I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.
I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.
Today Jacquie Biggar shares a short story based on the prompt, that reaches out to those who are trapped in addiction and scared to reach out for help.
What I Know Now That I Didn’t Know Then
USA Today Bestselling Author
I was eighteen when we met on the night of my birthday bash. Sparks crackled and it wasn’t from the giant bonfire heating the night air and throwing cinders twenty feet into the sky, turning the teen party into a ghoulish spectacle. Maybe I should have run while I could, but it was too late—the hypnotic lure of ecstasy enticed me into his dark web.
Every minute we could eke out of our days was spent together, nights filled with hunger and passion, days with laughter and reckless abandon. Hours driving country roads, talking non-stop or singing eighties rock tunes at the top of our lungs. Life was good, maybe too good.
My friends took a backseat to my new obsession, but I didn’t care, I was happy. Delirious even. Living with my parents put a crimp in our relationship, so I picked up a second job cleaning businesses at night (I waitressed during the day) and found a cheap apartment to rent. It wasn’t much, one bedroom, a galley kitchen and minuscule living room, but it was ours—mine and my love’s.
I wasn’t getting enough sleep and began to lose weight. Makeup helped to hide the pale, pasty look of my skin, but nothing could cover the bloodshot eyes and flagging energy. Well, except for the time I stole from work to be with my sweetheart, then all that weariness fell away and we soared to the heavens together.
Money was tight. Even though I worked sixteen-hour days, there never seemed enough to go around. I couldn’t give up my car, it gave me the independence I needed, so regretfully, I said goodbye to the sweet little apartment and began sleeping in the backseat of the car.
Nights were chilly with autumn on the horizon, and it wasn’t always easy to find a place near public washrooms (I sponge bathed in the sinks) without the cops checking me out for vagrancy, but I mostly made it work. At least until the insurance and registration came due.
I didn’t have a choice, I screwed up the courage and drove out to my parents’ place to ask for help, though deep inside, I already knew what they would say.
Mom answered the door. She looked older—sadder maybe.
“You didn’t need to ring the bell, this is your home, too, or it used to be.” She turned and climbed the three stairs leading into the kitchen, tattered slippers slapping her heels. “I just made a cup of tea and toast, would you like some?”
The aroma of fresh bread filled the house, making me dizzy with hunger. My pride warred with my stomach—and lost. “That would nice, thank you,” I said, as sedately as I could with my salivary glands in overdrive. “How have you been, Mom? Where’s Dad?” I kind of hoped he was there, it would be easier somehow.
She cast me a searching glance before concentrating on cutting two thick slices of white bread with golden crusts and dropping them into the old Toastmaster.
“Dad’s at work, won’t be back until late, so if it’s him you need you’ll have to come back another day.”
Cool and distant—not at all like the mother who cuddled me when I fell and sang me to sleep at night. Shame scorched my core. I’d done that.
“Mom, I came to see you.” A white lie, but the way her eyes brightened made me glad I did.
“Well, then,” she said, shuffling into the dining room with a pint of homemade strawberry jam and toast slathered in margarine. “This is nice—unexpected.”
The tea was hot and the toast mouth-watering, but guilt made it hard to swallow. How could I ask for money I knew they needed? Instead, I’d taken off the second I could and ignored the very people who gave me life. Shame washed over me, and I nervously scratched at my inner arms, the craving a constant hunger I couldn’t escape.
Noticing Mom’s worried gaze on my movements, I forced myself to rest my hands on the scarred table, after making sure my sleeves were pulled down. “Yes, well, I thought it was time and I had a day off, so…” Another lie. I’d been let go from my jobs—one for stealing cash from the register, and the other for not being reliable—Dad would be so proud. Not.
“Beth, is there something you need to tell me?” Mom reached across and grasped my frozen fingers. “Your father and I are always here for you, honey. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s what you do about it that counts.”
Could I betray my love and tell Mom the truth? Panic turned my veins to slush. Her voice came to me through a tunnel, the sound far-off and muffled. I couldn’t lose him, could I? “You need me,” he whispered, a cobra’s hiss that hypnotised and made my mind go blank.
But then Mom rose from her chair and came around the table to lean over and take me into her arms. The scent of yeast and lemon rose from her skin and her graying hair tickled my cheek.
“I’ve got you, Bethany. You’re not alone, baby girl. I’ve got you.” she whispered, tears from her—or was it me?—dampening our skin.
I was scared and embarrassed, and worried about what was to come, but I knew what I had to do. Leaning back, I looked into her beautiful, compassionate, green eyes and admitted my addiction.
“Momma, I need help.”
Heroin is taking our sisters, brothers, fathers, and mothers. It is highly addictive, and if cut with other toxic chemicals such as fentanyl, it’s a killer.
In British Columbia, Canada six people die per day from opioid overdoses.
©Jacquie Biggar 2022
My thanks to Jacquie for writing this story, carrying such an important message, in response to the prompt, and I know that she would love to hear from you.
About Jacquie Biggar
Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of romance who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!
A small selection of Jacquie’s books
My review for Love Me January 22nd 2022
Having read other books by the author I fully expected that this story would be heartwarming and in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. The characters are always relateable and being a romance they also tend to have attractive personalities which makes them likeable too.
The interactions between those falling for each other are subtle, and much is left to your imagination, which is something I prefer when reading about love. In this particular case you are left with the wonderful feeling that love is alive and well despite the global troubles impacting us all at this time.
At the heart of this story is also the issue of childhood leukemia which the author adds details of at the end of the book. A difficult subject to cover, particularly in a feel good romance novel, but Jacquie Biggar handles it very sensitively.
A book to curl up in front of a roaring fire, with a large mug of hot chocolate and a couple of hours free for some lovely escapism. Recommended for lovers of romance and those who enjoy a heartwarming reminder that there are good things in the world.
Thank you for joining us today and it would be great if you could share Jacquie’s story… Sally.