The Ties That Bind Us

Zoe felt responsible, and this time it wasn’t just her ingrained catholic guilt. William had been the most straight laced person she knew until she corrupted him. He never would have done it that first time if it hadn’t been for her goading. Now she longed to take it all back.

When William had said he’d do anything for her, she should have told him to stop and think about that first. Instead, she had him prove it with the edgiest taboo she could imagine.

What’s done is done, though, and you can only continue to trudge through the messes you’ve made for yourself.

Now here they were, William and Zoe, in this filthy alley, approaching a seedy, nameless shop. How did William even know about this place?

Stepping through the doorway, Zoe filled with dread, William with anticipation, they were greeted with the smell of marijuana. William wasted no time in tracing it to its source, a greasy, shirtless, long haired dude smoking a joint on a tattered couch. Muscles rippled under densely packed tattoos.

Zoe found a stool in the corner and worked on being invisible while William negotiated the trade of cold hard cash for his new obsession.

She watched his face as the needle entered William’s scarred arm, the initial sting quickly resolving into an expression of pleasure. She couldn’t watch, but she couldn’t not watch. It was both gruesome and fascinating all at once.

Later, she led him glassy eyed from the shop. If only there were some way to make him stop this craziness. It was all because of her. Zoe’s shoulders slumped under the burden she carried. She had ruined William and she would look after him until the bitter end.

Meanwhile, William admired his newest tattoo, the largest one yet of Zoe.

Author’s Note:

This flash piece was written for a contest and it won first place! The prompt was to use the words sting, trade, and stop.