Day 23

Skye has been falling for a long time, but she's fed up of it. She knows it's going to be hard, but she's determined to pull her life back from the brink.
But when Chris gets involved, well, things start going differently to how she planned.
"Why aren't you fighting back goddammit?"
"Because you, Skye Monroe, know nothing about me, about why."


12. Day Eleven

Day eleven:

There was a far from perfect start to the day. I woke early to a commotion going on next door in Rhys's room. 

"Well I can't look after him! Can't you come back?" I heard Mum snap.

There was a moment of silence. 

"You and your work. Your son is sick, doesn't that mean anything to you?" She nigh on shouted. 

There was more silence. I wondered where Dad was, and what was wrong with Rhys. I understood why Mum was annoyed that he was ill. Any disruption to her incredibly important work was a terrible inconvenience, even her family. I dragged myself out of bed and pulled on my dressing gown to stumble into Rhys's room. 

Mum was standing by his bed, looking at him in exasperation, a phone held to her ear. 

She sighed heavily. "Yes, but my work is important!" she spat into the phone. 

"I'm in another country!" I heard Dad yell down the phone. 

"Dad's in another country?" I asked.
Mum looked around, startled by my sudden appearance. "Look, I've got to go. I'll sort something out." She hung up. 

"What's going on?" I said. 

"Rhys has a temperature and doesn't feel too well. Are you sure you can't go to school?" she asked him.

Rhys shook his head lightly. He was pale, and slightly clammy, but otherwise looked as normal. No rashes or vomiting or anything. 

Mum sighed again, like her son feeling unwell was a personal affront to her. "Well I can't look after you. I have a very important meeting today about a big deal with another company."

"Can't you reschedule?" I asked. 

"It's already been rescheduled twice!" she screeched. "And your waste of a father has put his job before his family again and jetted off to South Africa in the middle of the night. He got a call and had to leave immediately." Sarcasm littered her tone. 

Hypocritical much? "Why is he in South Africa?"

"How the hell should I know? I'm just the wife he always leaves behind!" She was getting hysterical. 

"Calm down, Mum," I said, trying to soothe her. 

"I'm running late already and there's no one to look after Rhys!" She sighed again. "Listen Skye, you're going to have to stay at home to look after him."

"What?" I said. "No way. Why can't we get a baby-sitter?"

"Not while he's ill. It wouldn't be fair." Mum looked affronted by the idea, but somehow taking me out of school was okay.

"It's not fair on me to take me out of school while I'm doing my GCSEs!" I argued. 

"Don't be so melodramatic!" Mum scoffed. 

"But that's what you're doing!"

"Don't argue with me!" she snapped. "I'll call the school and tell them you're ill, but now I've really got to go!" She pushed past me and grabbed her handbag on the way out of the front door, not giving me any time to dispute her decision. 

I made an exasperated noise, then stomped downstairs to have breakfast before showering and dressing, then plonking myself down in front of the TV. A whole day of Jeremy Kyle repeats seemed like a good way to spend a day off, so I tried to occupy my mind with trash and ignore the snivelling sound coming from upstairs. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to get out of school, but it was mainly the idea that Rhys came before me and my education. Why should I have to miss out on lessons that would impact on my GCSE results because Mum couldn't be bothered to stay at home and look after her own son. 

When I got hungry I made myself a sandwich, and an extra one for Rhys. I took it up to him and it kept him quiet for a bit. I heard his crying come to a halt at some point in the afternoon and went up to check on him in an ad break. He was asleep, finally, and looking pretty ill. I took his glass and plate downstairs and washed them up, before getting back to trashy TV. It was kind of a blissful day, not worrying about anything, and not thinking beyond what was happening in whatever rubbish I was watching. And boy was I glad I didn't have to deal with Jade that day. 

Mum came home around five thirty, slamming the door on her way in, which woke Rhys and prompted more waterworks, accompanied by screaming that echoed through the whole house. He sounded more like a four year old than the six year old he was. 

Mum looked dismayed. "Has he been crying like this all day? Why haven't you been dong more to look after him, keep him happy?"

"He's actually been asleep most of the day, and I made him lunch! It was only when you came home he started crying!" I yelled. The shrieking grew louder. 

"Oh well goody for you! What about any things to actually take care of him, like giving him medicine, or talking to him, making him feel better!"

"That's rich, coming from you!" I scoffed. 

"What do you mean?" she snapped.

"Taking about making him feel better when you palmed him off to me this morning, to your daughter. You yanked me out of very important lessons to look after the kid you couldn't be bothered to put before your job!" I shouted.

"Don't talk about him like that! He might hear you!"

"Not that that bothered you this morning when you were finding any way to get rid of him."

"Don't you dare say that! I love him!" she cried indignantly, like I was persecuting her for nothing. 

"Sure you do!" I started to say, but I was interrupted by the doorbell. I pushed past Mum and opened the door to find Chris looking bashful on the doorstep. 

"Um... hi," he said awkwardly. I wondered how loud me and my mum had been. "I brought round your homework."

