Sweat drips from my hands, much like a tap not quite sealed. I wipe them on the side of my jeans, the moisture merging with the fabric. My eyes dart around the room, bloodshot, questioning. 'Why is this happening to me?'. My brain is flustered, unable to function. I can't make sense of these feelings. Betrayal is but one. But why do I feel this way? The light is no longer shining in through the window, it gives the room an eerie glow. I focus on a picture. The frame is sprayed gold, although now the paint is cracked, revealing the brittle wood beneath. The frame holds a photograph of me and my parents. Well one of them anyway. My mother is dressed lavishly, brightening the world with her immaculate smile. The man on the right is not my father. He was once but he has become a stranger to me. In the photo my smile is truthful, honest. These days I hide behind my smile like a coward, living in fear of revealing these emotions I can no longer understand. I hang my head in shame and focus on the task at hand, the important decision I am forced to make.
Yesterday morning I awoke and I was happy. The birds were chirping and I could smell my favourite breakfast downstairs waiting for me. The sweet aroma of the pancakes drifted into my room and filled my nostrils. I made my way to the kitchen and Mum was there, humming a catchy tune. She turned to me and gave me a motherly kiss on the cheek. But what I hadn't noticed was the red rims beneath her eyes and the puffiness in her cheekbones. She had been crying. As the memory fades I find my own eyes welling up, panic and frustration giving way to the fact that I'm nothing more than a feeble kid. And yet the choice before me remains. Clearer than ever before.
Another memory springs to mind. It was yesterday evening and I was sitting in my study. I put my finishing touches to my english essay and started my maths homework. I felt happy. It had been a perfect day, wonderful breakfast followed by a laid-back day at school and then a greasy burger waiting for me when I got home. Then I heard the sound of keys jingling as they were aimed at the lock on our front door. There was a multitude of tries before I finally heard the lock turning. I cocked my head to the sound and sure enough I could hear the heavy thud with each step, the massive inhale of his breath followed by a raspy exhale. I could almost smell the stench of alcohol and cigarette smoke from my father's clothes. Then as he made his way into the kitchen he released a slur of words in which the only two that were distinguishable were 'fired' and 'dinner'. I listened from my study as an argument broke out. Then a loud crashing sound. I jumped from my desk and made my way quickly into the kitchen where my mum was picking herself from the floor. There was a bright red glow forming on Mum's jawline, yet she held her head high, strode from the kitchen, picked up a bag and left the house, and my life. As my Dad tried to process in his inebriated brain what had occured I bit back the urge to lunge at him. Instead I ran to my room to sob like a baby.
Now, I stand alone in my room, motionless. My future hangs on what I choose right now, which path I take. A bead of sweat appears on my forehead and makes the journey past my bloated cheekbones and trembling lip to where it drops from the point of my chin. I look around my tattered room where clothes are strewn and posters half ripped from the walls. I'm standing amidst the result of my anger and all I want is a release. I grip the hilt of the kitchen knife tighter and I make my choice. The decision that I know will haunt me for the rest of my life, however long that will be. I take a deep breath to control my breathing and clear my mind of cowardice. I'm not about to back out now. Then, just as Mum had, I hold my chin up high, and stride from the room. I have made my decision.