Authors: Ellie R Hunter
“She’s not my girl, I don’t have one, specifically,” he tells me when I don’t speak.
“It’s not any of my business anyway,” I murmur, begging the blush creeping up my cheeks to disappear.
“I’m an open book, babe. Whatever you want to know, ask away,” he shrugs.
So I did, I asked question after question and in turn he answered and asked his own questions. He now knows my favourite music, soul. My favourite food, sushi. What I like to do in my spare time, which at the moment I don’t know, before my addiction took over I was busy with college day and night. He asked about everything.
Although he answered my questions like he said he would, it still felt like he was keeping something back.
Eventually the music faded away and nothing but this guy sitting beside me existed. He made me laugh, really laugh about silly things. The hours passed and before I could open my eyes and see clearly half of the bar had emptied and my dad was nowhere to be seen.
“I should take you back to your room,” Ricky says, noticing how late it is too.
His hand lands on the small of my back when I stand and stays there until we reach my door.
He produces a key from his pocket and unlocks the door, leaving me to wonder when my dad gave him it? He backs off and lets me pass him, I turn to close the door but he takes a step in the room.
“The first few days after you got here, you were like an animal. Tonight, you are totally different. Another few good meals in you and you will have a glow in you that no one will be able to miss. You stay clean and you’ll be a firecracker again.”
I’ll be a firecracker again?
“How do you know I was a firecracker before?” I ask, stepping towards him.
“Your dad passed around a before photo of you.”
“And you thought I was pretty?”
My heart is pounding in my chest waiting for his answer.
“Actually, I thought you were the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.”
A cross between a gasp and a choke clogs my throat. He does see me as more than a junkie. The way he’s been with me tonight and calling me beautiful gives me a level of confidence to close the space between us and lean up on my toes. My lips are so close to his I can feel his soft breath bounce on my face, we’re so close then he pulls away and turns his back on me.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, you should get some sleep,” he says, before leaving the room and locking the door after him. Leaving me frozen and red faced.
How could I have been so stupid, I mistook his kindness for flirting and it felt like a slap around the face.
Throwing myself down on the bed, I don’t bother undressing. I’m a fucking addict and Ricky, my father and his merry band of fucking do-gooders can go to hell.
The day after Kyla tried to kiss me I took her breakfast up to her and she pretended to be asleep. I left her tray on the bedside table and left her to it. I didn’t bother trying to wake her like I have previously done.
Watching her lean into me wasn’t exactly a shock but I didn’t see it coming either.
With all the shit she has going on the last thing I expected her to do was try and kiss me.
I haven’t been back up to her room since and she hasn’t been down to the bar. Pope has made it known she isn’t on twenty-four hour lock down anymore and she’s yet to take advantage of it. He also wants us to keep our eye on her.
The longer she hides away the more I feel like shit. It’s not like I didn’t want to kiss her. Pope is suspicious and keeps going for his gun every time he walks past me. He knows I was the last person with her and I guess he is putting two and two together and coming up with his own conclusions because Kyla couldn’t have said anything because he wouldn’t have reached for his gun, he would have pulled it out and used it on me. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t touch her, I’d upset her enough for her to withdraw from coming out of her room.
Damn that photo Pope passed around, it would feel a fuck load easier if I hadn’t of seen how beautiful she could be. Last night she looked amazing compared to how she arrived here looking, but the pre-junkie look burned through my memory faster than quicksand and it’s all I can think about when I look at her.
“Hey hotness, do you wanna go to your room? I can make you feel better than you look.”
Opening my eyes, the sun blinds me before Jessica moves and blocks the light.
“Hey babe,” I smile.
“So, you wanna hook up?
Sitting up I see Sally driving through the gate over her shoulder. Pope didn’t say anything about her coming to town, mind you, he doesn’t say a whole lot unless he is talking to Kyla or about her.
Jessica babbles on but I can’t hear a word she is saying. I’m transfixed on what Sally is doing. She gets out of her car and spins around slowly until she spots Pope and heads over to him. Why is she here? That’s the first thought, the second thought is, maybe she is here to take Kyla home and that doesn’t sit well with me.
“I’m sorry Jess, I got to go.”
I don’t stick around and head over to the garages where they are and make out I’m looking for something.
“Your last few calls have been vague, Thomas. Has something happened I should know about?” she asks him.
“No, Sal. She’s in her room and she’s fine.”
“I thought you said she didn’t have to stay in there no more?”
“No she doesn’t and I don’t know why she’s in there, I’m letting her get a feel for the place, she’ll do it in her own time.”
“How is she?” Sally asks nervously.
Pope catches me listening and jerks his chin in my direction. I stride over to them and Sally smiles weakly when I join them.
“This is Ricky, he’s been spending time with her and I think it’s helped,” he tells her.
“It’s nice to meet you, Ricky.”
I nod and wait for Pope to talk, I’m hoping I don’t have to wait for too long.
“Tell her how well she’s doing,” he orders me.
“Yeah, she’s doing well,” I tell Sally.
She rolls her eyes and exhales loudly.
“But you said she hasn’t left her room, how is that fine?” she asks.
“She’s going to have highs and lows, pardon the pun,” he grunts, “We’re making progress, she’s making progress. Stop worrying woman.”
“Woman?” she huffs, “Did you just call me woman?”
Her eyebrows shoot to her hair line and her face turns red, I quickly back up and leave Pope to handle it.
