Five in the morning. The vacant hour of the day. Most were still nestled in a bed or blacked out on a floor. The cheap makeup from last night cemented on skin; glassy eyes, and mouths that still reeked of beer and maybe vomit. The wintry air cooled my reddened cheeks as I jogged by the voiceless houses, slow rock ringing in my ears. I focused on the brunt impact of the soles of my feet as they met the bitumen road, and the movements of my body as muscles contracted. Maybe, if I scrutinised my form, the pain I was feeling wouldn’t be all that bad. Right? Wrong. My calves ached as I worked up another hill, saliva building up in my mouth, damp blonde curls sticking to the sides of my face. Crows perched on aged fences, I wondered how their deafening screams didn’t serve to wake the entire suburb. A dark jeep slowed as it reached me, the driver hung his head full of choppy brown hair outside of the window, hollered something I didn’t here, sneered and sped off. I gave him the finger but his cowardly self was already gone.
I turned a corner and rested my back on the old pub’s brick wall. My skin glimmered with sweat as I tucked the strands of wet hair behind my ears and tugged my earphones out. As soon as the music stopped playing the flood gate of thoughts was opened.
‘Fuck’. I panted with exhaustion, aimlessly staring at the lengthy chain of terrace houses. Their blinds were down and their little gates closed. Quiet. A little voice started in my mind. It’s him again. I peered around me to ensure that nobody was watching before I counted from ten backwards. Surprisingly enough, this worked for me. The voice died again. Shoving the earplugs back in, I pushed off the wall and continued up the street.
The lengthy jog against uneven ground began to take its toll on my knees as they seemed moments away from giving in. I tried to focus on the road before me, ignoring the sharp, undeniable burning in my chest as my heart throbbed against it unsteadily. Light began to appear, the morning heat pelted against my sweaty back. The sickly sweet trace of marijuana lingered in the air still. I imagined a group of people no older than I was, seemingly comatose as they lounged on plastic covered couches, sharing a single joint and soaking up the pleasure of each other’s idleness and collective lethargy.
‘Stop thinking so much’. The little voice whispered. But I didn’t want to stop thinking. I didn’t want to stop running. The discomfort kept me grounded here. And there was nowhere I’d rather be, than here. Sort of. I lifted my chin up in a futile, typical attempt to overlook the fact that this heart struggled for a reason other than that of the exhaustion of my body. Not even the soothing voice of John Lennon could allow me to shake the stifling truth, that I was, broken.
The sustained silence of my decrepit flat was broken as the shower head squealed to life. My tense muscles relaxed as the cold water spilled from my head and shoulders, running off of my eyelashes. I leaned against the cool tiled wall and rested my head on my right shoulder, watching as the condensation crept on the glass door. I closed my eyes and went numb. Every thought, every reflection, ripped at my brain with its calloused hands. My body and mind were unanimous in their weakness. I thought of school, and every insecurity that bred there. I thought of the technicality that was my mother, I thought of me, I thought of Jordan. My Jordan. Today, the floodgate was open. Today, was not a good day.
I wiped the condensation off of the bathroom mirror and took in my reflection. My eyes were grey and glazed from long nights of nothing. It was starting to show, I thought. Light freckles scattered across my hollowed cheeks and the least suspecting parts of my body.
‘Shut up they’re cute Rose, come to me when you have a legitimate insecurity’. He hated it when I complained about my freckles. I’d drop every single one of my ‘woes’ onto him like I couldn’t afford a diary.
‘Um, wow thanks for the support’. I’d jab my elbow into his gut. He’d snort and do the same.
I smiled as I recalled that memory. The only genuine smile in months. I meandered out of the bathroom. My bare toes sink into the soft, crumby carpet. Stained with god knows what. For all I knew, somebody could have been murdered here. Knowing this place, nobody would have ever known. I opened my bedroom’s blinds and watch familiar cars pass. Newtown had awoken. My room was small with creamy white walls, sheets and pillowcases. A few years ago I had taken it upon myself to visit the closest nursery and spend my mother’s change on four plants that would brighten up the blandness of my room, given that I’d remember to water them. I stroked the leaves of my Chinese evergreen as I water it with my spray bottle. What I’d do to stay in bed and assume the foetal position under the mattress. Unlikely. I ran a brush through my hair, wincing as it tugged at every knot. I put my glasses on and once-overed my reflection in the vanity mirror. I was wearing Jordan’s brown leather jacket. I closed my eyes and pulled the collar up to my nose. The faint smell of lynx gently washed a wave of memories into my mind and the corner of my mouth twitched. I left my room and locked my door, the stench of stale cigarettes immediately revolted me as I saw her sleeping on my grandmother’s chair, a fag held between two fingers, some game show on TV played in the background. Mother. I grabbed the spilt ash tray and considered breaking it over her head but something stopped me. Ah yes, It’d be even more of a burden having her awake. I quietly placed it on the coffee table, headed for the door and slammed it behind me. There was a time when I’d acknowledge her existence, there was a time when I’d kiss her goodbye. There was a time, when I had cared.