From Opposite Sides

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Chapter 45

I once read that crying can be a positive, healthy thing. When you let down your defences and allow yourself to feel, it becomes a lock and key process. However, I have felt numb ever since we left the Swain household.

As my mother’s tears soak up my shirt, I relive the events of today. I haven’t had a chance to process everything because part of me doesn’t want to.

I had started to accept not knowing who my dad was. I was happy and finally moving on from that chapter of my life, and then Michael Swain swoops in and ruins everything. He ends up turning out to be the one person I have spent years despising. I can’t accept it. I won’t.

My mother is curled up on the recliner and I sit with her until she falls asleep. Her face is red, eyes swollen from shedding so many tears.

I want to turn back time to stop us from going over to Grayson’s. If I hadn’t agreed to join him for dinner, none of this would have happened.

I reach for mum’s phone and search her contacts until I find Michelle’s number. She’s the only one that can help us. I dial the number and grip the phone tight to my ear, throat drying up.

“Hi Collette. Is everything okay?” she answers.

“It’s Skye.” I’m unable to completely cover the shakiness in my voice.

“Oh. Are you alright lovely?”

Don’t cry now. You can’t. Keep it together.

“Um, not really… it’s to do with my father. He came back on the scene today, unexpectedly. I’m worried about my mum.” I lower my voice for the next part, “I’m worried that she’s going to repeat what happened last time.”

There’s a slight pause and then Michelle says, “I’ll be right over.”

“Thank you.”

I put the phone down and let the silence engulf me. I need to get out of here. I need time to think about all of this on my own. I’m mostly trying to block out the truth because it’s easier that way.

It takes Michelle at least half an hour to turn up, soaked from the rain. She crouches beside my mum and sighs.

“Collette told me about your dad not being around,” she says, taking off her damp jacket. “I know that this must be very difficult for you both.”

She has no idea.

I feel the tears start to well in the back of my eyes and I know that I need to get out of here. “Uh, yeah. I’ve got to head out a sec.”

I grab my yellow raincoat from the banister and cross the living room. I can feel Michelle clocking my movements.

“Do you want to talk about this Skye?”

“No. I’ve got to be on my own for a bit.”

She’s growing more concerned. “It’s pouring down outside. Why don’t you just wait until the weather dies down? We can have a cup of tea and a nice chat.”

As helpful as that sounds, it’s not what I need.

“This is something I’ve got to deal with Michelle,” I tell her, already pushing my bike out of the door. “If mum wakes up, tell her that I’ve gone to clear my head.”

I close the door behind me and glance up at the sky. The rain is coming down heavily and hits against my raincoat as I climb onto the bike seat. I pull my hood up and notice the first strike of lightning light up the sky. I don’t care that I’m caught in a thunderstorm and that I’m cycling in dangerous conditions. If anything, that just fuels my need to get away… to escape.

I pedal down the footpath as fast as my legs will go. I’m not paying attention to my surroundings or the people in it. I speed up, angrily pushing forward with all the strength I can muster. I’m fed up with all the secrets. I’m fed up of being kept in the dark.

Michael Swain could be my father. I actually spent time with him and Grayson before finding out the truth.

How could someone as kind as him, turn out to be the dad that didn’t want me?

Did he really mean it when he said that he didn’t know mum was pregnant, or was that just a cover up?

I don’t know what to believe anymore.

The tears come unexpectedly and I lose concentration. My feet stop pedalling and I break quickly. I cry into my hands, heavy sobs that leave me breathless and vulnerable. I let my bike crash to the ground and I sit with my knees to my chest on the grass, cradling my head.

Why did this have to happen?

What am I going to do now?

Why did it have to be Grayson’s dad of all people?

Please let this be a nightmare.

Please let me wake up soon.

I let the rain wash my tears away and the emotion is beginning to choke me. Luckily there’s no one around to witness this.

My phone starts ringing and I briefly glance down at the screen.

Rory’s name appears and I let it ring out. Then it rings again and as I stare ahead, tears flowing down my cheeks, I answer.

His voice sounds rushed. “Skye, look, I know that you said you wanted space but…” He must hear me trying to hold back my sobs because he quickly says, “Are you crying?”

