It’s three in the morning when Alana walks into the desolate diner. She is a young woman with a shaved head, winged eyeliner, jeweled earrings, and the appearance of a skeleton. She stands on unsteady feet and her eyes are a reflection of her addiction and exhaustion. I almost feel sorry, wanting nothing more than to reach out and help. However, that’s not why I’m here. She sits across from me at the bench. The diner isn’t busy, only two other patrons are here. We both order fried eggs, home fries, and coffee. The coffee is promptly brought to us.
Interviewer: Hello, Alana. It’s good to see you here.
Alana: Yeah? Why’s that? She puts a single packet of sugar in her steaming coffee before taking a sip.
Interviewer: I’m not sure how to answer, so I don’t. How are you today?
Alana: I’m okay, I guess. I saw Creature earlier. So, I’m better than yesterday.
Interviewer: Who exactly is Creature? And how are you better today than you were yesterday?
Alana: He’s one of my drug dealers. He’s a bit of a scumbag, but he’s useful. And, I ran out of drugs. She shrugs carelessly.
Interviewer: If he’s a scumbag, then why do you hang out with him?
Alana: I don’t hang out with him; I hang around him. There is a difference. I do it because he has drugs. Nothing more, nothing less.
Interviewer: How long have you known him?
Alana: A few years. Can we stop talking about Creature?
Interviewer: Of course. How long have you lived in this city?
Alana: My whole life. So, nineteen years. I’m trapped.
Interviewer: You could leave.
Alana: That’s bullshit. I’m poor. How am I supposed to leave? I don’t have any prospects. And don’t you dare say ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’. That makes zero sense.
Interviewer: I wasn’t. And, you’re right. It doesn’t. If you don’t have the proper funds to ‘fake it’, it won’t work. I smile, trying to lighten the mood.
Alana: Thank you. She returns the gesture.
Interviewer: Do you plan on getting sober? Why do you enjoy being high so much? It’s like I can’t stop the words. Seeing her fills me with sadness.
Alana: I do. A lot. Being high is just better. I don’t need a pity-party, so don’t feel sorry for me. Got it?
Interviewer: Got it. Are you high right now?
Alana: Yes, of course. I’m pretty much always high.
Interviewer: Ok, last question. I’m sure a lot of people would like to know; do you consider marijuana to be a gateway drug?
Alana: Hell no! I started with alcohol, as most people do. Alcohol, Adderall, and cough syrup. She slaps her palms on the table, making me jump. I have an idea!
Alana: How about, no more questions. Let’s talk about literally anything else, and just enjoy our coffee and food. She says this as the waitress brings us both a plate of fried eggs and home fries.
Interviewer: I nod my head in agreement and forfeit the questions. Alana needs help, but she needs it on her own terms. At least she’s eating something.
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