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Rawhide


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I wake up in a bare room with a thatched roof I had done myself. It still leaks when it rains but at least I know I’d tried. Better than the others. They watch the water splatter on the floor and soak into the carpet as if it never happened. They’re drifters though, they come and go as they please leaving the door open as they exit. Hannah says that we need more diapers, more formula, pay for this, for that. Then Amelia cries and I look at her and I can’t say no. I go to the streets lay my equipment down hoping the others aren’t there already. A scrap of cardboard from a discarded box left on the curb beaten down by the rain. In marker I write: Kicked out of home, I have nowhere to sleep please spare me some change so I can make a call. Those church types stop and read but no change. Amelia keeps on crying in my ear. Their gazes fall across my face look at the sign and pass. The busker next to me sings this tune; I lie on the ground and listen. These school kids walk past laughing, their bags slung on their shoulders, faces overly bronzed, hair in a knot on the very top of their heads, t-bars undone, scuffling around. It’s hard for me to believe that we’re the same age. I feel so old, so tired, like I’ve beaten by a clock that won’t stop ticking. When ladies walk past they stick onto their bags, move away from me. It doesn’t even hurt anymore.
At the end of the day I’ve made twenty dollars so I go and buy a bottle. I take a swig and try to forget the looks on their faces. I go to the station sit on the steps, think of excuses. I find a stub of a cigarette and light up. It stops that hunger I have, hides that stench that is embedded in my skin. When Amelia is old enough to see the shape of things maybe I will be dead. I hope I am so she can’t blame me. So she doesn’t hate me. When she was born I ran all the way from school to see her. I looked he and felt this instinct. She was mine. Hannah was in intensive care after Amelia was born, she was too young. I would see her everyday and talk about everything we would do when she was better. Now Hannah looks at me the same way the others do. I thought we were in this together. She tells me I have to be a man. Half the bottle’s gone. I stumble around. The others that stay at my house left home because of an abusive father, drugs, rebellion, everything thing I dared to imagine. I let them squat it’s all I can give. Hannah hates me for it. To her I’ve become a villain. I’ve broken her heart.
If I was in school I’d be in my last year. My parents would take me to my graduation. They’d feel proud and have honour. When they told me to leave my dad grabbed me by the neck and pushed me against the wall. His face close to mine and he spat bitter words into my face. “You stupid, stupid boy” my mum would say in between gulps of breath. When I left they shut the door behind me and I never looked back. After I finished school Hannah and I said we were going to travel, hire a boat, sail to Greece and float in the middle of the Mediterranean. So when she told she was pregnant, the boat left without me and I knew that I would never see that ocean. Some days I blame Amelia for everything. When she cries at night and I have to rock her I cry. I know I can’t blame her. The older she gets the more I realise what I’ve created for her. She’ll never be able to scuffle around in undone t-bars. If she’s lucky she’ll have socks.
The drink makes me calm. It makes everything else so unstable. It shifts. The roads move from side to side. I was pretty sure that my house was on that street. It keeps of moving further and further away. When I go home Hannah will be awake waiting for those diapers. I’ll hide the empty bottle again. Then she yells, cries, screams, kicks and punches. I’ll go to bed alone, again. I need another smoke. When we had the money I would have a pack a day. Now I have this cough that’s stuck in the back of my throat. When I watch men in business suits stub out half finished cigarettes my heart drops. Once they leave I scurry over and take the leftovers savouring them. My head is so heavy, dragging my entire body down. Blinding lights in the distance flashing in my eyes. Moving further and further towards me as my house draws further and further away. The lights knock the wind out of me. My legs caught underneath rolling under the tires. A crunch, crack, shattered glass on the bitumen. I can’t feel a thing. I try to get up. My mouth is wet with blood and I try to crawl home but my legs are caught. Bruised down, bloody, lying on the ground. I can see them staring. Passing. Judging. I tried but the roof won’t stop leaking and I can hear her crying. Hannah’s yelling. I shut the door behind me.




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