Let Her Be

By Andy Longwood

Charlie needed a hit.

This he was certain of, as he made tapped his foot against the ground, the heroin in his shoe grating urgently against his foot. If he didn't get one now, he'd need one on the plane, and that was just asking for trouble. He drummed his fingers angrily against his arms and tried not to think of the headache he'd gotten the last time he tried quitting, the headache that was building on the anger that had flooded through his system ever since he left Liam's house.

Liam. Damn Liam.

He cursed his brother quietly as he cast his glance around for a men's room. Yeah, he wasn't strong enough to quit on his own, and that was his failing, but he'd never need to quit if Liam hadn't gotten him started on this damn habit in the first place. And then, to abandon him when Charlie needed his help . . . a restroom sign caught his attention and he began to stand up, feeling relieved. He would get his fix after all. He stood up and began to walk casually to the restroom. A blonde girl was sitting in a chair a few yards away, and Charlie glanced at her as he passed.

All of a sudden, he forgot about Liam and his drugs. The urgency of his need for heroin was suddenly muffled as he stopped and stared silently at the girl, whose profile was bright and beautiful and whose eyes were as blue as the sapphires on the ring he would have liked to have given Lucy. And the way the sun hit her hair, it was like watching sunlight on thread spun of gold. Charlie could almost hear lyrics coalescing into a song in his head as he stared at the beautiful girl. Then he saw the swell of her pregnant belly, and awe and disappointment simultaneously overwhelmed him.

Let her be, he thought. She wasn't for you, anyway.

She looked from her boarding pass to the window, and Charlie found himself looking for the man who'd gotten her in her condition. A pretty girl like that, she ought to have some bloke holding her every step of the way, he thought, watching her settle back awkwardly in a stiff-backed airport chair. Wonder where hers is. Despite her enormous belly, she seemed small and scared, and Charlie wondered if it would be terribly pathetic of him to try and cheer her up. He didn't exactly talk to women very much other than to entice half-drunken girls into a backroom for a quick bang on the virtue of his status as a member of the legendary band Driveshaft, and you couldn't entice a woman that pregnant with band names or sex. This was one bird who wouldn't be shagging anyone anytime soon.

Still, Charlie envied her man, whoever he was, absence of sex or not. There was something unbelievably lovely about her, the way her blonde hair glowed in the sunlight shining through the windows, the way her hands rested gently on her round belly, the way her soft breasts rose and fell as she breathed. Charlie forgot that he was staring, that he desperately needed a hit, that he was just a burnt out druggie and that pregnant women generally had men to be pregnant with. She was just that beautiful.

She looked nurturing. Yes, that was it. She was somebody's mother; she was taking care of a baby, a baby that was part of her and by default just as beautiful. She rubbed her stomach slowly as an airplane rolled slowly by the window, and Charlie watched her stand.

I hope someone's taking care of her, he thought, as she heaved herself out of the chair and walked awkwardly to the plane with no man in sight. He waited until a tall black man and his son had gotten up to board as well and followed them onto the plane, where he sat down a few seats behind her so that he could watch the sunlight shine on her hair as the plane pulled away, and his need for heroine made itself more known. He gripped the armrest of his seat and watched her, trying to ignore the twitching of his fingers and the pounding behind his eyes.

He shouldn't be watching her. He was a rock god, but she was a mother. She was so far beyond him that he should have averted his eyes the moment he noticed the swell of her stomach. His finger twitched, and he tightened them against the armrest

Just let me make it through this trip, he prayed, and I'll never see her again. Let me make it through this trip, and I'll never stare at her again. Let her be my drug, just this once.

The engine roared, and the plane began to rumble down the strip. The sun shone like gold on her hair, and he tightened his hand.

Let her be my drug, just this once.