Bernadette: Tom's StoryMature

Tom looked away as soon as he saw me.

"Tom," I said. "Listen, I-"

"Berny, you don't have to talk. If you don't want to, I'd rather you didn't."

"I want to talk," I told him, kneeling on a chair beside his bed. The room was quite small, since it was the only room available because Owen was too suspicious of the upper floors to check them out yet. "Owen said..."

He sighed, grimacing at the pain it caused to his side. There was a vast amount of bandaging wound around his torso, and I guessed they'd put stitches on his wound because there was no blood. "Owen said..."

"Um... well, I have a lot of things to ask... But they're a bit... personal."

"He told  you about my problems, didn't he?"

"Not exactly," I said. "He said you'd elaborate, and that he'd let you tell me."

Tom sat up and shifted to the side slightly. The effort it took showed on his face, but he wouldn't let me help him. "Come and sit here," he told me, gesturing to the space he'd just moved from. "I'll answer your questions the best I can."

So I sat close to him, like he wanted, because I could tell that he wasn't going to enjoy this at all. "Um... do you... like me?"

He shrugged painfully. "Yeah."

"No, I mean-"

"I know." He said quickly. "Next question."

"Well... Owen said you get depressed a lot..."

"He meant I'm suicidal," Tom told me bluntly, then saw my expression and corrected himself. "Was. I was suicidal." He coughed and winced. "Berny, there's a reason I relate to you. There's a reason I understand. I... I'll start from the beginning. My mum died giving birth to me and Si. She was really ill and we were premature, and it was too much for her. I only ever had my dad there to talk to. All the rest of my family live at the other side of the country. But... he was overprotective and overreactive. And he got violent a lot. Plus, every year on my mum's birthday, the anniversary of her death, and their wedding anniversary, he'd get drunk to rid himself of the memories and feelings, and he was psychotic at any of those times. He was especially violent towards me, because Si was too scared to provoke him. So, when I was fourteen, I took an overdose so he'd notice me. But not a small one. I took thirty paracetamol in the space of five minutes, and it almost killed me. The doctors said that if Si hadn't called Owen to take me to hospital in time, I wouldn't have been alive the following morning. But after that, it didn't stop. The torment got worse, and every time I tried something, my dad would deny his involvement in the reason. I tried everything, and eventually I was diagnosed with severe depression, and given a set of tablets to take every day. Si made sure I took them. But I was never happy, I just found it pointless trying my life over it. And then Si overstepped the line, and our dad was so pissed, he tried Si's life. So I stopped taking the tablets, and Si was too frightened to make me. Then the zombies came along, and suddenly I had a gun. Owen and Si thought that if worst came to worst, I'd try it on myself. But as it turned out, I didn't. When I shot my dad, it was an accident. I aimed for a zombie, and I missed, but afterwards there was a voice in my head which told me that... I wanted him to die. For making my life a misery, for denying it. And I haven't been able to get rid of that thought."

I swallowed the lump in my throat. Now I understood. He could relate to me because, somehow, he knew that when I shot that flare at my father, it was meant to hit him. We had both killed our dads, and as far as Tom was concerned, we had both meant to.

"Tom... I'm so sorry..." I choked.

He shook his head. "Berny, I'm never going to stop asking. Will you go out with me?"

"I..." When I hesitated, I saw his face drop, and that made up my mind. "Yes, I'll go out with you."

And he burst into tears, and I didn't know what to do. He leant forward and placed his hand on the back of my neck. "Please don't run away this time," he said, and then kissed me softly.

"I didn't run away," I said, and he laughed, and I kissed him in return, and I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

The End

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