“Scout! Baby! Just listen to me!”
Scout hurled the phone in her hand with all her might at her boyfriend. Make that ex-boyfriend. Correction, make that sleazy, cheating, lying, ex toerag of a boyfriend. Yes. That was more like it.
The effort it took for her to throw the phone almost saw her lose balance and she bashed into the wall with her shoulder, flailing the other arm that held a crutch.
“Careful!” Scott told her. He picked up his phone and pocketed it before taking a few steps towards her.
She straightened up and leaned on one crutch before pointing the other at him, waving it in a vicious manner. “Do not! Don’t come anywhere near me!”
Scott raised his hands in front of him. “I’m standing right here.” He had stopped walking. “Baby, let’s just talk about this.”
“Fine, Scott. Fine!” Scout yelled, manic glint in her eye. “Let’s talk about the fact that Carrie is sending you pictures of her naked ass and telling you she’s missing you!”
“…Maybe she sent it by mistake?”
Scout let out a frustrated scream that made her throat sore and moved towards him. “How long?!” she demanded.
“How. Damn. Long?”
Scott was backing away from her. She’d caught him red handed. Scout had seen the messages on his phone. They were never a couple that kept secrets; all passwords and usernames freely shared because, at the end of the day, what was there to hide?
“A few weeks,” he admitted eventually when the silence became too much.
“A few weeks,” Scout repeated the words, feeling her heart break in her chest. “Since she took my spot?” Scott dropped his gaze to the ground. “God, this just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?”
“Scout, listen to me,” Scott implored. “It was a stupid mistake.”
“Did it happen more than once?” she asked, ignoring him.
Scott fixed his dark eyes on her face, but no words left his mouth. Scout lifted one of her crutches and slammed it onto the floor, causing him to jump.
“Did it happen more than once, Scott?!” she demanded.
“What do you want, Scout?” he spat. “You want a play by play of every single time we’ve done it?”
She took in a deep breath. “Then it wasn’t a mistake,” she informed him. “It was a fucking choice!” Scout turned around and swung herself out of the room and back down the hallway. Her blonde bob bounced and swayed with every move.
“Where are you going?” Scott asked her.
“To our room.”
She could hear him following behind her and wished she wasn’t on crutches. Scout wished that she could run and slam their bedroom door so that she could put some space between them. She needed space.
“What, Scott? What?!” she asked.
“No. Just…” Scout swallowed the lump in her throat. “I’m packing my things and I’m leaving.”
She’d managed to make it into the bedroom and turned to see Scott standing in the doorway. Her breath caught for a moment. Scout had fallen head over heels with this man when she left home at 18. Scott was the man with the smile that made her heart flutter the first time she saw it and was responsible for so many of hers and now he’d just shattered her heart into a million pieces.
“There’s no going back from this,” she whispered. Scout hobbled towards the bedroom door and pushed it shut. She stared at it for a few moments. Despite what she had just said there was a small part of her that wanted Scott to rip the door open and fight for their relationship. Fight for her. She wanted Scott to feel like he couldn’t live without her.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, Scout stared at the bedroom door until she heard another door in the flat open and shut. Scott had just left and that was when she fell apart. She found herself crying hard, tears coming hot and fast until she was gasping for breath. In weeks, everything in her life had seemed to fall apart.
She moved to the bed and sat on the edge of it, throwing the crutches to the floor. Pulling out her phone, Scout scrolled through her contacts before hitting the call button.
“Dad?” Scout asked when the ringing stopped.
“Sweetheart?” Jim Daniels answered the phone. “What’s wrong?”
“I need to come home. Ple… please can you come and get me?”
“Scout, what’s happened? Why are you crying?”
“Scott and I broke up,” she admitted through the tears. “I’m leaving him. Please, Dad. Please.”
“Of course, sweetheart. I’ll get in the car now. Just wait there.”
“Thank you,” she whispered. Scout hung up the phone and shoved it back in her pocket. Pushing herself up from the bed, Scout placed pressure on her leg and cried out in pain. “Shit! Shit!” She hopped and turned around to lean on the bed, waiting for the pain to subside before she picked up her crutches again.
This was where all her problems had started. As a professional dancer, Scout had poured her heart and soul into her art. She was no stranger to early mornings and late nights in the studio. Dance was her first love and would continue to be until the day she died but one wrong move had sent her straight to A&E.
Scout didn’t believe in God but in that moment, she prayed to anyone upstairs that it was nothing major. Turned out that when you didn’t believe in the big guy, he didn’t pull you any favours. A torn ACL was the diagnosis and one surgery later she had given up her lead role in Red Shoes on the West End. Scout wasn’t ashamed to say that she probably cried harder at losing the job than she had at losing Scott.
The doctor’s assured her that she would be able to dance again but that recovery would take some time. They were not talking weeks but months. Months of physiotherapy and making sure that she wasn’t putting too much pressure and strain on her knee so that it healed properly.
