Devil on Sea

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A Fabulous Surprise Party

Chapter 16
A Fabulous Surprise Party

It must be mail day at the institute, Mary surmised from the cacophony of noise filtering into her room from the communion lounge, waking her from a drug induced sleep. It was another day Mary had woken up to full lucidity and she couldn’t remember how long it had been since she collapsed in front of the nurses’ station, but it didn’t feel too long.

A week; two at most. She tried to convince herself as she rubbed her forehead groggily, and grimaced as elated shouts echoed in her ears. Mary had snapshots of the days since that night, most of them strapped to her bed as she fought against the restraints; howling in frustration. She remembered spitting at a guard and calling him a little shit. She also called him Wayne but she knew that wasn’t his name. His name was Peter, or was it Paul? The restraints had been off for two days now, but as she rubbed her arms she winced when her fingers touched the bruises. When the medication to calm her down hadn’t worked they had just sedated her. Mary fragmentarily remembered waking up a few days ago, no longer being violent and the voices in her head being still, so by the end of the day the nurses had freed her from the bed; if not her room. Gradually her freedom had been granted back to her, with yesterday being allowed back in the communal room,

And today I'm to be allowed my mail.

Leaving her room she padded barefoot across the cold tile floor towards the noisy communal room. Two men in white coats strolled idly behind her, neither really hiding their presence or what they were doing.

They may be granting you your freedom again, but they don’t trust you. These men want to hurt you! Mary scrunched her eyes at the sound of the voice, but tried her best not to let the guards behind see her anguish. She would be closely monitored for weeks, if not months, now. As she entered the communal lounge all of the other patients quietened; except for Lizzy. Lizzy continued to sing to herself and her voice carried well in the silence.

‘Young man, there’s a place you can go. Young man, there’s a place you can go. Young man…’ A memory briefly stirred in Mary but another part of her sensed the danger and focused her attention elsewhere.

Look, Mary. The mail window is open.

Thanks, Sergeant, Mary thought before dutifully following the rational voice and heading towards the nurses’ station. The other patients continued to stare at her, some opened mouthed. They would have been able to hear my screams these past weeks, Mary thought guiltily, screams that no doubt some joined in with. As Mary arrived at the window she saw the mail on a table at the back of the station. There was a stack of opened paper envelopes by her name; the only stack left on the table. The head nurse, Carol, stared at her through the plexiglass. Mary stared back, red eyed. Carol sighed, pressed the intercom, and leaned forward.

‘You know the rules, Mary. We don’t need another episode.’ The harsh click of the intercom caused Mary to shiver.

I know the rules, you read my mail before I do, Mary fought back both tears and anger and managed a tight nod as she was handed her small bundle of mail. She turned back to face the still staring crowd, momentarily being reminded of how zombie-like everyone looked, and shivered again. A small irrational flicker of fear tried to take root but Mary quashed it as best she could, walking slowly back to her room and avoiding the gaze of the idly following guards. Once she was back in her room the guards went back to other duties, leaving her alone but both still within eyesight of her door. Briefly flicking through the letters she saw most were a week or so old. Only her parents wrote to her regularly, not that she was able to write back any more. Mark had written to her when she was first admitted but in the last letter she received from him, nearly a year ago, he confided it was too hard for him. He missed the little girl he used to know and his wife was insisting he severed contact, in the hope that Mary would get better sooner because of it. Mary wished she could have written back but she was no longer allowed writing implements, so if she wanted to send a letter home she had to dictate to one of the nurses. She didn’t feel comfortable telling a stranger the personal things she wanted to say to her family, and she’d only tried to send one letter that way in her time here. When the nurse stopped writing, after Mary complained about the conditions, she gave up believing she could communicate with her family ever again.

Mary stopped flicking through the letters when she found one letter unopened.

Carol must have missed it! Mary thought with glee, a feeling of power, only available from knowing a secret, welled up inside of her as she tore open the letter. It’s from dad, she recognised the handwriting instantly. A small rectangular piece of card fell out with “Happy 17th” scrawled on it. When she turned it over she realised it was the photograph of her first car, given to her by her parents. Tears began to form and Mary once more drowned in a flood of emotions; emotions soon overcome by memory.

