Drunken Hearts and Lost Words
Percy chased after her, towards the street, but she was moving too fast for him.
He was already dry by the time he crossed the door. Everything seemed like a split image in his head. Like everything around him was at hyper speed while he was stuck in quicksand. He felt like he had a black hole forming in the pits of his stomach, a feeling of dreadfulness taking over.
"Annabeth, wait!" He yelled at her, but she kept walking.
He didn't care that he had stormed out on his friends, or that everyone was now looking at him. They were merely just background noise to him.
He cursed under his breath. She was about 20 feet away from him now, and he could no longer see her face. Percy had monumentally fucked up. He decided not to waste anymore time, clumsily chasing after her, and dug his hand into his back pocket. He took out the keys, and rushed towards the black sedan parked on the sidewalk. He brusquely jammed the keys into the slot and turned on the engine. Percy moved sloppily, but curtly, making a collection of strained turns and halts, zig-zagging unto the road Catching up to her, Percy rolled down the window by the passenger seat.
"Annabeth, I can explain! Please, just," He kept the car moving slowly along the sidewalk. "stop, get in the car. I can explain!" He repeated.
The words fell from his mouth heavily, like each word had been awarded a new syllable that had to be dragged from his lips.
Annabeth said nothing, she simply kept walking. Her eyes looked bloodshot, and in the darkness he could see the small traces of smudged eyeliner along the corner of her eyes. He repeated the words, like he was saying them for the first time, and that would make her hear him.
"She kissed me! Okay, she kissed me! I didn't know, I—" He stopped himself short and slammed his fist against the steering wheel.
He saw her head shake and her lips move, but the words weren't directed at him, they had left with the cold autumn air.
"Dammit!" He groaned, slamming the breaks on the car.
"Did you hear me? Get in the car! Lets talk!" He yelled at her once more.
She didn't budge, she didn't turn around and screamed at him like he hoped she would, instead she took small, shaky steps along the empty street.
A voice, in the back of his mind taunted him. You're just gonna let her walk away from you like that? Like you're nothing?. Maybe it was his wounded ego combined with the impulsivity and lack of rationality induced by the alcohol, or maybe he was simply tired of being shrugged off, and walked away from like he didn't matter, like he didn't mean anything to her. Either way, Percy was angry, and tired and, most of all, drunk. He was a time-bomb whose clock had finally expired and he was ready to explode, at anyone or anything.
He moved the gear shift to park, and got out of the car unsteadily, and slammed the door shut.
"Look at me, don't just fucking walk away!" He slurred, as he dragged his feet.
His voice was cold and grave. His breaths were shallow and he was sure he looked like hell. She ignored him again, which only fueled his irritability and anger. Frustration poured out of his voice as he called after her.
"Stop acting like such a hypocritical bitch, and talk to me!"
That made her stop in her tracks. She turned around and faced him, her eyes grey like steel and stormier than ever. She looked down at him, burning holes with her gaze. He stood only a few feet from her, his senses slow, and unreliable. He stood up straighter trying his best to maintain what little balance he had left. There was a venomous air in the silence between them, one that cut through them like daggers. She didn't speak very much, or very loudly, but what she said was enough to unhinge him.
"You know what Percy?, fuck you. Fuck you. You call me, all high and mighty, and argue with me about some god damn, stupid texts and then you pull this shit? I don't wanna look at you, much less talk to you, and I'm not going anywhere with you. You shouldn't even be fucking driving, you're drunk, and you're full of shit." Her voice was coarse as she spoke and he could see the faint glimmer of tears that threatened to fall from her eyes.
Her words had impaled themselves unto his skin. They stuck out like valiant tombstones left to rot on the graveyard that was his body. He could feel them, crooked and jagged on his skin.
"Stop causing such a scene and get in the fucking car, Annabeth, I'm not letting you walk alone!" Percy spoke gravely.
His eyes were blinded by the heat inside of him. He wanted her to go with him, to leave the empty street and he wanted her to listen. He was done listening to her petty excuses and he was done trying to get on her good side. He felt like breaking something.
"Like hell I am. You can barely walk in straight line, Percy. You really think I'm getting in a car with you? You'll get us both killed. But, hey, that's alright because you want to talk." She said. She scoffed and turned away from him.
He took a few steps closer to her, his eyes murky like the ocean during a hurricane. He reached out and hastily grabbed her by the arm. This was the storm he'd been dreading for weeks, now. They were both too alike in that sense, just two fires waiting to ignite, and when they did, the results were cataclysmic. They had fought before, but this fight was different. It felt real, maybe too real. It felt like hopeless, like ultimately he'd meant nothing, had nothing.
He felt all of the emotions he'd been bottling up for months blind him, as he tightened his grip around her unexposed arm. He couldn't see her, he couldn't focus his wild eyes. He was overwhelmed by the sudden surge of power he felt as she turned to look him in the eye.
"Let me go." Her voice was stern and her breathing fastened.
