i understand why people are tired of feeling

of thinking

of bearing witness to pain

to their own

to others.

when i met Jamal in the alley behind my condo he had fallen. the way he tried to get up i knew it was heroin. i brought him coca cola in a bottle. three to be exact. also some tuna salad with artisan crackers.

i smiled when he told me that chocolate covered pretzels were his favorite.

as he sobbed he told me he was only 28.

using heroin only for 1 year. his family was in virginia.

you never know what’s true when someone is an addict.

does it really matter?

i gave him white socks and a t-shirt from my husband’s closet.

he looked into the small back yard we share with our neighbor.

“what beautiful flowers you have planted. they look so good despite this heat.”

i rubbed his back as he sobbed. thanked him for the complement on my flowers.

asked if he wanted me to call his mother.

“it’s been a year Jamal. she’s probably worried about you.”

“when you see me around the neighborhood just don’t let me die until i see my mother again.”

we both sobbed. Jamal in the lawn chair I brought to the alley.

me standing next to him.

“i promise Jamal. When i see you i will make sure you are hydrated and fed. Let’s keep you alive until you see her.”

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adriana suriano

adriana suriano

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.