (always joking he was black with orange stripes), the same colored streaks were still in his hair, and he still had the d*mn tiger’s tooth earring hanging from his ear. He said he’d gotten it from his grandfather, back when the man had legally hunted tigers. “Maybe you should get a bath first.”
“No, food sounds nice,” she pleaded. “D-Do... do you still remember how to cook that spicy chicken you always made when we were on tour?” He smiled and pushed some of her dirty hair over her ear.
“ ‘Course I do. You’re the one who taught me how.” He made her sit up and took both her hands.
“… yay,” she whispered.
“But first, I want you to wash up. You need any help?” He helped her stand up and she swayed a little on the spot, leaning into him and shutting her eyes. Hani tilted her head back and checked her eyes; she wasn’t overdosing but she was fairly loaded. “Yeah, you do. Come on, my sister left some clothes here you can borrow.” He hooked her arm over his shoulder – wow, he’d gotten tall, she realized – and half carried her into the bathroom, sitting her down on the edge of the low tub. She slumped forward and rested her head on the wall while he grabbed the clean clothes and when he came back, she’d curled up and fallen asleep in the tub. He shook his head and picked her back up, sitting her again and shaking her lightly. “Come on, Carin.” She moaned in displeasure and shook her head, her chin against her chest. He sighed and tilted her head over, turning on the hot and cold water knobs and grabbing the cup he usually used to wash his cat. He dumped some water over her head to wet her hair. She whined and shook her head, just wanting to nap, but as he scrubbed her head with some kind of really nice-smelling shampoo, she stopped fighting it and just went along with it.
“Probably need to get my hair cut,” she said at length, spitting water out as he rinsed her hair, and when his fingers got stuck in some bad knots he grunted an agreement. “I don’t care if it’s uneven, Hani, just chop it.” He nodded.
“I’ll do that later.” He dried his hands off on a towel. “Can you handle washing yourself off?”
“I think so.” She managed to pull her jacket and shirt off and threw them on the floor. He picked them up and tucked them into the garbage.
“There’s soap and body wash on the shelves to your right, a loofah hanging on a hook in front of you and there’s wash rags under the sink.” He tousled her wet hair and left the bathroom, shutting the door most of the way but keeping it cracked open just enough so he could keep an ear on her.
It was hard to see her this way. The band, Id and Ego, had broken up six years ago – Hani had only been twenty three and had been severely disappointed in his band mates for letting things get as bad as they had. The bassist had died in a car wreck while driving drunk and the guitarist was to this day in a coma from a brain injury after pulling a stupid stunt. Carin had seemed to be the only other straight-laced member of the band. At least, until now.
After he put the chicken in the fridge to let it marinate for a little bit, he heard footsteps and Carin walked into the kitchen, absolutely swamped under the bathrobe she’d found hanging on the back of the bathroom door. She’d cut off most of her hair below the ears and she looked tired, now that all the filth was gone. She sniffed weakly and smiled. “That smells f*cking awesome, kid.”
“You know you can’t call me that anymore.” He laughed though and poured some of the hot tea he’d made for her into a mug. “Sugar, milk, anything?”
“Honey if you’ve got it.” She sat down at the little kitchen table, resting her arms on it. She was still shaking, but she’d calmed down a little. “You still have your diabetes or did you try that experimental pump they invented a few years back?”
“It’s called, I eat normal now.” He put the mug of tea in front of her and she quickly chugged it down, gasping and putting it back down when she realized it was scalding her mouth. He chuckled and wiped her mouth off with the back of his hand without thinking about it; he spent much of his time helping the disabled at the hospital his sister worked at. “I still get shakes and I pass out now and then, but I can pretty much eat whatever as long as I don’t eat a lot of it. Don’t really eat chocolate a whole lot anymore, though, that really sc'rews me up.” He sat down across from her with a glass of ice water. They sat in silence for a while, before Carin finally spoke up.
“I’m sorry you found me like this. I’ve… I haven’t been on the street long. Couple of months, maybe.” She rested her head in a hand, staring at him sadly. “Lost my condo. Some f*cker stole my credit cards and f*cked up my credit payments. Couldn’t pay with royalties, wasn’t getting enough of it to get by anymore.” She finished her tea and looked out the window. “… You still live in this little apartment. Why didn’t you ever move in with one of us?”
