It's never going to happen, Love. Just give in. A different voice sooths in my head, bringing back basic memories of a blonde woman look down at me with a smile playing in her eyes.
The memory fades as quickly as it comes, leaving me feeling alone and lost. In the background, I hear my alarm, beeping as if its life depends on it. My brows flicker together for an instant and coursing pain shoots around my face. A sharp breath escapes my mouth; tears are ready to run from the pain.
I lift myself up by my elbows and using my left hand I pull cover away and move from my bed, slowly but surely. Getting out of bed I wince as more pain comes to my head, I shuffle over to my grotty bathroom, clicking the alarm silent on the way. I stand there, in front of the wall length mirror, hands shaking slightly at the sight.
Blood in crusted around my right temple and around my nostrils, causing my skin to look anaemic and my right eye is also blackened. I ponder briefly, about how I could have been so... destroyed, by one blow.
I notice my light hair sticking to my neck, moving closer to the mirror, my hair on hair, I examine the way it's attached. It clings to thin, angry scrapes; all surround my little brown bruises with yellowing edges. Finger marks. I briefly remember Rob pushing me against the living room door, his face pulsing with anger, his eyes emotionless. My eyes snap shut, forcing the memory away into my subconscious.
Slowly, my eyes reopen to see the same sight. A lost girl, losing her float on the sea. I shake myself, trying to bring myself together. I feel tears preparing to rampage through my system and explode. Placing my hands on my heart, I attempt to reason with myself, only ending up with a few loose tears escaping.
Glancing to myself in the mirror again, I mutter, "Time to clean up." Above me, footsteps signal Rob using all the hot water to, ‘wash his hands'. I turn on the hot tap anyway, knowing that there is no hot water, picking up my old flannel I wet it and begin dabbing my cuts and bruises, attempting to take the sting away.
Fifteen minutes later, I am dressed in the days clothes with my limp hair dangling in front of my face, attempting to hide the colourful bruises and mass swelling on my features. My hand moves numbly to my throat and strokes the swelling cuts as I trudge up the stairs.
Urging myself forward, my hand rests on the handle before finally opening it; the early morning sunshine attacks my eyes like it has a score to settle. Uncle David is hiding behind his morning paper; Rob sits next to him a steaming mug of coffee in his thick hand. Auntie Rose stands by the sink, turns it off and faces me with a cup of tea in her hand. Her eyes narrow down at me in hatred.
"Frankie, you left your school bag in the living room last night, when we had our little chat. Move it, don't leave it there again, or else we won't have one again."
And what a shame that'll be. "Okay," I whisper, my voice husky. My feet slowly move over to the living room door, I use most of the energy I have left on the handle. I retrieve the bag and return to the kitchen, popping the bag on the floor next to my chair, to make some breakfast.
I hide my face away from everyone, hiding beneath the shield of hair, my hands shake with effort as I pour my bland cereal into the cream bowl. Deep breaths, that's how you'll get by. Deep breaths.
My ears numb out the sound of Auntie Rose nattering on about hair and the follicles dying and how she shouldn't be ‘aging so bad at her age.' I just keep my head down, pouring spoonfuls of cereal into my mouth at a steady speed. Uncle David leaves for work at twenty to eight, only twenty-five minutes left and then you're free!
Auntie Rose curses under her breath and skitters through to the living room, leaving me alone. With him.
He says something; it takes me a few moments to register that he is actually talking to me.
Eyes blink, awakening the sharp pain on the bruises. I breathe through my mouth shakily, stopping the tears in their tracks. I glance up to his smirking face; his eyes narrow at me with an almost evil glint. I lower my eyes immediately.
"So, coz how's the eye?" he inquires leaning forward.
I gulp down my mouthful, it burns its way through my digestive system. Taking two breaths, I look up to his eyes. "It's been better," despite myself, I manage to keep the hatred out off my voice. Mostly.
"Aww. A little touchy are we? Ha-ha. Now, y' are gunna be a good little girl and not go near those freaks, aren't you?"
My teeth grind together a little bit. "Yes," Sir! My mind mocks. I suck in my smile, feeling a little bit better on the inside.
"Good. 'Cause if I see y' with them freaks, then I'll have to take care of it and then no one will be happy. 'Kay?"
I hesitate for a brief moment; he raises his brow ready to leap at the chance to force me. "Yes."
He smirks again, pushing himself away from the table, leaving his mess on it. He walks to the hangers on the wall, unhooks his coat and rucksack and leaves the room.
I spoon my cereal around the plate, scooping it up in the air, letting it drop back down into the bowl creating little tidal waves.
"What are y' doing?" Auntie Rose's voice snaps through the air like a whip. "Don't play with your food. You're obviously full. Clean up." I nod glancing to the digital clock on the counter, 7:59AM. Six minutes.
I quickly collect all of the dishes from the table, pouring the left over liquids - tea, coffee, orange juice and milk - down the drain and chuck all of the food into the bin. I put the plug in the sinkhole and fill with boiling hot water; I squirt a single smidge of washing up liquid into the bowl, knowing not to put too much or too little in to wide Auntie Rose up. I add a few drops of cold water in, until the water is cool enough not to give me second degree burns.
I wash the pots up quickly, shortly followed by a quick - yet thorough - wipe of the sides and the table and then the drying up and putting away. In the background I hear Auntie Rose snort, like she's realised she's raised the perfect house cleaner (near enough anyway).
Massaging my hands together, I face her, "Right. I'm going straight to school, now."
"And then come back, right away?"
"Good. Go. I know it takes y' twenty minutes to get back, I'll be waiting."
"Okay. Bye." She grunts. I leave her my hands in tight balls by my sides. I pick my bag up, swinging it over my shoulder and slip my shoes into the flimsy pumps.
Walking out of the back door, I welcome the cold breeze through my worn-down jumper, not caring about getting ill.
I mean, who cares? Who cares if I get ill? Will anyone care for me? No. I'll have to look after myself all of the time. Even Uncle David, the only one to put on the facade of caring, seems to have taken the backseat approach to watching me grow in the past week.
No one cares about me. Soon even Carley and Jane will forget about me or not care like Ali. Especially when I have to ignore them, for my sake - or even theirs.
I guess some people in this world are meant to be alone and uncared for. I walk in the usual direction for school, but stop. I look down the long road. No. I turn in the opposite direction, dropping my school bag in the middle of the road, I run.
The wind collides against my face, irritating my scabs and temporary scars. I don't care. I just keep on running, even as the heavens open above me sending down bullets of rain to stop me. Ignoring it as I run, I smile.