Tensions are building steadily at home. The atmosphere is getting thicker and thicker. I’m unable to control my reactions like before. I’m not just scared anymore. I’m getting angrier. I’m really struggling to control myself on a daily basis. Fear is barely keeping my mouth shut now. My sister ran away 18 months ago because Dad tried to strangle her. Even though I know that if he loses it I might end up dead, it’s killing me every day keeping my eyes down, saying the right things, placating his fucking temper. He can see it though. He knows I’m close to snapping and he’s waiting. If I don’t get out of here soon, I’m going to break.
So, I go. Pack my things into bin bags and fill my backpack.
Leanne’s agreed to meet me outside my gate at half seven to help me move my stuff quickly. I’m moving as quietly as I can. I can hear him snoring in bed still. The kids aren’t up yet, but Mum is awake. I dump all my bags by the front door. Mum turns to face me.
Mum: “Are you doing what I think you’re doing?”
Me: “I can’t be here anymore. I’m sorry”
Mum stares at me for a few seconds. She looks defeated. I think she’s going to beg me to stay. Not sure if I can take that.
Mum: “What am I supposed to without your child benefit money*”
I don’t think she’s ever said anything so hurtful to me. I look away; my eyes are filling. Is that all I’m good for?
I pick up my bags and start moving them outside. Thank god, Leanne is here, she hasn’t let me down. I get everything out, and go back inside. I lay two notes on the table, one for Mum, one for Dad. Mum’s back is turned. She doesn’t say a word.
She doesn’t even ask me if I have somewhere safe to sleep.
Walking as fast as we can, Leanne and I head for the bus stop. A bus is due almost immediately. Hop on. Sit down. Exhale.
Drive past the house. I won’t see inside it again. The front door is shut.
Head to the nearest town, where I’ll be staying with a friend. I’ve known him for a while. He used to have a major drug and alcohol problem, but he’s been clean for about six months and he’s doing really well. It’s a good arrangement for both of us. He really needs the company and I really need somewhere to stay!
It’s going really well at first. His friend Charlie** is staying too. Charlie is a sweet kid, a runaway like me, only I’m pretty sure he’s underage. I’m teaching my friend, Stan**, to play guitar and some basic cookery skills. I don’t think he’s ever used the oven!
Money is tight for that first week and a half, but we don’t mind. We get so excited when we go to the shop and find cheddar cheese on offer! Cheese is too expensive when you’re trying to eat on five pounds a week! I’m sleeping on the couch in the spare room. Stan offered me the bed, but to be honest his hygiene isn’t amazing so I decided to stick with that couch! Charlie is bunking on the living room floor on a mattress. We’re like a little family. Charlie doesn’t really talk. I wonder what happened to him.
It’s all been going so well. Am I surprised that it didn’t last?
I have to up for work early tomorrow. Stan and Charlie came home with a litre of Vodka. Stan has definitely taken something. Phet I think…he’s twitchy as hell and he’s gurning like nothing I’ve ever seen. He’s saying that someone gave him the vodka as a gift…bullshit. They robbed it. This is going to get messy. I retreat to my room.
It’s 12 am now, and they’re blasting happy hardcore. I have to be up in six hours and my patience is wearing thin. I’ve asked them twice to keep it down. I can hear crashing now. I poke my head around the door. Their jumping on and off the sofa like maniacs. I eye the vodka. It’s nearly gone. I ask Stan again. He comes nose to nose with me and screams at me to shut the fuck up. His eyes are wild. I go from pissed off to fucking terrified on about half a second.
I take a step back, put my hands out, palm open. “Ok Stan, I’m sorry. My bad.” I know that look. My Dad gets that look right before the violence comes. He’s lost it. He dashes into the kitchen. I stand there frozen. He comes back and runs full pelt at me. There’s a fucking knife in his hand. There’s a fucking knife in his hand! I’ve never moved so fast in my life. I just manage to get my door closed before he reaches me. There’s no fucking lock! I’ve never needed a lock before! Stan is stabbing seven shades of shit out of the door. I drag the couch in front of the door and brace myself between the couch and the wall. He’s kicking the door now; if he gets in here I think he’ll actually kill me.
I don’t have much credit on my phone. It’s 1 am now. It doesn’t even occur to me to ring the police. They would just take me back to my parents. My friend Mickey offered me his spare room last week. I call him and hang up; pray, pray, pray he calls back. He does. I can come to his but he doesn’t know anyone who can come get me. Ok. I call my ‘surrogate brother’, Matt. He’s in bed with his wife. He’ll be with me in ten minutes. I thought his wife would be mad, but I can hear her in the background, telling him to get me out of there. Bless her, she’s never liked me much, but she did the right thing that night. He would have come anyway.
The door is starting to splinter. I’m a bit worried about Matt, Stan having a knife and all, but Matt is 6″2, weighs about 18 stone and is one of the toughest people I know. I warned him about the knife.
There’s banging at the door. Stan ignores it for a bit, but it doesn’t stop. He stops kicking the door. I hear him tell Charlie to act normal. He opens the door. Matt tells him to sit down and stay down. He must have looked like thunder, because Stan obeys him without a word. I push the couch away from the door. I’ve never been so glad to see anyone. We get my stuff out.
As I’m leaving, Stan calls out to me. I’ve avoided looking at him this whole time. Tears are pouring down his face. He’s wailing at me, begging me not to go. I just shake my head. He picks up the knife and starts slicing into his arms. He’s begging me to stop, pleading with me to come back. Cutting deeper and deeper the whole time. I can’t stop looking; there’s an emotional car wreck happening right in front of my eyes. There’s blood fucking everywhere. He’s almost screaming now. There are ropes of drool hanging out of his mouth. Blood is spreading over the carpet. Charlie is puking in the corner. Matt comes back up stairs; the car is packed. I’m in shock I think. How can I leave him like this? Matt takes in the scene, puts his arms around me and pulls me down the stairs, out the door. I’m not putting up a fight. I just can’t physically walk away from that.
We drive for a little while. He pulls the car over and holds me in silence. He never asks me if I want to go home. He knows how bad it was there. I chainsmoke for about an hour, let him hold me and give what comfort he can. He’s crying now. Crying over me, my life, my situation. I should probably cry. I think I’ve forgotten how. It’s been years since I’ve shed a tear. I wish I was exaggerating.
On to the next.