Tears, Fears and Sharp, Pointy Objects

Tears, Fears and Sharp, Pointy Objects

Foreword

Tears, fears and sharp, pointy objects. That’s my life in a nutshell. My name’s Allie. I’m seventeen, and at school doing A levels. I don’t have a boyfriend, but I have lots of ‘friends’. I can remember when it first started. I hurt so much I felt I would burst. Every sound was just noise. Friends I thought were friends turned. And in less than twenty-four hours, both me and my life had changed forever. These things were to become my only real friends.

Part i

I remember that day as clear as if it were yesterday. Everyone cried; everyone but me. I hugged my little sister, as my mum hugged my Gran and my Gran hugged her back. We just couldn’t believe it: Dad of all people. Why did he have to be involved? None of us had ever realized that he was into that sort of thing.

The look on the neighbors’ faces was the worst. Shocked, confused — as I walked home from school that afternoon, I couldn’t work out why they were staring at me, talking to each other, whispering conspirationally. I felt like a prize freak! I walked up to my house, still feeling confused: why was everyone staring at me?

Then I saw it, the thing that would tear my life apart. Outside my house was a police car. A chill settled in my chest, as I quickened my pace up the path. I opened the front door, and walked in. I heard hushed voices in the front room, and closed the front door quietly. I walked to the door of the front room and tried to listen through the cracks. I only heard snatches of conversation, but it was enough.

Mum was crying, and Charlotte was sobbing uncontrollably. Gran was there too, listening to the police. “We’ve detained him”, “need to search the house”. I could hear Gran mumbling questions. At that point, I knew it was really bad. And where were Jo and Dad? Curiosity got the better of me and I burst into the room. “What’s happened?” I asked.

At this point, Mum looked up at me and said through Charlotte’s sobs, “Allie… I… I’m sorry… I didn’t know… Daddy… well, he’s not going to be around for a while…” Those words stung my ears. What had happened? Why wasn’t dad here? Where was he? All these questions attacked my consciousness all at once. And they weren’t just little whispering ones either; they were big screaming ones, which tore into my brain.

I just stood there, staring first at Mum, and then at the policemen. Suddenly, Charlotte flew at me, a soggy flurry of sobs, and wrapped her arms round my waist. She was too little really to understand more than that Dad wouldn’t be back. I came down to her level, which by this time was sitting on the floor. I put my arms round her, and she fell into me, making me shake with her sobs. I leant back and surveyed the policeman, gobsmacked.

“Why? What’s going on?” I asked. The policeman looked from Mum, to Gran, to Charlotte, to me, before saying in a soft voice that I knew he was only using to try and soften the blow, “Your Dad’s been arrested love. We found out he’s been involved in some pretty nasty human trafficking business”. At this, Charlotte began howling, and I hugged her tighter, stroking her back slowly, up and down, up and down, all the while, my own mind was reeling.

I could hear Gran sniffing, and Mum, now sobbing. I knew that I should be crying, kicking, screaming, sobbing… something… but I just couldn’t. It was as if, as soon as I’d seen the police car, it had tied a knot in me, and sealed it too. I was locked inside myself. Trapped: unable to let go.

“Where… Where is he?” I finally managed to muster. I felt Charlotte gasp and hold her breath, like she was hoping they’d say he was on his way home. I wasn’t that naïve. “He’s a the station, waiting to be transferred to a high security prison”, the policeman finished, and Charlotte once again began wailing, while Gran hugged Mum and shook her head, and I rubbed Charlotte’s back, up and down, up and down.

The policeman looked at Mum and Gran, and then down at me and Char on the floor. He looked old and tired, and very sorry. Like he really hated that he’d had to bring us this news. I looked up at him, searching him, trying to find out… I’m not even really sure. Maybe I just wanted to wipe his mind. Obliterate this whole day out of existence so that we could all just go back to normal, and Dad would come home, and Jo would be in the garage, playing music with his band. That was how I liked things — Mum in the kitchen, cooking, and Gran at the kitchen table with a cup of tea; Charlotte watching TV in the living room; and me, shifting from room to room before settling in my room.

