Sorrow Swallows My Screams

Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Two:

Zacky’s POV:

Admittedly, the blankets caused me pain. Where they made contact with my body, it stung. A dull ache was cascading around various bruised parts of me. It was late morning, I guessed by the amount of light flooding into my bedroom from the window, though, my eyes still shut, I couldn’t be sure. All I had to go on was the brightness that I knew was waiting patiently for me when I was to open my eyes.

It was only then, as my senses began to wake up and kick in, that I realised there was a strange smell in the room. The smell was different to anything I’d ever smelled before. It was worse than dirty, smelly old socks, worse than muddy, swamp-stained clothes, worse than anything I’d ever smelled before, ever. I creased up my nose, opening my eyes. And saw the worst sight I’d ever seen.

The carcass of a cat lay at the foot of my bed, resting morbidly on my blankets. The black mass appeared to be rotting away too, slightly, though it could have been my imagination. It could have simply been, I thought, cringing, that somebody had hacked this cat up so bad that I couldn’t tell. Looking to one side of the cat, I saw the head. It was the part of the cat that had gotten off the easiest. It looked normal, unharmed, until, I saw, struggling to keep the contents of my stomach inside me, that its eyes were missing.

I diverted my eyes to the ceiling, feeling sick. I was breathing way too fast, and focussed on slowing it down to a normal pace. My eyes came down from the ceiling in one swift, quick moment. I stared at my hands for a moment before I moved. I could barely even feel my bruises and pains from the bashing yesterday - they were far back in my mind right now.

I made to move, to get away from my room, but the with the movement of my feet the cat moved. I felt it and involuntarily stole a glance at the disgusting thing. I’m sure I could have kept the contents of my stomach in, if I hadn’t have chosen to look at my bedside table. That was where the cat’s eyes were. I retched and threw up on the floor beside my bed, scarcely leaning over far enough to avoid getting my blankets… not that it mattered, seeing as I was never going to use these ones ever again.

In one quick movement, I cut the crap and jumped from my bed, bolting from the room. I slammed the door behind me and flew out the front door of the house. I knew my destination. I had to see Brian now.

I arrived at his house heavily panting and sweaty. I was greeted at the front door by a smiling Mr Haner. I walked into the lounge room and saw Brian sitting on the couch, watching TV. Mr Haner detoured off into the kitchen as I entered the lounge room, presumably to give Brian and I some privacy.

“Zacky!” he exclaimed upon seeing me. He got up, darting towards me and engulfing me in a big affectionate hug. I gratefully returned the hug, wrapping my arms around him. My bruises were hurting again, but with the image of the cat still firmly plastered in my mind, I didn’t care, not to mention the fact that I was with Brian. Since I’d met him he’d been acting as my safety net, my security blanket, my umbrella in the rain, my light in the darkness… my… everything…

“God, what happened to you?” Brian had pulled away from me and was now examining my visible bruises.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I mumbled, suddenly embarrassed. I felt my cheeks turn red with a blush as he examined my body.

“It doesn’t look like nothing,” Brian said, unconvinced.

“No, really, it doesn’t matter. It was just… Mikey’s”-my voice broke on that word-“brother found me yesterday. I’m okay now… Listen, Brian, you’ve got to hear this.”

I broke into the story of the cat, adding my speculations that I had come to believe: that my father was the one to place the cat on my bed. I knew one slap didn’t do his reputation justice. To be honest, I think I would have preferred a beating to finding that. It’s really not the best thing to wake up to. I can think of better things to wake up to, for sure… like… say… Brian…

After I’d finished telling Brian the appropriately titled story of the cat, he was dead-set on coming back with me to remove it from my room. I was just as dead-set on him staying where he was. I was quite content to keep him safe at his house. Also, I certainly needn’t raise any suspicions about Brian being anything more than a friend of mine. That would be positively disastrous. Wow, look at me talking all smart all of a sudden. Anyway… it all comes back to the same point: Brian is staying at home, and I will eventually have to return alone to my loathsome home to remove a dead cat from my bedroom. Lovely.

For now, though, Brian and I could settle on one thing. We decided to chill out on the couch, watching some TV. Perfect.

I didn’t know I’d fallen asleep until I woke up. Funny, that. Brian said I’d fallen asleep for an hour or so. This time that I woke up was muchmuchmuchmuch better than the last time. No cat, this time. Just Brian, peering down at me, the warmth of his stomach under my head - I’d somehow fallen down sideways in my sleep and began using Brian’s tummy as a pillow. I don’t know, people do weird things in their sleep.

I felt fresher after the nap, so that was a good thing. I felt more courageous. I felt prepared. Prepared to go back home and get rid of the cat. And to confront my father. I got up from the couch. Brian mirrored me and walked me to the front door. I gave him a quick peck on the lips, but he wasn’t satisfied with this. He kissed me for a long moment, the kiss tender and loving.

And I left. Left to go home and confront my fears, and my life.