Authors: Danielle Dickson
Copyright © 2016 Danielle Dickson
All rights reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual event and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be a property of their respective owners, and are only used for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
Cover art by Kari Ayasha of Cover to Cover Designs
Cover photo by Zachary Stone Photography
Formatting by Abigail Davies
Edited by Lucii Grubb
“Tommy! No no no! Wake up...
” My eyes shot open as her voice lingered in my head. Running a sweaty palm over my face and through my hair, the nightmare still echoed in my mind. Glancing over at my alarm clock, I see that yet again I hadn’t made it past five a.m.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a full night of undisturbed sleep. It was starting to takes its toll, the stinging in my eyes told me that much. Waiting for my eyes to adjust, I sat up looking around my pitch black room and sighed. I knew trying to get back to sleep was pointless, I never could no matter how many times I tried.
Stretching my arms above my head, I pulled the covers off and got out of bed, not even bothering to change. I stopped at the bathroom on my way to the makeshift gym in the guest bedroom, or what should have been the guest bedroom, to brush my teeth.
As soon as I lifted the dumbbells, the memory of that night starts replaying again. It was hard to concentrate with the image of my old best friend circling around my mind as tears streamed down her face, screaming at me to do something.
Trying to rid my head of it all, I push myself harder and harder until my eyes start swimming with speckled white lights. Stopping to take a few deep breaths, I wonder if it’s not just the sleepless nights that made me feel this way.
Every year I went back to the place that haunts my every nightmare. It wasn’t good for me. I couldn’t change what happened that night but it still didn’t stop me going back every year, torturing myself in the process.
Every time I came home, I always had an intense feeling of loneliness. I always had the same question rattling about in my mind. Why couldn’t I just move on?
Pouring a cup of water out of the cooler, I took a big gulp before going back to do my next set. Even after all these years, the thought of going back to that place has me on edge.
After a long shower, I got dressed and slipped on my work boots and made a mental note to call my mom later. I’d kept putting it off and I wouldn’t be able to for much longer. I knew that she worried about me but I didn’t mean to make her worry, I just liked my own space. She wanted me to settle down, get married and have kids but whenever I went out on a date, it just felt forced, like something was missing. I just never had that connection that you’d expect to have with someone you’d want to spend the rest of your life with.
Leaving my apartment and getting into my truck, my mind whirled with memories that I still couldn’t shake. Gripping the steering wheel, I tried to get rid of the thoughts before I got to work. It was dangerous for me to be distracted when out on a job, not only for me, but for the other guys too.
I scanned the parking lot as I pulled in, seeing that nobody was here yet and hoping they wouldn’t be for another ten minutes.
I needed to get my head in the game.
Jumping out of my truck I made my way inside the trailer that held my office. I noticed a bunch of sticky notes all over my computer and sighed at the extra work load. I was struggling to fit everything in already but this could only be a good thing, it meant our name was spreading which equaled more business. The problem was that we were already booked solid for the next couple of months and I hated to turn down good business.
As I worked my way through them I heard the first car pull up outside onto the gravel and I realized I hadn’t put the new schedule up for this week. Most of the guys were still on the same jobs they were on last week so they knew what they were doing. But I’d pulled a few more guys in to help get a couple of the jobs done on their deadline. I didn’t like the thought of a job being rushed and with time being of the essence, we needed all the help we could get.
Today we were starting on a job laying down a new roof and as tired as I was, I’d need to make sure I was alert. I ran my fingers through my hair before opening the document on the computer and printing out the new schedule. Pinning it to the break room notice board as a few guys came in.
“Morning, boss.” I hated to be called that but he was a new kid so I let him off.
“Morning, Tate. I’ve got you with Gerry and H. today in downtown. You ready for your second week?” He nodded enthusiastically at me and I waved goodbye as I grabbed the keys to the work truck, heading out to wait for Dalby and Mac. They arrived as I was sorting through the tools in the back and immediately started helping me.
“You look like crap, rough night?” Dalby looked at me out the corner of his eye before climbing into the truck. I turned to Mac.
“Good morning to you too, a pleasure as always. I didn’t get much sleep last night so thanks for pointing that out. Get on in, I’ll close up.” He lifted his brow in question before relenting and getting in next to Dalby. I never could keep anything from him, he was perceptive, although some would call it nosey. I got in myself and started the truck, it spluttered to life and I pulled out of the parking lot to head to the Sweeney’s house to start on their roof.
I just hoped the memories of this morning would stay away.
It was hot today, really hot. We had two fans blowing around the salon but all it seemed to be doing was blowing out hot air.
“…and then he said ‘ya’ll need to stop interfering’, can you believe that?” That’s the second time Nora, a particularly nosey old bat, has told me this today.
“He didn’t!” I replied, trying to feign interest. My best friend and business partner Keeley gives me her signature ‘really’ look and eye roll. I didn’t know what she was rolling her eyes at, I was the who had to cut Nora’s hair every time, not her.
“And to think I used to look after the little brat, he should show some respect for his elders!” Same old, same old. Nora was the towns gossip and busy body. She had her nose in every little thing that went on in town. She was always offering to help no matter what it was. It wasn’t out the goodness of her own heart though; she just wanted to be involved in anything and everything that went on around here.
“Regular cut Nora? Or are we feeling adventurous today?” I asked out of politeness, but I knew she wouldn’t ever change her hairstyle. She’d probably had the same style since the seventies.
“Oh no, dear, just a trim.” She waves her hand as if the idea is ridiculous.
Right, just as expected. Why, today of all days she had to book in to have her hair done. Then it dawned on me. She was dropping in to see how I was. Nosey old bat.
Half hour more and I’m out of here, Keeley said she’d cover my last two regulars so I could go and be by myself. Today, it was just what I needed.
I dreaded this day every single year. Eight years. Eight years since my life turned upside down. The old familiar ache of guilt and regret started to spread through my chest as my hands began to shake. The heat on top of it all didn’t help and I needed to go, now.
“Kee, would you finish off Nora’s cut please, I’m starting to feel a little light headed.” I could see the worry that crept into her eyes so I offered her a smile before turning my head away to apologise to Nora, who gives me an inquisitive look. I made a dash for the back room just before the first tear fell down my cheek.
It never got any easier.
Wiping my eyes to get rid of the evidence, I grabbed my purse then said a quick goodbye to Kee and Nora as I made my way out the door for some fresh air.
My feet took me towards the man made beach automatically. As if it was programmed into my brain.
It was such a beautiful day out and I smiled politely at people as I passed down main street, trying to ignore all of the sympathetic looks I got in return.
I couldn’t stand those looks. I wish people would recognize me for all that I’d overcome, I was more than just the daughter of a drunk, the sister of ‘that poor boy’. I was a successful business owner despite it all but none of that seemed to matter. People just remembered the negative.