It was just so hard to believe that the man we’d been living with… well since before we were all born was involved in this. How could he be? It couldn’t really be real — that Dad wasn’t who we thought he was. The policeman got up, and Gran showed him out. When she got up, Mum, who she’d been supporting, just flopped onto the arm of the sofa. It was like all the fight had gone out of her and she didn’t even have the energy to hold herself up.

It took a while to get used to the fact that the man we’d called ‘Dad’ for so long was actually a stranger. Charlotte took it the worst. She was only little and didn’t understand why Daddy no longer came to get her from school, or why people looked at us as if we were scum. She lost almost all of her friends — no one wanted their children associating with children of ‘that maniac’. My friends’ parents didn’t like them associating with me either, and some of them were stopped from seeing me outside of school, but some turned on their own. I got spat at and shunned by almost everyone at school. The teachers tried their best. They still do, but it’s no good. It seems I’ll go to the dogs for my father’s sins.

That night — the first one Dad spent away, I was in my room. I could hear Mum moving about downstairs — sort of pacing restlessly, and Charlotte in her room, still crying. My head was screaming at me, screaming and screaming and whatever I did, I couldn’t shut it up. Finally I gave up and went to my wardrobe. I rummaged in the bottom for my secret stash of pre-night out booze. I twisted the lid off, hearing the scrape of metal against glass as I did so. I lifted the lid and took a big swig of the clear liquid inside. I felt it start to work instantly as the adrenaline began to pump its way around my body. I sat on the floor by my wardrobe and clutched the lid really tightly trying to rid myself of the sour taste it always left in my mouth; I couldn’t deal with that tonight. I could feel the edges digging into my hand. Finally I felt calm and my head had settled the volume to ‘muffled’ rather that high, high, HIGH!! I screwed the lid on the bottle and hid it carefully back in the wardrobe. Then I climbed into bed, feeling calmer, and pulled the duvet up and a pillow over my head to block out Char’s sobs.

And that’s how it started. That bit of vodka was the worst thing I could have done.

I woke up the next day, not with a hangover, but with my head screaming at me again. I got up and got ready for school without having breakfast, and trying to ignore the questions. Before I left the house, I went to the drinks cabinet, and had a few gulps of Gran’s scotch. It made me choke at first, but then it stopped, and I had one more swig before putting it back. I looked at my hand — it still had the dimples from the vodka lid last night. I shrugged, and closed the cabinet, grabbing my bag on the way out the door.

That day at school was hell. Everywhere I went, people turned their backs or stared at me, whispering. I had no idea that news could spread that fast, and how much did they know anyway? I floated through lessons in a misty haze of confusion. I felt lost, trapped and completely alone. The only person that spoke directly to me was Mike. I didn’t normally talk to him — he had a dodgy crowd, and I wasn’t eager to get drawn into anything. That day though, I suddenly felt a craving for a familiar face, for someone who didn’t just stare and whisper. He didn’t say much “Tough break Al”, that was it, but it meant the world to me. It wasn’t the only time he talked to me after that. He’d often come and ask how I was. Before long, I knew where he hung out at school. He was only a year older than me, but seemed to know so much more.

Meanwhile, Dad was still in prison. His case had come up before magistrates, and they’d refused his bail application. Mum was sad about that, and Char of course. I sat with her every night after that court case for a week; her crying and me rubbing her back in that same motion — up and down, up and down. The case would come in front of a jury. It was put back so many times, we all lost count.

It took six months in total. Six months to gather every shred of evidence. There were articles in the newspaper constantly. Everyday life was torture. It still is, but back then I didn’t have the thick skin I have now. The worst thing wasn’t being spat at, or shoved. It was the words — ‘filth’, ‘scum’, ‘your Dad’s a dirty old perv’. Now that hurt. Didn’t they think I knew that about Dad — how could I now not know. I just wish we’d known sooner — we could have got rid of him before he dragged us into his mess.

