by Lara Wilson

He shivers, not so much from cold but from need and deprivation. He's hungry and hurting and the wind feels like it's cutting him to the bone.

He shivers and digs his hands deeper into the pockets of his threadbare jacket, trying not to hunch over. His stomach knots, wanting him to curl around it, but he resists.

He knows what he needs to do.

He shivers and steps away from the dirty wall, out to the curb, joining too many others of both sexes, all desperate.

The ache in his gut and the burning in his veins, keep him there, eyes scanning the passing cars as they slow, sometimes stop, sometimes move on. He knows he's pretty--he's been told that enough times, though he can't see it--but junkies aren't in high demand and there are so many of them. He doesn't like to look enticing, to make the first move, to call out as some of the more experienced do.

But, he hurts and he's not sure when he ate last and the wind bites, making him shiver even harder, and desperation is enough of a spur.


The backseat of the man's car is dirty, the floor littered with the residue of too many fast food meals. He kneels in it anyway, his hands and mouth working methodically. He's learned to use his tongue, keep his teeth out of the way. The feeling of bliss that comes with every injection earned is enough to drive away any initial hesitation, any fear, any disgust. The taste, the feel, the sounds, they turn his stomach.

But his need turns it harder, and so he works the man to completion and leans out the open car door to spit on the ground. For a moment, he's mesmerized by the sight of the saliva and semen mingling with a dying patch of weeds, then, as the shivers resume, he jerks his torso back into the car and hopes this one will pay.

A grimy ten dollar bill in his hand, he clamors quickly out of the backseat, ignoring the man's comment that he'll drive him back, not wanting anything else to do with him but to forget him as quickly as possible.

His stomach growls miserably but there's a more pressing need burning his veins to ash, and he hugs the alley wall as he heads for relief. Only a few blocks. He can make it.

A couple of punks are beating on a smaller kid somewhere in the darkest part of the alley, and for a moment he remembers a time he would have stopped them. A bright flash of color and a feather in his cap, a cheery smile on his face, and his most prized possession in his hands, then he remembers he sold his bow and the colors are all drab now.

Skirting them carefully, he tunes out the sounds of pain, listening only to the ones inside him, and continues towards the only thing he has left.


Ten dollars doesn't get him much but it's enough for a few hours of blissful relief and a clean needle. He doesn't even bother going back to his squat, simply moves away from the dealer, back into the shadows to crouch down and shoot up.

Warmth hits immediately and he closes his eyes and lets his mind drift to happier times.

He shivers, but this time with pleasure, heat burning through him, making him feel strong.

He shivers and shudders and prays that this time the feeling lasts.

He shivers because it never does.


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