He didn't respond. His fingers dug into her skin and he heard her breath hitch. His jaw trembled with anger, his lip quivering. It was almost as if some animalistic feeling had taken over him, it was terrifying, he could sense it, from her, as well as himself. It was the small, almost inaudible whimper that snapped him out of it. The whisper that left her lips, like a paper plane, that overwhelmed him with memories he had long ago buried deep in his subconscious. Like a tidal wave, they flooded his mind, leaving behind the impression of cigarette smoke and rotting beer.
He was six, maybe seven years old, as he hid underneath their old dinning table one day after school. It'd become a game of sorts for him, to pretend he ceased to exist, and hide away from everything he simply didn't feel like facing that day. However, this was different, he could feel it somewhere within him, or maybe this was how it always was, but this specific day he'd been paying attention. His eyes were like giant green orbs plastered across his face. They darted back and forth, from one corner of the room to another, trying to catch any signs of movement.
He hoped the man hadn't seen him. He held on tightly to one of the chair's legs, good things never happened when he was caught hiding. He was a scrawny kid, defenseless and pale, with hair too long and eyes too big. He watched closely and quietly, anxiously awaiting whatever happened next. His palms felt wet with sweat, and they slipped from the chair far too easily. He tried holding his breath to avoid making any sounds that might've gotten him caught, but the truth, he knew even at a young age, was that somethings are simply inevitable.
The dark locks fell over his eyes, and he fought the urge to push them away. He saw shadows now, everything looked as if were behind a dark curtain. He didn't mind that much, it made him feel safer, like maybe he wasn't really there and everything was simply a very bad movie. He knew that was only an illusion. It was the stench that gave the man away, that stench always followed him, and the smoke always followed the stench. The man was big and burly, and he reminded Percy of one of the villains from his cartoons.
"Where is that punk?" He asked. His voice was slow and lazy, like the words were missing pieces to a puzzle he couldn't quite understand.
Another voice followed his, this one was sweet and soft, and it reminded Percy of homemade meals and summer drives to Montauk beach.
"Gabe, I don't know what you're talking about." The woman spoke, fatigue evident in her voice.
A much younger Sally spoke softly. Her curly, brown hair was tied into a messy bun, and she still wore her blue, red and white; Sweet on America uniform. There was something in her eyes that at the time Percy couldn't quite place. It wasn't until later he realized, was raw and absolute terror.
"Don't fuck with me, woman!" He responded, setting down the can of beer on the small kitchen counter.
She began to move past him but he grabbed her arm. His oil and grease stained fingers dug into her flesh, but she didn't flinch.
"Tell your punk-ass son he owns me money!" He spoke louder than necessary. After all, it was only the two of the in the room, and Percy who watched quietly from the safety of the table. Sally looked him straight in the eye and spoke sternly.
"Do not call him that."
That was her first mistake.
"What did you just say to me?" He asked, his voice dangerously low. Percy almost couldn't make out the words. Gabe let out a sadistic laughter, that echoed inside Percy's ears.
In an instant, he saw Gabe raise his hand, and meet his mother's cheek with it, as the sick sound of the hit filled the room. He wanted to scream, but his voices was lost somewhere along the vinyl seat covers, and plastic cups on the cupboard.
"I'll call him whatever I fucking want!" Gabe yelled at Sally, who remained motionless, holding on to her face.
There were no more sounds, except for the crash of the beer can onto the wall when Gabe threw it across the room, and the stream of swears that fell from his mouth. He left shortly after the commotion, "to play some cards with the boys", and spoke as if nothing had happened. As soon as the doors had closed, Sally's sobs had filled the room, and Percy came out from underneath the dinning table, two words slipping continuously from his lips, I'm sorry.
That had been the first time Percy had seen Gabe hit his mom. The memory still burned, like freshly lit cigarettes in his mind. He'd never told anyone about it, he hadn't even acknowledged it with his mother the day after. It was an image, a childhood he'd spent most of his life running away from. He could stay underneath that dinning table until the end of time, but he would never be able to escape that house.
His grip had weakened, and his eyes were no longer fixed on Annabeth, but somewhere behind her. The man stood there, his bald head, beer belly, and his black beady eyes staring straight at Percy. He could almost smell the stench and smoke. Gabe, was the single most terrifying ghost from his past. No monster could compare to the memory that was forever scarred into his brain. The man smirked, a yellow-teethed loop-sided smile, stretched too widely on his face. He spoke, his eyes fixed on Percy, his voice sounded like the clash of metal. It was sharp and cold, and sent chills up his spine.
"I taught you well, didn't I?"
Suddenly, all the air escaped from his lungs, and the aftertaste of alcohol felt heavy in his stomach. His eyes stared blankly ahead, fixed on the mirage that had just appeared before him. He didn't move, he didn't respond. He heard Annabeth yell at him but it sounded faint, like she was speaking to him through a thick wall of glass. Gabe's words kept making rounds around his head.
