Telling lies was a natural state for me. I’d been telling people lies for as long as I could remember.
But some things couldn’t be lied about anymore.
Not now I was in the car with Mum, after she’d come pick me up from the psychiatric hospital they’d sectioned me to after I’d swallowed all my pills. After they’d assessed me and pumped my stomach and kept me admitted for observation, then shipped me off to the nuthouse an hour away from home.
Mum didn’t speak. Both her hands gripped the wheel and her gaze was firmly planted on the road ahead of us. There weren’t any other cars on the road right now. The stretch went straight ahead, leading us up the mountain we had to drive over to be closer to home.
I fiddled with my phone.
I hadn’t used in much while I was in hospital. I hadn’t replied to Nik’s countless messages, and I hadn’t answered Andreas. He seemed to have given up getting a hold of me now. Both of them had.
Even if I didn’t want to answer the phone when he rang, I probably should answer his texts. At least just so I’d get him off my back.
‘When’s your appointment tomorrow?’ Mum asked out of the blue, after not speaking at all to me since she’d had a chat with my doctor.
Why did she want to know when they’d arranged for me to see a shrink tomorrow?
‘I’ll drive you.’
‘Can’t I just borrow the car?’ I didn’t want her to babysit me. I could get to that bloody appointment on my own.
She frowned, but didn’t so much as glance my way.
‘I’m not sure I trust you.’
‘I’m not going to run the car off the road,’ I snapped, annoyed.
Her lips thinned.
‘You swallowed pills, Glenn. You were only sectioned for three weeks. That doesn’t cure you.’
She thought I’d do it again. Rightfully so, because I would. But I’d save up even more pills this time, to make sure it wasn’t a half-arsed attempt the second time around. Or third time, because I’d done it once before, but no one knew about that.
‘That’s what you want? For me to be cured?’ What was cured even? Was I cured when I didn’t want to die? Or was it when I was happy? I didn’t even know what happiness was. I’d never been happy. Not as far as I could remember, anyway.
Though why that was, I had no idea. My parents weren’t the greatest, they were both busy with their careers, but they did care. They provided for us, kept a roof over our heads, kept money in our pockets, went on holidays with us in the summer when we’d been younger.
Nothing bad had happened to me during my childhood. It had been all right. Well, as all right as it could be with my arsehole brother and cheating father around, but it hadn’t been inherently bad. So why I was so miserable was beyond me.
‘Glenn.’ She sighed. Her hands clenched tighter around the steering wheel. ‘It’s not about a cure. I just want you to be better. And I know it doesn’t happen in three weeks.’
‘How could you possibly know that?’ They’d put me on medication. Bloody antidepressants. For all she knew, I felt all fine and dandy.
She didn’t answer. Instead she sped up.
I unlocked my phone and sent off a quick text to Andreas before I could change my mind.
Settling in nicely. Just been busy.
So many fucking lies.
But that wasn’t anything new.
I rested my head against the window and stared at the landscape. We were in August, still summer, so the trees were green and the grass too. Everything was still green—but it wouldn’t last for long. Soon autumn would be here and nature would spring out in all kinds of colours.
We were home much sooner than I’d like.
Dad’s car was in the driveway, which meant he was home as well.
Oh joy. Both parents to give me an overhaul.
All I wanted was to slink off to my room and go to sleep in my own bed, but if Dad was home in the middle of the day… that couldn’t be good.
It turned out that not only was Dad home, but Marcus was as well.
My older brother. Good for nothing loser, but bigger and broader and more muscular than me. A vicious bastard who’d almost killed Alex. I’d never forgive him for that. If I could avoid it, I didn’t even speak to him. Same went for Dad, but now I couldn’t avoid either of them.
‘How are you?’ Dad asked the minute I stepped into the living room.
I only shrugged. I didn’t want to get into anything with them. I’d talked my throat sore for three fucking weeks to people who wanted to help.
They couldn’t help, but they wanted to.
My family… they couldn’t be arsed about me. Career was more important. For Marcus… well, his no-good life of hate crime and homophobia was what mattered.
‘I’m going to my room.’ I needed to get out.
‘No, you’re not.’ Mum set her eyes in me. ‘Your dad bought dinner. We’re eating together.’
Dad turned and headed into the kitchen.
‘Got Chinese. You like that, right?’
I followed slowly, unsure what was going on. Why were they all home? And on top of that, why were they getting food they specifically knew I liked?
It wasn’t even that Chinese was my favourite food, but on my birthday last year they’d taken me out to eat, and I’d chosen that restaurant.
‘What’s going on?’ I looked to Mum, as she was the most likely to tell the truth.
‘We’re just having dinner together. All of us. As a family.’ She brushed past me and took a seat next to Dad at the table. Which left me to sit next to Marcus, which made my skin crawl.
So they felt guilty.
I’d tried to kill myself and they felt guilty, so now they we were all going to try to be one happy family? That wasn’t going to happen. Maybe if it had been just three of us, but I couldn’t be comfortable around Marcus.
He’d bashed Alex in the head with an iron bar for being gay and in a relationship with my best friend. What would he do to me if he found out I preferred guys to girls?
Probably kill me outright.
I wasn’t too keen on that happening.
Or, well… I might want to die, but I didn’t want it to be my brother who did the deed. I’d rather do it myself. Didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.
He didn’t say a thing all through dinner.
Mum and Dad tried to keep up a light conversation, but I could tell they struggled. They worked together all day, so spending time together at home, eating dinner together, probably wasn’t in their top five things to do.
I didn’t say anything, only pushed food around on my plate.
‘Can I go to my room now?’ I asked once all three of them were done, bracing my palms against the edge of the table, ready to push away.
Mum looked at my untouched food, but nodded.
‘Yeah, go rest.’
‘Is that such a good idea, Vivian?’
‘Why shouldn’t it be a good idea?’ I asked heatedly.
Dad didn’t look at me—he kept his focus firmly on Mum.
‘He tried to kill himself.’
‘It was an accident,’ I forced out through clenched teeth. ‘I was in pain and I wanted to sleep, so I took too much. Won’t happen again.’ Taking too little wouldn’t happen again, anyway.
Dad’s fist hit the table so the plates jumped.
‘You don’t swallow that amount by accident.’
‘Tore!’ Mum’s voice cracked like a whip.
Dad straightened back up, his fist unclenching.
‘He shouldn’t be alone.’
‘We can’t stay with him twenty-four seven,’ Mum said tightly. ‘Besides, I’ve made sure there aren’t anymore pills down there. Anywhere.’
The last part made my heart clench—then start galloping.
‘You’ve gone through my room?’
The slight tightening of her lips gave me all the answer I needed.
I left the kitchen and headed downstairs, grabbing my bag from the hall on the way. Nothing was out of place in my room—not that I could remember anyway.
That didn’t mean shit though, as I couldn’t really remember much of the state of the room before my stay in hospital.
Did she think I had a secret stash of pills down here? I’d already swallowed that damn stash, there hadn’t been anymore pills.
And even if there had… I was off age, so she had no fucking right to go through my things.
Just because I’d swallowed those damn pills and then survived the whole thing didn’t give her the right to search through my room like I was some criminal and she was the copper there to bust me.
Fuck my life.
I fell onto my bed, the little energy I’d had drained. I didn’t want to stay here, I didn’t want to be fucking alive.
When I made another attempt I had to make sure it stuck. I wasn’t going to survive the next time, I’d make bloody sure of it.