The building was collapsing into the river and Amber was falling among all the debris. The storm had passed but the wind had done enough damage to the decaying brick foundation to topple it over. Time slowed to a crawl as she fell. Through the fear and desperation her mind looked back at the day. The day she died.
She had shot up and spent the early morning hours on the roof of the same building that was now collapsing. Her and Jeff had been looking at the constellations just before they had faded to the pink hue of oncoming sunrise.
“Look, she told him. Those constellations are people, people who got themselves wrapped in eternity.”
“Stars aren’t eternal, he said, they die just like everything else.”
And she hadn’t argued his point, Jeff didn’t speak much and Amber was happy enough that he was talking.
When she came down from the roof he was gone and she was out of dope. It was still too early to get more and she had shot enough to avoid the sickness for a little while. So she tidied up the room she was living in (technically she was squatting in but she hated that term) it was clean enough, but there was nothing she could do about the hole in the wall or the spiders that kept getting in. She crushed a big one and realized she needed to get her bed off the floor or soon she would be sleeping with the spiders.
Jeff wasn’t here but that was normal because Jeff was dead and he came and went as he pleased. They had been together for so long her and him, when he overdosed she blamed herself. The other time his heart stopped she was there to pound on his chest, to bring him back. The second time she had not been. She had been clean and had tried to cut Jeff out of her life even though she missed him badly. Amber had always thought that they would be clean together someday. She hadn’t cared about sobriety anymore when she heard his body had been found in an alley. Left there for three days while the rain fell on his lifeless eyes. But he had come back one night walking through the door of this very room and wrapping his arms around her. He never said much though, she thought that he was disappointed in her for letting him die.
Her arm ached. She pulled up her sleeve and looked at the abcess that had grown for weeks. A hole of red and black gore that stunk so badly when it hit the open air.
Her skin started to itch just a bit. She needed to score.
Amber hit the cracked pavement, trying to ignore the stares from the vacant houses in the neighborhood. Stares from the lifeless windows nestled among the cracked and chipping paint. Dead stares. The water in the river always amazed her though, how that water could sparkle and remain so clear in this dirty town was beyond her. She had chosen her building because it was right next to the water and she loved staring down at it from her fourth story window.
Scoring hadn’t been easy, no one had any. When she did find some it was from a guy she had never bought from before. She knew right away that he didn’t want money. She had hoped that he didn’t want head, at least when they wanted to fuck the stuff was inside her and she didn’t have to taste it.
She walked back with her bundle tucked away, looking at a small house she passed. It was tastefully adorned, the yard well kept. It looked so out of place here. Amber wandered about the owners and how they could still have hope in the face of humanity’s grime.
The storm hit as she shot up, thunder cracking outside the building. Jeff came back and held her. She wanted to cry because she wanted him to be here like this all the time, but the tears just wouldn’t come.
She passed out, stopped breathing, started again. Repeated this process until she woke up in a fog with the distinct feeling that something was very wrong. The arm with the abcess was tingling in a very unpleasant way. She looked closer and saw that little spiders were crawling out of the gore of her arm. Or some of them were anyway, others just burrowed deeper into the gaping hole of the abcess.
It was then that the world tilted and the building collapsed.
She was falling.
The day was bright and she found this odd because it shouldn’t have been daytime. Her body hit the water and submerged, all the pieces of brick and concrete breaking through the surface behind her and falling in the slow motion of the water’s gravity around her. But she could see the sunlight and the clouds through the surface, she wanted to kick her legs and rise. Jeff was beneath her, he was unconscious and sinking fast to the bottom. Her lungs were going to burst soon. She couldn’t let him die again, but saving him would kill her.
She made her choice.