Mary awoke to quiet. Rays of sunshine streaked lazily across her pink fluffy bed and dust motes danced across the sheets as she kicked out her feet and stretched. A grin she could not stop slowly built up across her face and she let out a high pitched noise of excitement. Mary had been looking forward to this day for weeks; for today was Mary’s birthday. Not just any birthday either; it was Mary’s 17th.

And it’s going to be the best birthday ever! She thought as she buried her head in a unicorn shaped pillow to muffle another excited scream. Being the weekend, and with the day booked off from her part-time job at the local supermarket, Mary had managed to wrangle her first lie-in for months. She pulled the covers up tight and savoured every last sleepy second, not wanting the morning to end. She dozed, she watched motes of dust dance in sun beams, but most important of all she managed to keep the voices in her head still.

I don’t want this morning to end! She thought loudly in her mind, trying to turn her thoughts away from her mental passengers. They’d been getting louder over the years - the voices - and she’d finally settled on giving them names based on their personalities. Nervy was the fretful voice; the voice that told her the worst was always going to come true and rubbed it in her face when it did. Sergeant was the voice Mary hated the most yet always tried to listen to too. It belittled Nervy every time it raised its voice and would turn on Mary if she took heed of any of Nervy’s warnings. Mary saw the sense Sergeant was trying to instil but she hated the way it went about it. Right now, however, both were quiet.

A gentle rapping came at the door, distracting Mary from her thoughts.

‘Who is it?’ Mary called out in annoyance at her morning lie-in being disturbed. Instead of a reply the door opened and a young man walked through the doorway holding a loaded tray. Mary beamed and nearly jumped out of bed to embrace him, until she saw her mum stood in the doorway’s shadows.

Matt! Mary thought, butterflies fluttering in her stomach and her lady parts tingling with warmth. Matt was Mary’s one true love and the man who had taken her virginity. She adored the ground he walked upon, especially as Nervy and Sergeant were always quiet in his presence. Well, until recently they had been. They’d made love for the first time two months ago, four months into their relationship, and they hadn’t made love since. Nervy thought something was wrong, that Matt was going to leave her. Sergeant had yet to weigh-in with an opinion but Mary had told Nervy, often out loud, that it was just because it was difficult to find times to be alone together. Nervy wasn’t buying it and as time went by even Mary was struggling to convince herself; especially as Matt had stopped over last weekend when her parents were away. He claimed he was too tired, that he had a headache, and that he had work in the morning.

But none of those stopped him from talking to me, late into the night, about the latest fashions coming out of Paris. She thought with irritation, before returning her thoughts to the present and sitting upright in bed, pulling her covers up higher in light of her mum’s watchful eye. Matt sat down on the edge of the bed and cleared his throat. Almost as if suddenly remembering something important his face lit up and he placed the tray across her lap; which contained a full English breakfast including an orange juice and a steaming cup of tea.

‘Morning dear.’ He gave her a smile, which Mary returned.

That smile’s almost as weak as the tea. Sergeant thought ruefully.

Morning, Sergeant. Mary thought, slightly annoyed that her time free from her voices had been so brief. Over Matt’s shoulder Mary watched her mum wave and then turn to leave. As soon as she was gone Mary leant over and kissed Matt deeply. Mary tried to slip in her tongue but stopped trying when she saw him wrinkle his nose; Mary felt Nervy stir at that. Then, to her horror, she saw past Matt and stared straight at her dad; who was stood behind where her mum had been with a huge smirk on his face.

Oh God, no! She thought, moaning audibly into Matt’s mouth. Her dad gave her a wink and then left, causing Mary to flush as red as a beetroot and shoot back against her bed rest.

‘Morning.’ She croaked, lifting up the covers a little higher, almost to her chin. Matt quickly regained his composure and stroked imaginary dust from his shoulders.