Mike and I got more and more friendly, and we started going clubbing together — none of that smoochy kissy kissy stuff, just a couple of friends going out, getting pissed. I drank a lot when we went out, but it wasn’t having the same effect now. Gran kept asking if Mum had had any of her scotch. Mum’s answer was the same “I don’t even like bloody scotch — you’ve obviously had more than you thought”. I held my breath whenever Gran asked, and let it go with a sigh of relief when no one suspected. I was even beginning to like the taste of that putrid liquid — the taste of quietness, of freedom. Gripping the lids of bottles in my hand was now just a game — how deep could I make the impressions. The combination of the two calmed me. I don’t know why, they just did.

Mike and I were in the SubSudize club one night, when I first tried it. I’d seen Mike get a bag of pills from another mate of his. I didn’t really think anything of it, I was stacking up the shots and he was going to join me in downing them. He came back and we downed the lot, one after the other. I’d not had a head rush like it in ages and it felt really good. That night, we downed about fifty shots, and more drinks than I can remember. I felt free and happy for the first time in ages — I mean, sure, the drinks before school and bed were ok, but they only took the edge off — it was nothing like this.

We’d just left the club, and were sitting on the wall just round the corner when Mike suddenly went all serious. “How you feeling Al?” he asked. I nodded confused, why was he making me think about stuff — I was happy — just let him leave it at that. I knew I wouldn’t be tomorrow, but right now, I didn’t care about tomorrow. I looked at him, and he opened his balled up hand. “Take it” he said, handing me a small brown envelope. “Use it when you wake up — it’ll sort you out before school”. I didn’t know what else to do.

The sensible Allie — the one before Dad would have said ‘No’ instantly, but the sensible Allie wouldn’t be out here in the first place. She’d be with Megan and Alicia. This new, post — Dad Allie was a social outcast. I didn’t have any expectations to live up to — everyone expected me to fall, just like Dad. And anyway, I was holding the Char together, while Mum fell apart in her own world.

Didn’t I deserve something? Something for me? I grabbed the envelope, and shoved it into my cropped jeans pocket. “Thanks” I said, and with that, we got up and walked in the opposite directions it would take for us to get home. I can remember singing to myself on the way home, warm with the feeling that I had a secret: something to help me deal with tomorrow when it came a knocking.

The next day, I woke up with the hangover from hell, but for some reason, it didn’t really worry me. The little brown envelope Mike had given me was carefully stored away amongst my knickers and bras. Mum had stopped putting my laundry away years ago, and let’s face it, I did the laundry now anyway, so I knew it was safe. I got up and went to have a shower. As I stood there, I let the hot water course down my body. Soothing. Calming.

When I finally surfaced and got dressed, my head had begun to shout again. It never let me have more than two seconds peace. I put on my makeup — something had to hide the hangover — and got out the envelope. There was this nagging doubt in my head at that point, but the questioning screams were louder.

I went to the wardrobe and fished out the small bottle of voddy I’d stashed there last night. I opened the envelope and tipped the contents into my hand. Out fell one tiny grey-white pill. I stared at it, and as I did, everything else in the world seemed to disappear. It was just me. Even the voices screaming in my head shut up. It didn’t last though. Suddenly my head started shouting again, even louder.

I sighed, any doubts I’d had fleeing from my head. I threw the pill into my mouth and opened the vodka. I took several gulps of it to wash down the tablet, gripping the lid in my hand as I did so. Then I screwed the lid back on, and hid the bottle back in the bottom of the wardrobe. I glanced at my hand, seeing the indentations once again appear. There seemed to be a permanent ring on my palm from squeezing the lid. I sighed, picked up my bag and headed downstairs.

I opened the front door and left the house, slamming it shut behind me. As I walked along the road I couldn’t help but think about how much home had changed. It always used to be that I could hear Mum, Gran and Char in the kitchen laughing and talking as I left, but not anymore. The house had gotten so quiet, it was like a ghost house. Every morning. Every afternoon. Every evening. We all just wandered round like ships passing in the night. Char used to try, but with no one else bothering, even she gave up in the end.

Suddenly, a wave of adrenaline came over me, making me feel quite lightheaded. Suddenly I couldn’t think about home. My head wouldn’t let me. Every time I tried to think about Mum or Dad or Char or Gran, something chased the thoughts away. By the time I got to school, I felt so light and airy, I’m surprised I didn’t float away. I felt almost like my old self. Almost. But different. Like I knew it was just a cover up. I knew it wasn’t real.

