☠ Chapter Forty ☠
➳ ZAYN'S POV
After several hours of poker and a few drinks with everyone, I notice that my arm's hurting a little. I'm not sure if I managed to twist it funny in the sling or what, all I know is that I need to take an Advil or Tylenol or something before it gets worse.
I'm also a little irritated with the looks I'm being given, considering it's obvious that someone beat the living shit out of me. It was a serious blow to my ego, all of these dickheads now think I'm a weak little shit.
I find Liam on the other side of the basement, and I approach him as he's talking, "can you take me home, bro?"
"Yeah, 'course." As I'm stepping towards him, I wince in pain from my shoulder, and Liam notices. "You in pain?" He asks.
I nod my head, "a little. The doctor gave me some meds for it though."
"Let's get you home then," he gives me a worried look before he starts for the stairs. "Where's Kit? Is she coming with us?"
I shrug my shoulders before I realize, and then I end up wincing again as a shot of pain radiates through my entire arm. "Fuck," I curse, mentally scolding myself for even moving my damn shoulders. "I don't know, I haven't seen her all night."
"I think she's somewhere with Snow. Look, I'll just take you home and then if I find her later I can give her a ride home too, no big deal."
"Sounds good, mate."
Liam leads me up the stairs, past the few that are still standing from partying. Most have passed out, or blacked out either from the drugs, the alcohol, or both. Liam takes me outside and we get into his car, heading off speeding towards my house.
"So what have I forgotten about your life that's important?" I ask him, breaking the silence between us.
"Oh," he chuckles, "not too much. I finally kicked your ass in a race."
"No shit," I comment, but I don't believe him. "You're lying!"
Liam smirks, "how do you know? You have amnesia, you asshole."
"I have amnesia, but I'm not stupid, you dick."
"Whatever," he chuckles. "I had to try, right? So, what's going on with you and Ari?"
"Ari?" I question.
"Yeah, Arielle. Are you two together?"
I furrow my eyebrows together, a little confused. Didn't I tell him earlier that I was 'dating' Kit? "No, I'm with Kit," I reassure him. I don't know for exactly how long, because she's annoying as hell, but how do I break up with a woman who I apparently love? I think she's living with me, it's not that simple to break up with the woman.
"Alright," he raises a hand up in defence at my irritated tone. "I won't ask again."
"Did Snow say where she was going?" I ask out of curiosity. I barely got to see Snow before her and Kit were wandering off somewhere. I'm glad that Snow's keeping Kit preoccupied right now. It'll give me a chance to enjoy some alone time at home. Although I find myself wishing that I brought a girl home with me to fuck.
Liam shakes his head as he shrugs his shoulders at the same time, "maybe they were dancing upstairs and we didn't see them."
"Maybe." I respond.
"Do you think it was a little early for Snow to be partying?" Liam asks with concern. I know he's always had a crush on the girl, but I'm not sure that's the case anymore. She's had a horrid last few years of being addicted. Years of her selling her own body just to slowly kill it with whatever drug she can get her hands on. I'm surprised she's hasn't overdosed already, but it's good to hear that she's gone through rehab. I'm not sure that she should be partying this early, but what can you do?
"I'm sure she'll be fine, mate." I try to say it convincingly, but I don't think it comes off that way. I'm positive that there were drugs at the party tonight, there always are, so how can she avoid that temptation?
"Yeah, okay," he says, a little nervously.
"Besides, Kit's there with her, she'll keep her out of trouble. Don't worry about Snow. I thought you were over her," I point out.
Liam rakes a hand through his hair, "I am. I have been since she started. I still care about her though, y'know?"
"I get it, I get it. Don't stress over it though, mate."
Liam sighs beside me, "yeah, yeah, I know. It's just hard when it's a friend."
"I know. Don't forget that I've been friends with her for years too." I'm the one that introduced the two because the first time Snow ever saw Liam, she instantaneously had a crush on him. He liked her back, but before he could ever act on those feelings, she was a drug addict and it was too much for Liam to handle, and so he backed away.
"Now, enough depressing talk, tell me something happy!" He says, attempting to break the intense conversation.
I rub my index finger and thumb along the stubble on my chin, deep in thought. There isn't anything I can think of that could be considered good news. I'm sure something's happened in the last few months that qualifies as good news, but now I've forgotten it, and so it's irrelevant.
When Liam realizes I'm still deep in thought after several minutes, he speaks up, "can't think of anything?"
I chuckle while scratching at the back of my head, "a little sad, huh?"
