when i saw the bruises on his forearms, i knew that i couldn't hold him anymore. his skin was purple dotted and acne-scarred, his lips cracking every time he puff-puff-passed to me--
"i don't want to live anymore. will you go with me?"
each cigarette drag tasted more bitter than usual, menthol filling up my lungs every time he suggested a new attempt. i would rinse out his hair dye in my bath tub as he fantasized running his car engine. he told me he'd play soft jazz when the fumes rose up, pull the buckle tighter with every shallow breath. my blue stained hands didn't mean anything to him.
when i told him that i couldn't love him so long as he plunged needles in his veins, he told me i wasn't a good sister. that i needed to let him to let his soul seep out like oil in a river. he couldn't live this heroin nightmare and i couldn't live without him.
we weren't blood, we never were. but the moment that i saw his elbows crumble under the tight band, i recognized the pain in his eyes as being the same as mine. we were twins struggling to lift the other up with cut-scraped wrists and knobbed knees. now, he can't lift me anymore. he can't pass me his worry.
he's barely alive. i already miss him.
Carina Stopenski is a Creative Writing BFA student at Chatham University. Her work has been featured in Minor Bird, Impossible Archetype, and World Poetry Movement.