Word Count: 819
Sleep never really came. I sort of drifted in and out of my mind, and I’m pretty sure my physical body was doing very little, but my mind wouldn’t shut up.
I couldn’t get my head around the fact that Rayn and Joe were both dead. For some reason that time we were in the bowling alley all together resurfaced. It hadn’t all been arguing, had it? All I’d done the last week or so was argue and make Joe’s life a misery. And now my last chance to make it better was gone because he was right, I was being a selfish cunt.
It was all my fault – if I’d been less of a dick, he wouldn’t have gone out there. Fuck. Mentally, I instantly reached for a hit of something. Anything to make me forget. When I realized I couldn’t do that anymore, it was hard to stop the tears from breaking free. I didn’t care if these strangers saw anymore. They didn’t need me to be strong for them.
“Daddy, is he crying because Tammy’s gone to heaven?” I could hear the kid asking.
“I doubt it, Alicia.”
They all sounded so far away. Like they were in another room somewhere else. Nothing felt real anymore. I had no idea what was reality and what wasn’t. While Joe was still alive, I at least had a vague idea. It was hard to tell, but I knew that there was a difference. He’d pointed it out enough fucking times, anyway.
Rayn sat down on my lap, wrapping his arms around me. I played with his hair, comforting him as much as I was comforting myself. It felt real enough. But when it comes to hallucinations that vivid, it’s hard to tell. You can feel them, hear them, smell them, see them, taste them. How is anyone supposed to be able to tell the difference?
When I looked down, it wasn’t Rayn on my lap with his arms around me. It was the kid. She was telling me it’d be okay. Fuck.
“Yeah,” I forced a shaky smile for her benefit, “I know it’ll be okay.” I was lying through my teeth. I could feel Eloise watching me. I wondered if she was worried. Fuck knows why if she was. She didn’t know me, why would anyone worry about someone they don’t know?
“When I’m sad, I think about mommy and how happy she is. That helps me.”
“I lost the only two people I ever cared about,” I said sadly, trying to get some control over the amount of leaking my face was doing.
The kid looked at me, all confused, like she didn’t get it. “Where did they go? Can’t you find them?” Oh, right.
“They’re in heaven with Tammy and your mommy,” I explained, not wanting to think about it too much.
“Alicia sweetheart come over here please,” the kid’s dad said, gesturing at her to go join him at the other end of the sofa where he had pressed himself up against the arm, doing his best to keep distance between us.
“But Daddy the man’s upset,” she protested, hugging me a little tighter.
I let out a sigh, not really wanting her to go. She was doing a better job of cheering me up than anyone else ever would. “Go on,” I wasn’t in the mood for a fight.
Reluctantly, she walked over the sofa towards her dad, flopping down next to him. “Daddy can’t you cheer him up?”
“I don’t think so, just leave him be.” Of fucking course. Sulking, I sort of drifted in and out of consciousness, not really sleeping, not really awake. My mind was far from empty, but somehow I managed to ignore it all.
I didn’t really come out of it until I heard this knocking on the door. I was the first up to see what it was. I guess I had more of a death wish than the others. What the fuck was going on? Maybe it was that other guy – the one I’d called a nigger earlier – maybe he’d come back. If he’d survived and Joe hadn’t, I was gonna punch him so fucking hard.
I opened the door a crack and poked my head out. The sight that greeted me was one that rendered me speechless.
Joe, covered in blood with this frantic look on his face, was hovering anxiously. “Can we come in please?” the soldier was stood behind him, looking just as eager to get in. It couldn’t be Joe. It had to be like Rayn, a hallucination, right? It couldn’t be. I was shaking my head, backing away from the door.
Joe and the other guy pushed past me, slamming the door behind them and piling stuff up behind it again.
“Are you alright?” the soldier asked, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”