‘Thought I’d drop by with breakfast in bed. Then maybe we could take a stroll in the park, when you’re ready?’ He asked, really intent on removing a stubborn piece of imaginary dust from his left shoulder. Mary responded by kissing him again, this time getting just a hint of tongue in return. Nervy grumbled back to sleep.

The morning had started off perfectly and as Mary found herself walking hand in hand with Matt she thought,

Today just can’t get any better, humming quietly to herself.

‘It’s a beautiful morning for this time of year.’ Matt muttered with awkwardness, only slightly breaking the illusion of idyllic perfection. The sun was out and, despite it being late autumn, it was a very warm morning. Leaves seemed to paint the blue sky golden as they swayed in a gentle breeze. Mary stopped to pick up some horse chestnuts,

‘Do you want a game of slammers later?’ She asked, discarding a number of chestnuts which had partially rotted, ‘Well I say game, I mean a thrashing.’ Matt laughed politely at the boasting before stooping to pick up his own conkers.

‘Oh really?’ Matt exclaimed in disbelief, ‘Weren’t you the one crying last time we played?’

‘That’s only ‘cause you cheated!’ Mary said through giggles, punching Matt playfully on the arm. Truth be told, Mary had cheated too; not that she would tell. She’d soaked her conkers in vinegar overnight before baking them in the oven. They had hardened and when she played the next day, to the best of five, she’d won each round with the first she’d chosen.

Well, up until his last one smashed all of mine. She thought with her heart racing, staring at Matt’s bottom whilst he continued picking up his own chestnuts. A commotion by a cluster of trees caught her attention and she just about managed to tear her gaze away, before she tugged on Matt’s hand; causing him to drop what few conkers he’d picked up. He followed her towards the source of the commotion. Hiding behind a giant oak tree they stood, hand in hand, watching a group of teenagers in what appeared to be heated discussion.

‘Rebel scum, you will kneel before me!’

‘Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can ever imagine!’ There was a cluster of youths stood in a circle, all watching two teenage lads square off in the centre. The onlookers were dressed in clothes that seemed foreign to Mary, but the outfits of the two in the middle somehow appeared vaguely familiar. The first one who spoke was dressed all in black with some form of angular plastic mask over his face. The second was dressed in a brown hessian cloak with a raised hood. Both held long sticks made out of taped together toilet rolls, which they suddenly started swinging at each other. They were making whoosing sounds with their mouths, occasionally staggering backwards overly theatrical. Mary covered her mouth in an attempt to keep quiet the laughter welling up inside her. She saw Matt was doing exactly the same, causing her to giggle even more.

What are they doing? She thought in mirth and confusion, focusing her attention back on the scene. The people in the circle seemed engrossed by the fighting and suddenly she recognised one of them.

‘Superman?’ She whispered, looking back at Matt. Matt nodded.

‘They’re cos-play enthusiasts.’ There was a change in the mood of the group and Mary returned her attention to the scene before her.

‘You broke my lightsaber!’

‘It’s not my fault! You should have made it better.’ The guy dressed all in black held a limp collection of toilet rolls. Some of the rolls in the middle had been squashed and the “lightsaber” had folded over.

‘Vader is supposed to win this fight. I’m supposed to win!’ He threw the broken “lightsaber” at the one in the brown cloak and stormed out of the ring. A girl dressed in a white robe with pinwheels in her hair walked after him saying soothing words. Mary giggled even more and a snort of laughter snuck out, causing a few heads in the group to turn her way. She hid behind the tree and Matt followed suit, both sliding into a crouch and giggling with hands over their mouths. Matt leaned over and cupped her ear,

‘This is what the world would look like without bullies.’ Mary burst and laughter spilled forth like water released from a dam. Matt grabbed her hand and they ran, a few of the cos-play enthusiasts running over to the tree they had been hiding behind. Someone shouted “Force pull” from behind and Mary nearly tripped as a new geyser of laughter sprung forth. They didn’t stop running, hand in hand and laughing, until they reached a park bench near the entrance and far far away from the cluster of trees. Matt looked at his watch,

‘Should be okay to get you back now,’ he mumbled to himself, still letting off the occasional chortle. Mary was laughing so hard, tears rolling down her face, that not even Nervy picked up on Matt’s comment.