"It's understandable, you've been through a lot." Liam pulls his car into my driveway, but I don't even really notice. After he's parked the car and I don't get out, he chuckles, "we're here."
"Oh, shit, sorry. Was still thinking."
"I'm sure you'll think of something."
"Yeah . . . Thanks, mate. I'll, uh - I'll talk to you soon?"
"Of course," he responds with a smile. "Take care of yourself, alright?"
I give him a small smile and nod my head before getting out of the car. Before I shut the door, I lean my head in, "same goes to you."
"Yeah, yeah," he mutters with a wave of his hand. I chuckle and shut the door before walking up the driveway. I pull out the secret key hidden in the patio, unlock the front door and step inside the house.
The second I step inside, I hear little nails scratching against my flooring. Suddenly, this little Rottweiler puppy runs around the corner, and instantly begins jumping up on my leg. I'm forced to lean down on one knee and I use my one good hand to scratch the little dog's head. "Well, hello there, what's your name?" So, I got a dog sometime in the last few months. That's something new.
I lead the dog to the back door and follow her outside. I have a quick smoke while she does her business and then we head inside together. I have to check almost every single cabinet in the kitchen until I find the dog food, and then I fill her little dishes with the food and some water. I notice on one of the bowls, the name Sky is written. I assume the dog is named Sky, after my car, maybe.
She sits at my feet, staring up at me. "Sky?" I call what I believe to be her name, and she cocks her head and her ears go up, confirming to me that her name probably is Sky.
"I'm going to bed Sky, would you like to come with me?" She cocks her head to the side again, but then she stands and her little paws carry her down the hallway, towards my bedroom.
I take a moment, as I'm standing in the kitchen, to admire my house. Nothing really seems all that different. There are a few new pillows on the couch, and a couple new paintings and pieces of art, but other than that there really isn't anything that out of the ordinary. It's a relief, really. Everything seems so different to me lately that it's exhausting, and so to come home and have some normality is nice.
I lock the door, turn off all the lights, and begin walking down the hallway, but as I'm walking past the kitchen again I notice that my answering machine is flashing. I step towards the device, and press play.
"It's me. Listen, I want to talk to you. I know it's been a long time and I know there's a reason for that, but please, just hear me out. Just . . . Call me back, please."
I recognize the voice instantly, it's Zeinah, my older sister. I haven't seen her for years. When she was old enough, she instantly moved out, and I never really heard from her after that. Mostly because we really didn't get on, but she had other reasons for hating me, and my mother.
I wonder what she wants to meet with me about. Is it something small, or is it big? She didn't sound all that desperate and worried on the message, so maybe it's something not too important . . . Whatever it is, my brain can't even register thinking about it because mentally, I'm much too tired. It's been one of the longest days I've ever had and right now, I want nothing more than to just crawl into bed and fall asleep.
I'm not sure where the fuck Kit is, but I don't care. It's honestly nice not having her chasing me around for once telling me just how much I once loved her.
I walk down the hallway, get undressed, and crawl into my massive, comfortable bed. Sleep consumes me quickly, and it's the best sleep I've had in months.
When I wake in the morning it's already past noon. It takes me a moment before I even realize that I'd managed to sleep well over twelve hours. It wasn't that I'm upset about it, it just never occurred to me that I was that tired.
Sky barks at my feet and she lets me know that I have to let her outside. Just like last night, I let her out and follow to have a cigarette. When we're done I head back inside.
Much to my surprise, Kit isn't in the house. She isn't sleeping on the couch, or in the bed, and there's absolutely no trace of her even in the house. So either she stayed out all night with Snow, or she ended up somewhere else.
I don't waste much time, I end up eating a quick breakfast of two slices of toast and a glass of juice and then I'm showering and getting ready. Showering's really difficult for me, with my arm being in such pain and all, but it's nothing I can't handle. It just seems to take me forever to actually finish the task which was once so simple . . . And quick.
Eventually, I'm all ready and I grab my car keys and head downstairs to my car. It takes a moment of me admiring how beautiful she looks before I'm inside of her and I stick the key in the ignition, bringing her to life. Such a beautiful sound.
I back out of the garage and I head straight for Zeinah's house. It's a far drive, but I'm sure she'd rather see me in person. I haven't seen her in many, many years; it's almost been so long that I've nearly forgotten what she looks like.
We never got along, so we were never close. Zeinah was always really girly. She was wearing tons of makeup at a young age, and buying all of these expensive designer clothes that she couldn't afford. She'd spend months saving up for one item of clothing, and just like that, suddenly it was out of fashion. But that's the way Zeinah was.
She was stubborn as hell. She would very stubbornly forgive, but she never - and I literally mean never - forgets. She remembers the first time I ever flushed her Barbie down the toilet, and every single time I picked the locks on her many, many diaries, or that time when she was sleeping and I cut her hair. That stubbornness came from my dad. He was the exact same way when it came to certain things. He was harsh and brash sometimes, and Zeinah inherited those qualities.
I think the real reason we never really got along came after my dad's death. When my dad died, it hit me really hard. I didn't come out of my room for months. I was skipping class, and not going out with friends, and fighting with anyone and everyone because it seemed like the world had ended to me. But Zeinah, it seemed like she only grieved for a week or two and she was happy, and carefree again - going to class, making new friends, new boyfriends . . . and that's when we started fighting. I was angry with her because to me it was like she'd forgotten about our father. But I think I was just too busy in a world of pain, that I'd forgotten that everyone grieves differently. Maybe she grieved by going shopping, I don't know. All I do know is that for me, grieving involved cigarettes and marijuana, and hiding away in my room, drawing.
Zeinah and I were never close, but after my father's death, it's almost as if we aren't even related anymore. I don't see her during holidays, we don't wish each other happy birthday every year . . . We just don't talk.
It's forty-five minutes of me driving in relative silence - other than the soft sound of the radio - while thinking about Zeinah and what life used to be. I'm reminiscing the entire drive until I pull up into her driveway, and suddenly I'm nervous.
I take a second to muster up the courage to approach the front door, but as I look up towards the front of the house I spot Zeinah, looking at me through her curtains. I kill the engine, get out of the car, and approach the house.
She instantly opens the door for me, and I give her a quiet, "hi, Zeinah."
"Hi, Zayn," she replies and then she steps to the side, allowing me to enter the house. It's been a very long time since I've been inside the place, and I notice that it's not all that different. I knew that since my sister moved out at such a young age, she'd always struggled with money. She hadn't the dollar to spend on upgrading her home. "Would you like something to drink?" She asks, as she pours herself some tea.
"No, that's alright." I sit down awkwardly on her couch, unsure of where to place myself. Meetings with my sister were always uncomfortable.
I hear a little bit of shuffling behind me as she prepares her drink and then she speaks up, "still involved with the wrong crowd I see?"
I sigh, "what's it to you, Zeinah?"
"I just don't like seeing my baby brother with bruises all over his face and his body, and his arm in a sling."
"It's nothing, Zeinah."
"What about the memory loss?"
"How do you-"
"You put me as your emergency contact. The doctor phoned me."
"Oh," I say quietly, staring at my fingers. I forgot to change that, I guess. Zeinah comes into the living room with her tea and places it down on the coffee table, as she sits on the couch and faces me.
"You're probably wondering why I wanted to talk to you. Y'know, Zayn, you didn't have to come all this way." She gives me a stern look.
I take the time to look at her features and I realize that she really doesn't look all that different. She's still got the long, flowing black locks I remember, and her brown eyes are framed with lots of makeup . . . She's still the same looking Zeinah. I notice she's put on a few pounds, but it's nothing too much.
"Look," she says as she leans forward on the couch, "I just wanted to ask you about mum . . . How's she doing?"
"You suddenly care?" I bite.
She sighs. "I've just - I've heard things, alright?"
"What kind of things?"
"It's not important. I just want to make sure she's doing alright. I still care for her, Zayn, she's our mother."
"You sure do have a funny way of showing it," I scowl in her direction, already irritated with how she's resorted to putting down our mother when I haven't even been here for ten minutes.
"Zayn, I don't want to fight. I just wanted to make sure you two are doing fine. It doesn't appear so much that you are, but I want to know about mum."
"I'm doing just fine, Zeinah, and so is mum." I move my arm to adjust myself on the couch and instantly wince from the pain.
Zeinah chuckles, "still as stubborn as ever, I see."
"Me? Stubborn? You were always the stubborn one," I reply.
She shakes her head, "you've got it backwards. You were always just like dad."
I shake my head furiously, and it occurs to me that we're probably both just as stubborn as each other, but we'll never admit it. It was part of the Malik blood. As I'm shaking my head, I notice a photo of Zeinah and a man framed up on their mantle.
"Who's this?" I ask, staring at the photo of Zeinah in a white dress and the man in a tuxedo.
"That's Matt. We uh - I kinda got married last year," she says it very quietly, and I think it's because she's worried about me getting angry. But as I stare at the photo, it's not anger I feel, it's heartbreak, because my sister and I are so distant from each other, that she didn't even invite me to her own wedding.
"Wow," I say, a little speechless. "Congratulations, I guess."
"Thanks, he's a great guy. I think you'd really like him," she replies. She sips on her tea and stares at me as if nothing's wrong but I feel a little broken standing before her. I mean, I knew we were never close, but I didn't think we were that distant. Not being invited to your own sister's wedding is kind of a hard blow to take. "He's funny, and kind, and he works really hard."
"That's great . . . Good to hear he's treating you well." I reach into my back pocket and pull out a wad of bills. I can feel Zeinah's eyes on me, but she doesn't say anything. I fork out six hundred dollars and pass it off to her. I know her and Matt are struggling, it's obvious from the dilapidated little house, and the bags under her eyes from working long hours.
Zeinah refuses, raising her hands up in defence, "no, no, I can't take your money."
I put it right in her face, "take it."
"No, we don't need your charity."
"Zeinah," I warn. She stares at the money, but she refuses to grab it. "Consider it a belated wedding present, from me."
"It's too much, Zayn, I'm sorry but I can't accept it."
"Fine, it's from me and mum. Just take it, please."
She stares at it for a moment, and it finally seems as though she gives up in defeat and she grabs it from my hands. "Thank you," she utters.
"Don't worry about it."
"What exactly do you do again?" She asks as she flips through, counting each and every hundred with wide eyes.
"Zeinah, don't start with me."
"I'm not starting anything," she says, "it's just, who carries this much cash around with them at any given time."
"I don't. I went to the bank before I came here," I lie to her. She raises an eyebrow skeptically. "Look, I stopped at the bank before coming here because I know that you've always struggled a little . . . financially. I just wanted to help out, alright?"
"Why don't I believe you?"
I sigh, exasperated, "because you've never believed anything I've ever said. Don't worry about me, I can handle myself."
It falls silent between us, and I'm afraid this is probably the end of this conversation. This is the end of seeing Zeinah. I probably won't see her for another few years after this, but that's normal.
"Is that everything you wanted from me?" I ask her.
She nods her head, "I didn't want this," she points out, holding up the money. "I just wanted to see how you and mum were doing."
It reminds me that she said she heard some things about mum. "What'd you hear about her?"
"I won't repeat them, Zayn. I assume it's just bullshit, but I will not repeat what was said. It's too malicious."
I sigh heavily, annoyed with her stubbornness.
"Look, you could've just called and saved yourself the trip out here. I never expected you to come all the way out."
"I wanted to come here," I reply. "I thought maybe it'd just be easier seeing you in person. Besides, the doctor told me to take it easy for a few days, so this is me, taking it easy."
"Well you'd better listen to him," she scolds.
"I will, I promise." I totally can't make that promise. "I guess I'll get going now. This was nice."
"Yeah, it was, wasn't it?"
I nod my head awkwardly, unsure of how to break the tension and weird aura going on between us. Do I hug her? I don't know, but we've never been the hugging kind of family. "I'll uh - I'll see you soon, alright?"
"Soon," she replies.
It's very quiet and slightly awkward as I exit the house and descend the driveway. Zeinah watches from the front door as I get into the car and drive away.
The whole car ride home is spent with me thinking about my sister and the fact that she's now married. She's married and I wasn't invited to the wedding. That, and she said she'd heard rumours about my mum. What could they be? Whatever they were, they were incriminating or risqué enough that she felt the need to phone me to talk about them.
I'm not sure how to feel about it all, but I know that it's causing another headache to form. More shit to worry and stress about. More shit to make myself feel like a fucking pile of garbage.
By the time I pull into the garage, I'm desperate to let out some anger and frustration, but I can't. My arm is in a fucking sling and so I can't punch the bag without horrible pain. And so, I head to the living room to do something else to get my mind off of it. I pick up a controller and get ready to play a video game, but decide I need a beer first, or some fucking hard liquor.
As I'm walking to the kitchen, I notice the blinking light on my answering machine.
"Hey man, it's Liam. I found Kit. I tried bringing her to your house but the key wasn't in its hiding spot, so I brought her back here. Can you just call me? I don't know what to do with her. Thanks."
I sigh and run my hands over my face in frustration. If it's not one thing, it's another. Fuck.