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Authors: Suki Fleet

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BOOK: The Glass House
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I
T
WAS
the middle of the night when I awoke. As carefully as I could, I shifted out from under the weight of Thomas’s arm and padded downstairs to the toilet. The house was completely silent, and peeing into the toilet was so loud, I was sure it would wake everyone.

When I crawled back under the duvet beside him, I realized Thomas was awake.

“You okay?” he whispered, the words warm against my cheek.

I found his hand somewhere buried between his bare thighs and linked our fingers.

“I think I will be,” I murmured.

I wondered if Thomas was okay, if that’s why he’d asked me. I kind of doubted he was, and it seemed inadequate to ask him in return, so instead I wrote my questions on his skin, teasing him with my teeth and tongue, licking and sucking until he came with a sob and filled my mouth with warmth. Sleep took him almost immediately, and I lay in the circle of his arms, staring into the blackness of his room and wondering if I really believed what I’d said, if I really thought I would be okay. Because if Trent Blake came back, I wasn’t sure I had any capacity to deal with my emotions.

 

 

“I
DON

T
feel so good,” I murmured when Thomas shook me gently to wake me for school the next morning.

It was true, I didn’t, but it was mostly due to lack of sleep.

With unconditional sweetness he assumed I was sick and went downstairs and brought back a bowl, some paracetamol, a bottle of water, and a couple of clean towels. By the time he’d placed everything on the floor beside me, he was breathless, and I made him stop and sit on his bed with me for a minute until his breathing sounded mostly normal again.

He put my phone next to my head and told me he’d let his gran know I wasn’t feeling too good.

“Revise if you’re feeling up to it,” he said, kissing my cheek before he left.

I nodded, but my heart wasn’t in it.

For the first time in weeks, I thought about walking the streets to collect glass. I thought about sculpting something. I had the desire to make something beautiful out of something broken.

All my sculptures for my art exam were finished now, and I longed to start something new. Though I wasn’t supposed to go back to the art room. I was supposed to be using all my time studying for other lessons, but I’d give it all up to just sculpt and make the world go away for a bit.

I only thought about it, though. I didn’t actually get up and go out to collect glass. I did the only thing my body seemed capable of during times of stress—which was sleep.

Around lunchtime Thomas’s gran knocked on the bedroom door.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

She sat on the bed and tentatively stoked my hair. I didn’t move other than to blink up at her. I was mostly undressed beneath the duvet and afraid if I shifted that fact would be revealed. Did she realize I’d slept in here all night with Thomas? Did she mind that we slept half-naked, tangled together in this single bed? We’d not even considered making a fake bed on the floor and pretending that we slept separately.

“I’ll bring you some soup,” she said, getting up.

When she smiled her eyes crinkled in the corners. I wished she was my gran.

I nodded my thanks, and she went away.

 

 

A
FTER
SCHOOL
Thomas told me things I’d missed. He tried to get me to study some with him, but I went back to bed. Corinne called around at six.

Apparently my phone was switched off.

“Sasha, come back and get some clothes. Maybe you can have another talk with Mum.”

I really didn’t want to have a talk with Mum, but I did need some clean clothes, and I could see Corinne felt crap that I was still at Thomas’s rather than at home.

 

 

E
VEN
THOUGH
I wasn’t really sick, I felt weak and shaky walking home. Corinne watched me closely.

“I know you don’t think you can forgive her, and believe me, I’m not asking you to. What she did was awful. But I think she regrets it. I don’t think she knows how to say sorry.”

Sorry didn’t even come close to what she did. It wasn’t something you could be
sorry
for.

I must have been shaking hard, as Corinne took off her summer coat and placed it over my shoulders.

“You missed school again, didn’t you?”

“I don’t feel so good.”

“I know.” Corinne pulled a conflicted face. “Look, if you want me to ask her to leave, I will.”

I shook my head. Corinne would feel guilty forever if she did. Even if she was doing it for me, and I wanted to say
yes
, it wasn’t what she wanted, and ultimately it was her flat.

The light at this time of day in the summer was my favorite. All the buildings and all the streets were tinged with the warmest glow. Everything clear-edged and meaningful. I tried to appreciate it, but even the light couldn’t touch the cold sharpness I felt growing in my chest with every step. I folded my arms tight across my stomach. Perhaps I should have asked Thomas to come with me.

“Did she sleep in my room?”

“What do you take me for?” Corinne rolled her eyes. “Your bed is bowed in the middle like an old horse’s back. It’d cripple anyone else.”

“Thanks,” I muttered with a half smile.

 

 

W
E
COULD
hear voices in the corridor outside the flat. Mum’s and another. Male. A nasal whine of a voice. Corinne glanced at me with a puzzled frown. I’d already frozen at the top of the stairwell. My hand gripped the cold railing, rough with layers of gloss paint, worn unevenly by time.

“He’s here, isn’t he?” I mumbled.

“Who? Mum was here on her own when I left.”

I shook my head. I didn’t want to say his name. I didn’t want to think it and yet I did—
Trent Blake
. I wanted to pretend this wasn’t happening.

“I can’t,” my voice wavered.

“Sasha? What’s wrong?”

“He’s here and I can’t be.” I couldn’t stop shaking my head.

With great difficulty I turned and started walking back down the stairs. I nearly slipped a couple of times, but adrenaline was flooding through my body white-hot, and even though my legs were wobbly, my reactions were like lightning.

