Rose and Leo chat idly, bantering back and forth, something about chocolate. I’m not sure, I’m not really listening. I just make sure to give Rose what I can manage of a smile whenever she casts me a look over her shoulder to let her know I don’t feel left out.
I don’t lie with that smile. I’m used to being on the outside, a loner.
Rose and Leo are good company, people to talk to when I tire of my thoughts.
It makes me seem ungrateful, closed off, but I cherish my friends.
I guess I’m not too great with my feelings, but they’ve betrayed me so often, I no longer have any faith in them.
Rain drips off my hair, catching on my eyelashes. I wipe at my eyes.
I can’t have him thinking I’ve been crying.
Cautiously, I open our faded red door, the paint peeling off the front.
I’ve thought about painting it, but then the cleanness of it would clash with the rusted car in the driveway, the mould around the window sills and the dead and dying grass of what is supposed to be a front garden. It’s more like a landfill, full of our black bin bags.
The bin men refuse to come to us any more after dad got into an argument with them.
I don’t take my shoes off at the door, the carpet is already sodden and brown and it would make no difference. I’m beyond caring what state my father lives in.
Not when I rather he wasn’t living at all.
I quick walk it to the stairs and jog up, not treading too heavily on them for fear they’ll finally collapse after years of abuse.
I only get halfway.
“There you are you lousy sod.” He bellows from his permanent spot in the lounge on his chair. He sits only dressed in his boxers, fat flopping onto his lap where he strokes it like a sleeping cat. “Where the bloody hell have you been?”
I lean against the door to the lounge, reluctant to enter the lion’s den.
He snorts and brings a cigarette to his wrinkled, cracked lips, inhaling before coughing wetly. “Bloody waste of time. Should quit and start work at your uncle’s garage.”
“I don’t want to be a mechanic. And I’m only eleven. I can’t leave school.”
“Sure you could. Use your brain voodoo on them, get lost in the system.”
I clench my teeth.
My mum left, she couldn’t handle my brain voodoo when she’d come round and found me on the floor playing with a whole mound of toys she’d just bought for me. I’d been six and hadn’t really known what I had done. She had lost it, packed her bags and left.
I remember asking where she was going, could I come too? Why was she leaving?
As she was running out of the door, I’d reached out a little hand to try and hold hers. She’d flinched away so hard, she’d cracked her head against a picture frame.
The blood stain was still there.
My father however, had responded very differently.
He’d taken me to the bank, the shops, anywhere where I could “voodoo” them into giving us free food, money, anything my father wanted.
Never anything for me though.
Occasionally I would get stale bread, leftover pizza.
I hated that he was part of me, swimming in my veins, morphing my genes. If my Quirk came from someone, I was certain it was him.
I hated that he left me no choice but to mind control people into feeding me.
I hated that all I was to him was a voucher.
I hated that he was all I had left.
“But I want to go to secondary school. St. Bart’s have wanted me since I was six. I’ll be old enough to join soon. It’s a good school, I could make something of myself.”
He throws his cigarette at the TV and heaves himself to a stand, making his way towards me.
“So that’s it is it? You’re going to bugger off and leave your dad, who stayed here and raised you, who dealt with your wussy little sobbing when that bitch made a run for it? You ingrate!” He grabs me by the front of my school shirt, his dirty fingers leaving smudges on the white I so carefully try to keep clean.
He pulls me upwards until I’m on the very tip of my toes and forced to stare into his muddy, bloodshot eyes. “I’d like to see you leave after I’m done with you.”
Keeping hold of me, he smashes me into the wall at my back, air gushes out of my lungs and I crack my head against the wall, so much like my mum when she was running away from me.
His image swims in front of me, he grins like a shark. “Still feel you can leave?”
He releases his hold and I sprawl onto the filthy ground. Looking up, his foot hovers above my leg like a circling vulture.
“Won’t get very far with a broken leg now will you?”
Before I can move, before I can bring myself to plead with him, his foot comes down, stomping on my leg.
I feel it break and scream, tears cascading down my face.
He laughs and yanks me up.
“What you going to do now?” He grins, breath stale with beer and fags, teeth yellow, skin sallow and clogged.
I meet his eyes.
“Never touch me ever again.” I spit, rooting around in his brain, making it stick.
His expression falls slack, his eyes blazing as he realizes what I’m doing.
“Don’t even talk to me. Just sit in your damn chair and smoke your fags. Just. Leave. Me. Alone.”
I cry out as I’m dropped and land on my broken leg where I watch from the floor as he sits down in his chair and lights a cigarette, blankly watching the TV.
Three days later, he died of starvation sitting in his chair, his thousandth cigarette dangling from his blue lips.
A week later, I was at St. Bart’s
I blink back into the present, now I’m thinking about it, my slight limp gets worst. Leo, who knows how it happened, notices and gives me a look over Rose’s shoulder. Rose notices him looking at my leg and frowns.
“You alright Roan?”
She grins, loops her arm though mine and Leo discreetly pats my shoulder before dropping his arm back around Rose. They go back to chatting and laughing and I go back to my thoughts.