Nothing had changed at school. My old ‘friends’ still wouldn’t associate with me. Didn’t want to be tainted. That didn’t matter that day though. I had my secret helping hand keeping me from behaving like a zombie. I didn’t feel any bad effects from it. The comedown wasn’t even that bad… That time anyway.

I hung out with Mike and his crowd, as was the norm nowadays. At least they didn’t treat me like shit. Mike kept on looking at me and smiling. He knew why I was so bouncy. I’d never even asked him what that tablet was. Just taken it, thinking that life couldn’t get any worse. I knew I was going off the rails but I had no one to pull me back. I may be seventeen, but I can’t sort myself out completely on my own.

Time went by. Police came to visit. Interviews. House searches. Of each, there were many. All the while, my family had disintegrated. We were all ghosts moving in the shadows. Hiding. From ourselves. From each other. Nobody cared. I felt most sorry for Char. I tried to look after her. I still do, but sometimes I’m scared of fucking her up more than she already has been by this.

I think the worst experience of this whole thing came when ‘the nice, friendly social services people’ came to talk to us. They took me and Char into a separate room and asked us loads of really probing questions about Dad. If he’d ever touched us wrongly. Talked to us about the girls he’d been dealing with. Char just sobbed through the whole thing, while I sat there numbly nodding and shaking my head where appropriate, and rubbing Char’s back slowly — up and down, up and down. It took a while to get over that first meeting. The thought that Dad may have thought stuff like that about me and Char. I went out with Mike and got completely pissed, and went back to his afterwards, and had a couple of joints. I suffered for it the next morning, and hated Dad for making this happen.

Char just moped around for weeks. I don’t know how much she understood, or even heard through the sobs. She still loved Dad and just couldn’t get her head round why he was never home anymore, and why these people kept coming to talk to us. She said to me once, “We never had this many people when Daddy was here. Where’s Daddy? Will he be home soon?” She’s asked it a million times since, and I never have any answers for her. How can you tell your little sis that her Daddy is a sickening pervert who you wish you’d never met? I felt so sorry for her. She just couldn’t understand, or refused to. As time’s gone on, she’s retreated more and more into herself. She doesn’t go out with friends. Isn’t invited to parties. Instead, she has imaginary friends, and dollies tea parties. Sometimes I offer to take her out, but the happy, giggling little sister I used to have has gone. Now she talks, but only in one-syllable answers. The only time she really seems to be her old self is when she’s in her room with Tilly, her ‘best invisible friend’.

Mum was pretty much absent from the moment the police had told her. She just sat in bed rocking, and all Gran’s time was taken up with looking after her. She just couldn’t cope with the chunk that was her marriage having been gouged out of her life. Couldn’t deal with the fact that she’d been living a lie. I hated dad for what he’d done to her. Gran’s not young any more. She can’t deal with looking after us all. I feel sorry for Mum, but sometimes I just get so angry with her and wish that she’d just get off her backside and look after us.

Mike and I started going out more and more as the court case loomed. We’d get completely out of it. Then he’d pull out some gear. I didn’t care what it was anymore. I just downed it. I gave him some cash towards it of course, and sometimes I’d sleep with him for it. Nothing dirty or seedy. I wasn’t taken advantage of. It was nice to feel loved, looked after and cared for. I think he only wanted the same, but if I offered him cash after we’d had sex, he’d always refuse. He always made sure I had a few uppers for the morning too, to get me going. It was almost like he felt he couldn’t give me much during sex, but the gear made up for it. I know it’s wrong. It was then, and it is now, but it’s all I’ve got.

Dad’s court case came. Three weeks of complete hell. None of Mike’s gear seemed to dull the aching that I got when I came out of the court, day after day, and then had to go home and look after Char, while mum just got worse and worse. Char knew that stuff was happening with Dad, and developed an eternal hope that ‘Daddy will come home soon’. Of course, he didn’t. Even though he pleaded ‘not guilty’, with all the evidence against him, he had no chance.

