Her raw voice pierces through the drums of my ears as I hear her begging. It’s German. I’m not sure what she wants. Is it money? Drugs? A warm shower? She could use a shower.
She reeks of death and the brown lump she’s trying to boil in her tea spoon is not helping. While trying to hold the tea spoon steady and the lighter beneath it, the substance in it slowly turns into rusty water.
She sits in a puddle of her own pee, but she doesn’t notice it running down her leg.
Using her teeth, she pulls the elastic tubing around her arm. One of her veins pops out only slightly. She grabs the dirty needle laying next to her on the floor.
She looks like she hasn’t eaten in a year and her arms and legs are twitching as if they are about to crack. Regardless she is a master of her favourite game.
Heroin-addiction is the only game where you score before you shoot.
I take place on the bench next to her, while I wait for my train and she floats off to a destination unknown to me or any of the other travelers.
As the rest of her body turns numb, she rests her head on the bench. The top of her head strokes the side of my leg as her fuzzy long blonde hair runs down the side of the bench.
It’s okay, though. I’m not allergic to addicted blondes.
The speaker announces that my train has been delayed for an hour, so I decide to grab a beer in a bar around the corner.
It’s a bar at the corner of a street behind the Red Light District. The bars in that street are lousy with shit-faced tourists looking for their next rush. They’re in Amsterdam. Sin City. Once they cross the border into this city anything goes.
But not this bar. It’s a quiet Irish Pub, with a young, Irish girl behind the counter. Here people come to converse and share observations.
I tell her the story of the German blonde at the train station. She knows her. She’s been strolling the streets for years, the Irish girl tells me.
An old man, from the other side of the counter says: “If everyone would walk straight and proud, like a boss, and not measure their pride by the price of their shoes, no one would be addicted to that crap.”
I nod in agreement and raise my glass to him. He continues: “These girls come here to sell their body for money, but all they end up selling is their dignity.”
They say she once came here during the summer. To party. After a deadly dose of heroin she ended up selling her body to maintain her newfound addiction.
Her parents never came looking for her. Her friends went back home without her. No one knows her name.
When I arrive back at the station she’s still there, more conscious than before. The bench she’s leaning on is empty, yet there are plenty of people waiting for the train.
I take place next to her. She looks surprised and slightly anxious. I smile and offer her my hand: “need help getting up?”
As she grabs my hand, a tear runs down her cheek. As she gets up and collects her belongings, I tell her to not worry. We all do crazy things.
She takes a few firm steps towards the railroad and throws the needle and elastic tubing under the arriving train while slipping the tea spoon into her pocket.
The question marks in my eyes must have been obvious, because before she walks away, she tells me: “It belonged to my grandmother. She didn’t survive the war.”
The German blonde that reeks of death, with pants soaked in her own urine walks away with her head held high and a hop in her step.
She turns her head to me, before she steps upon the escalator. I notice a twinkle in her eyes: “It’s Miranda, by the way.”
“Bye, Miranda,” I tell her, as the escalator slowly rolls her down to the station’s main square.
Miranda wasn’t looking for a hand offering drugs or money. Instead she was looking for a hand offering empathy.
A helping hand.
Written by: Daan van den Bergh
A 28 year old husband and father from The Netherlands. Over at my blog I share poetry, short stories, flash fiction and comment on actualities in an attempt to pour society’s issues into the art of writing. Visit my blog at Daanvandenbergh.com. Follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook.