I slam my fist into the pillow as hot, angry tears fall down my face.
‘What the fuck is wrong with me.’ I groan.
I sit up and rub my face and stare around my room. We only moved in a couple of days ago, so most of my stuff is still in boxes.
I have an empty book shelf on one wall, next to a wardrobe. A window takes up nearly the whole wall opposite of the shelf, and my bed juts out from the third wall. On the fourth wall is my bedroom door, and a second door into my bathroom. I get up and walk to my wardrobe and open it. I lift up the bottom of it, and underneath I have a stash of alcohol and cigarettes. I pull out a bottle of whiskey, trying not to clank the other bottles together. I also pull out a cigarette pack and a lighter. I put the bottom of the wardrobe back on and walk back to my bed with the goodies.
I sit cross-legged on my bed and open the bottle of whiskey. I slug back several mouthfuls and shudder as the alcohol burns its way down. I light the cigarette and stick it in my mouth. I suck down on the smoke and feel it swirling around in my lungs. I breathe it back out, blowing smoke rings into the air.
I flick ash into a small ashtray next to my bed. I rest against my pillows as the nicotine works its way into my head, reliving my cravings almost instantly. I’ve been craving a fag since I got arrested.
I sigh out in relief and feel the stresses of the last few days dissolve with the smoke in the air. As the cigarette comes to an end, I flick the rest of the ash and the butt of it into the tray. I close my eyes and enjoy the feeling of nothingness in my head. I pick the bottle of whiskey back up and drink some more. I try not to slug it down too fast, because I know I won’t be able to get any more for a while. All the booze I have in my cupboard are bottles I stole from parties back in London.
I set the bottle back down and swoosh around the amber liquid that’s already in my mouth. I swallow it down, licking my lips afterwards. I feel the alcohol burning through my blood, intoxicating me.
I flick open the packet of cigarettes and light another one. I take a big drag on it, filling my body with smoke.
There is a banging at my door and dad’s voice comes yelling through.
‘What the hell, Locke! I told you no more cigarettes and not only do you have them, you are smoking the damned things in my house!’
I groan. Fuck him.
‘I don’t care.’ I moan out through the door.
‘Well I do,’ he answers back. ‘I don’t want you burning this house down!’
‘Please just leave,’ I say. ‘I can’t deal with you at the moment.’
‘You can’t deal with me?’ Dad bellows. ‘What about me? You just told me that you’re gay and you can’t deal with me! Where do I stand in this whole situation?’
‘Obviously outside the door,’ I mumble. I wish I had never said a thing.
Dad must have heard because he opens the door and walks in. He stands awkwardly in the doorway whilst looking at me lying on my bed, cigarette between my fingers.
‘What is really going on, Locke?’ His voice is quieter and his brows furrow.
I just stare at him as I smoke the cigarette. My mind is in chaos; part of me wants to confide in him and the other part of me just wants to yell at him to get out. Instead a warm, wet tear trickles out of the corner of my eye and dribbles down my cheek.
‘I don’t know,’ I whisper.
Dad steps away from the door and closes it softly. He walks across my room and sits on my bed, next to my head. He awkwardly begins to stroke my hair as I force myself to stop crying. He takes the half-smoked cigarette from between my fingers and stubs it out in the ash tray.
‘You don’t have to hide everything away. You can talk to me. You also have a counsellor’s number; the one the Constable gave you. I’m not a bad person, Locke. Bad things have happened to us but it doesn’t make us bad people.’
‘I’m not like you,’ I say. It comes out much harsher than I intended.
‘Locke, one day you need to realise that the whole world is not against you; some people want to help. There will always be some people against you, but I am not one of those people. I want to help you goddammit! Help me help you!’ He stops patting my head and runs his fingers through his hair.
‘Just remember that, okay?’ He says. He stands up and turns away from me and walks to the door. He opens the door and turns back around. ‘Please stop with the cigarettes. And the alcohol.’
I open my mouth to protest but he cuts me off.
‘I can smell it; I’m not stupid.’ He gives me a sad look. ‘The principal from Redstream High called. He thinks you’re a troubled young soul who just needs some understanding and compassion.’
‘Anyway, you start school next Monday. Try and get your act together by then. I don’t want a call saying you’ve beaten someone up on your first day.’ He raises his eyebrows expectantly.
‘Whatever.’ I mumble. I reach over to the ash tray and re-light the cigarette that he stubbed out. I put it between my lips and breathe in as my father sighs and leaves.
