“What the hell do you want from me?” I spit the words out and throw them across the room, as I see the steam being released from my fathers ears.
“For you to do what you’re told.” he replies through gritted teeth.
“I’m sixteen dad you can’t tell me what to do anymore.”
“While you live under this roof you will do as I say.” I was waiting for that line and storm towards the backdoor, still feeling his eyes burning into my back as I slam the door behind me.
“Ah shit, I forgot my shoes again.” ignoring the cold concrete slabs beneath my feet, I head for to the diner on Main Street, he knows I’ll go there but I don’t care. I need to calm down forget that I’m having the same argument I’ve had with him a million and one times before. I do not want to go to school to be an accountant, I hate math. Why should it matter to him what I study, surely he should just be proud of me in whatever I do.
I order a strawberry milkshake as I slide into a battered booth, scanning the diner for Scott.
“Hey buddy, large strawberry.” he slides the shake to me as he sits opposite me “Bad day?”
“You up for shooting hoops later? We can pretend the back board is your dad’s head.”
“Sounds like a plan Scottie boy.” I watch as Scott heads back to work. I’ve lived in this dead end town for three years and Scott is the only person who ever took the time to get to know me; despite the two year age gap, he’s grown to be like a brother to me and I’m grateful, he really is my saving grace. He’s never bothered to question the things I do or why I go missing for days on end.
I never wanted to move to Florida in the first place, I was happy enough being back in England, I’d made new friends and then out of the blue dad up and moves us to Florida. Slurping the dregs of my milkshake and throw five bucks on the table and leave, saluting Scott.
The sand is still warm as the sun sets behind the bustling city of Tampa, sending the sky into a orange cloud of haze. I stand staring out to sea as the waves lap at my legs, my mind wandering back to home. Not where dad says we should be or England but my true home. California. It seems a million miles away, and my chest aches with longing to be back there. To feel at home and loved yet still be a stranger. To have soft grass beneath my feet rather than prickly heat dried grass. To have warmth and not humidity. To walk the surfers sidewalk of fame. The tears spring into my eyes out of nowhere as I feel an arm wrap around my shoulder. Instinctively I turned into his chest and sobbed as Scott rested his chin on my head.
“Ok spudnik enough with the tears, we have hoops to shoot followed by ice cream.” I pout. “I know its not Cold Stone but it’ll have to do.”
“Can I have sprinkles though?”
“You can have anything you want.” Scott said, as we stroll towards the park and he hands me a pair of thongs.
As the evening draws to a close we say are goodbyes and part for home. I sigh trying to keep calm as I reach home. The door buzzes as I go in. Dad is waiting in the kitchen belt on the breakfast bar. I close my eyes and let it happen.
As my eyes flutter open against the morning sun pouring in through the open window I wince. Carefully crawling out of bed and holding by side I stand in front of the full length mirror admiring the new semi permanent tattoo on my rib cage, reaching for my phone I text Scott and tell him I’m ill. I climb back into bed and wish the world would close in around me.
My phone vibrates, it’s seven and Scott’s finished work, he doesn’t care if I’m ill he wants to see me. I try and put him off, I don’t need anymore arguments. There’s a tapping on my window and slowly I open it to let him, knowing that if dad finds him last night will be repeated.
“You don’t look very ill to me.” Scott frowns as I climb back under my covers, biting my lip at the pain.
“Well I feel like crap.”
“Spit it out. What’s really wrong?”
“Nothing, just feel a little under the weather.” Scott descends on the bed, knocking against my side “Ow! Jackass!”
“I barely touched you.” We sit in stony silence for a while “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I’ve told you nothing, I just wanna be left alone.”
“There’s more to it then that come on spill, or I start tickling.” he threatens. I slowly lift up my top and watch as his jaw hit’s the floor.
The house was still as I stand hunched over the bathroom sink. One… two… three… I count, fourteen… fifteen… there’s a letter addressed to Scott on my bedside table apologising and explaining why I can’t go through this anymore. Twenty. I crawl into bed and wait, my stomach cramps unbearably but I know it’ll soon fade as my mind is drawn further into the darkness.