I was hiding in my bed. The covers would protect me from my mom and dad raging at each other, right? It was pretty close quarters as it was in a trailer, but when they argued it felt ten times smaller.
It was dark under the blanket. The sounds of mom and dad screaming at each other were muffled. They sounded almost distant. The covers were ripped off me a couple times and it felt like I was staring into the sun – all I could see was this bright light that hurt like a bitch. And then darkness would creep back over me, little sun spots popping at the edge of my vision.
There was this burning pain that rose above the screeching, occasionally. It ran all the way down the left side of my body. Burning and pins and needles.
And then it was gone. Everything was gone and I was floating in a familiar bliss. I didn’t care that mom and dad were fighting, I didn’t care that I couldn’t move for the pain, I didn’t even care that I couldn’t seem to open my eyes. It all just stopped mattering to me. I slept.
I don’t know how long I slept for. I was totally disoriented. Sometimes I’d tune in and I could hear voices that sounded familiar for some reason, like I’d known them for a little while. Other times they sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before in my life. Between those times, I was still under my blankets in the trailer. It was too confusing. The only constant was that I felt like I couldn’t move. The burning faded in and out with the floating bliss I’d missed so much. It took a while for my sluggish mind to remember this feeling. It was heroin. Or morphine. The two were so similar it barely mattered. I wondered who was giving me it.
Or maybe I’d over dosed. This whole zombie apocalypse thing was just a massive trip and I’d over done it. If what was in my head was right, I really wished that it was as simple as an OD.
It didn’t feel like one, though, and god knows I’d done it often enough. It was a miracle I made it past twenty, really.
I wished the voices I could hear would make sense. I could hear the words but none of it seemed to have any meaning. Sometimes, I’d just listen, hoping that it would all fall into place and make sense. More often than not, I’d try and talk back, ask them what they meant.
The longer this lasted, the more I found myself missing home. I missed Rayn. I kept asking for him when I could make the words flop out of my mouth, but I don’t know if I was heard.
With nothing to do but sit inside my own head until I could do something, all these memories that had been long forgotten and blocked out came rushing back to me.
The day I met Rayn. The day I had my first kiss. The time I tried weed for the first time. Losing my virginity. Mom taking me out and buying me candy when she thought I’d been good. Watching dad take apart that car and rebuild it bit by bit.
Mom slapping the bejeezus out of me. Kids at school deciding I was the freak trailer trash. Letting my anger get the better of me after a build up over months of kids beating the crap out of me. Hospitalising some guy because he looked at me the wrong way. The drugs. The time I threw my girlfriend down the stairs because she’d cheated on me.
All of it.
It didn’t take long before I was begging my body to let me wake up, pleading with the voices around me. When it didn’t listen, I tried to focus on the first time I’d met Rayn.
I was four, maybe five. He was four, I remember – he was always the youngest in our grade. He was playing in the sandpit at the local park. My gran had taken me because mom had kicked dad out again and gone off on one.
I wanted to play in the sandpit, but I didn’t want to share it with anyone. So I went over to this kid and told him he was in my sandpit and that he better get out of it. He ignored me. I stomped in there and shoved him, standing over him as he fell onto his side. He bust out crying and kicked me in the shin. Even at five I’d already learnt a few choice words, much to my gran’s dismay.
My swearing and this kid’s crying had attracted my gran’s attention and she came over to tell me off. I swore at her, too. I wanted the fucking sandpit, and I was gonna get it, one way or another.
She scolded me and left me to sulk while she tried to comfort this wimp. I’d had worse thrown at me by mom and dad, I didn’t understand why he was so upset.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” she’d said, “Luca’s just being mean. Did he hurt you?” the kid shook his head, sniffing, and looked over at me. “What’s your name?”
“Rayn,” he hiccupped.
“Where’s your mommy and daddy, Rayn?”
“I don’t have a mommy,” he said, all wide eyed and innocent. My gran looked kind of taken aback by it, but she carried on anyway.
“Well, what about your dad? Is he around somewhere?”
“He was...” the kid looked around, “I dunno where he went though.”
She sighed and lowered herself carefully to the floor so she could sit at the edge of the sandpit. “I’ll stay here with you until he gets back then, how’s that?” she smiled warmly, “maybe you and Luca could build a sandcastle together and play nicely now.” I glared at her. How dare she let him stay in my sandpit? Still, I wasn’t given much choice in the matter, and he was nodding and looking at me like he wanted to, so begrudgingly, I’d let him stay and play with me.
I tried to keep the memory there, where it was. The sunny park where I’d eventually changed my mind about this whiny little kid was a pretty good memory for me, but what came after wasn’t. My gran made the mistake of telling mom what I’d done in the hopes that mom would take care of disciplining me. Which I suppose she did, it just involved a lot of slaps and swears.
A blinding white light ripped me out of my daydream state. It was a while since the last time that had happened. I groaned, “no.”
“C’mon, Luca, please,” one of the voices I’d been hearing said. I didn’t know who it was. Only Rayn, and mom and dad know that name. Everyone else calls me Cancer. Who could it be that knew that name now?
“Mom? You’re s’posed to be dead,” I mumbled, not sure if it was inside my head or not that I was saying it. “Stay dead. I like you better that way.”