* * *
I am incredibly drunk. I have had almost half of the whiskey and it is 40%. The room dips and sways around me, making my stomach churn. I can feel it burning its way up so I try to get to my bathroom. The room spins so violently when I stand up, I just fall straight to the floor and am sick all over the carpet. I roll over onto my left side as I continue to vomit up the alcohol everywhere. My eyes start streaming from the fumes of the booze and the sick.
I push myself up to my knees and attempt to crawl to the bathroom. I make it only halfway before I’m overcome with nausea again and I am retching. Nothing but bile is coming up, but I continue to heave. I try once again to move towards the bathroom but I can’t go anywhere without the walls around me warping in and out.
I slowly lower myself down onto the carpet, to the side of the puke. I stare up at the ceiling as I wait out the dizziness.
I must have fallen asleep because I wake up to my father yelling.
His yelling sets off a throbbing deep inside my head. I cover my ears and squint my eyes as his voice slowly becomes bearable.
‘I told you to stop with the fucking alcohol!’ He’s yelling at me.
‘Please shh.’ I whisper. I put my index finger to my lips.
‘No Locke.’ Dad says. I can see in his eyes, even in my drunken/hung over state that he’s had enough. ‘You need to take some responsibility for the stupid things you do. Other people are constantly taking the blame but now it’s your turn.’ He stalks out of my room only to return minutes later with a bucket, a cloth and some kind of carpet detergent. ‘You can clean this. I’m not helping at all. I don’t care how long it takes you, but I want to clean. Preferably by tomorrow, though.’ He walks out of my room and shuts the door behind him.
I sigh, pick up the supplies and get to work.
Three hours later, the carpet looks clean but still smells like a mix of alcohol and vomit. I decide to just leave it for a while and take a shower. I walk into the bathroom and strip of my t-shirt and undo the belt around the waistband of my skinny jeans. I pause what I’m doing, look up at my reflection in the mirror.
I stare into my dark eyes. I like to add a touch of black eyeliner across my bottom lash line, which is currently smudged so I have panda eyes. I run my fingers through my black hair, shaking out the quiff at the front. I have a red streak up the front but it’s now hidden under the layer of hair flopped on my forehead. I have a two black piercings in my bottom lip and a black stud in my nose. Both of my ears are pierced, my left ear with three studs going up the side. My right ear has a chunky black stud.
My eyes wander down my naked torso, and my eyes automatically focus on a scar to the left of my belly button. I hover my fingers over the slightly puckered skin, not wanting to touch it. I close my eyes and try to forget the person that put it there.
I run blindly home from school, my face streaked in tears. I run inside and slide down the behind the front door let the sobs come. ‘No, no, no,’ I moan. I massage my stomach where they punched me. ‘They know about it,’ I cry. It is bruised already. ‘I can’t live anymore,’ I mumble. My body shakes as I move towards the kitchen. ‘This needs to end. Now,’ my breathing hitches in my throat. I crawl up onto my knees and dig through the cutlery draw, finding what I’m after. I lie down on the cold tiles with the knife poised above me. ‘I’m sorry, dad.’ I whisper. I close my eyes as I bring it down into my abdomen. A groan escapes my lips as my vision goes murky around the edges.
I faintly hear the front door click open and an agonised scream. Everything goes black.
The flashback stops and I’m on the bathroom floor shaking and in a cold sweat. I had tried to commit suicide two years ago when the people in my grade at school accused me of being gay. They had put explicit videos up on social media sites saying that it was me and the other gay boy in the grade. The taunting never stopped at school, it was a never ending cycle. Most days I was punched and beaten, and a couple of times they went so far that I had passed out on the pavement for several hours at a time. This went on for around a month before I attempted suicide. It was dad who found me in the kitchen with a knife in my stomach. It was at the fourth school. Yes, I was having sex with girls at that time, but it was mainly to stop people suspecting it. Especially my father. They came to that conclusion because one night I was with one of the popular girls, drunk, and we were getting at it and she asked if I loved her. In my drunken, semi-conscious state, I said that I’d love her is she was a guy. She jumped away from me like she’d just been burned and began to put her clothes back on. She was so disgusted that she’d had sex with a gay boy. The taunting started the following Monday.
I push myself up off the floor and shakily step into the bathtub. I turn the water on hot and slide down until I’m sitting directly under the stream of water. My muscles relax as the hot water runs over my body. I live with the emotional trauma of the taunts every day. That is partly why I became so aggressive and why I push people away. I can’t trust people after that.