I nod, even though he can’t see me. “I - I’m…” I don’t manage to finish. The words get caught in my throat.

“Hold on. Where are you?”

“The park near my house.”

“Don’t move. I’ll be right there.”

“No, Rory you don’t have to come here. The weather’s bad and…”

“Exactly!” He interrupts, “You shouldn’t even be outside! This is your way of escaping, so I’m going to escape with you. I’m coming whether you like it or not.”

“Fine,” I cave.

Nothing I say is going to change his mind and as much as I don’t want to admit it, I need someone to tell me it’s going to be okay too.

“Try and find shelter if you can,” he urges. I can hear shuffling in the background. “I won’t be long. Stay where you are.”

The line goes dead and I search for somewhere to wait until he arrives. I spot a climbing frame with a small shelter overlooking it. It’s not the best, but it’ll have to do at this point. I run over there with my bike and lean it against the frame.

I stand under what little shelter I have, teeth clattering. I pull the jacket tighter around me. My jeans are completely soaked and I’m stripped of makeup.

Another streak of lightning crosses the sky and I let out a sigh.

God, if you’re out there, why is this happening to me?

Is this my punishment?

Am I being punished for all the mistakes I’ve made?

Is that why everything always seems to go wrong?

It’s just one thing after another. I don’t think I can take it anymore.

“Skye!” I hear someone shouting in the distance.

I spin halfway and notice Rory scanning the park for signs of life. Once he catches sight of me, drenched in my own sweat and tears, his own eyes fill with sadness.

My face scrunches up and I’m already crying by the time he embraces me. I cling onto him, letting him hold me and cradle the broken body parts that have lost their ability to function.

He kisses the top of my head tenderly. “It’s okay Skye. I’m here.”

I curl into his heat. He breaks away for a second and takes off his jacket, wrapping it around my shoulders. Then I’m pulled back into his chest and it brings a sense of security.

I start to let myself relax in the comfort of his arms and when I’m ready to talk, I finally look at him. He’s watching me carefully, giving me time to explain.

I tell him about the complicated situation with Grayson and Michael and how he could be my father, which would make Grayson my half-brother. I still haven’t come to terms with that last part yet and I’m refusing to accept the fact that we could be blood related.

Rory and I sit close together, backs against the climbing frame wall as he listens to everything I say. He wipes away some fresh tears and my head automatically leans into the warmth of his hand. The rain thunders above us, but we’re mostly shielded under the shelter.

Rory hooks an arm around me and I cuddle up next to him, letting my head rest against the crook of his neck. “I didn’t - I didn’t realise he was your father.”

“Nobody would’ve seen this coming. I don’t know how I’m supposed to deal with all of this Rory. We can’t return to normal, because everything has changed. And I honestly don’t know where to go from here.”

“Take it each day at a time,” he says.

“Apparently Michael didn’t even know that my mother was pregnant. Whether that’s the truth is another thing.”

My mobile tings. Rory glances at me. “Who is it?”

I read the screen and turn to him. “It’s a Facebook request.”

That’s odd. Who’d be trying to get in touch with me at this hour?

I open messenger to double check and accept the request. To my surprise, it’s from Eddie.

Eddie - Hey Skye. Just wondered if you’d heard from Grayson or seen him around at all? His dad asked me to contact you. He’s been missing for a few hours and we’re all a bit worried. He’s not answering his phone and nobody knows where he is. Let me know if he gets in touch.

I stare at the screen for a few seconds. Grayson is missing? I don’t see why Eddie would assume that he’s with me or that he would get in touch.

“What’s wrong?” Rory is asking when I look away from the screen.

“It’s Grayson. He’s gone missing and this boy from my class wanted to know if I’ve seen him or heard anything.”

“Are you going to text back?”

I shove the phone into my coat pocket. “No. I’m the last person Grayson wants to see right now. I’m sure they’ll find him eventually.”

Without my help.

|||

The rain has died down by the time we get to my house. Rory helps me wheel the bike inside and as I go to thank him, I hear raised voices coming from inside.