I realized about halfway through the first week of the trial, that Dad would not be getting out of this one easily. Mum and Char carried on hoping. I managed to make sure Char never had the chance of coming to the trial. Mum on the other hand, went each day, and I watched as more and more damning evidence tore her apart inside. She didn’t show it, but I knew it was happening. I got so angry with Dad that I wanted to punch him. Smash his lights out and scream at him, “Why have you done this to us you bastard?! Why? What did we ever do to you? I hate you you selfish prick! I hate you!”. The scene went through my head so many times. I never acted on it though.

When the day of the verdict came, Mum couldn’t face it. She stayed in bed, with Gran flapping round her, feeling completely useless. I went. I wanted to know, once and for all, whether he was what they all thought he was, or whether he was lucky and would get away with it. There was no doubt in my mind that he was guilty. Not with the evidence and testimonies to back up what had happened. I just needed to hear it for myself.

I remember the adrenaline pulsing through me as I listened. This wasn’t drug induced though. This was real. The jury walked in. The judge asked Dad to stand. This was it. No going back. I wouldn’t be able to deny it after today. What would I tell Char? I caught Dad looking at me a couple of times, and stared back. The mere thought of him made me feel sick, but I wasn’t going to look away. I wasn’t going to let that bastard have a hold over me. It ended here. I listened to the judge ask the jury what they had found dad, guilty, or not guilty. The foreman’s voice boomed out, loud and clear “GUILTY!”. There was a hushed silence, and then I heard Dad scream “I didn’t do it. I’m sorry Allie”. I felt everyone’s eyes turn to me. I could feel my heart thumping in my throat, and tears coming to my eyes, but I pushed them back enraged. “Don’t you dare talk to me! You’ve ruined my family! You’ve ruined EVERYTHING!” I shouted, before getting up and running out.

That night, Mike got us some heavier stuff. I needed it. I’d told Char that Daddy wasn’t going to be coming back. She howled for ages. She was inconsolable, and just kept shouting ‘NONONONONONO’ over and over. Mum was quiet. She cried a little, and Gran hugged her. There was no one to hug me though. I rubbed Char’s back, slowly, up and down, up and down, until she cried herself to sleep. I tucked her down in bed, and put her teddy next to her. Then I went to my room, and grabbed my bag, before running out the front door, before Char could wake up again.

I ran straight round to Mike’s, and knocked on his door. He answered, “Hell Al, you look like shit”. “Thanks” I said, as he grabbed his coat. Slamming the door shut behind him, he put his arm round me and said “I had a feeling you’d be needing this”. He held out a plastic packet with two little tablets in it. I nodded, grabbing it and pouring the tablets onto my hand. I threw them into my mouth and grabbed the bottle of vodka, which was now permanently in my jacket pocket. I unscrewed the lid, feeling the tablets fizzing on my tongue as I did. I clasped the lid tightly in my hand. Tighter than ever before, and drank the bottle down. I released the lid and felt blood trickling down my wrist as I lifted my hand to put the lid on the bottle.

Mike looked at me, and said “Jesus Al”. I just shrugged. I couldn’t feel it. All I could feel were those little white pills starting to work. I could feel adrenaline coursing through me, winding me up and down at the same time. The knowledge that it wouldn’t last floated from me, as I gave in to the drug. Surrendered every last little inch of me.

We started walking along his street to the club. I started to feel calm, and lightheaded. I loved this part. It felt like flying. Soaring high above everything. All my problems were just tiny specks on the ground. I skipped along. Mike followed, looking slightly concerned. Then, before we got to the club, he steered me into a little children’s play park, and sat me on one of the swings there. I giggled as he started to push me gently. “I’m worried about you Al”, he said finally. I sighed. I knew what was coming next. He was going to pull me out of this beautiful, drug induced stupor and make me think ‘reality’ again. I sat there, swinging my legs higher and higher, hoping that if I went fast enough, he’d get caught up in the speed and would leave it. Leave me to just forget everything. He didn’t though. “Al, Stop it!” he grabbed the chain of the swing and slowed me, until I was only moving slightly, and my feet were on the ground. He knelt down in front of me and looked into my eyes, saying “Talk to me Al, what’s going on? I’m only trying to help”. “Jesus Mike!” I snapped, “I’m just trying to have a bit of fucking fun! Don’t you think I deserve it after today? I’ve just told my little sister that her dad’s a sick, disgusting pervert, who’s going to be in jail for a long long time. Mum’s not really there any more — well, she is. She’s there all the time, but the lights aren’t on upstairs. I just want some goddamn fun” I stopped for breath.

