I could have really done without reliving that again. The constant reoccurring nightmare that has haunted me since I was thirteen. The amount of sleep I’ve lost, the amount of vomit I’ve produced. I feel sick now. Sitting in a lay-by just off from the main street in Westmeadow. I breath heavily trying not to panic again. How many times have I woken up crying, or having a panic attack because of Tim. I wish I could go back and change it. I wish I hadn’t told Dad. I really mean that. I wish he hadn’t told me. I didn’t deserve to know him. He was the best friend I could have ever wanted, and he trusted me. He should be here now. He shouldn’t have missed out on everything because of me. I took that away from him
My whole body is shaking, blood dripping from a gash on my palm where I hit the dashboard a little too hard and caught it on something. Tears run free down my cheeks and I can’t stiffen my lip. I close my eyes and count to ten while breathing in. Something I was told would help, back in the uni days.
I didn’t really make any friends after Tim. I stayed by myself and cut almost everyone else out of my life. Those that clung on to me, they never really knew me. I grew distant from the world and learnt to put on an act. It made it easier just to leave when I could. Without looking back.
Until now, when I have to look back. Here I am. Westmeadow. I hoped I’d left this place forever, but I never really left. I revisited near enough every night.
My head is pounding. I need to get to a hotel and get a couple of hours sleep before I meet Ryan. Maybe I’ll oversleep and miss the whole thing. That would be ideal right now.
I drive down to Wexgate and start looking for hotels. Anything will do, not like I’m paying. Chain or independent. As long as I can get a couple of hours sleep before I meet Ryan I should be good.
I drive past the hospital, I forgot it was on this street. Damn, that building holds a lot of bad memories. Can’t believe I’m here again, revisiting everything I wanted to forget. Stupid Casey, thinking she’s helping with this. She isn’t. Any progress I’ve made in the last decade has shrivelled away into nothing. I’m back and these wounds seem as fresh as ever, like someone used a rusty knife to dig into the scars.
Every hotel I stop at doesn’t have a spare room. There’s some music thing happening and everywhere seems to be booked up. Just my luck. Couldn’t have sent me down last weekend or next weekend. Had to be this one. Had to be today of all days. When I can’t even get a stupid room in the neighbouring town. God damn it. I can’t believe this. I smack the steering wheel and sigh. My jaw tightly closed. I want a drink.
No. Leave that alone. I can get a drink when I’m back in London, not right now, when I can’t find a place to sleep and have to drive back to London tonight. That’s what I’m going to have to do. Drive straight back home tonight. I was kind of looking forward to the hotel. Everything would, hopefully, be clean and new. Could escape my life for one day.
I pull up into a lay by on a quiet street and move to the passenger seat. The overcast sky still looms above me. At least the rain has gone away. I close my eyes and try and get a couple of hours sleep.
I drift in and out, while the sky swirls around me. The dark clouds race past and with one blink they’re gone, replaced by blue skies and warming sunlight. It’s almost impossible to believe that it was so cold and bitter outside an hour or so before. This is reading weather. Back in Uni, I would take a book into the back garden and waste an afternoon in some other world. The sun glaring down on me, a cool drink with melting ice cubes rattling around. Those were the days. That’s what I should be doing now, not this.
It’s still not time, and now my stomach is actually growling at me. I’m too tired and hung over for this crap. Shifting over to the driver’s seat I pull out my phone and unlock it.
“Closest places to eat,” I ask the map app.
There’s a beep and then several pins appear on the map surrounding my blue circle. A burger joint down the road. I’ll just go there. Cheap and easy. I can eat in the car and then I’ll head to the hospital. I’ll just sit outside until eight, not like there’s much else to do around here.
Eight rolls around slowly, time dragging like a wounded animal away from it’s predator. The hospital car park is busy, people coming and going every second. Holy Trinity hasn’t changed much since the last time I was here. The building still looks like it’s going to crumble any second. The windows are still caked in years old dirt and rain, the automatic doors still seem to be struggling to keep up and the two trees standing above the car park entrance, still look dying. A good sign for any hospital.
I slam the door shut, scaring away some birds in the overhanging tree and start walking towards the front entrance. An elderly couple are walking ahead of me, the woman clinging onto the man’s arm and taking long drawn out steps. Both struggling to walk. It always makes me uncomfortable seeing people like that. Not sure why, maybe it reminds me of death. Whatever I could do without it. I take a step around them, giving them a wide berth so that I don’t accidentally trip them up.
To be continued…