Lenny, Lucy and Andrew have been invited to join us for a family dinner tonight. Lucy and Andrew are definitely coming. I’m not too sure about Lenny. I’d like him to come, but I’m not sure if he will, for which I wouldn’t blame him, for what my dad did. I also think that if he came, the atmosphere between him and my dad would be highly uncomfortable to sit through.
I take a seat in between Lucy and Andrew and Belle pouts at me. “You okay, Belle?”
She folds her arms and narrows her eyes at Andrew. “Tommy and I always sit together,” she says.
“Belle,” I say. “Be nice.”
Andrew smirks. “If you want, I’ll sit on the other side of Lucy.”
She bounds into the seat as Andrew switches places.
“Tommy,” Lucy says. “I’m just going to fix my makeup.”
I smile as she rises. “What do you want to drink?”
She thinks for a second and smiles. “I’ll have a coke please.” She heads towards the bathroom and I turn to Andrew. “So, ready for school tomorrow?” I ask.
“Ugh,” he groans. “No.”
I chuckle. “Me neither.”
The waiter approaches our table and circles the table for our drink orders. I order a beer for myself and Lucy’s coke.
We continue chatting as the waiter heads towards the bar. I can see Lenny stepping through the door. He actually came. I smile faintly as my dad greets him. “Mr Burton,” he says with a curt nodding of the head. This is already awkward. I gesture for him to slip in beside us.
As the waiter returns with the tray of drinks, I turn to Lenny. “What do you want to drink?” He turns to the waiter and orders a coke, just like Lucy. The waiter returns to the bar and takes a glass from the bar.
As I sip my beer, I notice the fizz starting to disappear from her drink. She steps from the bathroom and heads towards me, a smile on her face. “You okay?” I ask as she sits beside me. “Yeah,” she says. I notice her swallowing slightly. I look to her and the smile re-appears on her face. I furrow my eyebrow for a second. Something seems a bit off with her today. I shake my head and turn to her. I’ll ask her if everything’s alright again later when it’s just the two of us. There’s too many people here right now.
As Lucy and I walk down the streets of Eventide side by side her, I angle my body slightly to face her. “Maybe I’m imagining things, Luc, but in the restaurant, something seemed a bit off with you. Are you alright?”
She turns to me and turns the corners of her lips upwards. “I’m fine,” she says.
“Are you sure?”
She widens her smile. “Positive.”
I nod. “Okay,” I say. As we make our way up the steps to her house, she turns to face me. “So, I’ll see you tomorrow?”
She smiles. “Yeah,” she answers. “See you then.”
As we step onto the porch and the outdoor lights of the house shine on her face, I can’t help but smile at her. I take her hand in mine and pull her closer to me. I press my lips against hers and brush my hand against her face. The door swings open and we break away to face Mr Howard, standing in the doorway.
“Thomas,” he says. “It’s time to go home. Lucy, inside.”
“Dad,” she hisses. He shoots me a glare before turning back to her. “Now,” he orders. She rolls her eyes at him as I turn back to her. “See you tomorrow, Luc,” I say. I turn back to her father. “Goodnight, Mr Howard.”
I turn around and head back towards my house. As I walk against the late night breeze, I can hear the trees in the park swaying. I continue to head down the street as I hear what sounds like light footsteps somewhere nearby. I turn around and dart my vision all around me. My sight fixes itself upon what looks the outline of someone sitting on a bench in the park, their head angled in my direction. But, it’s too dark to tell. I turn around and begin to pace quicker down the street.
I think that, with everything I’ve experienced over the past couple of weeks, I’m still on edge and it’ll take some time to stop allowing my imagination to get the better of me. I hope so, anyway. Nonetheless, it’s pitch black and late at night, so I keep up my pace and continue to jog until I reach my gate.
As I step inside, Mum greets me. I throw my coat on its usual hook under the stairs and turn to face her. “Hey Mum. Where’s Dad?”
She smiles. “He’s upstairs with Belle, reading her a bedtime story. He’s really trying, Thomas. I think he’s turning a new leaf. He’s also promised me that, from now on, he’s going to be spending a lot more time with us than he has done in the past.”
I nod and smile. “That’s great, Mum.” I follow her into the kitchen and take a seat at the table opposite her. “I think I’m going to have a cuppa. Would you like one?” she asks.
“Sure,” I say. “Here, let me make it. Coffee or tea, Mum?”
“Oh,” she sighs. “I’ll have a tea please.”
I nod as I flick the lid of the kettle and fill it with water. As I switch it on to boil, I turn to face her, leaning against the cupboard door. I frown and squint my eyes and she approaches me. “Thomas, are you alright? You look very pale.”
I bow my head and look to the tiles on the floor, which look as though they’re spinning around. “Yeah, yeah,” I dismiss. “Just a bit dizzy.”
Her eyes widen as I stagger forward. “Thomas,” she screams. I can feel her hands supporting my back and stopping me from collapsing to the floor. “Baby, talk to me.”
My body is dropping to an unnatural temperature. It’s freezing in here. I shiver as I close my eyes and Mum places her hands to my face. “Thomas, you’re like a block of ice. Luke, get down here.” My head is resting on her bent knees. She strokes my hair with her hands. “Come on baby,” she says. “Talk to me, please.”
I can feel myself falling further and further into a state of semi-consciousness. It’s too cold and my body is contorting too much for me to be able to answer her. I can hear Dad dashing into the room. “Faye,” he says. “Call an ambulance.”
Dad leans over me and takes Mum place. He allows my head to rest in his hands and slowly lowers it to the floor. He pushes my face head back gently so that I’m facing the ceiling. I can hear Mum in the background blubbering over the phone, but I’m only tune into what she’s saying. “He’s had some kind of seizure, I think..... I don’t... Please come soon.”
“Come on, Thomas, stay with us,” Dad whispers. I shudder as everything in my vision turns black. The last thing I hear is the sound of the water in the kettle reaching boiling point.