Starting Over

The world seems to have ended when Tom's father dies in the middle of his AS exams. He struggles to cope with life, with coping all alone.


9. Bottom of the Pit

The next few days were spent in oblivion, that numbing place where things don't matter, time stands still and the brain is so clouded with mist that thoughts get lost in the ever changing greyness. Most of the time the fog kept everything at bay, keeping the mind from wandering too far from the body, stopping the minds quest to explore. You see exploring is bad, if you venture too far through the mist you come across things you wish could be buried forever, the scenes so horrific they bring you back into the land of reality. Drink a bit more and the fog gets thicker. I spent those days topping up the mist with drink every time the mist started to clear.

I wasn't sure where I was when I woke up one morning. As my eyes got used to the light, I looked around the room from my perch on a chair. I shuffled around feeling aches and pains in my body from sleeping in an uncomfortable position. I say sleeping; my guess is that I'd passed out. I saw a figure lying on the settee opposite and another in the other chair. My head started to complain that it didn't really want to be in the upright position and I gave in and let it gently rest back on the back of the chair, my eyes now turned towards the ceiling. A  dull pounding was starting somewhere in the back of my head, at the moment it wasn't taking hold but I knew before long it would be invading every part of the brain making thought impossible.

I tried to piece together what day it was and failed miserably, wasn't even sure what time it was although sun was streaming through the open curtains. Vague patterns and events occasionally flooded through my mind appearing from beyond the fog and disappearing almost as fast as they had arrived. Sometimes they made no sense, at others they triggered a memory of what had happened. I sat still piecing together these little fragments. Suddenly the fog cleared and I started to see the frightening mess that had been my week. The realisation wasn't nice; I'd like to say sobering but my first instinct was to get a drink.

I'd continued drinking after Millie had left and eventually ended up down at the Fox, the pub just down in the town. I'd run into two old school friends, well I say friends we hadn't really been close but we'd fallen into this drinking binge. I seem to remember being really happy. I had a vague recollection that we'd met a group of girls from the year below but wasn't sure. Lots of drinking had happened, I knew that and we'd all gone back to my house. I had a vague vision of waking up in bed the next morning with a girl, but it soon faded. It seemed that the two 'friends’ and I use that term very lightly, had stayed with me for the past few days. Thoughts of just drinking and throwing up were foremost in my shattered memories. 

I needed a drink; I glanced around and saw the floor strewn with cans and bottles. I went down on my hands and knees crawling around trying to find something with liquid still inside, pizza cartons lay strewn across the floor. I put my hand in something sticky. Raising my hand up I saw with disgust it was vomit. I was sat still searching for a drink when I heard the front door go. For a moment I thought it was my dad but then the truth hit me again that he'd never walk through that door again. I couldn't help it, the thought that I'd been trying to suppress for the last few days suddenly ran from the fog and hit me smack in the face. I put my head in my hands and cried my heart out.

'Jesus Christ John, this place stinks' I heard a voice shout, 'look at the state, what the hell have you done.'

I looked up and through my bleary eyes saw Mel stood there, hands on her hips, a look of disgust on her face.

'Ha, your mums here now John, better do what she says, Christ what the f*ck are you crying for,' I heard the body on the settee say laughing.

'Oh John are you OK.' Mel said ignoring the body and crouching down next to me.

I shook my head unable to talk for sobbing.

'What a wimp, you're a man not some girl, you wuss' the other body stirred and said.

'Look you two, john's more a man than you two will ever be. Jenny told me about your little problem Ryan and as for you Kyle, I heard that you haven't even got off the mark yet' Mel said standing up

'What you know, you dyke, and everyone knows you're just a muff diver these days. Why don't you clear off and let us get on with having a good time.'

I saw Mel ball her fists and knew what was coming. It took me back all those years to primary school when Mel has clouted the lad who had been bullying me. 

'I think it's you two who should be going, John doesn't want you, you're not friends, you're just parasites living off his grief,' Mel shouted at him

Kyle struggled up from his seat. 

'And what the f*ck are you going to do about it, you push off you lesbo' Kyle said still unsure on his feet.

I thought at first Mel would crack him on the nose, her usual form of attack. However I saw him move his hands to block her. She must have done too because what followed happened so fast. She raised her right foot and before he could react kicked him in the groin. in spite of myself I winced at the pain that it must have caused. Mel had played football for the school team and was known for her strong right foot. Kyle crumpled up on the floor; the noise that came out of his lips wouldn't have been out of place in a horror film. It was a wail that wasn't quite human, high pitched, the agony evident in every breath. 

'You stupid dyke,' Ryan said standing up.

'You want the same Ryan, although from all accounts I'd struggle to find it' Mel said turning to confront him

'You're mental,' Ryan shouted, 'come on Kyle, let’s leave these two losers to it. They deserve each other, the lesbian and the crying wim...'

He'd taken it too far and this time Mel's fist connected with his stomach stopping him in his tracks. He raised his hand but saw Mel sizing up another blow. 

