Imagine someone just turning out a light. One minute I was in the sunshine, strolling over the small bridge that crossed the river that tumbled between grey rocks green with moss. The next, I’m crushed under a leaden sky and grey walls closed all around me, taking my air.
I find myself in front of what remains of a Cold War-era apartment block, the same colour as the sky with glassless windows, graffitied walls and waste of every kind strewn over the broken concrete.
A cold wind blows along the street and I pin the collar of my jacket with one hand and I look to bury my head in my jacket as litter dances little waltzes around me. I stand back from the building, taking it in. My stomach knots as the wind drops and the air stops breathing, tense. A pale face appears at one of the holes that were once windows.
I start to shake. The sky mirrors my soul as I wonder, not for the first time, why I came here. I know why. Pain. Pain is why I’m here here. White shards of pain that strip and shred the nerves as vultures tear at a long-dead carcass.
The first couple of months had been fine, taken care of by concerned doctors whose hands caressed the prescription that I eyed as a spectator watches for the matador to give the bull that final thrust. Even the sight of that little A6-size slip of paper was enough to alleviate the pain I (imagined?) felt.
Then, when I started to walk without wincing, the morphine prescriptions dried up and stopped. They stopped but my body’s craving didn’t. And so here I stand, shivering, waiting for a little packet of warmth.