My name's Elissa. Elissa Hollinrake. Most girls would kill to be popular, to be pretty and well known and adored by everyone in the year. I'm not one of them. But I am well known. Well known for being an easy target for bullies. Well known for having moved schools several times in the past four years. And well known for having a drug addict father and a mother with cancer. My calls for help always fall short, but this time, I'm telling my story to the world.


6. We're an Item?

I stood, glued to the spot where my feet had frozen. Jason was walking towards the door, towards my dad, towards danger. I tried to shout at him- to tell him to go home- but my words weren't coming out and I was just making a sighing noise when I tried to speak. It was literally impossible for me to move my legs; they were rigid, non-moving. I can handle my dad when he's like this, I'm used to it. The last thing I needed was for Jason to receive a black-eye for upsetting him. Why didn't he leave and let me handle this by myself?

Jason was in the hallway, I could hear his footsteps and the sound of my dad groaning, mumbling to himself and retching. Tears leaked from my eyes. No, no, no! I thought. It wasn't happening, it couldn't be happening. But it was.

"Who the Hell are you?" I heard my dad slur. I didn't hear Jason's answer. "Elissa! Elissa, you bitch! Where are you? Who is he?" Then there was the sound of my dad throwing up, and the thud of his head against the stairs as he passed out.

My knees buckled, unable to hold the burden of my weight. The tears kept coming, thick and fast, staining my face and dripping onto my clothes. Somehow, I managed to shove my fist into my mouth before I screamed, sobbed or vomited. My body shook uncontrollably. I squeezed my eyes closed, not wanting to look at the room that was spinning in front of me. When Jason placed his hand on my shoulder, I yelped, scared that it was someone else.

"Shh, Elissa. It's me. Come here," he whispered gently, pulling me into his chest, where I finally broke down and started sobbing.

I don't remember much after that- just that I woke up on the sofa, to find Jason drinking tea and gossiping with my mum. Frantically, I looked around, scanning for any sign of my dad or his vomit, but there was none. Jason had cleared it up, put my dad into bed in clean pyjamas, put me on the sofa and had made a start on tea. I rubbed my eyes, not believing what I was seeing. He is too good to be true, I thought.

For a few minutes, my prescence went unnoticed, but just as I was about to close my eyes again, Jason spotted me. He smiled, put his tea on the table and came over to me.

"Hey," he smiled. I blinked at him. "How are you feeling?"

"I-you-he... I have no idea," I admitted. He let out a small laugh, stroking my hair. All of his actions were making me feel uneasy. Why was he acting so... soppy? "What have you said to her?"

"Nothing really."

"Jason..." but I didn't get the chance to finish, because my mum came over to the sofa too. She was looking well, considering the circumstances, and was wearing the turquoise head-scarf I'd bought her for Christmas. She smiled at us.

"Oh Liss, why didn't you tell me about Jason sooner?" she asked. I looked at him quizzically. "He's lovely. You two share so much in common. How long have you been together?"

My eyeballs nearly fell out of their sockets. Together? Together? I felt the sudden urge to murder Jason right there and then, but decided against it, because I needed him for our plan.

"Oh, not long," Jason told her on my behalf. "We started seeing each other about a month ago. Is that about right, babe?" I nodded, playing along with his story. I didn't care if it annoyed me, as long as my mum was happy, that was all that mattered to me.

"Oh how sweet! Elissa, you should've told me! I've always said that you can tell me anything."

I swallowed hard before speaking. "I'm sorry mum, I should've told you, but dad was always in the way, or you had chemotherapy, and I didn't want to distract you."

"Liss, I wouldn't have minded! This is something good that has finally happened to you in such a long time. You deserve it, and you should tell it to the world. You finally meet a wonderful boy like Jason and you go around hiding it like he was something out of a horror movie."

"We- we wanted to keep it a secret, though. We wanted to have some time to ourselves before everyone else starts sticking their noses into our business," I explained.

"Honestly, you young people nowadays. You either tell everything to the world, or you keep everything a secret. What are we going to do with you?"

I laughed nervously. "I don't know."

My mum got up, and brushed herself down before turning to me. "Jason's staying for dinner tonight."

"Okay," I smiled. I waited for her to turn away before clipping Jason on the back of the head with my hand.

"OW!" he mouthed.

"My room. Now!" I hissed, rolling off of the sofa and climbing the stairs rapidly. I could hear Jason following me, his footsteps much heavier than my own, so I didn't look back.

I couldn't look back though. Now that my mum thought we were an item.

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