A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra:
Natasha called to Sonja, asking for pain relief. The young man was incoherent, addressing his mother in a jar of cotton swabs. Across the room, the surgical saw paused, but Sonja didn’t look up from the half-severed arm. “You’ll have to get it yourself,” she said calmly. Given her history with the drug, Natasha never prepared or administered the heroin. Dreams of bent spoon handles persisted, and five years clean she was still afraid a cigarette could reheat her cravings. But she peeled off the latex gloves and jogged to the canteen. Now wasn’t the time for caution, not with that boy on her hospital bed. In the cupboard, behind an armory of evaporated milk, she found it. It compacted in her grip, filling the corners of the plastic bag. Alu’s brother had claimed there wasn’t enough talc in the bag to powder a baby’s bottom. The Italian junk Sergey had shot into her had contained enough to service a nursery, and even that had laid electric lines where her veins had been. But this? Ninety-eight percent pure? She spat in the sink; she was salivating. You can control your reactions. You can control your reactions, she repeated. It took two minutes to cook. She only had to take one syringe to the trauma ward, but for the twenty-meter walk, when she was alone with it, she felt vastly outnumbered.