Mike looked taken aback. I hadn’t meant to explode at him like that, but he didn’t get it. I didn’t want him to be worried about me. I didn’t want him to bring me back down to earth. I had the days on court with dad, and the days at home with mum and Char to do that. At night, I just wanted to feel free and happy and floaty. It was my time to forget everything and stay sane. He looked at me, and I said “Sorry. It’s just.. life’s shit right now. I just want to let loose sometimes”. He nodded, and put his arm round me. We stood up and Mike said he’d walk me home.

When we got to my front door, Mike handed me an envelope. I clasped it in my hand. I knew it was for tomorrow, to get me through. I invited him in, and we went inside. It was completely silent, and the only light came from the little table lamp in the front hall. We went to the kitchen and I got us a drink from the fridge. I’d been keeping a bottle of wine in the bottom drawer, for emergencies. Closing the fridge behind me, we went into the living room and sat on the couch. Mike put his arm round me, and watched as I unscrewed the lid of the wine. I held the metal tight in my hand as I took a large swig of wine. I gasped as I felt the metal break the tender skin. Then, I felt calm, once the vile taste of the wine had gone. I handed the bottle to Mike, and he took a small swig. We didn’t sleep together that night. I didn’t give him any money either.

In the early hours of the morning, when we’d finished the bottle, he led me upstairs and tucked me into bed, before letting himself out. I had strange dreams that night. Really weird ones. Mostly involving Dad.

I woke up the following morning, feeling exhausted, and a mess. I knew the drill though. I got up and plunged straight into a cold shower. AS the water flowed down my body, I looked at my hand. The dried blood on it was washing off, turning the water brown as it did so. I got out of the shower, and got dressed. Then, before I left for school, I opened the envelope, and downed the contents, chasing it with half a bottle of vodka.

It took another two weeks for Dad’s case to come up for sentencing. Two weeks of hellish days, and drug filled nights. I used to be able to get away with a few nights without drugs — just surviving on the booze, but not anymore. Mike was great. He made sure I had enough gear to get through the days, and enough gear to have fun at night. I don’t know what I took. I never asked him. Deep down, I knew it was wrong, but who cared? No-one, except Mike had asked how I was in weeks. Mum didn’t talk anymore, and Char still wandered round with tears glistening in her eyes, threatening to spill over at any time. I felt so shit for having to tell her that her dad was as he was. It shouldn’t have been down to me.

Finally, the day of reckoning dawned. I went to court alone. Mum stayed in bed, and Char was at school. Not that I’d let her come anyway. I walked into the courtroom, and sat down near the front. Dad was sitting in his place, awaiting sentence. The judge walked in, and people stood until he’d sat down. Dad looked dirty and unshaven, and he had a black eye. I guess he got it in prison. The judge cleared his throat, and then boomed dad’s name — “Jake Wallis, you have been found guilty of the aforementioned crimes. For this, you are sentenced to ten years in a high security prison”. A hush fell through the crowd, and I felt my heart beating fit to burst. It was real now. Before, I’d been able to pretend it was a dream — just a nightmare that I’d one day wake up from. Ten years. Ten more years of hell and being treated like scum. He looked at me. “Don’t you DARE look at me you piece of filth!” I shouted. I hated him so much more for this. “You’ve ruined our lives you bastard!! Char’s heartbroken and mum doesn’t even get out of bed anymore. How can you bring yourself to look at me. I hate you!” I got up and ran out of the courtroom, flames of hatred still bucking round inside me.