Matt walked her home and gave her a quick kiss goodbye before getting into a waiting car outside her house. It wasn’t until the car drove off that she recognised it as belonging to her best friend. She walked into the kitchen, confused, to find her mum washing up.

‘Mum, why was Tra…’

‘There you are!’ Her dad interrupted, walking in from the lounge, ‘come on, it’s time to unwrap your presents!’ Mary had a sudden mental image of opening a huge empty box, which caused Nervy to stir, but that was soon replaced by excitement as she ran and jumped into her dad’s arms. She then ran past him into an empty looking living room and her excitement faltered. She turned back to see her mum and dad holding each other and smiling at her.

Not again, whispered Nervy; Mary felt Sergeant stir in response.

‘On top of the mantle place,’ her dad said, giving her mum’s shoulder a squeeze. Mary turned back and saw an envelope above the fireplace.

Is this it? Mary thought bitterly. Picking up the envelope she saw her name on the front in the neat handwriting of her dad’s. She opened it and slid out the back of a photograph which when turned over showed a blue Volkswagen Beetle. She turned, giddy but confused, to her parents. Her dad was holding out a set of keys.

‘She’s parked around the corner.’ He said, trying to hide the grin forming on his face. Mary felt smugness stemming from Sergeant, before ignoring both her other voicess and running to hug her parents; grabbing for the keys as she did so.

‘Eh-eh. Not so fast.’ Her dad replied, now laughing and holding the keys high above her head. ‘You don’t get these until you pass your test, which we’ve also paid for.’

‘Thank-you thank-you thank-you! I love you daddy! And you too mum.’ Mary blubbed, tears of joy rolling down her almost pimple free face. Her mum smiled and stroked Mary’s hair before kissing her cheek and saying,

‘Now go wash your hands, dinner’s almost ready.’ Mary ran to comply, letting out squeals of excitement as she went.

The rest of the day passed too quickly for Mary’s liking. Her dad took her out for a drive in her new car but when she called both Matt and her best friend to tell them the news, neither of them answered. By 5 o’clock her parents excused themselves, off to visit a mutual friend of theirs, and Mary was left home alone. The excitement of her birthday began to ebb away and she paced the house, bored as only a teenager can be. She tried calling Matt again, but again got no answer. She tried numerous of her other friends but there was either no answer or their parents said they were out. Mary wandered into the front room and sat on the sofa in a huff.

They’ve all forgotten it’s your birthday. Nervy said miserably.

‘No they haven’t! Matt didn’t, he was over before.’ Mary shouted moodily in reply. It wasn’t often Mary talked out loud to either Sergeant or Nervy but with no-one in the house she saw no harm.

Where is he now then? Mary couldn’t answer Nervy's question.

Both of you relax. He’ll be over later. As always, Sergeant picked up where Mary couldn’t.

‘Yeah, what Sergeant said.’ Mary said with determination. A flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye caught Mary’s attention and she whipped her head towards the window. Matt stood outside dressed in a suit, holding flowers in his hand and a confused look on his face. Mary’s heart soared at the sight of him but when she saw the puzzled look on his face she realised he must have heard her talking to herself. She blushed red before Matt smiled the comforting smile that always made her feel as if everything was going to be okay. Even Nervy melted into silence in the face of that smile. Mary rushed to the front door to let him in.

‘Come on Mary, car’s waiting.’ He said, brown hair styled messily with wet look gel.

‘What? Where are we going? I need to change.’

‘Don’t worry about it; you look divine as it is, darling.’ Matt held out his arm which Mary slipped her own into, and they made their way to the idling car.

‘Where are we going?’ Mary questioned as they reached the awaiting mini. Matt turned and tapped his nose causing Mary to bristle with excitement.

They stopped a couple of streets later and Matt killed the engine.

‘Okay, we’re only a few streets away now so put this on.’ He held out a strip of black cloth, to Mary’s confusion, ‘Come here.’

'Wait, what's this for?' Mary asked, suddenly unsure of the situation. Nervy stirred but kept quiet for the moment.

