My remaining lessons were unremarkably tedious, although word of the morning’s events had obviously been passed around. My teachers kept checking on me, ensuring I wasn’t about to collapse again. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, in some ways I appreciated it, they were finally doing something to try and help me. But then again, it felt like they thought was about to explode, they treated me like an unstable chemical, keeping their distance, careful not to touch.
My loitering in my practise room was brief; I could find little inspiration and nothing to improve in my composition. So I left earlier than normal, making the journey home a little brighter and a little safer. The sun had only just threatened to set by the time I reached my house, only a faint suggestion of red tinged the sky as I stepped inside.
My Dad was still asleep on the sofa, though the smell of alcohol was stronger, which suggested he had been up at some point today. I stepped softly around him, ignoring his dozy ramblings, and up the stairs. I caught my foot in the broken step, which nearly brought me to the ground, but not quite. As I fell, Ellie’s slip of paper escaped from my flute case.
Such a specific time, I had no way of telling the time, so I left my flute and bag in my room and walked out of the house quietly. It was then I realised that I had no idea how to get to Thelma Drive.
So here I am, walking aimlessly, trying to find a road that could be anywhere before a time that could be anytime. I’m heading vaguely towards the richer part of town, as I assume that’s where Ellie would live, but I have so far not even found a similar sounding street. The sun is now long gone, the stars have taken their place, but still no success.
After God knows how long, I find a shop that is still open, inside an old man is dozing. I walk up to the counter and cough loudly, hoping to stir him. He smells strongly of tobacco, as is often the case around here, and snores loudly. I cough again, but he still doesn’t notice. Eventually I lose patience and shake him awake, accidentally causing him to have a coughing fit. I apologise repeatedly, but he remains angry.
“Whadda you want?” he slurs.
“Do you kn-now how to get to Th-Th-Thelma Drive?” I ask, frustrated by my inability to communicate. He blinks at me for a second, then waves his arm vaguely to his left.
“Down that way, look for the sign, should be on your left,” he says.
“Thank you so much,” I say with a smile. He scowls and sits back in his chair.
I run down the street he pointed to, finding Thelma Drive after a few minutes. I turn down the street and look for where Ellie could be meeting. One shadowy figure is standing just outside a house across the road, is it Ellie? I can’t tell from this distance, but I risk being noticed if I get any closer. A parked car provides my cover, I crouch behind it, able to just see around the bumper to observe as events unfold.
Another dark figure walks down the street, taller, with a very masculine walk. The one I think is Ellie spots him and walks up to him. He puts his arms around her and they kiss, I suppose this is her boyfriend. They start walking up the street, towards where I am hidden; he seems to have a very tight hold on her. I can hear that they are talking, but not any of the actual words. As they get closer, my heart beats faster; I question myself, should I really be doing this? This doesn’t feel right, but she obviously wants me to see, so I keep watching.
She says something which makes him stop walking. He shouts, now not far away from me, and I see his hand connect with her face. The slap rings for a moment, its echoes the only sound, she does not even cry out. I can hear their conversation now that their voices are raised.
“You promised me! You said today! You have the cheek to not tell me until I get here? I don’t know why I put up with you!” he screams with a slight American twang.
“I’m sorry, I just can’t, I just–ʺ she tries to make excuses, but he cuts her off.
“You let me down, again!”
“I know, I’m sorry–ʺ
“I don’t care!” he shouts. He pushes her against the wall, holding her wrists against the bricks, and kisses her. She struggles, breaking free from him for a second. He responds by driving a fist in her stomach, I hear her whimper and can’t stop myself from gasping. Damn.
He hears me, turning quickly, suddenly nervous.
“Who’s there?” he demands. I avoid moving, not daring to even breathe, but eventually he will notice my shadow, cast by a streetlight behind me. Sure enough, he sees, I hear him walking towards me so I run for it.
I leap from my hidden position and head back towards the main road, hoping I can outpace him is optimistic, but it is my only option. It doesn’t work. Damn. I feel his weight on my back, crushing me on to the pavement. My shoulder hits the ground first, taking most of the impact in a single burst of pain. I can hear Ellie’s screams behind me, but they do not stop him. He rolls me over onto my back, pinning me down and practically spitting in my face.
“What are you doing, little perv?” he snarls. I feel his fist hit my head, the pain doesn’t quite register. I can’t quite believe what’s happening, I refuse to accept that things have gone quite so badly wrong. But they have.
“Answer me!” he screams. His fist hits me again, though the secondary contact with the pavement is far more painful. I can’t quite focus, but I can feel hot blood on the back of my skull. His fist hits me again, I’m not sure if he said anything or not. This time he hits just to one side of my eye, causing a flash of bright colour across my vision. Then it starts closing.