I open the door, eyes widening when I watch the scene unfolding before me. Grayson is standing over my mother and Michelle is trying to restrain him.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing Grayson? Get away from her!” I scream, charging at him.

His eyes train on me and he smirks. I reel back, as I take in his appearance. Grayson never drinks, but now the harsh smell of drink oozes from him and he’s struggling to keep his balance. His legs are swaying left and right and I’m worried that he’s going to collapse, or worse - do something that he’s only going to regret in the morning.

“Ah, here she is!” he bellows, voice slurred, “The homewrecker’s daughter has arrived everybody! Let’s throw a party!”

I cross my arms. “You’re drunk Grayson. Go home,” I say, firmly.

“Nah, I think I’d rather stay a bit longer. There’s so much to celebrate.” He turns to my mum and cackles distastefully. “Seriously though, what did my dad see in you?”

“How dare you say that!” I snap. “After all my mother’s been through, you haven’t got a freaking clue! Seriously, you’d better leave now!” I grind my teeth together. I’m just about ready to snap.

Rory is right behind me. “I’d listen to her if I were you,” he warns, holding eye contact with him.

Grayson bursts out laughing, incredulously. Then he points a finger at Rory and shakes his head in disbelief. “Who’s this guy supposed to be? The bodyguard?”

“I’m Skye’s friend,” he says.

“Aren’t you our pool boy?” He taps his chin thoughtfully and Rory only appears to be getting more agitated every time he opens his mouth.

“I think you should leave before you do or say something you might regret.”

“Ah, I thought you liked all the drama Skye? But let’s face it, you don’t have friends. You’ve got more guys on the go than your mother has probably. You’ve both got a track record for sleeping around, haven’t you?”

My fists are shaking, tears threatening to fall. I hold them back, trying to keep up a strong front.

“How could you?” I snap, moving forward. “At least my mother is a good person, unlike your dad!”

“Skye, just leave it,” my mother instructs, making me turn to her. “It’s not worth the hassle.”

Grayson ignores her and spits back, “That’s obviously because he knew that my mother was the better option.”

“Well, I’d rather have a mum that cares about me, than one who looks down her nose at people and controls you!” I shout, ignoring my mother’s instruction.

“What would you know about family anyway Skye? Just because your life is so bad, you had to come and ruin ours!” This is when tears start to spill from his eyes. He’s delusional. “You’ve caused my family to split up! It’s like they hate each other now and that’s all because of you and your tramp of a mother!”

I slap him across the face forcefully and he falls backwards. Michelle quickly steadies him, but he releases himself from her grip and comes at me. Rory steps in and grabs him by the collar.

“I swear, you’re lucky that there are women here. I would have beaten your ass by now,” Rory delivers.

“I don’t see any women around here,” Grayson spits at him, “They’re all liars and cheats! You want money and the rich lifestyle, just admit it! I was stupid to think that you were any different Skye. But no, everybody wants something and your mother has broken up a perfectly healthy marriage because of this fantasy world she’s invented in her head!”

Grayson is choking on his tears and a small part of me relates to his pain. But, he’s not handling this the right way. It’s not the right time. We’re all hurting.

The anger is building up inside my chest - sizzling over. “Maybe you should take a closer look at your parents’ marriage Grayson, because obviously it wasn’t as perfect as you originally thought, seeming as your dad was in love with my mother and was seeing her whilst still being married to yours! Those words didn’t come from my mouth, they came from his, remember? If you’re calling my mother a liar, then you’re calling him one too.”

The sadness in his eyes speaks for itself, but then it’s then replaced with a lot of anger. Michelle quickly comes between us both, before things can escalate.

“Skye, he’s not thinking straight,” she tries to reason with me. The information goes in one ear and out of the other. “He’s hurting as much as you are. Try to understand that. He doesn’t mean any of this.”

“I don’t care!”

I sit with my mother, checking to see if she’s okay. She’s staring into the distance, eyes glazed over.

He did this.

“Just get him out of here please,” I beg someone.

Michelle takes hold of Grayson’s arm and starts leading him to the door. “I’m going to see if I can calm him down.”

When the door clicks shut, I can finally breathe again.

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