The sunlight cuts through the room like it’s slicing the air. I see the shimmering motes and in my half-asleep state I’m a child again, my mum telling me that those tiny specks of glittering dust are fairies dancing. “Not just my poor housekeeping,” she’d say, conspiratorially. I keep looking, cracking my eyes no more than a couple of millimetres, the veins and arteries making dark wriggling worms inside my lids. This shining golden light of early morning feels so beautiful, peaceful. No one else is awake. I want to keep the spell unbroken. And, as though I am a child again, I make a wish. “Let me wake up. Let this all have been just a horrible dream.”
As the room dims I realise I’ve been holding my breath. The sun has gone behind a cloud. I’m no longer gazing at fairies, just dirt. Tattered curtains hang wearily and the cardboard taped to the windows has started to peel away. I roll onto my side and the sleeping bag I am in exhales a puff of stale air, like a last gasp from a corpse. I can smell myself and I don’t smell good. A can crunches under my body and my elbow knocks clinking bottles, glass skittles from last night’s mammoth session. And as I wake, I feel the itch kick in almost instantly. I look for my kit. The spoon, the needle, the bag of powder. It’s still here. My wish has not come true.