Alley Kid Fifteen

The moment before I open my eyes is the most peaceful. It’s when I don’t remember. It’s when I am awake for the first time, and everything feels right. But it is nothing more than a fleeting moment until my mind does remember, and everything crashes through my head. I am awake, and I am alive. Why am I alive? I don’t understand. I don’t want to be. I want to be gone forever where nothing can hurt any more. I don’t want to feel anything.

I curl myself up onto my side, wrapping my arms around my shoulders in the only comfort I know. In a childish move that I taught myself, I hook my feet around each other, and without thinking, I rock myself and push away the tears. I’m not supposed to be here. My chest heaves from the effort of not sobbing, but in a split second, my stomachs flips and my throat contracts; I realise I am going to vomit.

I scramble from the bed, almost falling as the sheets tangle between my feet and I half slip, half run, from the bedroom to the bathroom, as my body heaves and the contents of my stomach rises into my mouth. I try to keep my mouth closed and not let it out onto the floor. I can’t even think as I launch myself into the bathroom, and over the sink, and let everything out until I can’t breathe.

I turn the cold tap on in an effort to clean the stinking mess away, but my body has more. It retches and turns my insides upside down until there is nothing left to come out. I know this. I have been here before, with my mother and her vomit-inducing medication. She made me ill even though I had nothing to bring up other than the burning bile and stomach lining inside. But, she isn’t here. I grasp at the running water with cupped hands and shove it into my mouth, and down my throat, so there is something to bring back up.

I’m cold and shivering as I collapse on the floor of the bathroom, panting from the strain of so much vomiting. I grab one of the t-shirts from the washing pile. I don’t care if it is clean or dirty. It’s an effort to put it on; each movement causes my head to ache and my stomach to threaten another round of trying to escape. I have no idea what time it is or for how long I slept. I don’t even know why I am not dead. I drag myself backwards and manage to sit up and lean against the bath. I can’t stop the shaking, and my body is clammy and tired. I wish I could close my eyes and go away. Why do I never go away?

Joanne comes to the doorway with Colin and Angela behind her. I guess they heard me being ill. I try to look away from them. I don’t want to see them, and I don’t want them to see me, not like this. I’m such a failure in all ways. I can’t even end my own life. I should be dead, not here, and I can’t keep my bottom lip from quivering. I’m so disgusting I don’t understand why they don’t see it. It’s all over my skin. I try to make it go, but it never does. I can’t even make me gone.

“Are you sick?” Joanne asks me, keeping her distance.

I would too if I was her. I don’t answer her though, not that I can. As I try to nod my head, my body crumbles at the movement, and everything spins again inside. I hold my breath, wondering if I should try to get to the sink, to the toilet, or if it will pass.

Colin gets passed Joanne and comes to me. I wipe my watering eyes and mouth. He shouldn’t see me this way. No one should.

“Shall I call work for you?” Joanne asks.

I work behind the bar at a nightclub in town on the weekends.

“What time is it?” I ask her. Perhaps I will make it.

She tells me it is 5 p.m, and I know they I won’t be alright in five hours, not like this, but I hate to lose money. Its two days worth of phet money, but I don’t have a choice. I just nod and ask for my cigarettes. Colin goes to get them, and when he comes back, he takes one from my pack, lights it, and gives it to me to smoke. How pathetic I am, that a seven-year-old boy must light my cigarette for me.

I take it from him, but it tastes bitter in my mouth. The action of inhaling threatens to make me gag once more, but I persist. I hold it all in and keep myself still. I don’t say anything as Colin takes a cigarette for himself from my pack. I don’t approve of him smoking, and he might not be my son, but he is still a child. Unfortunately, I don’t have the energy to argue with him.

“Leave me alone,” I say to them.

They stand, gawping; there is nothing they can do for me. Joanne takes Colin and Angela. She shuts the door behind them and leaves me to it. I lean against the side of the bath as my head swims between awake and asleep. I try to tell myself to get up and secure the bathroom door so no one else can come in.