Her mom reminds me of my own mother, always worrying and wondering if it was her fault. The amount of nights she stayed awake unable to sleep worrying there was going to be a knock at the door to say her baby girl had been found dead was too many.
No matter how much I tried to tell her she was big enough to make her own decisions, she kept telling me I wouldn’t understand until I had my own kids and she was right. I couldn’t understand how she felt as a parent but I knew how I felt as her brother and that was helpless and angry.
I’m at Kyla’s door before I know where I am and I don’t bother to knock. She’s curled up in bed and staring at the wall. Her eyes have the same haunted look in them like they did when I first laid eyes on her and it pisses me off. She has made astronomical progress in the time she’s been here and I’ll be damned if I’m going to watch her slip back.
“Your mom’s here, you should get up and show her she can stop worrying about you,” I tell her and I don’t try to hide the frustration in my voice.
“I would but if you haven’t fucking noticed I’m locked in this god damn room and can’t leave without my father’s permission. Unless he sent you here to get me?”
Wow, if I thought I was frustrated she just sounds damn right pissed.
“No he didn’t fucking send me and if you had got out of bed and stopped being a brat, you’d have known your father doesn’t lock the door anymore, you are free to go wherever the fuck you want.”
“If he didn’t send you, then leave,” she snaps.
Okay, I’ve had enough now. There’s no way I’m going to let her hide no more, not over a stupid kiss that didn’t happen.
I rip the sheets off of her and let them fall to the floor. She jumps up and her arms cover her body. Shakily rubbing her veins at her elbows specifically. The sight infuriates me.
“You want to get high, Kyla?” I yell at her.
“Do you want me to go score for you?” I taunt her.
“Shut your mouth,” she warns me.
“Are you going to shut down every time you don’t get what you want?”
Instead of shutting down, she gets mad.
“That’s not what I’ve been doing,” she screams.
“Is it not? I backed away from you the other night and you haven’t done shit for three days. I bet you’ve been up here dreaming about pumping your veins with heroin, haven’t you?”
“I said, shut up.”
Her eyes burn into mine but I keep mine locked with hers and don’t back down.
“Why? Does the truth hurt?”
She falls back on her ass and hangs her head.
“Why are saying this to me?”
“You don’t get to mope because I didn’t kiss you. Now get out of bed, get cleaned up and show your mom how fucking happy you are.”
Walking out I make sure to slam the door behind me. Junkie aside, the girl herself makes me angry. I don’t understand how a daughter of Pope has been allowed to act this childish. Pope must be a completely different guy when he is with them because the Pope I’ve come to know, wouldn’t put up with this shit.
“What’s up, Rick?” Sparky asks, coming up behind me.
“Good, if you see Cas tell him I’ve gone home.”
Sparky heads out and stops to say hey to Pope and Sally as they make their way into the bar. She’s all smiles so I guess Pope handled his comment appropriately.
“Kyla,” Sally smiles even broader.
Turning around, I see Kyla coming down the stairs dressed and looking happy to see her mom.
She rushes over to her and the two embrace each other, probably for the first time in years.
When the tears begin I look away and give them the time they need. I never got to see the relief on my mom’s face like Sally has now, hopefully Sally never has to deal with her daughter’s death in the same way.
Turning corners, that’s what I’m about now. I can’t turn one corner without feeling good about myself. After feeling lower than shit it was impossible to believe I would ever feel happy again. My mom’s visit was what I needed, I needed her to see how well I’ve been doing. I saw her look at me like she used to and it’s made me realise how much I want to be the old me again. I thought the old me was too boring and too stressed to carry on. I was wrong. I was loved beyond reason and I took advantage of that to try and recreate a new version of myself. Only, the new version quickly regretted ever changing. My father forcing me to stop probably saved my life and I can never thank him enough.
He still doesn’t let me call him dad yet. He looks up at me from his beloved bike he is always tinkering around with and jerks his chin. A lot of them do that around here, instead of answering a simple ‘yeah’ they jerk their chins.
“I want to get back to normal,” I say.
“That’s good, it’s about time,” he smiles. It’s rare when my father smiles but when he does, his face transforms from the angry blank expression and he looks ten years younger.
“I was wondering if you would take me into town. I’d like to freshen up my wardrobe, wearing jeans makes me feel dirty.”
“Do you want to go now?” he asks, wiping his hands on a rag.
“Oh, I, if you’re not busy or anything,” I stammer, not expecting to go right now or him to agree.
“I have nothing that can’t wait a few hours, oh and Slade and Kristen are having a get together later, you can come if you want to get out of here for a while.”
“I’d love to.”
The drive into town is longer than I thought it would be, I didn’t realise how far out we were, then again I wasn’t exactly sober when I made the trip here.
The drive is also in silence and it’s the perfect time to ask my own questions, if I’m allowed to now.
“Am I allowed to ask questions yet?” I ask.
He briefly looks at me before training his eyes back on the road.
I wish he hadn’t said that. I now have visions of him shooting people between the eyes.
“Do you love mom?”
It’s been playing on my mind the last few days. Growing up I thought we were a normal family and my dad worked away, a lot. The time apart didn’t feel as long because we would talk on the phone every day. When he was with us, he acted how a dad should be with your mom, but after seeing where he does spend most of his time and the women around the place giving themselves so easily, I guess I want to know how he really feels about her, or were they playing the part for my benefit? He said he has been loyal to my mum but does he love her?