IT’S THE LIGHTS. I hate the lights—they’re so bright. I don’t like bright. I want to go back to my room. It’s not bright in my room. It’s dim and cool and safe. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to….
“Good morning, Gabriel. Are you going to be a good boy today? You weren’t yesterday, were you?”
“I want to go home.”
“All in good time. We have work to do today, and the sooner we get it done, the sooner you can go back to your room. One more day. Just one more day.”
“Can I go home then?”
“We’ll see. Relax now, Gabriel. You know it’s easier when you relax. I’m going to give you an injection and I want you to relax and let your mind open. Relax now, Gabriel. I’m going to start now.
Remember to relax.”
The lights. I hate the lights.
It’s the screaming that wakes me every time. But this time I’m not alone. There’s someone here with me. My housemates never come near when I’m screaming; they know better. It scares them. It scares me.
I prise open my eyes and the shock stops the screams. It almost stops my heart. I try to push him away, but he holds on. He’s in my bed. He’s… dressed but I… I’m not. What the fuck happened last night? Was I that drunk?
“Get away from me.”
“When you stop shaking.”
“Fuck that. Get away from me.”
I manage to push him back and he stretches out like a cat, propping that head of glorious hair on one hand. He looks at me with his amazing eyes.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
“That’s okay. I wasn’t expecting thanks. Not from you.”
“Thanks? What do I have to thank you for?”
“Well, I could have left you unconscious on your doorstep, but I thought you’d be more comfortable in bed.”
“I… what? I…. You undressed me?”
Laurie shrugs. “You threw up.”
I groan. I’m not worried about passing out or throwing up—that’s not unusual for me, especially after alcohol—but the thought someone saw it, saw me, and took off my clothes….
I’m horrified. No one sees my body. No one.
“Get the fuck out of here.”
“Just as well I wasn’t expecting thanks, isn’t it? Otherwise I might be feeling crushed right now.”
“I don’t give a shit. Get the hell out of my room.”
Laurie’s expression turns introspective. He reaches out and runs his finger over my arm. The touch sends shivers through me, and for a moment I freeze, staring at his hand. It’s been a long time since anyone has touched me, especially there.
Stunned, I raise my eyes and gaze into the deep blue orbs. “Is it because of that?” he says softly. “It’s alright. It doesn’t bother me.”
“I….” My heart pounds. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t cope with this. I shake my head. “Get out of my room. Get out. Get out!” I know I’m being unreasonable, but I can’t help it. I know I’m getting hysterical, but I can’t help that either.
Looking completely shocked, he does what I ask.
Make the most of these Release Period Sales
Nephy Hart was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Nephy has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Nephy became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Nephy lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, bearded dragon (called Smaug of course) and three cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art