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Mr. Malpractice

by Sydney Severo about a year ago in addiction
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Addiction, recovery, and the little black book that either undid everything or pieced it back together.


My name is Daisy. I am a recovering heroin addict. I say recovering because, although it's been 7 years since I last stuck a needle in my arm, I don't think I'll ever live an entire day without thinking about the way it felt. Dreaming about that warmth spreading throughout my bloodstream and craving the way that for just a moment, everything went quiet.

The only time I experience that quiet now is in the morning, during those brief, fleeting instances in the space between gaining consciousness and opening my eyes. That moment, however brief, is the only feeling I can begin to compare to my drug of choice. It's over as quickly as it came on, my eyes flutter open to meet the day, and reality hits me like a freight train.

I roll over onto my side and reach for my phone on the nightstand. It isn't hard to spot with its glittering case and the sunlight seeping through my curtains. I check the time. It is 7:36. I pull my covers up tight around me before I have to go and face the world. I feel safe here.

I look down to see Zazu nestled in the crook of my bent legs. As I move my arms over my head to stretch myself awake, she takes my cue, opening her sleepy eyes with a big yawn. Purring as she stands, she stretches out her long legs and slinks up to meet me at the top of the bed. She still has her sleepy eyes as she rubs her head against my nose. This is how we say good morning.

I sit up fully and roll the covers back down. I've never believed in making my bed. I know they say that making your bed every morning is the first step to success, but I call it a waste of time. I make my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. When I look in the mirror, I see the bags under my eyes but decide that I'm not going to put on any makeup.

My hair is a mess, so I decide a shower is in order. I always turn on the faucet before I get in; I like my showers scalding, could-possibly-burn-your-skin-off hot. I know that I'm wasting water; I promise I'm not a bad person, but I boil myself alive each morning and scrub the dirt off because regardless of how many days pass and how many showers I take, I still feel unclean. I think trauma eats away at your brain in that way.

I shower, and I scrub, I wrap my hair in a towel and dry myself off. Today is a self-proclaimed no-makeup day, so my time frame for appearing semi-composed and presentable is shortened by half. My deodorant, perfume, moisturizer are applied, and I unwrap my hair to detangle the mess.

I never dry my hair; I let it dry throughout my day. I am under the impression that leaving your house with soaking wet hair doesn't count as unpresentable. I throw on my black mom jeans, a black t-shirt over my black turtleneck with a heart embroidered on the collar. Today I'm going with my Converse, they're comfortable and practical and not hideous.

Breakfast is out of the question as I check the time. It's 8:30, which means I need to be out the door and on my way to work within the next 2 minutes. My shift starts at 9, and it only takes me 10 minutes to get to work. I leave early because I always appreciate being able to sit in my car for a few minutes to mentally prepare for the absolute shit storm I'll be walking into.

I grab my keys off of the counter and step out the front door. On the first step, I see a little black book with a pink Post-It note on its cover. My name is written in thick, sloppy Sharpie. At this point, I'm thoroughly confused, but I pick it up anyway, and I carry it with me to Pepper, my Mini Cooper. I firmly believe every car should have a name.

I toss it onto the passenger's seat and buckle my seatbelt, still staring at it as I reach to push the ignition. I decide I don't have time to open it now, but I can delegate my pre-shift mental preparation time on this mystery. I plug my phone into my connector chord and settle on listening to my "Unpublished" playlist. The first song that comes on as I put my car in reverse is "Santeria" by Sublime. It's one of my favorites.

I pull up to my parking spot, and realize I've been on autopilot. I was at home one moment and here the next. This occasionally happens when I have things besides operating a motor-vehicle on my mind. Regardless, I'm here.

I put Pepper in park and turn my attention back to the little black book on the seat beside me. I reach over and hold it in my hands, unsure of whether or not I should open it and absolutely clueless about what it could possibly contain. I could just throw it away, avoid whatever possible Pandora's box I may be doomed to uncover. But, I peel off the Post-It anyways, and I open the front cover.

There are only two words, but I instantly recognize the signature beneath them from those endless, bottomless, pointless prescriptions he used to write me. My heart shrinks so tightly, so quickly, that I can feel it shatter in my chest. It's him. "Mr. Malpractice," the painkiller pushing doctor that got me hooked on opiates when I was only 16. I assumed he was still in prison. He was tried and convicted in the wrongful deaths by overdose of multiple other patients, at the same time that I hit rock bottom and got sober. I still don't know why I was the one who survived, while they never even got the chance.

I flutter through the rest of the pages, desperate to find something besides "I'm sorry." Page after page, they're blank, empty, emotionless. I turn back to the first page and re-read those two terrible words, and I notice a small folder on the inside of the front cover. There's a folded piece of paper.

I open it up to find a $20,000 check written out to me.

It's so callous, so insincere, so grossly unbelievable that I find myself holding in laughter. Does this man truly consider those dead kids, my life, my future, and this addiction that will stay with me for the rest of my life worth $20,000?

I mean, I'll take it.

Therapy isn't cheap. But then again, neither is rehab.


About the author

Sydney Severo

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