I walk away. I don’t have an argument. She’s right. There isn’t anything I can say. I’m a mess, they’re a mess. Everything is a mess and I’m sliding down a slope with no clue how to stop or how to get off before I crash at the bottom.
“What are you going to do?” Maz asks. “Colin needs feeding, if anything.”
I shrug. I don’t have any answers.
“It’s just until tomorrow night,” I say. When Phil and I get the television. I don’t tell Maz that part, but I can anticipate her reaction and lecture.
“You can’t all last until tomorrow with nothing to eat.”
“You can ask your dad,” Joanne says. “He’ll lend you twenty quid if you ask him.”
I know he will. If I ask, he’ll do it. It’s about the only thing he does do for me. Course, I’ll pay for it one way or another and not just in handing him the cash back over. I dread the thought of it. The look in his eyes as I confirm I am nothing, like he has told me all my life.
“He’ll probably say no,” I say in a vain hope that they will believe there isn’t a point.
“He won’t,” says Maz. “Tell him it’s for the electric or some crap like that.”
I have a million answers why I don’t want to ask. Each one of them formed over years, yet I know none of my friends will understand. Each ‘yes, but’ will be rebuked with one of their own. I keep my thoughts to myself as I nod and agree to ask him.
Maz takes Colin with her and Mikey, Joanne goes too. Froggy and I walk along the promenade and I don’t really think about going to my father as we talk about nothing and everything. Froggy wanders off in his own direction a few blocks before I reach my father’s work place. It doesn’t take long to get there, but I feel the heaviness inside as I get to the entrance of the alley way where he works.
I hear his music as I get to the door. I walk through the first small garage to the part my father works in. The scent car filler, like antiseptic hits my nose. My father is working. Blue and white sparks fly and crackle around him like electricity, as he welds.
I wait. I know better than to interrupt him or talk until he has finished and I have permission.
He turns and nods at me, but doesn’t say anything. My illogical fear begins to eat away inside as I stand there.
“How much?” He asks.
“How do you know I want to borrow money?”
“That’s all you ever want,” he says to me. “Same as when you were a child.”
“I never asked for money.”
“No, but you always wanted something.”
I sigh. “It doesn’t matter,” I tell him and turn to leave, but he tells me to stop. He reaches into the top pocket of his overalls and pulls out a wad of notes. “Twenty enough?”
“I’ll add that to the bill.”
“Raising a child doesn’t come cheap you know. Ten grand I shelled out to raise you. Someone’s got to pay me back. “
I don’t have words. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. He has never thought I was worth something in his life; just an object to use and throw away time and again. I wonder if he classed his abuse as a complimentary service.
I take the note from his hand and thank him.
“No one you could f**k to get this?” he asks. “Probably could have made more than twenty. Isn’t that how you always do everything? Course, when you were younger you were a nice little boy,” he says, and winks at me.
I feel my face flush with shame; it burns hot under my skin and through my cheeks. It clouds my vision to the point that the real world feels hazy. I don’t even know what to say. I want to hide. I want it to go away. I’m sorry for those things I did. I know they were my fault. I would take them back if I could.
I don’t say anything to my father. I just nod and leave. He doesn’t say anything to me either. On my way out, I grab a piece of discarded metal off his sheet cutter and take it with me. I don’t plan to do it. I can’t help it; what I feel inside has nowhere to go. No tears. No shouting. No target.
I put the metal against my skin. I stomp my feet hard on the pavement as I walk. Both forces equalling each other. I dig in with the jagged edge. Dig in deep and make it all go away with the welcome burn as my flesh splits open.