I ran to Mike’s, and pounded on the door. He answered, looking concerned. “Al, what happened?” he asked. I shrugged, “Don’t ask. Let’s go somewhere”, I said. He grabbed his coat, and locked the door behind him. We walked to a small club nearby. Just before we went in, he handed me a white pill. I looked at him and took it gratefully, throwing in into my mouth, and letting it fizz on my tongue while I opened the mini vodka I’d bought this morning. Clutching the lid in my hand, I washed the pill down. Mike went to get some drinks in, and I found us a seat.

The jukebox was playing dance music. I felt the beat pulsate through me, calming my pounding heart and stopping my mind from racing as the drug and booze did it’s work. Mike came over with eight shots and two pints. We downed the shots, and Mike watched as I downed my pint in one. I’d lost it. I didn’t care about being strong anymore. The pain was tearing at me, and this time, not even the drugs were getting rid of it. It hurt too bad. I just wanted it to stop hurting. Mike looked worried, and then handed me his pint, which I downed too. He didn’t mean any harm. He just didn’t know what to do.

Mike went back to the bar, and I went to the ladies. I leant against the cool tile wall. The pain was still pulsating through me. I put both hands on the wall, and threw my head forward until it contacted with the tile. It wasn’t hard, but it helped a bit. Not for long though. The image of Dad, of Mum, of Char’s faces all came flooding into my head. I was going to have to go home and tell them. I was going to have to destroy my Mum, and break Charlotte’s heart. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t.

I left the ladies, and asked Mike if we could go for a walk. We left the club and went back to the park. My head was still pounding. Images of Char crying and Mum huddled under her duvet kept flashing through my head, making it hurt. I put my hand to my temples, and asked Mike if he had any painkillers. The drug’s effect wasn’t working this time. He said he hadn’t, but went to get some from the chemist down the road.

As I sat there, the images of Char and mum got worse, until I could actually hear and feel Char’s sobs reverberating inside me. Finally Mike returned. He handed me the box and said he had to go and make a phone call. He left the park again, and I knew he was going to the payphone at the other end of the road. I got up and ran back to the club, clutching the box in my hand. I bought a bottle of vodka, and went back to the ladies. Leaning against the door, with my head screaming at me, I slowly popped a couple of painkillers out of the foil. “You’ll have to tell them. Ruin their lives. Watch your sister cry herself to sleep everyday for the next ten years. Watch your Mum fade into nothingness”.

I felt the tears that had lain hidden for so long well up, and spill down my cheeks, warm and wet. I collapsed on the floor. There was no way I could do that, day in- day out. I couldn’t be the adult. The full time parent to a heartbroken child. The carer for a broken wife. I couldn’t do it. Suddenly it clicked. I began popping the tablets out of the foil madly. I watched the pile in my lap grow. Finally, all the foil compartments were empty. Throwing them aside, I piled the white tablets into my hand. Then, after a moment’s hesitation, I opened the vodka and threw the tablets into my mouth, washing them down with the whole bottle of booze.

I waited a minute, but nothing happened. The images of mum and Char just kept on coming. Images of Char crying; coming to me to ask why I hadn’t helped Dad more. Mum blaming me because I’d gone to court and not spoken up for him, and Dad, sat in jail wasting away. I hated him, but I still loved him. Why did he have to do this? I picked up the vodka bottle and swung it at the basin. It shattered, leaving me holding the neck.

I looked around me. I was surrounded by shards of glass. I picked a large one up. Something about it’s glinting held my gaze. Then suddenly, flashes of Char, Mum, Dad all ran through my head. I heard Char’s cries, Mum’s blame, Dad’s beatings. I felt like my head was going to explode. I couldn’t take it anymore. I brought the shard of glass down on my wrist, and slashed away. Watching the blood flow out of me, I felt calmer, but the images persisted. I changed hands with the shard, and raised my bleeding arm, bringing the shard down on my other wrist. My hand fell limply to my side, and the shard fell loose.

Finally my head started to calm. I felt wonderfully high, and numb at the same time. All thoughts of home vanished. I knew I wouldn’t have to see them being destroyed. I’d never have to hear Char crying again. I know it was selfish, but I couldn’t bear it. I sat there against the door, slumped, watching the pool of blood around me grow, feeling more and more hazy until everything went black….

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