"One sec," I said, before turning back to Mum. "We'll now you're home you can look after him, and don't even think about telling me you have more work to do," I said, acid in my voice. I pulled my coat from the rack by the door and shoved some shoes on my feet before pulling the door shut behind me. "Let's go," I said to Chris. 

I started walking with him, instinctively tracing my path towards the ponds. He followed behind me, and I slowed down until he was beside me. There was an awkward silence. 

"Is..." he hesitated. "Is everything okay at home?"

I gritted my teeth, wondering what he heard. "Yes."

I made the following silence even more awkward.

"Um... Are you okay?" he asked.

"Why?" I replied, mystified. 

"Have you forgotten already? You were ill today." He looked amused. 

I snorted. "Nope. Rhys was ill, and I had to look after him."

"Couldn't your mum do that? Or your dad?"

"Dad's in South Africa and Mum had an 'important meeting'." I rolled my eyes. 

"But that's not fair. They took you out of school to do a job they should be doing."

I smirked. "Hasn't anyone ever told you? Life's not fair. It's not fair that I had to miss out on some of my education to look after Rhys. It's not fair that people in Africa are starving. It's not fair that Jade has it in for me. It's not fair that you have to live with your aunt and not your mum."

He sucked in a breath and looked away. Guilt flooded through me. I'd cut a bit too close to the bone. 

"I'm sorry," I said. "That was out of order."

He turned back to and forced a smile. "No, you're right, but we can't help that."

I stared at the floor. "I really am sorry."

"Really, it's okay," he said, then took a deep breath, putting the heavy conversation behind him. "Anyway, I have all of your work."

"All of it?" I asked, incredulous.

"Yep. I went round to all your teachers to get it for you." He looked proud of himself. 

"Gee, thanks."

"I knew you'd be grateful." Chris smirked.

"A ton of work is just what I needed to top off my wonderful day," I said sarcastically. 

"Come on," he coaxed. "It'll be fun!"

"Of course it will," I replied dubiously. 

He grabbed my hand and my stomach leapt a little. I wasn't used to physical contact. "I'll do it with you," he said as he pulled me in the direction of his house. We'd walked past the ponds and entered the area around his house, so there wasn't very far to go. His aunt welcomed me in, asking if I was staying to dinner, an offer I accepted. We sidestepped her enthusiastic conversation and made our way up to his room. It was small, and decorated like a guest bedroom, I guess because he was. He'd put up some posters from bands I'd never heard of, and a few pictures of him and some people I didn't recognise littered the walls. The few bookshelves were laden down with battered paperbacks, and clothes were piled neatly on his desk chair, looking like they'd just been laundered. His room was surprisingly clean for a boy's room; even the bed was made. I studied the pictures on the wall, looking for anyone I knew. 

"Those are my friends from before. I lived just outside of London, in the Chilterns," Chris said softly. 

"Sorry, I didn't mean to pry."

He laughed a little. "It's not prying when they're up on the wall for anyone to see. Come on, lets do some work." He sat down on the floor and spread out the work in front of him. He looked up at me. "Sit down," he said, patting the space next to him. I rolled my eyes and sat down next to him. 

Working with Chris kind of made it fun, and time went unbelievably quickly, until we were interrupted by his aunt for dinner. After, it came near the time to go home, and my heart started dropping. I didn't want to go back and face my mum, argue more. I just wanted to stay where I was, where I was having a relative amount of fun. I heaved a huge sigh, and opened my mouth to humble myself and ask Chris the question. 

"Listen, I know this is a lot to ask, but I don't really want to go home and argue with my mum some more. Could I... could I stay here tonight?" I kept my gaze fixed on the carpet while my hands writhed in my lap. 

"Of course. I wouldn't want you arguing with her either. I'll just check with my aunt, but I'm sure it will be fine." His voice was light. I refused to look at him. I was embarrassed. I don't like asking for favours, putting myself at the mercy of other people. 

"Thank you," I muttered, still refusing to meet his gaze. He left the room and came back moments later. 

"Yeah, that's fine. You can relax, it wasn't that hard to ask me, now, was it?" I could hear a smile in his voice. 

My eyes still on the floor, I blushed. I was mortified by asking him, and how painful it was for me. "Sorry..." I whispered.

"Don't be silly. Come on, I'm guessing you'll need to go and pick up some stuff." He indicated towards the door. I finally met his gaze and followed him to the door. 

"I'll be back in about ten minutes. Thank you so much," I gushed. 

As I ran back to my house I planned my entrance to the house without being caught. I snuck around the back of the house, through the garden, and opened the unlocked back door. I could hear Mum in the office, pounding at the computer keyboard. I snuck behind her, past the door and crept as quietly as possible up the stairs. Shoving some overnight stuff into a bag, I looked around for some paper and a pen. I could only find a pencil, but it would do, and I scrawled out a note to leave on my pillow for Mum in case she worried. I knew she wouldn't, but I was trying to avoid trouble, which was fairly pointless, seeing as I had snuck in, and would sneak out, which was against almost everyone's rules. I tiptoed out, with my bag slung on my back. I smiled as I headed back to Chris's house, which was fast becoming my safe haven.

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