Scout thought that was the worst life could throw at her but Scott fucking her understudy was the cherry on the shit cake. Looked like Carrie wasn’t just her understudy for the part in the show.
Carrie Mendoza had been a pain in Scout’s ass ever since they were at Royal Holloway together. Every class, every practice, she was there trying to get the better of Scout. By the time they’d graduated, Scout was glad to be rid of her so imagine her surprise, at 24, to find Carrie auditioning for the same role. Scout was definitely more smug than usual when she landed the role in Red Shoes.
Scout began throwing clothes into a duffle bag with wild abandon. She’d take whatever fit and get Scott to send everything else. It might have been rash but what else was she meant to do? She couldn’t stay there. She couldn’t kick him out of the flat. She was a dancer who couldn’t dance and had no job so she couldn’t afford a flat in London on her own. Scout would go back home and stay with her Dad until she was back on her feet.
She was a good dancer. She’d find another job again. If one door closed then another opened, right? It was an impossibility that all doors were shut.
It took Jim three hours before he turned up at the door of the flat. Scott hadn’t returned in that time and Scout wondered where he was. She felt sick at the thought of one possible place he could be.
“Let me give you a hand with that, love,” Jim said grabbing the duffle bag and rucksack.
Scout walked out of the flat behind him. After she shut the door, she posted the key through the letterbox. She didn’t bother with leaving Scott a note. She didn’t give him an explanation. All Scout wanted was a clean break. She could forgive a lot of things, but cheating was not one of them.
Jim placed Scout’s bags into the boot of the car before helping her get into the passenger seat, placing her crutches in the back.
“Do you want to tell me what’s happened, Scout?” Jim asked as they set off.
Scout sank into the seat as her Dad navigated his way out of London. The bright lights of the city started to grow smaller in the wing mirror as she stared out of the window. “I found out he was cheating on me.”
Jim would understand. Scout’s mother had done the exact same to him. He found out when Scout was ten years old and they divorced after that. When it came down to it, Scout chose to stay with her Dad and hadn’t had much contact with her Mum since. She didn’t have time for cheaters, never understood them. If you were unhappy, why wouldn’t you just leave? Why make someone else miserable?
“So, back to Swansea,” Jim said, cutting through the silence. “It’ll be good to have you home again.”
Jim sounded so cheerful, but Scout’s eyes started to burn with tears as she rested her head against the window, letting the coolness of it soothe her somewhat.
Swansea. The pretty, shitty city. The graveyard of ambition. Scout grew up always certain of one thing – she was not going to be the girl stuck in Swansea. She was going to be the girl who left and never came back. Looked like she was wrong. She was heading back to the city that just refused to let go of people. Refused to let them grow.
Jim chatted for the entire drive. Three hours of hearing about the cricket club, Adrian the fishmonger and how the council had decided to turn the Kingsway into a two-way road system again and how all they did was waste money. Scout nodded and gave responses at the appropriate times, but her head was elsewhere.
As he pulled onto their street, it felt like blocks of lead had settled in Scout’s stomach.
“I’ll help you get out now, sweetheart,” Jim told her. He got out of the car and Scout unclipped her seatbelt and pushed the door open. Jim was there with her crutches and with his help she got out of the car and took the crutches out of his hands. Jim grabbed the bags and Scout followed him up the path to the house. It felt like the longest walk she’d ever taken.
“Right, now, let me make you something to eat,” he said, when they got into the house.
“Actually, Dad, I think I’m just going to head to bed if that’s alright with you.”
“Are you sure, Scout?”
“Yeah. It’s been a long day.” That and it was 2 a.m and she didn’t think she would ever have an appetite again.
“If you’re sure, love.”
Jim helped her up the stairs, carrying her bags and setting them down in Scout’s old room. It hadn’t changed a whole lot since she was a teen except being a little emptier now.
“If you need anything, you know where to find me,” Jim told her.
He pulled her into a hug, and she sank into the embrace. He smelled of mint humbugs and fabric softener. It was the way he’d always smelled. It was a scent that brough her so much comfort and it took everything in her not to fall apart in her Dad’s arms.
“I love you, Scout. I know you’ll get through this.”
Jim placed a kiss on the top of her head, and she felt like she was five years old again. Scout felt like she’d just scraped her knee and Jim would put some antiseptic on it and a plaster and give it a magic rub. But she was not fine and a broken heart and a screwed up knee needed more than magic to heal.
“I love you too, Dad,” she muttered.
He left the room and Scout changed into pyjamas before crawling into bed. She wrapped herself in the duvet and made herself as small as possible, pressing her head into the pillows. In the dark of her room, Scout let all the emotions bubble to the surface and the tears started to fall again.
How had she ended up here? She thought she had it all and in a matter of weeks everything Scout had worked for, her job, her relationship, he home, had all been ripped away from her and she’d been left with nothing.
This was not how Scout had expected her life to turn out.