There were balloons. It was someone’s birthday. I suppose it symbolised my escape. Pink and green and orange balloons, tied to the gate across the street. I always wondered who that someone was. Their birthday broke my bold. He couldn’t force me back through the front door, not with all the neighbours watching. There was a hush of shock and an urge of uproar. They all gazed at me; an agreeable angle of disgust. I looked down and saw my bloodied dress and the beads of glass shattered into my skin. Streaks of red racing down my forearms and the glaze of perfume, alcohol stings incessant. I forgot what usually happened was private, on the inside. That it was a shock to them was a shock for me. It was the norm. If only they could have seen it all, relived it all. This horror was only the one chapter. The very first.
Turn left down the street. Wind up at Johnny’s family home. My bloodied predicament will send shock through his system. My brother will no longer be the wrench that’s ripped us apart and drenched us in denial; a jail cell of hell. Police will be called. There will be court cases and hearings and closure. Instead of the rhythmic road to recovery, shock will be soothed. Johnny and I will move in together, get married, life will be simple. I will never meet Jed, never fall in love with him, never set foot in Yorkshire. There will be no tattoo; no star inked. My inner wrist will be nothing but a road map of green and purple veins, a mystic map of skin. No blonde highlights, no butterflies. No Daisy, no Dougie. There will be no weddings to attend, no next door neighbours to loathe, no A&E late night confessionals. The little girl that haunts me in my sleep will be nothing but a faraway promise in an unknown land. The potion injected into someone else’s poison, noxious in a new nightmare, a dazed dream. Sometimes I wonder what he’d do if he knew the truth. I see her standing there and him, staring at me. Anger would alight his eyes like acid, betrayal blowing up on his face. I turn right. I run until my heart hammers to a beat that might just break. Away from him, away from the hell I call home. The houses no longer present broken bricks and moulding mortar but flower boxes emitting colourful harmonies. I jab at the doorbell. Then it all goes black. That’s all I can remember.
Yorkshire. Like a cascading waterfall turned off like a tap, like a rainbow soothed over the sky, my world went still. Quiet. The windows of my home with him were always rusted shut but now the breeze drifted through; a blissful remedy. I didn’t realise at first. Was too tired, too shook up from escaping to really realise where I’d found myself. But soon enough fresh air and flowers were all I could breathe. Smoke and oil, fire and fume were long gone. Sights stretched out before me, the air and space a million miles away from the trapped torture I’d been tied. I had to remember it wasn’t a fantasy. The happy. I’m not the kind of girl with the highlighted hair, the tattoos, riding on the back of a motorbike with the courage to turn corrosion into confidence. And yet…. Jed. He took me to a butterfly house. A thousand butterflies were released, soaring to sky; their wings like a blast of rainbow across the heated skies. Pink and orange fused together to rinse out the blazing air. Suddenly butterflies bore a blaze. They represented the freedom I’d fallen into. The flight I found myself gearing up towards and the trust my heart was unlocking at a million mph. He said he’d never hurt me and I suppose in a sense, he was right. Trouble is, I trusted him in every sense of the spectrum. Was it worth it? I suppose so, although....
If you asked me which of my ex-boyfriends I’d crawl under a car to avoid I’d definitely plump for Johnny. We have hurt and hammered into each other, we will always blame each other for my brother. I want to strangle him. Yet… we’re friends. We will always be friends. He makes me laugh even when I hate him for it. With Jed? It’s different. It was and it is serious. I don’t know if I like his being here, at the hospital. It’s a bit awkward, us all being here if I’m honest. Johnny and I aren’t talking and Jed and I haven’t talked for years and Johnny hates Jed and Jed probably hates Johnny by now (something to do with Johnny boasting and bragging and threatening and cursing no doubt, he can switch off the charm as quickly as he can switch it on) and they both want to gore out Terry’s guts and Dougie and Neil are being useless as always. Note to self, must survive if only to see the tosspot that broke Dougie's heart brought to justice and to have one last ditch attempt at making Neil laugh (the miserable bugger). And to tell Johnny to move his (alright I'll admit it, amazing) arse off the seat in my room and let someone else have a go at playing visitor. But seriously? I know when I wake up, if I wake up, they’ll all be wanting answers. But I’m out of answers. That box that Dougie has to hold has the answers. And in that box, that box with all the photos and diaries and pictures and documents, there’s a secret scorching through. A secret ready to blow us all apart.
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