Ellan was naturally beautiful. Most girls spent hours in front of the mirrors, making small changes to their face that a guy wouldn’t even notice, Ellan could simply do her hair and walk away. Don was fast to point that out to her on a regular basis, but she still liked to spend her fair share of time in front of her small, circular makeup mirror she kept in the living room.
Her long dirty blonde hair fell to her mid-back usually, but tonight she kept it in a high pony-tail. Besides the outline of her eyes and mascara on her eyelashes, her face was bare of makeup. Her baggy red sweatshirt had a slight tear on the pocket, holes on the sleeves and a noticeable stain on the shoulder. Don was curious why she bothered to keep such a hideous sweatshirt, Ellan didn’t know for certain why she did, either.
Ellan flicked the butt of her second cigarette out of the window as she pulled down a dirt, poorly maintained road on the far end of Stewart End. The only good thing that could be said about the north-side development of Linkville, being Stewart End, was that it kept the majority of the crime away from the simple streets in the better part of town. Every house kept its windows either boarded up or secured with bars. Large dogs, chained to a tree or porch, was a common occurrence. A lovely neighborhood, that could be copy and pasted from almost any other shady neighborhood in the United States.
Turning the music down, Ellan slowed her vehicle, it was fairly late and if she woke up the neighbors she would have to turn around to not draw attention to herself. Her small Honda rolled passed the first series of houses, small manufactured homes that held hard to their cliché trailer-trash model. None of the houses had fences, just suggestions as to where one property ended and the other began. At the end of the road she saw Heathers house, a small double-wide manufactured home, light blue with white trim, a poorly constructed porch in the front, and grass that reached the average person’s knees. In the driveway was an array of cars, some that worked and others that have been left to die. Heather didn’t own any of the cars, but she was sure to have over any number of guests that were willing to chauffeur her around town.
Parking behind a yellow mid-90’s Astrovan, Ellan popped her trunk and grabbed her purse as she left the car. Walking to the back of the car, she pulled her phone from her pocket and dropped it in her purse, placing the purse in the back of the trunk and covering it with an emergency blanket that Don wanted her to always have.
Ellan closed the trunk and began to walk towards the house, as she approached the makeshift walkway that led to the porch, the front screen door opened.
Out stepped Kris Bacca, or KB as he preferred. KB was no taller than Ellan, a thickly built Hispanic with a thin mustache and short black hair. His idea of a wardrobe required a white undershirt, a single colored t-shirt that was usually 3 sizes too large, pants that were equally as large, and a straight billed baseball cap that matched whatever color his t-shirt choice of the evening was. Tonight was red.
“Bout time, El,” KB held the door open for her, “I was starting to think you were standing me up again.”
Ellan walked up the steps and smiled at him as she walked through the door.
A cool breeze blew off the oscillating fan in the corner of the room. Don couldn’t fall asleep in the hot summer months, he required the fan to be on throughout the night. Making sure that his phone was set on the highest ringing setting, he placed it on the end table by his head. Grabbing the remote, he switched through the menu and set the sleeper on the television, making sure that it would go off within an hour.
Don rolled over and tried to rest. He had worked a long shift, and desperately wanted to drift to sleep, but history had proved to him that it was most likely not going to happen. On nights like these he had a hard time falling asleep, not until he gave up all hope that Ellan would come home.
She would eventually come home, usually around 7 in the morning, Don would be up and would have Noel sitting in her high chair eating breakfast. Ellan would be too tired to fight and walk to the bedroom and pass out for the next 8 hours. Once awake, she was generally grumpy, easily annoyed, quiet, and wanting to be left alone. This made Don furious, he worked 5 days a week and had to spend the weekends with no help with Noel. He felt that he never had a day off, because on his days off he would be a single parent.
Ellan didn’t get it. She would argue that she never had a day off, either. She was unaware, or at least acted unaware, to the fact that she pulled this routine fairly regularly, especially when the weekend was about to start.
