- the first in a series of tales chronicling the secret lives of junkies -

Matilda always knew she was destined to something greater, but growing up in Mobile, Alabama, there weren't many outlets for her talents. As the oldest daughter of the preacher of Mobile's First Baptist Church, she was expected to lead her life in a predetermined fashion. She was raised to be a minister's wife, not a showgirl. Her one pleasure was singing in the church choir. Standing in front of the congregation, she could imagine the audience on Broadway responding to her every note. She closed her eyes while she sang, picturing herself in a sequined gown rather than the flower-print, lace-trimmed polyester dresses she wore to church. Matilda told no one her dreams and ambitions, and after two years of studying education at the community college, she married a man her father handpicked. That man was Wayne.

Marriage to the Reverend Wayne was an extension of her life with her parents, brothers and sisters. Wayne was her father's protÈgÈ and worked alongside him at the First Baptist Church. Soon she had children of her own to take care of, and she led the church choir rather than just singing in it. Most adolescent dreams would have died after going unfulfilled for so long, but not Matilda's; she still dreamed of Broadway.

One day at the age of 55, her children grown and starting their own lives, Matilda left Wayne without so much as a note. She finally followed her ambition to New York City. Every weekday at the 59th Street subway station, there she was in her flower-print dress, belting out church songs for spare change.

Living in a $7 a night hotel in Chelsea, Matilda met people who were nothing like the folks back in Mobile. They introduced her to something they called 'dope.'

They shot it into their arms like medicine, but they told Matilda she should just snort it into her nose. She'd seen people do snuff before, so she assumed this wasn't much different. Less than a month later, Matilda was hooked.

About the author:

Sarah M. Balcomb divides her time between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. When she stands up, people are surprised how tall she is. She speaks 16 languages, including gibberish, and is at work on her third epic poem.