If I was ever presented with the option of going home instead of continuing forward I would probably have taken another step. If I was presented the option of a full meal later that night if I turned away, I would have reached out. If I was told I'd get a beating later, the Drug would already be in my system. Because it was all for something more than other people understood. It was a coming-of-age ritual, a symbolic gesture of acceptance, a way for me to fit in with the people I looked up to – maybe not admired, and definitely not loved, but looked up to; I had no one but my poor, dying mother, and a little brother who was more often than not stealing for her and keeping things for her, just her. I lived on the darker side of the streets. The greasy smoke from the dark stuff came up in billowing clouds that seemed to smother my face and suffocate me. It made me feel dirty, really dirty, and suddenly the reason everyone else on this street was so filthy became clear. I took it anyway and everything flipped. Everything turned and swayed and each cough I released threatened to burst my lungs.

"Cassidy, Cassidy," you may have said, "don't do what everyone else does just to fit in," you might have said. I wouldn't care. I wanted to be like Mariah, and be like Samuel, tall and dark Samuel whose muscle could lift myself and Mariah and Jesse, my little brother, all onto his shoulder and still move around with ease. To be honest, I was sickened by the Drug, and I may have vomited, my body's way of punishing me. Everything from that night because like a very distant dream of darkness and laughter and delirious happiness, except for when I wanted to die for the pain, of course.

"Cassidy, Cassidy, why so eager to prove you're not just a little girl anymore?"

Because I'm not a little girl anymore, I would have said.

"Don't you know that this drug kills more than twenty people a week?"

I could be a part of the others, I would have said. I could live.

"What if you don't?"

I won't take much, I would have said.

"What if you do?"

AN: Don't know what possessed me to write this, but here it is. Writing more now, might get some up later or tomorrow.