From Opposite Sides

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Chapter 23

“You’re back late,” my mother says, as I walk through the front door. Her eyes are trained to the TV and I notice the amount of empty bottles of wine on the table. It can only mean one thing. It hasn’t been a good day.

“I was at Rory’s.”

“You seem to be spending a lot of time with that boy.”

“He’s my friend.”

“Hm, right… I’m sure he is.” She tips her head back and places the freshly poured wine glass to her lips, before taking a long swig. “I know boys like him…” she continues, “he’ll only break your heart.”

I remove my jacket, sensing her eyes watching me as I move around the room. “Yeah well, I don’t have to worry about getting my heart broken, since I’m not interested in him like that.”

“Of course you are!” she exclaims, rocking slightly. “Us women are always attracted to danger. We always want what we can’t have. But trust me Skye, Rory isn’t any different from your father.”

I knew it would come to this. It always does.

“I believed in love once.” Her face stretches into a scowl. “But then I realise, it doesn’t exist. There is no happy ending… only disappointment.”

I go to pick up one of the wine bottles, but she leaps up from the sofa at lightning speed. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I think you’ve had enough for one night.”

“Am I not allowed to have a quiet drink to myself anymore? Stop treating me like I’m a child Skye!” she snaps, defensively.

There’s nothing quiet about this. I would’ve assumed that she’d invited the whole neighbourhood around for drinks if she hadn’t just admitted to drinking alone. This is what happens when I leave her. I never know what to expect. I can’t keep an eye on her twenty four seven. Life would be so much easier if you could be at two different places at once.

“Stop.” She snatches the glass from under my hand and turns on a glare. “I don’t need your help.”

“Well, it’s not like you can clean this up yourself mum. You’re drunk.”

She looks so vulnerable and sad. I don’t know how to comfort her. “There you go again, making me feel like I’m such a bad mother. You think I’m crazy don’t you?”

“No, I don’t. I think that you need help and if you’d just let me…”

A sharp pain shoots across the side of my face. Everything blurs over and then I realise she just slapped me.

“I’m your biggest disappointment aren’t I?” she says, causing the first tear to roll down my cheek. “But, let me tell you something Skye…” She walks straight up to me and I hold my breath. “You were my biggest mistake.”

She breezes past, like she hasn’t just punched a hole in my heart. Hot tears fall onto the carpet as I relive her words over and over again.

“You were my biggest mistake.”

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I stay locked up in my bedroom for the entire weekend and spend most of my time sleeping, because that seems to help. But when I wake up, I’m instantly reminded of what my mother said to me. And, I can’t forget it. I don’t think I ever will.

She hasn’t even apologised. I don’t think she remembers what happened or maybe she’s choosing to ignore it because it’s easier that way.

There’s only so much hiding away a person can do, before someone finally comes looking for them.

Rory casually strolls into my room, glancing around. I haven’t cleaned it for days and the last time he was in here, we were in complete darkness. Now, it’s like he’s seeing my room for the very first time.

I watch his eyes zoom in on a pizza crust that’s been left on the floor. I don’t know how long that’s been there. I should feel embarrassed but I’m too exhausted to care.

“Woah, what’s happened here?”

I roll over, so he can’t see my makeup free face. He sits on the bed, clearly not understanding my need for personal space.

“Go away Rory. I want to be alone.”

“Hey, I’m not going anywhere until you tell me why you’ve been cooped up in here all weekend, avoiding my calls and shutting yourself off from the rest of the world. What’s wrong?”

I let out a shaky breath and a gentle sob left my throat unexpectedly. Rory pulls the bed covers away and lowers himself down next to me. It’s such an intimate and personal thing to do and while one part of me doesn’t want him to see me like this, the other part doesn’t want to be alone.

He lifts my chin, so I have no choice but to look at him. I notice his own eyes fill with sympathy and then he uses the tip of his thumb to wipe away my tears.

“I’m fine. I’m just tired,” I tell him.

“We both know that’s not true. And I’m not going to leave you here on your own - not like this.”

“I don’t need anyone.”

He shakes his head repeatedly. “We all need someone.”

Maybe it’s true. We can’t always do things on our own. At some point, we need to face the fact that in the end, we all fall and we all need help.

“I just can’t do this anymore,” I moan, “I can’t pretend that things are okay where they’re not. My mother needs help, but she won’t accept that she’s unwell. And last night she told me I was her biggest mistake… I already feel like a burden most of the time, but for her to say that… it really hurt.”

I shut my eyes tighter and allow myself to unravel. Rory doesn’t leave my side and gives me all the time in the world to express myself the only way I know how.

I feel his breath on my forehead as he pulls me closer to his chest. “It’s ok. You’re safe. I’ve got you.”

Once I’ve managed to calm myself down, he says, “Your mother probably didn’t mean it.”

My eyes feel so heavy. “You didn’t see the look on her face. She meant it.”

He rubs my arms in circular motions. It’s oddly comforting. “You both need time to cool off.”

“What I need is a shot of caffeine. I can barely keep my eyes open.”

“Why don’t you get some rest then?”

“I can’t. I’ve got so much work to do.”

There’s a small silence as we look at each other. “Work can wait,” he says. “Your health is more important.”

I never thought that Rory Keaton would be here listening to me rant about all my problems. Never in a million years.

“Okay. I’ll try to sleep for a bit. I’ll give you a text later or something.”

He doesn’t move from the bed. “Actually, do you mind if I stay?”

“Won’t you get bored?”

“I wouldn’t mind getting some sleep myself.”

I lay my head back on his shoulder and close my eyes.

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