“I liked it here. Still do.” He drank his water more slowly than she had her tea. It surprised her; he used to be the one done with everything first. He’d been incredibly full of boundless energy as a kid. It was why he’d been their drummer. He barely broke a sweat doing ridiculous drum lines and she highly doubted he would’ve lost that ability, but it was weird seeing him move so deliberately. “I mean, I grew up here in this apartment. It’s hard to leave when it’s so cheap. The landlord doesn’t complain as long as I pay rent. Medical school’s been good to me, too. Just started my internship about two months ago.”
“What’s your department?” She leaned forward and he did as well out of old habit.
“I’m jumping between X-Ray Technician and E.R. nurse.” He finished the last gulp of his water and put the glass down, clasping his hands together in front of him. “Being in the E.R.’s not fun. It… reminds me too much of what happened to Bozo. And of what happened to Tommy.” They both winced and looked away. “I’m glad I never saw you in there. I mean, don’t take it that way. I would rather see you in the E.R. than in the morgue when my turn there comes up. But I’m just glad you never did anything stupid, Carin.”
“The hell made you go into med school anyway?” She frowned.
“I’d been doing online courses when I had the time. Finally got fully started right after the band split. It’s… It’s been good for me. I volunteer with the kids when I feel a hyper spell coming on. I’m a lot calmer than I used to be. Now I know why Patch Adams believed in the power of laughter,” he joked, “seeing those kids laugh isn’t good just for them, it’s good for their families and the other staff too. They see these kids sick day after day and some of them have no hope of recovering. If I can make these kids’ lives a little more enjoyable, I’ll do it. I don’t get paid for it, and I don’t want to, Carin. Seeing them smile’s enough.” The woman smiled with misty eyes and took one of his hands in both of hers.
“Glad to see being in a band didn’t f*ck up your sense of the world, kiddo.” She patted the back of his hand and let go, leaning back in her chair. He watched her for a minute and started to open his mouth to speak, but there was a knock on the door. His cat finally made its appearance – it was a sleek Persian that gave Carin the oddest look before making its journey to the door. Hani mumbled an apology before getting up to answer it. Carin could hear voices and just put her head down on the table, feeling quite tired now, and when Hani came back with the guest she was halfway to sleep. “Carin!” The voice was familiar as hell and she sat bolt upright, staring into light brown and she grinned, feeling quite energetic now.
“Hey, Gina!” The taller black woman half crushed Carin to her chest, making an excited noise before squatting down and squeezing both of Carin’s hands in hers.
“Oh, you crazy, crazy girl, what do you think you’re doing, bothering my baby brother now?” She smiled. Gina didn’t look too much older than she had the last time they’d met, though considering they were the same age, it didn’t surprise her too much. Gina had cut her hair short as well and it was still pole-straight as always, and the wild colors were gone. That was a surprise, but given that Gina was head of surgery at the hospital, it … yeah.
“Just thought I’d stop by and he let me use his bathroom to wash up. Been kind of a hellish few weeks.” Gina’s smile turned sad and Carin knew that Gina knew the truth. “I um. I’ll be leaving soon. Places to go, people to see.”
“Carin.” Gina put a hand on her cheek, sighing. “Please go to rehab, baby girl. There’s one at the hospital I work at. I know you don’t have insurance but I’ll work something out, okay?”
“I’m not going to be a charity case, Gina.” She took Gina’s hand off her face, blinking back tears. “I can… I can go it alone.” The black woman sighed in frustration and made Carin stand up, pushing the sleeve up her arm and finding the track marks and collapsed veins. The bruises made Carin feel sick as she stared at them.
“Please, please, Carin.” She hugged her old friend tight and Hani put a hand on Carin’s shoulder reassuringly. “I’m not making it a charity case. I just want you to be better again.” The white-haired woman was silent, her chin resting on Gina’s shoulder and her arms lay slack at her sides.
Then, she wrapped her arms around her waist in a weak hug, as she whispered, “Okay.” She closed her eyes and hugged her friend tighter. She wanted to be okay.
She needed to be okay again.
...Seize the day or die regretting the time you lost. It's empty and cold without you here, too many people to ache over...
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