'It's a surprise, trust me.' Matt smiled at her and touched her arm, 'You do trust me?' Mary smiled, nodded, and closed her eyes. Matt leant forward and tied the material around her eyes, kissing her on the forehead when he was done. ‘Okay. Now let’s go.’

A few more corners in the dark, for Mary, and Matt killed the engine again. Mary sat in the galling quiet, a quiet disturbed only by the opening and closing of Matt’s door and the clicking of a cooling engine. The silence seemed to penetrate the darkness of the blindfold and Mary began to fret as the seconds dragged on.

‘Where are we?’ She asked aloud. Continued silence greeted her question.

He’s left you. You did something wrong and now he’s gone. Nervy said and before Sergeant could wade in with an opinion the sound of the passenger door echoed through the still air and Mary felt relief wash over her.

‘We’re here.’ Came the spine-tingling voice of Matt. Taking Mary’s hand he helped her out of the car, before slipping an arm about her waist to help her walk. Mary stumbled once or twice before a sudden change in temperature made her realise they were now indoors. She heard hushed whispers and someone giggle quietly not too far away. She thought she recognised the laugh but couldn’t quite place it.

Tracy?

‘Matt, who else is here?’ Mary asked suddenly unsure and waving her arm out in the direction of the noises she’d just heard. Matt stopped suddenly and his arm left her waist. Mary stumbled a few blind steps before she was left to stand there, alone. She heard a door open and close and feared Matt had left.

‘Matt?’ She asked in the stillness reaching to peek under her blindfold.

‘Leave that on.’ A familiar voice, but not Matt's, commanded, and Mary instantly returned her arm to her side in compliance.

‘Tracy?’ She asked in the darkness, heart unsteady and nervous.

‘Shhh. Now Matt and I are going to dress you, so no struggling, okay?’ Mary was convinced it was Tracy, although Nervy shuffled uncomfortably in her mind.

They’re going to see us naked! Mary didn’t like for people to see her naked, except for Matt.

We can make an exception for Tracy, I suppose. She thought in nervous response. Unseen hands stripped her down to her underwear and she heard someone wolf whistle in the dark. She blushed and tried to cover herself.

‘It’s okay, dear. I’m here.’ She relaxed at Matt’s voice, and lowered her arms.

‘Okay, we’re going to try and slip you into a dress now. Assistance would be appreciated.’ She smiled at the familiar voice, now fully convinced it was Tracy helping Matt. She was also giddy to be wearing a dress again. A flashback of a school Christmas party played against her eyelids but scrunching her eyes tight caused it to pass. She had her legs guided into a dress and she wiggled to help them pull it up to her shoulders. Two hands reached for the zip and Mary felt both of them overlap on her back. She blushed for them.

‘So sorry, love. You can zip your lady up.’ A pang of jealousy shot through Mary.

Why did Tracy call our Matt love? She ignored Nervy’s thought when she heard someone leave the room.

‘Matt?’ She asked meekly as a hand slowly zipped her up.

‘Yes?’ Came the reply from a mouth close to her ear. Mary blushed again at what she was about to say. Despite Nervy shifting restlessly she finally said what she’d wanted to say ever since she’d met Matt.

‘I. I love you.’

There, I said it, she thought to herself, proud to finally have built up the courage to say what she felt out loud. There was an almost sad sigh from behind her and two arms enveloped her about her waist.

‘I know.’ Came the reply as Matt hugged her tight. Those two words crushed Mary and she even felt the hot sting of tears behind her eyes start to build.

Stop it! Mary was shocked by Sergeant’s sudden outburst. He obviously cares for us; look at all he’s done! Don’t spoil this because he didn’t say three little words. Mary smiled, nodded to herself, and rested back against Matt’s frame.

‘Come on, birthday girl.’ Matt said as he disentangled himself from her and took her hand. He led her from the room with Mary still blindfolded.

They walked slowly for a hundred yards or so before Matt let go of her hand, without warning, causing Mary stumbled to a halt.