I click the lock over eventually, but I can’t make it back to the bath. I just lie where I am. I can hear them in the other room, laughing, joking and watching television. I let myself sleep on the bathroom floor until someone knocks on the main door. My heart sinks as I listen Joanne greet my father and invites him in.

I cover my ears with my hands. Perhaps, if I can’t hear him, it is not real, and he is not here. But, Joanne knocks on the bathroom door and tells me my father is here. I mutter something, but I don’t think she hears it. She tells my father I have a stomach virus and have been in there all day.

“I have to nip and get some milk and bread,” she says to him. “Do you mind staying here while I go in case he needs anything?”

My father, the fake Samaritan, says yes, and I try to curl myself into the corner away from him, even though there is a door between us. I wish he would just leave.

Joanne leaves and takes Colin and Angela with her; a chance to stock up on alcohol and cigarettes for them, to. I listen as they all leave and the front door locks behind them, leaving me with my father. I know he is on the other side of the door. I feel him, but he doesn’t move. Maybe he is waiting until he is sure they are gone.

He knocks on the door as I expected him to, and calls my name.

“What are you doing?” He asks me.

I wrap my arms around my head and pull my knees up to my chest. I don’t want to see him.

“I’m sick,” I say, but he tries the handle.

I peek out between my arms, watching it. I hope that it stays, but it’s nothing more than a hook and a loop pushed into rotten wood.

“Open the door,” he tells me, and I am grateful the lock holds.

“I can’t move,” I respond in the hope that it is a strong enough answer and he will leave me alone.

It isn’t. He pushes against the door. Perhaps he will break the lock. It’s small, and if he wants in, he will get in. I try to slide myself back to the door and lie in front of it, but the movement, and the fear of my father causes my stomach to twist in agony. I crawl to the toilet bowl and let out what’s in my stomach once more.

The bathroom door opens, and I swallow like when I was a child, and had to push the vomit back down, or be beaten. I can’t breathe from the effort of it. Vomit stings the inside of my nose and the back of my throat. My eyes water and I cough as my father’s hands grasp onto the back of my t-shirt and pull me away from where I am kneeling. He flings me into the hallway, and my head cracks off a wooden box where we keep the shoes and coats. I don’t know what I have done wrong. It will be something, it always is. I don’t ever do things right. I make everyone hurt me.

He storms out of the bathroom, his heavy feet crashing on the floor. He comes over to me and slams his hand against my already bruised chest. I try not to say anything as he winds me and with no effort, pulls me to standing. He is big and strong, built for the bikes he rides, and I am nothing more than his half-starved junkie son. My legs are weak and don’t want to take my weight; my entire body shakes from the effort and I lean against my father without thinking for support. He pushes me away, making me stumble. The wall catches me, and I let myself sink down and rest on the floor. I know he is going to hurt me. He is angry with me and won’t stop until his temper is satisfied. This is always how it is. His blows will come until his anger is gone. When I was a child, I would pray that I would pass out just so I didn’t feel it any longer.

“Just do it,” I tell him.

I am tired of this game. I want him to hit me and get it over with; my words seem to fuel his anger towards me. He crouches next to me, takes my jaw between his fingers, and digs them in. For a second, I am sure he’s going to punch me in the face. Instead, he grips my jaw tighter to the point it might break. Pain shoots up the side of my face.

“You’re not worth it,” he tells me.

 

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Why is the world so cruel?

Some days I think it hurts to live in this world, perhaps it’s just me, I don’t really know.

I don’t watch the news because of this, when I see the despair, loss and atrocities that people do to each other, it feels like pain inside, like sadness I think.

I watched and shared a video, it was about two people that clearly loved one another and one of them died in a sudden accident, and I watched the one that was left behind, his tears and the sadness that was so unmistakable in his face and words, he had just lost his world, but what is sadder than that, is his partners parents cruelly pushed him out and took his partners body and then strangers that saw his memorial page for his partner, or read his sorrow, dared to email him telling him to get over it, and that he should stop moaning there are people starving and other various vile words.

