The Long Way Back

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Chapter 12

Col’s Pov.

Walking back with Mel was so confusing. No fuck that, being with Mel was so confusing.

That may be some messed up girly description but honestly that's what it felt like.

I’m the guy nobody messes with, everyone avoids and I happily do the same, I’ve no time for ‘friends’ anyway.

Why let more people into your life when you're simply giving more the opportunity to walk straight out?

But being with Mellie felt natural, weirdly so.

Maybe it was the fact that we both naturally shied away from other people that we gravitated towards each other.

Maybe it was simply coincidence that we kept ending up at the same places.

Whatever it was didn’t change the fact that here we were once again walking side by side. Together.

We hadn’t seen each other in days and to be frank her presence was a breath of fresh air.

Air I desperately needed.

Something about her innocent, demure personality lured me in in a way nobody ever had before, and I’d only known her for like a fucking week.

I didn't even want to think about things I could eventually feel for this girl.

To care for someone that deeply is to become vulnerable, something I can never be.

She didn’t seem like every other person in the school who always had an ulterior motive for talking to me.

She seemed genuine.

Maybe it was her own naivety, maybe she should never have opened up to me in the first place.

I am one big mess of screwed up.

Wherever I went trouble followed, I just hoped that she didn't regret spending time with me.

I certainly didn't with her.

As we walked home once again, whispering as we went to avoid waking the sleeping foghorn nuzzled in my arms, who hadn't stopped snoring since we left the match, we caught up on the days we had missed one another.

“Hey, how come I never see you in school?” She asked me with a tilt of her head.

“Dunno, maybe you just aren’t looking.” I smirked.

I wasn’t telling her the real reason, some things in life are just better left unsaid.

“Trust me...i am.” I heard her say under her breath.

The corners of my mouth curved into a boyish grin and as she noticed my expression her face blushed profusely.

She clearly hoped I hadn’t heard.

“Um..I just meant... you know like in a curious way.” She rushed out.

“Daisy you don't have to be embarrassed.” I teased. “ I’d miss me too if i wasn’t around all the time.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” She pouted.

Oh she was so cute when she pouted.

I found myself wanting to annoy her more simply to see her adorable expression once again.

“Anyway, I just have practice all the time and need to get out of school a lot for this and that. You probably just don’t notice me Daisy.”

I certainly notice her, every single time she walks past in the corridor with her beautiful big brown doe eyes and chestnut hair swaying as she goes.

“You’re probably right, maybe I just don’t see you. I just thought it was a bit weird how I only ever see you after school.”

It was a bit weird to be honest but I never really had any free time in school, it always went; work, practice, pick up Theo. There was no room for anything else.

She dropped it seemingly going along with my obvious brush off of the topic.

“Oh, I forgot to say well done for the match earlier, you were great.”

“Thanks.” I nodded.

“How long have you played football for? You’re really good.” She praised.

“Umm.. a long time.” I laughed a sort of self deprecating laugh. “Probably since I was like 5. Dad got me into it.”

“Oh cool, you must really like it then.”

“Not really to be honest, i've just played it so long it's kinda become like the norm now. I don't think i could give it up anymore.”

“I get that, it's kinda like second nature, you couldn't imagine not playing it because you have for so long.”

“Yeah, exactly.”

At times, with Mellie I think that we’re on exactly the same wavelength. Like when I ramble or say stuff no one really understands I don't ever need to explain it to Mellie because she already knows what I mean.

It’s a welcome feeling, to know somebody understands you.

Just as we turned onto our street the sky erupted in a giant ROAR of thunder.

“Ahhh!!” Theo jumped up in my arms startled.

“Wow, wow Tee don’t worry it's just thunder, i'm right here.” I shushed him.

“Scawwy.” Tee whimpered as he dug himself deeper into my chest.

Tee has a massive fear of storms and thunder. Loud noises in general sent him into a state of uncontrollable panic.

He started sobbing aggressively in my arms as I tried to rock him on my hip as best I could manage to calm him down. It wouldn’t work.

I knew it wouldn’t work.

I was going to be up all night just trying to get him to go to sleep now.

Suddenly just as another crack of thunder sounded the sky started pouring down floods of water instantly soaking us all.

“ahhh.. come onn!” Mellie cried as she grabbed my free hand and set off for our houses.

We bolted down the street as though we were in a race.

As we parted to go to our separate houses I shouted out to Mellie.

“CALL ME TOMORROW DAISY!”

I faintly heard her melodious laugh as she tried to wave goodbye behind her back while running through her front garden to reach the comfort of her home.

And me my...house.

I covered Tee with my hoodie to try and get him somewhat warmed up as I crept through the door as quietly as I could manage.

Tee’s sobbing still hadn’t subsided and I could no longer tell if my shirt was more soaked from the rain or from his tears.

“Shhh, bud we have to keep quiet.” I whispered in his ear.

“Is daddy stwill mad at choo?” His voice was muffled as he spoke into my shirt.

“Yeah bud I think he is, so will you be a good boy and stay quiet for me?” “Yea, I a good boy Col.” he nodded.

“Ino you’re such a good boy bud.” I praised him.

I tiptoed up the stairs to get to our room as fast as possible.

In the room Tee and I shared I changed him into his comfy pyjamas and settled him onto our ‘bed’ which was actually only a double mattress on the ground.

I didn't really care, Tee had a warm blanket and a somewhat bed to sleep on, he was okay and that was all that mattered in my mind.

I tucked him under our many blankets and began the ardous challenge of trying to get a four year old to go to sleep.

“Bud you need to stop crying now, look you’re safe. I’m right here and what do I always tell you?”

Between sobs Tee managed to get out, “Dat you’ll always pwotect me from all da bad guys.”

“Yea.” I smiled.

“I'll never let anything hurt you. Ever. You’re safe here, the storms not gonna hurt you. So just you close those eyes and go to sleep and I'll be right here when you wake up. Okay bud?”

He nodded.

After a while of shushing Theo and trying to calm him down from the storm he finally closed his eyes and soon lay curled in a ball beside me fast asleep.

Far away from the raging world around him.

As I looked down at him I knew just as much as I always had that I would protect him from every single bad thing in this world.

After all, I promised I would.

He was too pure for the life he was given, he didn’t deserve it any more than I did.

But that’s life. Isn’t that what people always say… ‘That’s life.’ As though that was meant to explain all of life’s misfortunes.

Some people are dealt a shitty deck at life while others are given a free pass, never having to worry or work for anything.

We have no control over which we get.

Bad things happen to good people, for whatever reason I couldn’t begin to tell you.

But one thing I could tell you is that it isn’t fair, not one bit.

Night after night I lay on this mattress fighting to stay awake to guard Teo from the drunken alcoholic of a man who called himself our father.

He could take out the brunt of his drunken aggression on me as long as he stayed far, FAR away from Teo.

I could hear the clinking of glasses downstairs as he once again drank his night away.

I now just had to wait for him to realise we were home. That was if he even knew we had gone anywhere at all.

So that’s how I remained all night. Fighting against the darkness threatening to force my eyes closed to surrender to sleep.

But I couldn’t.

So I stared at the door.

And I stared at the door.

And I waited.

Just for that sliver of a possibility that my father took it upon himself to pay us a visit.

I had to be awake, for Teo.

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