‘Matt?’ Silence greeted her question yet again. She stretched her arms out and took a few tentative steps forward. There was nothing but empty space and Mary felt her footing begin to falter. She heard the scrape of a chair, hushed shushes, and quietened tittering, but couldn’t get a fix on the direction of any of them. She slowly reached behind her head for the knot on the blindfold and when no-one tried to stop her she untied it as quickly as her nervous hands would let her. Her eyes were wide open as the cloth slipped from her face and bright light stung her temporarily blind.

‘SURPRISE!’ Multiple voices all cried out at once and through blood-shot eyes Mary began to make out faces.

Mum, dad, Matt, Big Bro, Tracy, friends from school, family members. They’re here! Everyone I know and care about are here! She burst into happy tears with a smile on her face. Matt gave her a wink before his eyes focused on something behind her and he nodded. Loud music cut through the applause everyone was giving her and they all started singing happy birthday. As they sang she looked around the familiar looking room.

The local labour club! And by the looks of it they’ve rented out the entire club. Mary was bowled over with joy. She had come here numerous times with her dad, as he preferred it to their nearest pub, that and they let me in here. There was a bar at the far end of the hall, where two tenders were smiling and singing along. Looking behind her she saw a stage packed with DJ booth and speakers, and long tables filled with film-wrapped food. She, and everyone else, was stood on a wooden dance floor, with tables on the faded red carpeted area between her and the bar. Mary realised that she’d obviously been walked from one of the smaller rooms in the club.

Either that or you were almost naked in front of everyone here. Thought Nervy unhelpfully. Mary hadn’t been in any other room bar the function room before, but she did know there were smaller rooms where her dad had occasionally disappeared for a game of cards, so she ignored Nervy. Mary finally looked down at the dress she was wearing.

‘My favourite!’ She exclaimed, drowned out by the on-going singing. The little red number; as Matt had called it when she had bought it. She looked at the singing crowd before her in confusion as to who had picked it out. Tracy raised a hand and smiled knowingly. When the birthday singing finished everyone clapped and cheered, so Mary curtsied in response. Her mum and dad stepped forward and everyone else departed, back to tables they had already claimed by the laying down of coats and drinks. Table claimer-ship was always a complicated affair at family functions.

‘Hey up kiddo, did we manage to keep it secret?’ Mary nodded at her dad, who smiled in return, ‘I’m pleased.’

‘Everyone has dropped off presents in one of the rooms at the back but for now, let’s go say hi and thank you to everyone.’ Her mum said holding out a hand.

Trust mum to want to get the formalities done first and Mary was more than happy to oblige, if just to see who had turned up. She was led round from table to table where she stopped at each one to say thank you and to talk about some small nicety or other. Everyone remarked on how pretty she was in her dress and when Nervy sarcastically remarked,

Is it the dress, or us they find pretty? Mary laughed freely, glad that her Uncle had just finished telling a joke at the same time. At nearly every table someone insisted on buying her a drink, if a drink wasn’t already there waiting for her. By the time she reached the table furthest from the dance floor her head was swimming, and by the feel of it, so were her legs.

Good. That means Nervy and Sergeant will most probably be gone for the night and I can let my hair down. She thought smiling. Making her excuses after the last table, she made her way back to a dance floor that was already crowded with her school friends. She tried to look inconspicuous to get past but Shelley caught her arm.

‘Time to dance, birthday girl. Let me get you a drink.’ Shelley left and a troupe of girls encircled Mary. Left with no chance of escape, Mary danced. Time passed with little or no recollection, only fragments sticking out in her mind: her Uncle slipping when trying to impress her school friends by taking part in a limbo competition; her cousin Jake having wine thrown into his face and his fiancée storming out on him after some remark or another; her dad doing an impression of the DJ by mumbling through his hands and occasionally shouting “alright”. It wasn’t until some of the guests began to leave that she realised she’d seen little of Matt or Tracy that evening.

