Drip, drip, drip.
My eyes open. Instantly I regret that decision, moaning aloud at the thumping headache that seems to be trying its hardest to escape my skull. Despite every fibre of my body telling me not to, I sit up, letting my vision come into focus which only makes me feel even worse.
"Oh God." I clutch my head. "I swear, Rhiannon, drinking just isn't your thing." The last time I felt this crap had to be after Katie's party back in the Summer before college started.
I look over and see an array of pills covering my carpet and figure I was trying to dull the hangover before it even hit me. One brownie point for drunk Rhiannon.
I reach for the glass of water sitting on my bedside cabinet, and give myself another brownie point as I chug every last drop.
What the hell happened last night? Last I checked my schedule for yesterday
was to sit in bed eating old pizza and cheap coleslaw whilst binging the second season of Stranger Things on Netflix. No party has ever come between my date nights with Netflix. What even happened at this party? Hangovers I'm used to, sure, but since when did amnesia become a side-effect of drinking? Like, surely that'd be on the news or something.
"Mum?" I yell obnoxiously. She doesn't answer me, so I pull out the big guns, screaming, "Christy" at the top of my lungs. It always pisses her off when I call her that. Apparently me saying her name makes her feel old. You'd think hearing the phrase 'mum' twenty-four-seven would remind her that the good old days of her youth were gone. I swear, my mother is the only woman I will never even bother trying to understand.
Okay, she isn't deaf. Usually one scream from me and she's dashing up here giving me a bollocking for drinking too much and being so inconsiderate and blah-blah-blah.
I roll my eyes and get up from my bed and stumble a bit. Oh my God, am I still drunk? I bet I was on the sambuca last night; last time I drank that stuff I was standing on a table singing at the top of my lungs to the four people who hadn't passed out. I'd also been completely topless, but I didn't see the need to bother Mum with that little detail.
Drip, drip, drip.
Must've left the tap running last night when I got the water. Everything feels like such a blur. I'm struggling to even remember anything that's happened recently. Maybe I hit my head on something and have memory loss? Actually, come to think of it, the only thing I can actually pinpoint is Katie's party. But that was, like, seven months ago now. Eight, even. Every time I try and focus on something after that I get a shooting pain stab at the backs of my eyes.
"Mum!" I hope the urgency in my voice tips her off that I need her.
Don't panic, it's probably nothing. You just hit your head and now your memory's a bit fuzzy. So what?
My pathetic attempt at calming myself doesn't stop my hands from sweating profusely. I'm in such a rush that I almost trip and fall down the stairs, but not before I catch a disturbing glimpse of myself in the mirror on the landing. Aside from my hair being an absolute shambles, it's the fact that my skin is so sallow that really frightens me. Am I actually ill in some way? Is that why I can't remember a damn thing?
"Mum." I take the stairs two at a time, calling for her over and over. "Mum, seriously, this isn't a joke." I walk through the kitchen and see the crack in the wall where my mum chucked a vase at my dad about ten years ago. She never did get it fixed; apparently, it was a reminder to not fall for self-centred pricks with wallets bigger than their cocks. Her words, not mine.
Where the hell is this woman? Last I checked she didn't have a social life. I swear, if she's on some secret date whilst I may or may not be dying I'm gonna go so ham on her later.
My humorous defence mechanism isn't distracting me away from the growing panic in my chest. I'm already torturing myself with countless theories of what's wrong with me. Random parts of my body are starting to hurt as I consider what might've happened. My thighs are stinging and my wrists feel so sore.
Maybe I'm just doing that thing people do when they think they might have something and then their brain makes them think they have the symptoms when actually they're just paranoid. That's a perfectly reasonable explanation. Right?
"Mum, I'm going crazy here." I head into the living room and low and behold there she is, sitting in front of a blank television screen and chewing on her fingernail. "Okay, Mum, how could you not hear me calling for you? I'm really scared something's wrong me. And I know you're just gonna say that I'm being over-dramatic and stuff but this time I genuinely think I need to go hospital." Mum remained completely silent. She had her days where she'd go through little spurts of missing my dad, but that was only usually on anniversaries or birthdays. As far as I could remember, which wasn't a whole damn much, it was not a special day today. "Mum?"
I walk around the sofa slowly, feeling my own fear fading and being replaced by confusion. I approach Mum cautiously, bending down in front of her and reaching for her hand. As soon as I make contact she flinches, looking straight at me, but not at the same time. As if she was looking through me. Never in my seventeen years of existence have I seen my mum look so beaten down. Her eyes were heavy with sleep deprivation and it looked like she'd been crying for hours.
"What's wrong, Mum?" I ask, my own voice quivering. "Talk to me."
But she doesn't. She doesn't even acknowledge me. I back away from her, my heart racing in my chest. I don't know what's going on. Mum, she...she isn't right. I need to call someone. Anyone. I search my pockets for my phone but they're empty. I run up the stairs to my room, rummaging through my bed like a crazy woman looking for the device. I need to speak to someone, hear someone's voice, just to know that I haven't completely gone mad.
Drip, drip, drip.
My eyes wander over to the bathroom door. I get up from my bed to go inside. Must've left my phone in here when I came to get water. At least drunk Rhiannon was trying to be clever.
