Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara Read Online (FREE)
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I smell him first, or rather the aftershave he used to wear. Joint by Roccobarocco. A 90s vintage scent – masculine and woody. A discontinued line.
I spin round, but no one’s there. Only a girl in a puffa jacket squatting to tie her laces. I almost trip over her. Then I see him, sprinting towards the sea, the furry flaps of his trapper hat flying in the breeze like a spaniel’s ears. Simon.
My knees give way. I stare after him, but he’s disappeared into the night. That’s if he was ever there in the first place. Maybe it’s all in my head. A hallucination. I’ve had a few of those in the past.
Whatever it was, I scurry home. A small, frightened creature, suddenly afraid of the dark. Afraid of him.
Mum pounces on me like a sniffer dog the second I walk through the door.
‘Where’ve you been? I’ve been worried sick.’ Her fingers dig into my arms and I have to shake her off.
‘It’s only ten o’clock, Mum. You can’t keep doing this. You’ve got to trust me.’
The snort is out before she has a chance to think better of it. ‘Trust? You’re talking to me about trust?’
She crumples on to the bottom stair with her head in her hands, and something inside me crumples too. I kneel down beside her and bury my head in her lap.
‘Sorry.’ My voice is muffled in the folds of her dressing gown and the years roll away. I’m in my first year of secondary school and someone has upset me. Mum is telling me to rise above it.
Now, as then, she rubs her hand in a circle between my shoulders.
‘I just don’t understand why you have to walk when it’s so late,’ she says, and I want to explain that if I have to come home and sit in this dreary little cottage night after night without drinking, my head will explode. I want to tell her that I walk to stay alive, that I have to keep on the move, doing things, going places, even when I’ve nothing to do and nowhere to go. Especially then. But all I can do is shed hot, silent tears into her lap.
It’s been five months since I woke up in hospital, Mum standing at the foot of my bed with ‘That Look’ on her face. A fortnight since my spell in rehab came to an end. It was she who suggested this arrangement. If she hadn’t, I might have been forced to ask, wouldn’t have had the luxury of indignation.
‘Move in with you? In Flinstead? You’ve got to be joking.’
Simon and I had laughed about the place on the few occasions it cropped up in conversation. Said the day we ended up somewhere like Flinstead was the day we gave up on life. It’s got this reputation as being somewhere you go to die. Like Eastbourne, only smaller and with nothing to do of an evening.