Lin Page 32
Somehow that thought makes him happy. Yes, I'm still here, he thinks, and an involuntary moan escapes his mouth. Just like a baby, no thought of appearance or propriety, only the satisfying expression of discomfort.

What happened to you? she says. She leans over to examine the bruises on his face. Up close, he can see the subtle mascara under her eyes, the way her nose ends in a small button. The remnants of cigarette smoke hover between them.

How often do you get the drugs? he asks.

She doesn't flinch. It is as if she is getting progressively tougher, siphoning away his own strength.

I don't know. When I feel bad. More lately.

I knew a woman who had a drug problem.

It's not a problem
. She says it matter-of-factly. Just something I do.

Sure, sure
, he replies, without a trace of sarcasm. I know when it becomes a problem. One day I looked at this woman, right here -- He points to the crook in his arm. And I saw the scars. It was like someone had sliced pieces of skin away, right there. I knew then she was in trouble.

Annie nods. Slowly she pulls one arm free from her coat. The crook there is flawless.