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.
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.
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.