chapter seven

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[tw: assault, self-harm]

As I trudge back home, I notice Dad's car is in the driveway. Curiosity flares in me before negativity sets in, birthing a tiny nagging voice convincing me irrationally that I was in trouble.

My hands shake as I open the door. Dad's sitting in the living room, seemingly waiting. He looks up at my arrival and stands, his face pulled into an unreadable expression. I nod at him nervously.

"Hey Pat. How was school? All good?" He doesn't give me a chance to answer as he picks up a black, rectangular box from the coffee table and approaches. A small, sheepish grin breaks the taut line his lips were in just moments prior.

"So I've got you a gift," he begins, gesturing to the box. "A phone. Now that I've got a job with long hours, we'll need to be able to communicate. I've been saving up over the years..." He presses the box into my hands. I look at it, seeing the Samsung logo printed in shiny white text. "It's an older one. I know the kids your age have the latest model, but this was all I could get. I hope you like it regardless."

I'm so overcome with emotion that I stare at the box for a few seconds before hugging my father. Me and him weren't terribly close; our grief over Mom left us distant more than it brought us together. He'd been as depressed as I was, and his time was often spent looking for work so we never had close moments. Such acts of affection towards me were a rarity; it was no surprise when my eyes filled with thick emotion as I embraced my father. I could feel his smile against my cheek.

"You're welcome."

***

However as I got to my room, the excitement accompanying ownership of my new device began to fade. I had no friends to text, or the slightest clue on what apps to download. Add to that the confusion of navigating the collection of pre-existing applications organized in a grid.

The thin rectangle was black, and through the inscription on its back I learned it was a Galaxy S6. The interface looked a little dated, I supposed, but then again I didn't really know what the newer styles were supposed to look like. I managed to connect to the Internet and download YouTube, stopping there as I had no intention on getting any type of social media.

Scrolling to the contacts, I saw two: my father's and, of course, 911. The idea of getting Pete's number occurred to me immediately and I pushed the thought down, feeling ridiculous.

I'd only known him for like, a day and half and had just recently started trusting him, albeit cautiously. He'd probably think of it as weird if I decided to write him a note asking for his number. He'd probably be surprised, actually, at the idea that the new mute kid, who was quite the opposite of social, had a phone.

And then guilt washes over me as I am reminded of the glaring fact that my father had got me said phone, and claimed to have saved up for years in order to afford it. I'd sort of just assumed that he cared enough to still be a decent father figure; he didn't strike me as the sort of man that would spend a prolonged amount of time putting effort into gifting his son. I should be more grateful and even warmed at the fact that he'd thought about me enough to set money aside for a thing I didn't necessarily need.

A surge of determination courses through me. One day, I'd make it up to him. And Mom. I'd make it up to the people I'd let down and lost - I would find my voice again, and live up to and beyond their expectations and prove all the people that berated me and stripped me down to a useless boy wrong.

However as quickly as the confidence came, it disappeared, the grim reality that none of this would happen hitting me like a freight train. Tears slipped down my cheeks, and I stared dejectedly down at my lap. These episodes of me overwhelmed with determination only to have it crash into nothingness had been occurring a lot more often as of late, perhaps as a result of the depression which clung to me like an incessant toddler. Sobs racked my body, the pain of my stomach contracting with each cry dulling into the background buzz of my emotional turmoil.

critical veins || peterick au [REVISED/REWRITTEN]Where stories live. Discover now