I decided to keep my mouth shut.

He pushed past me and proceeded to walk up the stairs. I didn’t even turn around to look at him. Instead, I felt my glance wavering up at Zacky.

He sent me a smile – a kind, sincere smile. It was actually something I hadn’t seen in a very long time. His eyes read completely calm, and I felt my barriers begin to fall down slightly, which wasn’t exactly the best of things.

“How are you?” he smiled softly, moving closer to me.

I shrugged.

“Unhappy?”

I shrugged.

“Tired?”

I shrugged.

“Excited to start school?”

I nodded that time. The truth was I was just ready to get away from everything. Christmas that year was going to be an absolute nightmare.

“Have you spoken to your mom at all?”

“Yeah” I replied, not wanting to divulge what it was that she had told me.

“Are you two getting along better now?”

“I don’t even know anymore” I laughed nervously. “I just can’t wait to move out.”

He laughed. “Only two more years, kiddo.”

“Tell me about it.”

As we finished talking, my dad’s footsteps rampaging through the house became more noticed and it became evident that he had actually gone upstairs and woken my mum and Derrick up. He had appeared to start an argument too, and the three of them were really biting each other’s heads off.

“You want to…go and watch some television?” Zacky suggested.

Before I could agree or not, he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me off in the direction of the television. We entered the living room and sat down – I on the sofa closest to the other side of the room, and Zacky on the single chair by the door.

It was obvious that he still wanted to her what was going on.

By the time the shouting had subsided, it was evident that my dad was grabbing all of his things as I could hear him moving things around above us. Soon after, I also heard footsteps coming down the stairs – my mum and Derrick.

I sort of sat up in the sofa as the entered the living room. My mum was seething. Derrick just sort of stood there, awkwardly, as Zacky stared up at him.

But, we all knew that Zacky couldn’t judge. My dad had done the same thing.

“Zach” my mum sighed. “Please just get him out of the house. He needs to calm down.”

Zacky looked at me, and then nodded. “Well, you can hardly blame him Val. Sure, you guys both were cheating. But at least he isn’t using Charlotte.”

I sort of looked at Zacky and scoffed.

“Val is not the one using Charlotte and we all know that” Derrick spoke up. Strangely enough, I didn’t think I’d ever heard him speak before.

“What are you even talking about?” Zacky asked, utterly confused as he looked around at us all – making eye contact with me, my mu and Derrick in turn. “What do you even mean?”

“You know exactly what” Derrick spat, shaking his head.

I looked away down at my leg as Zacky continued to try and look at him.

“You truly are a head case” Zacky laughed. “I can’t believe Matt is even giving up so easily when he lets Charlotte stay with you.”

With that, he stood up awkwardly and walked out of the living room.

“You know exactly why” my mum whispered to him as he walked on past us. I wasn’t supposed to hear, but I did.

I sat still, remaining in my place.

“Go get dressed, Charlotte” my mum demanded, suggesting otherwise by trying to sound nice about it. I stood up, seeing a glimpse of concern in her eyes, and limped out of the room also, heading for the stairs.

***

It took me a while to get dressed. I ended up blasting my music rather loud because of the fact that I could still hear my dad gathering up all of his things in the room next door to me. It sounded at one point as though he had tipped out the entire wardrobe and was rummaging through to find what was his.

He was clearly unhappy, and the way he had spoken to me and behaved that morning showed me that my mum was right. He didn’t really care about me.

He didn’t really want anything to do with me.

And the reason why he hadn’t fought tooth and nail for me was most likely because Val was absolutely right in everything that she had said to me.

I hurriedly got dressed before walking out of my room.

Because my leg was still broken, I was an extremely slow walker and it took me a while to get out of the room.

I closed the door behind me, about to wander over to the stairs with a feeling of dread as I pondered what I would be doing that day with my mum and Derrick, when my dad burst out of the door.

He looked flustered to say the least, and visibly angry. Still.

He smiled down at me as sincerely as possible, but his rage still got the better of him and it was displayed clearly through his body language.

“Hey, you” he smiled. “I’m sorry about before. I was just so pissed off. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I’m sorry.”

I looked away from him silently.

“You know, I really missed you last night. How were you?”

I ignored him again, still replaying the conversation I had with my mum the previous day. I could feel it from his body language that it was all a big façade. He hated me.

“Charlotte?” he smiled. “Are you excited for tomorrow? You’ll make new friends, and you’ll be around people to take your mind off the divorce. And Midge.”

He fell silent once more to see if I would respond.

“And, I swear, when things settle down, I’ll come back for you.”

His last sentence broke my heart slightly, but I was still clouded by my mum. I didn’t know what to believe, or if I could even believe anything that he had said to me.

I decided then and there that, from then on, I was just going to block everything out.

And as he stepped forward, reached out his arms and tried to hug me, I fell completely indifferent to him. As he squeezed his grip tighter around me, I was numb.

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