When my book first came out, I received some messages like this, obviously I didn’t lose someone, except my own self as a child, but I was told to not write about my abuse, that other people were abused and they didn’t spread their story all over. That my story is boring and that other people have had much worse happen to them.

I wonder what is wrong with people. I recently lost a friend of mine, not through death, although it does feel that kind of loss, but through acts I do not understand.

I wonder why people aren’t nice to each other. why they spend so much energy on being cruel. Why they are happy to cause someone else’s tears. why their own selfishness makes them say things.

If watching that video showed me anything it’s that tomorrow the person you love, be it partner, husband, wife, friend or child, maybe they could be taken and then it’s too late.

Why do we put more time into hurting others and less time telling them we love them. why do we not just take the hands of those we hold most dear and hold onto them. forget what the rest of the world is doing. forget sending cruel messages to strangers.

In one breath, what you love could be gone, so why risk wasting a minute?

Alley Kid Fourteen

We drive. I don’t really have a destination in mind. Where I want to be is just not here. I want to be away from everything and everyone. It doesn’t matter where.

I keep to the side roads to avoid anyone seeing us. I know them so well, it will take me nothing to drive fast and get us away if the police should be around.pill_bottle_and_pills1

Karla tries to talk to me, she twitters on about something from work, but I don’t care. I nod and say yes in all the right places and she thinks I am paying attention, but I’m not. I don’t have anything to tell her. I light another cigarette and offer her one. I take it in deeply and the phet rises up my back again, in little bubbles. I smile and Karla thinks it’s for her. She squeezes my knee as if it’s supposed to mean something, but it’s just fake affection to get what she wants from me. I have no doubt that if I were important to her; it would be about more than just sex.

“Where are we going?” she asks me. I glance around and tell her I don’t know. I just drive until we drive to the junction between motorway and country lanes. I could go either way, but I chose the lanes, dark and out of the way. It feels like we’ve escaped the world and no one is around to see us.

There is a lane just near the fuelling station. I’ve been there before. At the end is a field high up, and it’s like looking out over the world. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to jump. Could I feel like I was flying even though I was falling? My dad would bring me this way sometimes, when I was a child. We would take the dog for a walk and she could run around. I always used to get scared that maybe she would run off the edge, but he said she wouldn’t. I didn’t let her go near it anyway, just in case he was wrong. I didn’t want to take the chance.

He always told me that she would die at home. She was ill and one day, we would wake up, and she would are gone to heaven. I never wanted her to die alone and I didn’t want her to go to heaven. I didn’t like heaven when I was little. It had all the people I liked.

I stop the car at the end of the lane. The field is guarded by a locked fence. No tourists at night, not when drunken teenagers can play games and fall over the edge, and kill themselves. We don’t get out of the car. Instead, we climb in the back. I’m useless on the phet for what Karla wants. No sex for her, but that doesn’t matter, it’s only for her own pleasure and not mine. I give her everything else until she lies there leaning on me, and I smoke cigarette after cigarette.

The hours go by so fast, I don’t even notice them. Karla is tired. She dozes a little and I can feel the phet wearing off. It’s making me feel heavy. The darkness tugs at the sides of my vision, threatening to take me down once again. I could get home and buy more. I’m sure Froggy would give me some phet if I asked.

Karla gets herself dressed and straightened up. Like everyone, she is pleased to have what she wants from me and I can take her home. We get back into the front seats and I start the engine. The sun is coming up, but it hasn’t cleared the night away just yet. The darkness seeps from the outside into me and I try to drive before it takes over entirely.

I don’t know what is in front of me. Its sudden; a cat or a dog? Something small, I have no idea. I twist the steering wheel to avoid it, but the front wheel of the car catches a ditch and takes control from me. We land in the hedges with the car, a hedge that is hiding concrete wall.

