Chapter Six

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"Urgh!" I woke up, feeling like crap for the second time in a row. At least this time it wasn't a hangover. It was more to do with the fact that I cried myself to sleep in a pathetic heap at about two a.m.

It wasn't so much that Bradley and Daphne were together—as much as that did hurt—they were probably way more suited to each other than we ever were. I think it was more the pain that came from the life that I could have had, if none of this had happened. Opening that email had torn open a painful wound in my chest—one that mourned for the life I'd missed out on. Yes, from the illness, but also from my own inability to grasp the second chance that I'd been given. If I really thought about it, it was far from normal; the way that I'd behaved. I was one of the lucky ones. Everyone else had been right about me. I just hadn't wanted to hear it—any of it.

But how could I change that now? Was it even possible, or was I just too far gone? I was no longer naive enough to believe that one night was enough to transform things. If I really intended to improve my existence, it was going to be a long and challenging journey—one that I needed my eyes wide open for.

Was that something I was willing to do? Or was I too exhausted from living to even bother trying?

Ring, ring...

My phone piped up, shaking me from my thought pattern. The word 'Mum' flashed up on the screen, which was really not what I needed, not while I was wallowing so deep in self-pity. I wasn't sure how I was going to keep up the upbeat act, when I was feeling more dreadful than normal. It wasn't easy on the best of days!

I sighed deeply, trying to mentally prepare myself, before answering. "Hello?" I croaked, sounding about as dreadful as I felt.

"Hi Lara, how are you?" My mum's voice was warm and comforting, just like normal. It was familiar, but not as reassuring as I'm certain she wanted it to be. She used this tone to try and invite me in. She was desperate for me to open up to her and tell her the truth about my feelings and my life, it was just so obvious. But I kept on with my little white lies, and she carried on pretending that she believed them. It was just the way we'd become.

I was always close to my mum when I was growing up—or as close as you can be, being the oldest of three children with a dad you don't know—one that vanished before you were even born. But when I became ill, she changed. She became all efficient, focused only on my treatment and what we could all do to help me. It was kind of a nightmare. She just couldn't seem to admit that I was dying.

Although, it seems now that she was much smarter than we all thought. Maybe she was the only one that could see that it wasn't the end for me after all...

All of it took its toll on her marriage to my stepdad. He just couldn't seem to do anything right by her. The eldest of my stepbrothers, Phil—the youngest is Jack—tried to tell me what was going on, he tried to get me to intervene, but I really was too ill by then. I was spending most of my days with my head over the toilet, bugged out on meds, or sleeping. I was no use to anyone; I didn't feel like I could do anything to help anyone else. Phil did his best, but he was so young—it was all too much responsibility for him.

Apparently my stepdad had almost walked out more than once, and that was after I was starting to get better. When I'd become kind of a bitch. I was almost the reason for them breaking up, for which I now felt awful for. They were such a good couple, he really made my mum happy, and I nearly destroyed that for the pair of them, selfishly because I had to live. That was a massive part of the reason why I had to move. When mum sprung it on me, I'd already half made the decision to go anyway. She did it out of desperation, and had clearly felt guilty for it ever since, which was why she wanted some honesty from me, and was also the reason that I never gave it.

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