Another little story.
Her laughter was haunting, ringing in his ears until he could hear nothing else, see nothing else but that mocking face. Her eyes were small spots of darkness in an otherwise pale face.
“Oh, here comes Mr Snappy,” she had said, and laughed.
“Hi,” he had said, pushing away the stab of pain. He hovered in the living room doorway. No matter what he did he would be wrong.
“Something you want?” she had asked, her eyes on the TV set.
“Aren’t you interested how my day was?”
“You’d tell me if anything important happened.” Had her words been sarcastic? Genuine?
“Yeah, sure.” He kicked his shoes off. “I need a drink. Should I…”
She had been out of her seat before he could finish the question.
“I’ll get you one.”
He had followed into the kitchen, the movements so familiar he could predict exactly what she would do, say.
Anxiety had ruled him for a moment, stilling his tongue. But from somewhere, as he watched her make the drink, he found the words. “I’ve been offered a job.”
She stopped, the beaker halfway to the tap. “What? Where?”
“A guy at college knew of it, I went to speak to them today. It’s just a shop, but a start right?”
She filled the drink up with water, and shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose if that sort of thing is what you want.” The beaker hit the surface with a bang.
“It’s not what I want, I know….” His gaze had dropped, his words softened, lacking the steel they had just half an hour earlier.
“I know it’s hard when people are pressuring you, but I thought you were stronger than that.” She leaned against the table, one hand on her hip.
“I just thought it would be good to get some experience…”
“You don’t want to be dragged into something like this that could mess your money up for you, though, do you? There are so many people out there taking advantage of young people…”
Somehow she had trodden on his heart so heavily that he’d agreed to not take the job.
His heart ached, even after the tears he’d cried. His cheeks sore with anger and frustration.
Blood cracked, dried on his knuckles, like a second layer of skin.
A deep shaking breath, and he got to his feet. He had to get out. Had to find a way of making the hurt stop.
He hesitated at the door. She would be down there, carrying on as if nothing had happened. She would be angry that he was upset.
His hand slipped inside his pocket, felt the phone. He could text. Ask for help. He had been so close so many times before. When they’d asked him what was wrong, when conversation had turned to home.
His heart hammered. Could he… would it really change anything?
He swallowed, his throat sandpaper.
And took the phone out, scrolled to the familiar number. Typed out a quick message. Hit send.