Percy pushed himself away from her, his eyes glazing over her. He stumbled with his own feet and fell on his back. He couldn't breath, the air felt poisonous and it burned his lungs. His breaths came like short, jagged, constricted puffs of air, he couldn't quite manage to get out. There was a ringing in his ears that wouldn't stop, and his heart felt like it would burst out, and detach itself from his body. He couldn't speak, his eyes wouldn't even focus properly.
He felt as if he'd been absent in time, like everything was an awful dream. Things moved hazily around him, and no matter how much he forced his eyes to look, he couldn't see anything. Just small imprints left in his mind by things he thought, were once there. His hands shook, and his entire body trembled as he lay on the dark grey pavement. He didn't see Annabeth as she moved to his side, only felt her warm hand against his stone cold skin.
"Perce? Talk to me, are you okay? Percy!"
Her voice was faint, like a whisper. She must've yelled something at him, but his brain couldn't process the words. He wondered how long he'd been laying there, unmoving, except for the small uncontrollable jolts his body produced. His mind was too busy reminding his lungs to breathe, but his breaths were still short and forced. The lack of oxygenation making him feel light-headed and dizzy.
Her warmth left him momentarily, and Percy hear the faint click of the door opening. He felt her wrap her arm around his torso and haul him into the backseat of the car. He tried to move, to sit upright, but his heart gave him too much of a hard time. What was happening to him? He felt like death was wrapping him around its finger. He heard her slam the door, and faintly saw her shadow get into the car with him. She quickly turned on the engine and took off hastily down the deserted road.
He saw the flash of lights, but he didn't register all the sharp twists and turns she made as she drove. His mind was fixed in one single moment, one single memory. It replayed over and over, he could hear the sobs and screams, of a terrified woman and her drunk husband. He heard the screaming of words he did not yet understand. He saw, like a blazing fire, the smoke that corrupted his lungs, and to this day still drowned him in a sea remorse and anguish. There was an abrupt stop, and she lugged him out of the car.
His memory was poor at best, he couldn't register what was happening, or where he was or how he'd gotten there, but he trusted her. He heard a collection of noises, none of them making much sense, just words floating aimlessly around him. Annabeth dragged him with her across some stairs, and hallways, only stopping to open a small, wooden framed door. 3A.
She carried him through some doors, into the bathroom. In a furor, she hoisted him into the shower and turned on the shower head. A cold stream of water, down-poured and hit Percy's back, sending shocks all over his body. There was something intensely alerting about it, that completely took him out of his trance. The water fell on his back and struck the fire that had ignited itself on his flesh. His head fell over his knees, and she haunched over himself. His black hair dripped, and stuck to his head, dark and rich like oil. His arms tightened around himself and he felt Annabeth run her hands soothingly through his soaked back.
"Shhhh, it's okay..." She mumbled, her voice hauntingly calm, as her soft hands mapped his body.
Loud, dry sobs escaped his lips and he collapsed in the small bathroom.
She had turned off the water, and left him curled up on the floor, he didn't lift his head up, he didn't look at her, he simply remained unmoving, waiting. She had left,him alone with only a folded, cream colored towel next to him, ready to be used for when he decided to. With shaky fingers, he'd taken it and wrapped it around his shoulders, covering himself from the cold air. He didn't really need a towel, he could dry himself easily, but the gesture was still nice. His eyes stung, and his throat and mouth felt extremely dry. His head pounded, but other than that he seemed to be okay. There weren't anymore ghosts in his mind, or words swirling around his head, but still he felt unhinged, and slightly crazed. He was terrified of what had happened. Of the loss of words, and control. He walked out the door, the cold hitting him sharply.
Annabeth sat, her hair damp and curling around itself, alone at a table. Her frail fingers wrapped themselves around a small mug. There was another one set for the empty chair in front of her, its heat long ago extracted from being left untouched. He approached her slowly, his gaze falling from the cup to the floor. Her eyes remained fixed on the empty air around him, she looked in his direction, but never directly at him.
"I'm sorry, I..."
She waved her hand, dismissing whatever he was about to say. She looked at him weakly, her eyes drained of color.
"Sit down and drink this, it'll calm you down." She spoke, her voice monotonous.
She seemed lost deep in her thoughts, but her voice was a comforting sound. She looked at him, a small, all-knowing smile played on her lips and she pushed the small mug towards him. He vaguely thought it resembled nectar.
"It's chamomile. You can drink it." She said encouragingly.
Something about the way she looked at him, made Percy feel as if maybe she'd once sat on his end of the table as well. Except he knew, if she had, no one had coaxed her with soft towels and warm tea. He looked at her, his eyelids felt heavy and his eyes rimmed with sadness. He waited for an answer, something that would explain to him what had just happened. She let out a small breath and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. She twirled a small spoon in her drink, creating small creases and raptures inside the forming patters of her own tea. She looked at him uneasily.
"You had a panic attack."