chapter 4

Laura looked around her room. It was as it had been since they moved in when she was in her “too cool for school” pre-teen phase. Plenty of pinks and purple, teddies at the end of the bed, a trophy from the end of year six, it must have been the music prize or something. A pile of rumpled clothes fell like an avalanche from her wardrobe, drowning her floor in hangers and dresses. She had updated it a bit with some pictures on her wall. A kind of collage of her friends. Laura looked over it, wondering how many of those smiling faces were purely for show, just for the camera. She remembered vividly one of the nights that the pictures captured. That was the night when they all got ready together at hers and went out to Kate’s boyfriend of the time’s friend’s house. Laura was in charge of pretty much everything as she always was: the only reliable one of her group. The rest of them wouldn’t even know how to call a taxi company, let alone get everyone into it. They all had a good night, they all got in the taxi and all went home. Laura didn’t. The spread lips with slightly crooked teeth were left alone that night. She heard the door slam downstairs and feet scuffing on the rug. A weighted climb of the stairs followed and once again, a door slammed. Dad must be home. She heard a scurry of footsteps, more dainty this time, on the stairs. Her mother entered her bedroom and the door shut her in too. Laura strained her ears to hear the conversation, but there really was no need. The shouting started, soon followed by thrashing around, the sound of a glass hitting the floorboards, a scream, a thud. Nothing new. Laura hugged her knees in tightly; she understood that there was nothing she could do. Gently rocking herself, she let her room fade away until she was looking out across the town. Cars whizzed below her, and laughter rang out through the streets. She sat on her roof beneath the stars screwing her eyes shut wishing on that shooting star that it was all over now. Her door slammed against the wall and rebounded back into his face. With another push, he held it back and strode into her room, his eyes bloodshot and his arm cut. He began his daily rant at her, picking her apart at the seams, piece by piece, inch by inch, flaw after flaw. He criticised her gratuitously, until she realised how worthless she really was. She hugged her knees even tighter, her knuckles turning white, her nails scraping at her legs. He turned his back on his cowering daughter leaving her to wallow in misery; feeling almost satisfied that he had put her in her place. He could here the creak of a drawer behind him, and turned somewhat haphazardly around to receive a blow to the face. The rock fell to the floor and he reached for it, while his eyes bulged furiously. He closed his fat fingers around it and brought it closer so that his eyes could focus properly. A phone. He opened it. He looked at the background. Him and Lucy. He looked up at Laura and saw the tears rolling down her face, leaving tracks of muddy mascara. “I… um” He stumbled through a kind of explanation, a sudden sway of dizziness sent him to the floor, where he propped himself up against the book case. Laura shook her head, her hair tossing and clinging to her tearstained cheeks. When she could hear no more about Dad and this Lucy, she smeared her face with a swipe of her hand and stepped over the intoxicated monster on her floor. She tripped down the stairs, a clumsy attempt to escape. The door crashed behind her, oppressive and jeering. With only an ephemeral glance over her shoulder she ran, barefoot, away from that house, away from that hell and away from that life.

The End

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