Don grabbed a nearby pillow and squeezed it against his face, he let out a muffled, frustrated scream, tossing the pillow across the room once he finished. In one swift motion, he jumped out of bed, grabbed his phone and turned the TV off. He walked out of the room, being sure to turn the light off before he left.
Throwing his body onto the couch, Don reached for the remote control that he had laid on. Pulling it out like a night pulled his sword, he pressed the power button on the top of the remote. If he was going to be awake, he was going to do it with the comfort of his Netflix account.
Don browsed through the catalog of titles, eventually landing on an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from the 80’s that he hadn’t watched in years.
Pulling his phone out he flipped it open and clicked the message icon. Clicking on the thread that was labeled with the contact “Ellan” he carefully calculated a text message for her. Whenever nights like this happened, it was only a matter of time that Don would cave in and plead for her to come home at a reasonable time. He had only 9 hours until Matt would show up, ready to work, and if she was out to late then she would be too tired to take care of their daughter. A couple different drafts of the message was started, then restarted before he finally read the message out loud to himself: Babe, please remember that Matt will be here early to work on the garage. Try and be home within the two hours that you said. Be safe. Love.
Don placed the phone on the ground, he didn’t want to miss the reply that he desperately desired but doubted it would come regardless.
It was going to be a long night, and he knew it.
Ellan inhaled a deep lungful, leaned back in the couch, and exhaled a deep breath of brownish gray smoke and vapors. She felt the rush that she desired. The warmth of her bloodstream gave her the calm that she wanted. She placed the clear, glass pipe on the coffee table in front of her and grabbed for a freshly opened bottle of beer.
The small living room of Heathers place was decorated in mostly secondhand furniture from people that were about to throw it out. The house had three tiny rooms, small enough that each one could be mistaken for a closet. Her two children shared one of the bedrooms across from the kitchen, the other room was used to store random junk that she had no need to own (a treadmill, a bench press set with a full rack of weights, a couple dated box televisions from the 90’s, a dog kennel, and a desk that served as a shelf to hold a countless number of boxes). Heathers room was alongside the living room, the room was as basic as it could possibly be, there were no dressers, no mirrors, no television. Naked, except for scattered clothes piled on the ground and a bed that had no frame. The only other rooms in the house was the small bathroom that shared the same side of the house as Heather’s bedroom and a decent sized kitchen that shot off of the living room.
Heather grabbed a second glass pipe and lit it with her yellow bic lighter. The flame danced below the bulb of the pipe, eventually turning the crystals of meth into a liquid. Heather kept the flame going, letting the smoke rise from the liquid and filling the entire bulb. She began to inhale, stopping the lighter seconds before she stopped sucking in the smoke. Heather held the smoke for a couple of seconds and then exhaled.
A flush from the bathroom was heard and KB walked out, without washing his hands. He sat down beside Ellan and opened his own beer, before taking the pipe from Heather.
“So, El, you going to be able to come out tomorrow night?” KB asked, unable to connect the fact that it was already passed midnight and he was actually referring to later in the same day.
“I hope so, but I don’t know yet.” She answered as she took a swig of her beer.
“What do you mean? You know you want to.”
“Oh, because you guys are that cool?” She said with a laugh and nudged him as KB lit up the pipe.
KB didn’t immediately answer. Instead he began to suck in the smoke that had filled the pipe. With the drug still in his lungs, KB replied: “You know it!” Then exhaled.
“How much do we have?” Heather asked.
KB placed what was left in a Ziploc bag on the table, “Not much, but I can get us some later if we need it.”
“From Ter?” Ellan asked.
Terry, or Ter, was KB’s supplier. He was skinny, tall, and pale, he kept his long black hair braided daily. He didn’t aspire to do much with his life, his daily routine revolved around smoking whatever he had on hand or selling it if he needed the money. Ellan and Terry had a short-lived history, before Don. They had dated for a few months, it was a disaster. The relationship finally ended when Terry pulled a pistol on her and threatened to kill her and hide her body in the woods, so that it could rot and be eaten by buzzards. The next day she met Don for their first date, it seemed like poetry.