I freeze when I enter the room. The hammering of my heart is the only sound I can hear. I see a thin, slender arm hanging over the edge of the bathtub, a gash sliced down the wrist. Blood was still pouring down the fingers, falling onto the tiled floor in a sick rhythm.
Drip, drip, drip.
This isn't real. I stumble back and hit the sink, screaming as I come into contact with it. No. No no no. Why is this happening? This can't be happening. My hands grip at my hair. I feel sick, but there's nothing for my stomach to throw up. My body begins to shake, like I'm being electrocuted. My eyes are fixated on that limp hand. The limp hand drip, drip, dripping blood with that sickly sallow skin.
I slide down the wall, hitting the floor. I'm screaming for Mum. My lungs are burning with the pure and utter need for my mother to march in here and hold me and tell me to wake the fuck up from this messed up nightmare. This isn't real, Rhiannon. This isn't-
"Rhi-Rhi!" Katie wraps her arms around me as I waltz through the door. "Talk about being fashionably late."
"Oh, it's only an hour."
"Yeah, one less hour you get to spend grinding on some hot stud." Katie laughed at her own joke. "Get your ass over to the kitchen and pour yourself three shots of whatever you can find. That's an order, girl." Katie pushes me towards the booze and flaunts off into the crowd of tipsy teenagers.
That girl is gonna kill my kidneys one day, I can feel it. I'm already a bit drunk; if you're gonna get to a party late, you have to take precautions. Those include drinking a bottle of your mother's favourite red whilst you pick an outfit.
"You look great."
And that, ladies and gentleman, is why it's worth being fashionably late.
I turn to see a tall guy with a Cheshire smile. "Not so bad yourself, hun." I flick my hair away from him and start pouring myself a vodka. "Want a drink or something?"
"Nah, I'm good. Driving tonight, don't wanna get smashed."
I raise my eyebrow and stare at him over my shoulder. "Who drives to a party?"
He raises his hand stupidly and I chuckle even though it wasn't funny. Oh gosh, do I actually like him a bit? Usually I'm not nice enough to laugh at a shit joke. "You seen what she's done with the guest room?"
"Just got here."
He holds out his hand to me. "Come, I'll show you. It's sick."
Now, usually this would be the point where I ditch the dick and go get drunk with Katie and my mates. But tonight I was in more of a fuck-it mood. Wow, wine brings out a different side of me. I take his hand and let him lead me upstairs. Katie catches my eye and winks, blowing me a kiss and making a crude hand gesture. I flip her the finger before she disappears from view.
"You gonna tell me your name?"
He smiles. "James." He opens the bedroom door and waits for me to go first, to which I bow sarcastically at his chivalry. He closes the door behind him and leans against it. "What about you?"
"Huh. You got a nice name."
James leans over and takes the cup out of my hand, putting it on the bedside table. He moves closer to me, the stench of his aftershave hitting me like a brick wall. If I didn't know any better I'd say the boy bathed in the stuff. In a flash his lips are pressed against mine and he's already trying to get his tongue all up in there. I push him away.
"Woah, what the hell, man?"
"Don't act like you don't want it." He teased, leaning in for a second attempt. I scoffed, holding my palm out to stop him.
"This isn't acting, shithead. Get out of my way." I move to get past him but he blocks the way. "James, move."
"Don't fight it, Rhiannon."
"Look, if you wanna lose a testicle tonight then you keep up this creepy act, but if you'd like to keep your boys in tact I suggest you take a step away from the exit."
James pushed me onto the bed, momentarily winding me. He pressed his heavy body on top of mine and I felt like I was gonna drown in that cologne.
"Get off me, James." I writhed underneath him, trying to flip him off. He sat up abruptly and slapped me, and for a second I was stunned.
"Shut up." His voice didn't have any of that playfulness that'd been there two minutes ago. He started to pull my dress off but I fought him, to which he struck me again. The tears literally flew from my eyes at the impact. He continued to undress me, my body shaking violently under his perverted eye.
"James, please." I sounded so weak in that moment that I couldn't help but hate every single atom that made up this boy.
James put his hand over my mouth so I couldn't scream and unzipped his jeans.
The memories just keep coming. It's like someone opened the floodgates in my head and let everything just come crashing down all at once. I'm curled up on the floor of my bathroom, still shaking. I can see it all. See James' face as he starts, hear my whimpers beneath his sweaty hand. James' face as he grits his teeth when he's finished. I can see the months following that day, of me cutting away at my body piece by piece. My thighs are patterned with scars, my arms, my stomach.
I'm still calling for my mum. Why doesn't she hear me? Please, Mum, please just hear me. I need you. I never, ever wanted to need anyone in my life but for God's sake right now I need you.
I'm crying as if it's a chore. My body won't stop convulsing, as if I'm about to be sick but just can't. I see my hand hanging there, like it belongs to a doll. I reach out for it, slowly, as if on contact it'll shatter the porcelain of my skin. I reach and reach and I'm about to brush my own dead fingers and-
I gasp as I wake up. My heart is a frenzy in my chest. My sheets are soaked with my sweat; what the hell was that? I look over at my dresser and see the glass of water, still untouched.
Oh my God. It was just a dream.
A sense of relief hits me and I actually laugh out loud. Must've been watching too much Thirteen Reasons Why last night and it got in my head. I lay back down and close my eyes, trying to recall what it was I did do last night, but not being able do actually pinpoint it.
Drip, drip, drip.