Zack remained propped up against the wall until he saw his mother coming down the street. He stood up fully and a second later found her arms around him, head buried against his neck, her tears wet against his skin. He wanted to offer her some comfort but he couldn't think of anything he hadn't said before. All he could manage was a weak, "everything is going to be okay," that he didn't even believe himself.
She pulled away, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand. "I never thought he would…" she trailed off but Zack knew what she meant. Cody's addiction had never seemed real to him, it had always felt like he would wake up one day and his brother would turn up on his door, smiling, his life back in order.
4th October (Two Years Ago)
Zack opened the door to his apartment, instantly wishing that he hadn't. Cody was standing in front of him, long blond hair dishevelled, teeth stained, clothes dirty. He looked like he had been sleeping on the street again.
"Yes?" Zack hadn't meant to sound so blunt but it had happened anyway.
"You got any money?"
"Come on!" The distress in Cody's voice echoed of the stress he used to suffer when he thought he might be late handing in a homework assignment. Despite himself, Zack found himself smiling at the memory. "I need another fix."
"I'm not going to pay you to buy drugs!"
"Fine, I'll just get the money myself then." Zack knew that usually meant one of two things. Either he was going to steal something or he was going to open his body to the nearest man willing to pay for the privilege. The thought made Zack sick to his stomach, the first time he found out he had actually been sick. He didn't want Cody to leave, knowing that he could have stopped it happening, if only for one night. He reached into his pocket, pulling out his wallet, peeling out some notes and holding them out.
"Thirty dollars, that's all I have."
Cody snatched the money the instant that Zack offered it, shoving it into the pocket of his ripped jeans. "Thanks brother." He left straight away, leaving Zack standing at the door shaking his head. He didn't even know if Cody cared about him anymore.
But now it would never happen. Cody would never turn up on his doorstep, life back in order. Zack found himself wishing that he would just be able to turn up asking for money again, if only for the chance to say a proper goodbye to him.
He felt her pull back and noticed that she was shaking. "I should never have been so harsh on him. I could have stopped it, I could have done something."
"No; it wasn't your fault."
"It feels like it is."
He didn't know how to respond to her, how to make her believe that it wasn't her fault because he felt as though it was his own. "I'm sorry mom."
She nodded, looking away from him, "do I need to identify…?"
"No. I was listed as his next of kin, I've already done it."
"Oh." He couldn't tell if she was happy about the fact, she sounded empty. Since they had found out about Cody's addiction, Zack had witnessed her depressed, angry and even in denial but he had never known her to be empty.
"Do you want me to call Doctor Kion?"
"She's very good at what she does…"
"Damn it Zack! My son just died, I don't want to talk about it with your stupid therapist!" Some of the pedestrians that were still filing through the street turned to look at her. She sighed; "I didn't mean to say it like that. I just… I can't do this right now. I can't be around you."
She turned and began to leave. Out of sheer desperation Zack found himself calling for her; "mom!" She ignored him, disappearing into the crowd and out of view.