We both sit there, still and staring.

“What do we do?” Karla asks after a moment and I try to make my tired mind work and answer her. I can feel my hands shaking. I feel clammy and tired. I can smell the phet on my skin.

“Are you okay?” I ask her. It’s the first thing I can think to say.

“Yes.”

I know what will happen if we call someone. It’s not my car. The police will come and I’ll be arrested.

“We need to run,” I tell her. “Now.”

As I say it one more time, I get from the car and she does too. I realise I am hurt. My chest aches and so does my knee. I must have smacked them off the steering wheel and column. I can hear the sound in my head. The way metal on metal sounds, but I know that is not this car. It’s one from long ago; the one that took my mother, and one I should have died in too. All the sounds mingle together.

My knee aches as we run, but the fear of being caught, presses against my back and forces me to keep going. We get to the fuelling station. There is a couple of taxi cabs sat there. One of the drivers is just reading his morning newspaper. We stop for a second, and I catch my breath. Karla is okay. She grips my hand tight, letting me lead the way and not saying a word. She has tears in her eyes. I guess she cried, but I didn’t notice. I knock on the window of the taxi and nod my head at him to ask if he is free. He nods back and folds his paper and we climb into the back seat.

It doesn’t take long to get to Karla’s and drop her off. After, I give the driver my address and he takes me back there. Joanne is still asleep when I let myself in. I don’t think anyone noticed that I was gone. I dump my clothes down at the foot of the bed and climb back in beside her. My chest hurts from the seatbelt, and it hurts inside, too. My emptiness is there once again.

“Where have to been?” Joanne asks, as I let my eyes close.

“To buy cigarettes,” I say to her.

It isn’t unusual for me to do that. The petrol station near where we live is open all hours, and I don’t sleep very well. She accepts my answer and moves closer to me, resting her arm across my chest; I try not to wince under the pressure.

She is like Karla and everyone else. She’s being nice to me. I know what that means and what she wants. I just want to sleep, but to do that I have to give in. I let her hand slide down my chest and body. I don’t say no to her as she climbs up on top of me. The phet has worn off, my head is pounding. I don’t think she notices I am not interested so much.

Afterwards, she slips out of bed to take a shower. I tell her I want to stay in a bed a while. I don’t feel so well. I listen as she leaves the room and goes to the bathroom. She turns the shower on and I hear the doors open and close.

I roll onto my side and listen as she showers, the way the water falls, the way it hits the shower doors, and the low hum of the radio she has playing. My head feels heavy, as if it is too much to lift it from the pillow. I lie there thinking about the next day and wonder what the point is. What is waiting for me in the next day that is so important for me to get to?

There is a bottle on the bedside table. Joanne’s painkillers that she had been taking for a twisted ankle. I reach for them without thinking. I stare at the label. Who would really care if I took them? Whose life would it affect other than mine? Will is too young, it won’t matter. There is no one else to bother.

I haven’t swallowed tablets since I was a child. Not since I nearly choked on one of my mother’s made-up pills, but I know this is the answer. Two by two, I swallow them until my throat wont take anymore, and as I swallow the last one, I feel ashamed. Not at what I have done, but at the thought that people might assume this is a cry for attention. It isn’t. I just want to slip away unnoticed.

Maybe Joanne will find the almost empty bottle, The thought that Joanne will find the almost empty bottle, fills my mind with fear. I don’t want her to know what I have done. Not yet. I’m not stupid enough to think she won’t find me when it’s over, but I don’t want her to stop me, or call an ambulance. I stuff the bottle down the back of the bed where she won’t find it without a search. If I put the bottle back on the bedside table, she’ll see it. It feels like it would draw attention to itself and she would just know.

I lie back down after the bottle is hidden. Joanne finishes in the shower and the water goes off. I hear the shower door open. I close my eyes and let the darkness of my sleep take me. Maybe I won’t ever open them again.

Please God, don’t let me wake up.