Joanne doesn’t know that I am awake. I lie here next to her unmoving. My eyes watch the door, searching for shadows; listening in a childish way for fears from long ago. I know they aren’t real. I know what I saw was nothing more than my over-used, over–drugged mind, but I can’t shake the possibility from my thoughts.
She’s oblivious to my thoughts, not that it matters, and not that she would care if she knew.
I listen to the sound of her breathing. Each breath gets longer and slower as she falls asleep. I try to keep my mind focused. It’s been a week since I last saw my father. He wrote to me. Strange, really. Why didn’t he call or just come around again? The letter doesn’t sound like him. I wonder if he wrote it or it was his bimbo wife. The letter is long and full of caring words; the mirage of a father I long for, but not the one I have.
I roll over onto my side with a sigh. Perhaps, it was written by him. A cruel trick. A way for him to lure me into some kind of false security. I’ve read his words a dozen times at least, but each time, it makes me feel worse than the last. His words from his last visit resonate around my head. His presence and his letter argue with one another.
I’m nothing to him, he had said. Nothing. A useless waste of space.
My mind tries to piece together the lost hours from that night, but they are nothing more than blank memories of darkness. Its hard to keep my thoughts straight when they want to spin over everything, even the blood. For that, I have no explanation. Even now a week later, my body has not healed from whatever trauma it endured.
I don’t understand what happened. I don’t remember. As soon as my mind tries to answer my questions, I silence it.
Not my father.
Not after the last time. The last time, he had almost killed me. In some ways, I wish he had succeeded, but then I remember Will and he would be alone if I had died. But I can’t help wishing the doctors didn’t put me back together. They should have just left me.
I feel my own frustration raging at myself as I desperately keep my mind from putting pieces together the way it wants. It’s not possible.
Joanne is asleep now. Finally. I tuck my hand under my pillow and watch her. She seems content and oblivious to the way I feel inside. I hope her dreams are better than mine. I wish she understood how lucky she is.
I’m not tired. Joanne doesn’t know that I swallowed a phet bomb before I came to bed. She won’t understand I need it to take away the black thoughts, the darkness that awaits me on the side lines, reaching out to catch me.
I feel the adrenaline crawl its way up my spine. Its tiny fingers pushing in, covering and taking away my pain as it moves, and leaving a thick layer of numbness, so that I can breathe.
I clamp my jaw down to save from giving myself away. The phet is bigger than my darkness. It slips through, filling every empty cavity that I posses. My heart pounds in my chest. I wonder if it can be heard. A celebration as the phet begins to win the fight.
Every part of my body comes alive. I have to move and do something other than just lying still. I feel restless inside, but I force myself to stay there. Just for another minute, to be sure Joanne is asleep.
Her breathing is slow, and rattles in her chest. I force myself to be calm and slow, in my movements, as I try to slip from the bed without her waking. I don’t want the sudden weight shift to disturb her.
As I get free, I stand and watch for a moment at the need of the bed before pulling on my jeans and a t-shirt. I need my keys. They are on the bedside table next to Joanne. I curse at myself. Why didn’t I think to put them in my jeans pocket beforehand? Such an idiot. I step cautiously towards them, and clasp both my hands over them to shield the sound when they clang together.
I have no feelings of guilt or remorse as I stare at her from the doorway. Only anticipation of what I’m about to do. I wonder why I’m here; why I’m with her. I feel nothing for her. No emotions. Just like I am nothing to her. Just a toy for her to play with. Someone to use in her sick pleasures. I had feelings for her once, of course, but they ended long ago when she had cheated on me.
I feel only relief that she hasn’t woken as I was getting out of bed and leaving. Angela is asleep on the sofa. Colin is asleep in his bed in Will’s room, and Will is at his mother’s; away from my useless parental skills and me. I wish he had more than me. I sigh as I leave and let myself out of the flat. Locking the back door behind me, I stand for just a moment at the top of the steps that lead into the dark alley.
I put my cigarette in my mouth, light it, and inhale deeply. The smoke travels down into my chest, setting off the amphetamine even more, and I feel the rush of excitement wash over me.
Suddenly, I am alive. The darkness inside is gone. Dead and defeated in a drug haze. Nothing can hurt me. Nothing. Who cares what my dad might have done to me? It’s what I was made for. It’s why I am here.
I race down the steps and into the darkness of the alley; I don’t stop, until I reach the main street. I can see the dim lights of the fast food store Karla works at. They have begun to close down for the night. Crowds of drunken tourists walk past me, devouring kebabs and burgers, and laughing at each other as they sway and trip and share jokes about the night’s events. Tomorrow, it’ll all be some drunken memory for them, clouded by their hangovers.
They walk past me and don’t notice I am there. I stand outside the shop waiting for Karla. She sees me as she runs the mop over the floor. She smiles at me; a smile that lights up her entire face. I smile back; a smile that no doubt convinces her that I am as equally happy to see her.
In reality, she is like Joanne. She doesn’t matter to me. She is just some girl I met on my way home from working at the nightclub when I stopped to get something to eat. I’m pretty sure I mean nothing to her either.
I watch as she finishes her work and says goodnight to her co-workers before coming out to greet me. She instantly throws her arms around my neck. “I missed you,” she says to me, but I doubt that. I haven’t missed her. I hardly thought about her through my days except for the anticipation of this meeting, but its more that I am out.
“I love you,” she whispers into my ears. Her words are as empty as I feel.
“I love you too,” I say back casually repeating the words back to her. She doesn’t notice the flatness in my voice. Not that she would. People only hear what they want how they want.
People are fake. I am not someone that can be loved, nor am I capable of returning it. If I was, then Joanne and I would be happy and Will would have the perfect life. Not that I don’t love him, of course, I do. I just wish that he had better than me in his life.
I take Karla’s hand and lead her along the street. I know what I am looking for. A car, nothing spectacular, or sporty. I don’t care. I just want something to drive, to get away from everywhere for a couple of hours, and not be noticed.
“I’m not sure about this,” Karla says to me as I fight with the lock on a plain car, until it gives way and opens.
“You can go home if you want to,” I say.
I don’t really care about that either. She can come with me if she wants. It’s her choice. She stares at me for a moment as she makes her decision.
“If I go home will you come with me?”
The car door is open, my foot is inside already and I am about to sit down. I look at her and shake my head. I don’t want to go to her house and play happy families. I want to be in the car. I want to be on the road. I want to feel the speed of it.
I get into the car properly, crack the barrel on the ignition, and glance at Karla through the mirror, waiting for her decision. I’m not going to wait long. If she doesn’t decide, I’m going to drive away. I won’t force her to come with me, but if she wants me to get out of the car and beg her, she’ll be waiting a long time.
After a moment, she slips into the passenger seat beside me. I start the engine and smile at her, but she doesn’t smile back.