'Come on Kyle,' he said helping the still bent over boy up from the floor, 'you'll keep Needle, just watch your back'

They both staggered out of the house, Mel following in their wake. I heard one of them yell out again and the door shut.

Mel appeared back at the door.

'Nice friends you've got John,' she said looking around, 'what the hell happened here?'

I shrugged still feeling really unsure, still feeling tearful.

She squatted down in front of me.

'Oh John, what's happened?’ She said quietly the concern in her voice evident.

I shook my head and the tears came again. She reached out to hold me but pulled back.

'Don't take this the wrong way, but you stink,' Mel said, 'go and get a bath. Then I'll help you tidy this place up.'

I sat on the floor unable to move.

'Just get your arse up to the bathroom before I hit you as well,' Mel said.

I slowly got up and went to the door. I halted before opening, turning back to face Mel. She was opening the windows, letting in the fresh air.

'Thanks' I said.

'Who else is going to take care of you? Look what happens when I'm not here' Mel replied gesturing around, 'go on get a bath.'

The bathroom was a pigsty. Opening the window I turned on the tap and went to the cupboard to get a clean towel. My head started spinning and I clutched the side of the cupboard. Working my way back to the bathroom I sat down on the toilet and put my head in my hands. I felt sorry for myself. My head was pounding now, the steam hammer it contained obviously working overtime.  My limbs felt weak and I seemed to be struggling to keep my body from shaking. Struggling up I turned the taps off and felt the water. A little cold but should be OK. It took a few minutes to get rid of my clothes as I found it difficult to stand upright at times. As each layer came off I could see what Mel meant, the clothes stank, I think I must have been wearing them for days. 

Eventually I managed to get myself in the bath and lay back. As I suspected it was colder than I liked and I started to shiver slightly. I turned on the hot tap and let the warmth of the flow circulate around the bath.

'You OK John,' Mel said from outside the bathroom.

'Feeling a bit better, yes' I replied anxiously moving suds around in case she came in.

'Your bedroom is a right mess; do you know there's sick all over the floor? What the hell have you been up to?' she asked

'Oh dear I thought that was a dream,' 

The memory came flooding back to me.

'It's OK, I've heard about Millie, you stupid b*gger, Mel said with a sigh.

She paused before carrying on.

'Look John, Millie came to see me last night. She was really worried about you. She said you weren't yourself and you needed help. We chatted for ages and she persuaded me to come and see you.'

'Oh, that was...' I stopped mid-sentence as a wave of shaking hit my body making me take a sharp intake of breath.

'You alright John,' Mel said

'Not feeling too good,' I said still slightly shaking

'Can I come in?' I heard her say hesitantly.

'You don't usually ask,' I said through the fit.

'Well, I've been thinking about that and maybe we need our space and a bit of privacy.' she said

'Oh it's OK, could do with the com...' another shaking fit hitting my body.

The door opened and in burst Mel. She saw me shivering and dropped down to the side of the bath.

'Is the water too cold?' she asked dangling her hand over the side, 'oh wow, it's too cold. Come on get out and let’s get you dry and warm. Standing up she handed me a towel. I hesitated wondering if I could get myself up, my limbs still felt rubbery. Mel looked and came to the wrong conclusion and turned her back on me.

'OK, I'm not looking John,' she said

'It's not that, I'm not sure I can stand up, my legs and arms aren't working like they should.' I said meekly.

She turned back and looked down at me.

'OK John, let’s see if we can't get you out of here,' she said dropping the towel on the floor.

With a lot of help from Mel I managed to get to a point where I was sat on the bath edge. I sat exhausted trembling slightly on the lip of the bath whilst Mel wrapped the towel around me.

'Just stay here for a minute,' she said and left the bathroom. My head was still banging like a bass drum and the shivering now started to get steadily worse. I thought for a moment that I was going to pass out but just as I started to lose consciousness Mel reappeared catching me before I started the journey to the floor.

'Come on, don't fall asleep there, you'll end up back in the bath,' she said gently but firmly helping me up and guiding me out of the bathroom, along the landing and into the spare room. Pulling the duvet back she helped me down into the bed and pulled the duvet over me before sitting on the side of the bed.

'Snuggle down and try to sleep.' I'll try to sort things out in the meantime. This house is a right mess, but I guess you're in even more of a mess. When did you last eat?'

I'm not sure,' I managed to force out between shudders, 'yesterday, the day before?' In truth all I remember was drink, when the fog had started to lift I'd topped it up with more alcohol.

'OK, I'll make you something and get you some tablets to help with this,' Mel said a worried look on her face. She stroked my hair absentmindedly before continuing.

'Your hair is a real mess but we'll sort that later. Just try and have a sleep be back soon,' she said leaning down and kissing my cheek.

Laying back I felt my eyes closing, just a minute I thought, I'll have just a minute as the greyness turned to black

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