A woman is seated on a concrete garden bench beside a porch wearing a bun and a dusty pink woven sweater.

Stephanie: “Mia wasn’t the first person I knew who died from drug-related complications. But she was the major one that impacted my life. She died from heroin. She suffocated. She didn’t shoot it up. As far as I’m aware, she snorted it. Her first time doing it was by accident. She was probably 21 or 22 and thought she was doing cocaine, a norm amongst early 20-somethings.

The day after, she screamed my name begging for help and I called the only person I knew at the time who had done something like that. He told me to make her eat food and not to let her do it ever again. She became my responsibility somehow. We’d only been friends for about a year.

Her five-year death mark was February 15th 2020. It is a year shy of the amount of time we had been friends. In our short years of being friends, she made me her plus one to every event. You see, she was loud and outgoing. She knew how to talk to people and she made friends wherever we went. I didn’t know how to do that. We were truly opposites that meshed well together. She was essentially my other sister. She helped me find myself. She pushed me to be me. I needed more time to figure out who I was with her and who I was without her.

I was working the night she made her fatal mistake. It was Valentine’s Day and I was working in a restaurant so I couldn’t be there for her. I couldn’t pause my life for her one time. She was no longer my responsibility. I didn’t mean it to be forever, just for that night. I feel sorry for myself, for her family, and for her every day of my life. I wish I could’ve saved her, but I didn’t and that will forever haunt me.”

Lexington in the Time of COVID-19 is an artwork about people practicing social distancing at a time of a deadly virus. And also offering kindness.

Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova capture photographs at the periphery of American culture, where drag queens, discarded couches, and abandoned motel signs exist.