Ellan was able to stay away from her old life. She felt that she was given an opportunity to leave it all behind, to change the horrible direction she long feared she couldn’t recover from. She cut ties with everyone, changed her phone number and spent every moment she had with Don. Ellan was happy, possible for the first time since she was a young girl. Don knew of her past, he didn’t like it, but accepted it as that, her past. She loved Don and couldn’t wait to be married and start a family together.
That was the problem. Starting a family wasn’t as easy as either of them had hoped. She found herself becoming more and more depressed as the time flew by and they were still no closer to getting pregnant. Shortly after their second wedding anniversary, she called Heather. She didn’t know why she did it, she fooled herself into believing that she wanted to catch up with her old friend. Don didn’t approve of it, but trusted her blindly, figuring her to be an adult and capable of making adult decisions. The first month or so she would sneak out of work early, drive out to Stewart End and smoke with Heather and whoever her company was at that moment. She would then get in her car and drive back home, Don never knew any different.
Once they finally got pregnant, Ellan was already in too deep. She was being sloppy and feared that she would slip up and Don would find out her dark secret. She was getting bold enough that she was buying product from KB and bringing it home, smoking it (or at times even eating it) when Don was at work. She knew that she would never risk the life of her own child and stopped smoking as soon as she discovered the wonderful gift they were given. Ellan hoped that she was strong enough to kick the habit, to never go down that road again.
She was wrong. Ellan found herself back at Heathers as soon as Noel was finished breast feeding. She accepted it, as long as she could get away with it, she would be smoking meth.
“Yes, from Ter.” KB confirmed.
“How much does he want?” Ellan asked, depending on how desperate Terry was for cash would generally regulate how cheap or expensive the product would be.
“I talked to him earlier, he said he could get us the usual.” KB said as he grabbed the pipe and handed it to Ellan. “But...”
The girls looked at each other, they know what the word but implied when it came to Ter and it had led to some very sticky situations, some situations that would make Don quite uncomfortable.
“No, KB.” Ellan said with a tone that said tell him to fuck off.
“It’s nothing like that, El.” He defended himself and his supplier. “It’s that he brought up something new, that sounds pretty awesome.”
Ellan shook her head, she had resisted the urge to experiment with any new drugs the last 4 years and was proud of that. At least she could say that.
“What is it?” Heather asked, the temptation to try new drugs was never something she tried to avoid.
“He doesn’t know. Says he got it from a guy down in Clover Cove.”
“That sounds tempting, but I’m thinking, no.” Ellan finally placed the pipe in her mouth.
“Ter said that he had already tried it with his sisters, said it was amazing. One of the best highs he had ever experienced. A little goes a long way, one high can last all night.” KB stood up and began to pace around the room, as if he was presenting a new line of running shoes to Nike. “I guess he said it was the strangest trip, too. Crazy hallucinations, and time felt like it held still, only from a couple hits.”
“Pass, Kris.” Ellan said after she blew a cloud from her lungs.
“I’m telling you El, he doesn’t know if he will be able to get his hands on it again. This might be the only chance we get.”
“How much does he want for it?” She asked.
Ellan and Heather shared a moment as they looked at each other.
“Please, Ellan.” This time it was Heather pleading.
“We could go halves, I don’t mind.” KB decided to tempt her with.
Heather gave her best attempt at puppy dog eyes, batting her eyelids at her in a slow, desperate swipe.
“I’ll ask Don for the money, I’ll tell him we need a new battery or something in the Honda.” She said regrettably.
Heather nearly jumped out of her chair, racing over and embracing Ellan with a hug. “Oh my god, I love you!”
“But...” Ellan interrupted the celebration.
“But, what?” KB asked.
“I want to talk to his sister first, see what she thinks about it?” She knew both of Ter’s sisters from when they dated, she liked them both, but bonded with one of them in particular, occasionally she would come over and smoke with them.