Opioid Epidemic Meets Lizzie
Lizzie's powerful fingers strangled the steering wheel. It was a test of will. Of control. To stay on the right side of God she'd have to contain her frustration and let the steering wheel live. If only to avoid crashing the car. She breathed deep, slowing her rhythm, then loosened her bunched fingers. If a run up a mountain couldn’t affect Lizzie’s breathing, she sure wouldn’t let that implacable obstructionist do it.
Stonewalled by a bureaucrat. At a meeting to help teens, no less. Why won’t those nitwits recognize the harm teens suffer from opioid drug addiction? Their own, their parents, their friends. A teen center could abate the dangers from all three. Instead the weasel of a principal and his cohorts whitewashed the problem.
Driving home from the meeting, Lizzie wondered how deep their heads dug into the sand. She’d only asked for their backing of a teen center concept, not their gold fillings. Punching her front door in with the flat of her hand, she shoved and grumbled. She hated meetings. And to have no success in her plea transmitted acid into her cast iron stomach.
At home now, the day was on an upswing. Time with Delia, her cheerful and loyal sister, would calm her down.The promise of tranquility through commingling with herbs in the garden would cool her anger. Herbs don’t mouth insensitive, shortsighted inanities.
Then she found Delia, just sitting there. Tears jerked her body. Unlike her own wrinkled appearance, Delia’s usually unlined face belied her elder status by eleven months at age eighty-three. Now, her face looked ravaged. She sat on the antique sofa, one hand resting on the curlicued wooden arm, polished to a rich gleam. The other held her slumped forehead.
Lizzie knelt next to her. “Delia, my dear, what happened? I haven’t seen you cry since you were five and your bike sat mangled in the road.”
More composed, Delia raised her head and sniffed. “You forget, I also had a broken leg.”
“But I do remember the one thing you moaned, “My bike, my bike. That stupid car ruined my bike.”
Delia stood up swiftly and rammed her hands down at her side. “This time it’s not a bike. It’s a human being. It’s little Tyler.”
“Little Tyler? Isn’t he in his teens?”
“Okay, so he’s fourteen.” Delia said, then sniffled again. “Somehow I let the friendship fade away and hadn’t realized what a horrible situation Tyler’s mom, Emily, lived in. Maybe I could have helped and Tyler would still be at home.”
Lizzie took her hand, opened her fingers, then gently pulled her to the kitchen table. “I’m fixing tea, then I’ll get the full picture and work from there.”
Delia succumbed. Not her usual response. Normally, Delia would fix tea for her. The kettle shrieked. Lizzie raced around the sunny kitchen, preparing the weakest, and thus, fastest, tea possible.
Fresh picked herbs sat in a glass of water on the oak table, ready for snipping—a typical Delia move. Over the years, Lizzie had learned most of the herbs and their uses. Her sister’s expertise drew many seeking help, but there was such a thing as osmosis of knowledge. These were parsley, oregano, and basil—a sure bet for soup, though the lunch hour passed long ago.
What could have made her sister so frazzled? Delia never forgot meals. They both worked in the garden now that Lizzie was retired, but Delia tenaciously clung to her role as chef. Thank heavens. Lizzie didn’t mind dirt on her hands. She’d lived with that a long time. But cooking? She might poison them the first day out.
Tea she could handle. Delia had dried and labeled the herbs. Her own knowledge led to historical usage. Which herbs decorated the mummies for help in the afterlife. Dried and dead. That she could expound on. But even Lizzie knew that chamomile calmed.
The timer rang. Two minutes would have to do. She slid her sister’s favorite mug, delicately adorned with spring flowers, into Delia’s cold hands. The warmth would help, though the taste might not meet Delia’s standards. Sitting down, she yanked her own chair closer, and leaned forward, elbows on the table.
Not a coddler by nature, she instinctively took charge, and spoke with firmness. “What’s with Tyler?”
Delia drank her tea and swallowed loudly.
“Okay Delia. Tell me now. What happened to him?”
“I don’t know. He’s missing. Emily’s an old friend, though she’s been distant in past years. That jerk of a husband deserted her eons ago. She raised Tyler on her own.”
Delia looked straight at Lizzie and didn’t flinch or hold back. “Emily’s afraid he’s gone. She confessed she thinks he’s been on some drugs. In with the wrong crowd.” She sipped more tea.
Lizzie saw that Delia was more collected now, but before she could question her, Delia lifted her head and said, “She’s frightened, panicky. He’s been gone three weeks and barely stayed at home before that. He’s only fourteen. His mom called everyone she could think of from the school phone. They’d disconnected her home phone long ago. But she doesn’t know his, you know, his druggie friends.”
Lizzie arched her back. Drugs she knew. Kids she didn’t.Read more