I didn’t return to class after that and much to Mr Mac and Rowan’s protests, I refused to pay a visit to the Head.
After returning to my dorm room with stinging eyes, I slammed the door behind me and collapsed onto the floor, curling in on myself. A fresh wave of sobs washed over me and I wailed pitifully into my hands. Contrary to the events of today, I wasn’t someone who often cried. You have good reason to cry, I told myself soothingly.
It wasn’t long after I comforted myself with those words that the snide voice in the back of my mind returned to taunt me. You should have seen it. The way they never really loved you. They thought you were a freak. They lied to you. How much of an idiot do you have to be to not notice that your own DNA is fucked up?
I moaned, my sobs stuttering to a gradual halt. I sniffed and rubbed my face furiously.
Avoiding the mirror, I stumbled into the bathroom and twisted the cold tap. The freezing water soothed my raw skin a little and I took several deep, shaky breaths to steady myself.
When I walked back into my bedroom, I sat on my unmade bed. My eyes zoned in on the mobile which sat on the bedside table. Without really thinking through what I was about to do, I snatched up the phone and punched in my house number.
It was a Monday, so I knew my parents would be home. Mondays is their day off. Even if they weren’t home, Annie would be. Annie was the elderly woman who took care of our house when my parents were too busy. She had a soft spot for me and after living with her for my entire life I could easily spot when she was lying.
“Hello, Kneller residence?” It was Annie.
“It’s Karin, Annie.”
“Karin! How are you, love?”
“I’m doing okay, thanks.” I replied. “Are Mum and Dad home right now?”
“No, they’re not.”
“Annie, put them on the phone right now,” I hated the way my voice sounded: rude and petulant. It wasn’t like me at all.
“Karin, I’m not sure-”
“Look, if you don’t put them on the phone to me, tell them that I will leave the school and come home myself if it means I can talk to them.”
Annie sighed. “Alright, dear. Just wait a moment,” she said in resignation.
I heard the click of the phone being switched, most likely to the one which sat in the downstairs living room. “Harold Kneller. Speaking?”
Silence and static was the response.
He cleared his throat, recovering from the shock of my call. “Karin, dear, how’s school?”
A burst of hysterical laughter escaped from my throat, “wow. You’re going with the ‘pretending that everything is normal’ route? You’ve always been shit at confrontations, even if it is over the phone.”
“Karin!” I heard my mother yelp, “language!”
I laughed again. Like the voice I had used with Annie, it was cold and harsh and unnatural. “So, look, you know I just hate to change the subject like this, but I’ve got to ask, you know? How long were you planning on ignoring my existence? You do know I have to come home during the summer. Or was the plan to avoid me then, too?”
My mother sniffed loudly, obviously trying to make her crying apparent to me over the call.
“Darling,” Dad began, “you know we’ve been very busy with work recently-”
“Fuck off. Don’t lie to me. Why? Why haven’t you even tried to be in contact with me? An email, a text. Fuck! Even a letter! Just something to let me know you still cared.”
“Of course we cared, Karin, you’re upsetting your mother with talk like that!”
Another icy laugh bubbled out of my throat, “she’s hurting? Oh, well, I’m oh-so-fucking-sorry about that.”
My brain screamed at me to stop. To just stop. I had never raised my voice, or sworn so viciously at my own father before. But the anger which was boiling my blood took over my sense of rationality.
I didn’t even have it in me to cry.