And I really do need to thank them both. She thought with a slur. Catching sight of a clock she saw it was also gone eleven and there couldn’t be more than an hour left before they were kicked out of the club. And I haven’t even danced with Matt yet! She made her excuses to her Uncle, who she was currently dancing with, and made her way around the room in search of her boyfriend. Even asking around gave her no help so she staggered out of the main room, the alcohol making her very woozy, and continued the search outside. Checking with the smokers came to no avail and even sending her brother into the toilets to find him was fruitless. She decided to see if he was in the one of the smaller rooms and stopped to listen outside one of the doors when she heard raised voices coming from behind.

‘I can’t do this to her anymore.’ Shouted a familiar voice, made grainy by the wooden door.

‘And you think I can? But you know how she is. If she found out, what do you think this would do to her?’ The other voice sounded familiar too but in her drunken state Mary couldn’t put a name to the voice.

‘I don’t know. All I know is I can’t sneak around her back like this anymore, Matt.’

Matt? So is that? That sounds like Tracy! Nervy raised its voice through the drunken haze of Mary’s mind. Mary waited for a response from Sergeant but none was forthcoming and she realised Nervy was right. She grasped the door handle, shaking slightly, and thrust open the door. In the darkened room she just about made out Tracy in Matt’s arms. They were both stripped to the waist with Matt’s belt hanging loose. Tracy, facing the door, looked shocked.

‘Mary!’ Matt turned his head at Tracy’s outcry; the expression on his face was of resigned sadness.

‘Mary, I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to find out this way.’ Was all he said and it caused Mary’s head go woolly.

My best- friend, and my boyfriend? Bile rose in her throat but she fought back the urge to vomit.

‘You’re… You’re gay?’ She exclaimed aloud. Both of them smiled weakly, Tracy eventually nodding timidly.

Well that explains the lack of sex. Thought Sergeant, pragmatically.

‘I’m sorry, we didn’t want you to find out this way.’ Tracy pushed off Matt and reached down for his shirt. Matt didn’t move, just held Mary’s gaze.

‘By the sounds of it you didn’t want me to find out at all!’ Mary was shouting now and she didn’t care.

You weren’t good enough for him. Mary tried to block out Nervy’s thoughts but she was struggling to control anything. Her emotions and mind were in turmoil and she felt fragments of herself falling away.

‘You’re… you’re fucking gay?!?’ She shouted again, bursting into tears and being unable to comprehend the situation.

Not good enough at all.

‘Mary, please.’ Her vision blurred with tears and she couldn’t tell who was talking anymore.

‘The music’s stopped, people will be coming. Come on Matt, we need to get out of here.’

‘Fucking… gay?’ Mary sagged to her knees as the image of Matt and Tracy burned through every happy memory of her and Matt.

Perhaps it’s the way you kiss. You weren’t attentive enough to his needs. You should have tried harder. Nervy continued unrelenting, despite Sergeant trying to wrestle her into submission.

‘Shut up, that’s not true! I always tried to please him.’ Mary no longer cared that she wasn’t alone as the world became a tear stained blur around her.

‘Mary?’ Through the tears she saw the blurry face of Matt looking down at her, confusion and pity on his face. Looking up at Matt, she realised she still felt love for him and hated herself for it.

‘Matt, they’re coming. Quickly.’ Matt left her vision and the room swam out of focus through salted tears once more.

That’s enough, both of you. Mary did nothing to bring this on us. Sergeant had given up trying to silence Nervy and was now engaged in an argument instead. Mary’s head began to throb.

No, she did. We saw the signs, we ignored them. When he turned down sex we should have done more to make him love us, to make him want us.

How, exactly, do you make someone love you? They continued to argue and Mary clutched her head in pain.

‘Stop it, please. The both of you!’ But they were deaf to her pleas.

We obviously don’t know, else he wouldn’t have turned gay.

You can’t turn gay. You’re either gay, or you’re not. We didn’t do anything here.

‘Please. Stop it.’ Mary sobbed quietly, rocking back and forth on her knees. She didn’t feel her father scoop her up in his arms and she never saw Matt and Tracy leave through the window. She didn’t remember any of the events until she woke up three days later in the hospital and attached to a drip. The only thing she did remember from those three days was the constant sound of arguing inside her head.

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