The Dangling Conversation

She walked up the pitted concrete stairs into the dilapidated building hoping it wouldn't fall down around her ears. The sounds that normally occupy the afternoon seemed conspicuously absent from the apartments in the building. Wondering how many were still occupied she walked down the dark corridor with its single flickering tube light at the end. She walked away from the sun, unflinching and confident towards the unsteady light of flickering tube that wouldn't even be able to serve as a child's night light.
The brown paper bag in her hand seemed to move in the opposite direction she was moving in, the inertia of the coffee cups inside pushing and pulling it, rending it apart. She didn't notice though, all too consumed with the thoughts and ideas playing hide and go seek in her head. Fleeting images, sounds and smells that seemed to stay only long enough to bring up another memory. All of the things she wanted to forget but couldn't. All of the things that had once made her happy and now hurt. All of the things that she hoped to fix here today, perhaps build on. Maybe laugh about a few years from now. She didn't think that would happen.
Turning at the end of the corridor she climbed the aged wooden steps up, unsettling the film of dust that had collected there as the planks creaked under her weight. Her breath came in soft, laboured gasps that exertion had nothing to do with. Her anxiety seemed to multiply with each step she took. Climbing one storey had never been that hard. The checkered tiles on the floor brought back images of long rainy afternoons spent poring over a chessboard with numerous cups of coffee. Her shoes displaced the grime as she moved two squares forward and one to the right ... knight in a tweed suit. The thought brought a smile to her face. An extremely nervous knight.
The green door she stood at was cracked along a groove in the wood, the paint falling off in flakes, collecting at the bottom of the door. Nobody had stood there in some time, the cake of dust at the foot of the door was testament to that. She could hear music through the door, barely audible.
Trembling, she knocked on the door, barely creating any sound at all, knowing that it wouldn't be loud enough to hear. Looking for an excuse not to go in. She gathered up all of her courage with a deep breath and knocked louder. This time more sure of herself, or so she hoped. She heard scrape of furniture on the floor and then nothing. The sound of breaking glass and a muffled curse from within.
She heard the latch being unfastened and saw the door open up a crack. The room inside was almost pitch dark. A bloodshot eye looked out over the chain holding the door in place, the pupil constricting, adjusting to the light. Rage brought the eyebrow down as recognition dawned. The door had almost reached the frame before she put her hand against it.
The eye behind the door shrank, reflecting the force behind the door. She stood holding it back with all of the strength that she could muster and some that she couldn't, as though her desperation had taken physical form. She stood with a pleading expression on her face, looking through the small opening in the door. Finally, small sigh and a few seconds later the pressure on the door stopped. S took a step back. The sound of the chain being unfastened seemed almost like music. A gasp escaped from her mouth as the door opened.
The frail form of a young girl stood in the doorway, standing out against the shadows behind her. The black t-shirt with yellow stains made her pale skin look almost like alabaster. The impassive expression completing the illusion of a statue. She leaned against the door frame with her arms crossed. She looked emaciated, as though she had stopped eating altogether. The tips of the fingers on her right hand had bandages on them. The drum of a crack pipe stuck out of the pocket of her torn denim shorts.
She looked at the alabaster youth, willing herself to say something. An ocean roared in her ears, keeping time with her racing heart. She took a deep breath and just as the words were about to roll, Sirha held up her hand. Bhuvna Naik's eyes were rooted to Sirha's hand and the words she was about to speak stopped cold in her mouth, her promises and assurances never made it out of her head ... out of her heart. She cast her eyes down and noticed the marks on Sirha's arms, the small red dots standing out against the alabaster skin. The places where the clots had healed seemed just a little lighter than the rest of her arm. What was she into this time?
Ms Naik looked up into the eyes of her onetime lover and the love of her life to find only rage and resentment staring back at her. The door closed and once again reasserting the borders of their lives. Taking her fountain pen from her jacket pocket she scribbled a message on one of the tissues from the brown paper bag and put them down at the door. She walked away with a tear spoiling the makeup on her cheek, the sound her shoes made echoing down the hallway.
The tissue fell from its place atop the paper bag, the ink still drying. "Whenever you're ready".
I first introduced Ms Naik and Sirha in "A Pinch Of Soul".
Approximately 5% (200 million people) of the worlds population is addicted to an illegal drug.