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The usual taxi pulls up to the kerb and I climb in, fragments of the night begin swirl though my mind. Vodka, dancing, strobe lights, little white lines, hands all over me, stumbling to the guest room, lost clothes, hands around my throat, bitter words, a sea of dopamine. Dragged under his current without being able to surface and breathe.

The driver has barely pressed the brake to stop outside my home when I splutter my thanks, leap out of the vehicle and sprint up the stone steps.

My hands shake as I push the key into the lock, my knees threatening to give way underneath me. I lean onto the stone column for support as the large door clicks open. I say silent prayer to the gods when it reveals all of the lights are out and everyone appears to be asleep, although I didn’t expect tonight to be any different to any other night. Nobody waits up for me. It’s just how things are.

My body takes over and I’m on autopilot. Soon I’m in my own bathroom, stepping into the shower and turning the temperature up to the hottest setting, allowing the liquid flames to rain over my body. No matter how much I scrub or how hot the water becomes, I don’t feel cleansed. A silent sob escapes me as I wonder if I will always feel this tainted. Mechanically I go about removing my makeup and washing my hair, sobbing quietly as wishing tonight and all those nights before would follow the soap suds down the drain.

Drying myself, I make my way over to the mirror. For the first time in a long time, I allow myself to look myself in the eye. They say the eyes are the window to the soul and for that reason, I never usually look myself in the eye. I don’t want to acknowledge what I’ve become.

Underneath all of the makeup, fake tan and designer clothes, my skin is dull and the dark circles under my eyes sit in my slightly sunken eye sockets. My cheekbones, shoulders and collar bones are sharper than they used to be. The fresh bruises have become more evident, marbling my naturally pale skin. My eyes are cold, lifeless, glacial pools. I’m empty, nothing but a vessel. The girl who I was all of those months ago is lost.

I wander over to the window, pulling open the heavy curtains to again reveal the moon. I long for the calmness and moments of peace I feel when I sit and stare at her. I hope that if I sit and stare long enough, I’ll drift into another dreamless sleep. Time passes and although her brilliance is beginning to fade now the dawn is only a few hours away, I feel some clarity amongst the storm of emotions inside me.

He and I cannot continue. Apart from the moments our bodies are tangled together, he likes to remind me that we are nothing. Taking my phone, I scroll through my contacts and come to a stop at his name. Fingers trembling, I hesitate for a moment.

I know we are darkness and destruction. A raging war that leaves no survivors. There is no togetherness when it comes to us, there never will be.

So, I press delete.

I feel no relief and I crawl into bed. I say a silent prayer to the moon that I will have the strength to face the unknown, that I will be able to avoid his wrath and rebuild my shattered soul.

Checking my phone, I realise the voicemail is from my Mother. She’s half the world away in Asia travelling with my Father and sister. They’ve been gone for the last few weeks. Before I have chance to discard the device, it pings loudly, announcing a text from my sister:

Helena: You’ve really done it this time. She’s positively foaming at the mouth. We will be on the next flight home. Brace yourself x

I fire back a quick message to thank her for the heads up and apologise for cutting her trip short. I finally listen to the voicemail. My Mother sounds absolutely furious.

My rouse to stay home and study for my final university exams has been uncovered. The neighbours became concerned with my comings and goings at all hours and the cleaner reported the party I had last week, after discovering remnants of drug use in the various bathrooms and on the living room table. I had been too busy trying to drown out my feelings to clean up before she arrived for her shift. According to my Mother, this is the last straw. My behaviour is unacceptable and reflects badly on the family name. What will the neighbours or her friends think?

I am too ashamed to share the truth behind it all. It’s nothing new. It’s just how things are.

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