“Sasha. Wait.” Corinne darted after me.

I knew it must have looked like I was being a complete drama queen.

“Just let me go. I don’t want to be here,” I said more sharply than I intended.

Eyeing me worriedly, Corinne nodded. She jogged down with me to the bottom of the stairs.

“Talk to me, Sasha, please.”

We were in the entrance, by the lift. All I could see was the dirty gray concrete floor of the tower block and how it stretched out to meet the gray concrete paving slabs of the glass-strewn street. Next to the curb lay a thousand tiny fragments of a shattered car window. If I turned my head, the sun caught the glass, and the light was blinding.

I walked outside. Corinne didn’t try to stop me, though somehow I knew she was watching.

I bent down and picked up a single piece of glass from the pavement. By the time I got back to Thomas’s house, my hand was covered in blood from holding it so tightly.

Chapter Fourteen
Some fights are different than others….

 

 

I
T
WAS
after midnight.

The bed creaked as, next to me, Thomas pushed himself up so he was sitting on his pillows against the wall. I thought he might put the light on, but he didn’t. He knew full well I was awake, so he wasn’t keeping in the dark out of consideration.

We’d been kissing, and it had gotten a little rough. I’d bitten his shoulder, and he’d pushed me onto my back and straddled me while he held my arms above my head. I’d bucked him off. Hard.

Now I think he was worried he’d pushed too far. He hadn’t—I’d just wanted to fight. Or at least I’d wanted him to fight me. I’d wanted things that made no sense—I wanted him to take charge and hold me down, to take away my need to be in control for once so I could let go. But there was no way I could articulate that.

With a sigh I rolled over and switched on the bedside light. If he was upset, I’d feel bad, but I’d at least like to know.

Warm yellow lamplight brightened our tiny corner of the room. Thankfully Thomas didn’t look upset. But I wasn’t sure how to read his expression. I glanced at his bare shoulder. I’d not broken the skin, but I’d left teeth marks. Keeping my eyes on his face, I brushed my fingers over the bite.

“Are you angry with me?” I said.

Thomas shook his head. Pulling a face, he chewed his lip. I wanted to kiss him again. I wanted it to burn away the hurt in my chest.

“Do you want to… to have sex? I mean properly?” he asked.

It was the last thing I expected him to say.

I raised my eyebrows. “Fighting with me makes you want to fuck?” I only said it because I was shocked by his question.

“I didn’t think we were fighting.” He frowned, seeming flustered by my question. “Are you angry with
me
?”

“No.”

“You’ve been acting… weird since you came back this evening.”

And he’d already pointed out earlier that I hadn’t come back with anything for school or any clothes. I’d had no response as to why not. I’d just wanted to shut Trent Blake out of my mind.

“So you think fucking will make me not weird?” I couldn’t work out why he’d suddenly come out with this.

I was feeling angry and confrontational. I stared at him. It was making him uncomfortable.

“No! I just…,” he said, sounding frustrated. “I don’t know what’s wrong, Sash. I don’t know if it’s something that happened with your mum tonight, or if it’s school, or what. All I do know is I want to chase it away so badly. I want to feel closer to you than anyone else. It’s like you’re so tense and strung out, something needs to break, and I just thought… maybe we could… you could…. I didn’t mean it would be me doing the… sex.”

I snorted softly and shook my head. The painful tension wound up inside me snapped like a thread. Though he could sometimes be blunt, most of the time I loved the way he danced around a subject. Especially sex. “Thomas, say what you mean.”

“You
know
what I mean.”

He picked at the darkened red checks of his duvet cover. He only had two duvet covers—this one and a black one with tiny embossed stars.

Yeah, I knew what he meant. He meant did I want to fuck him. But I didn’t know if I wanted to have sex. I’d thought about it more than once.
Almost
fantasized. But….

“I don’t know if I want to. I’ve never….” Actually
fantasized about it
, I finished in my head.

For me fantasizing was part of the process. If I fantasized I knew what to expect.

Thomas rolled his shoulders back. I could tell he was nervous. But I could also tell he had something he wanted to say. “We don’t have to, of course, but I want you to know that I’m, I don’t know,
willing
, I guess, and I really want to feel you inside me.” He blushed. “I bought some condoms and lube the other day, so we don’t have to worry about that.”

I couldn’t believe he’d actually gone into a chemist and bought those items. I would never have dared.

“You sure you didn’t get your gran to go?” I teased and received a good-natured punch on the arm.

I grabbed his hand before he could move it away, brought it into my lap.

“I think I’m clean, you know.” What had happened was years and years ago. We probably didn’t need condoms, did we? I didn’t know. I’d avoided sex talks at school like the plague. Stupid, I knew, but for years I’d been scared I could have had something fatal because of
him
, and I hadn’t wanted to address that. Because addressing that would have meant admitting something had happened to me that had made me feel so sick, I wanted to vomit my insides out. “I’ve never been with anyone else.”

If we didn’t have to use condoms, it would be skin on skin. All slick and warm and close. He was right—so fucking close. I
had
fantasized about closeness. I was getting hard just thinking about being naked with him—it wasn’t something we had ever completely been with one another.

Thomas bit his lower lip.

“We should probably use condoms anyway….” He paused. “I’ve been with someone,” he added ever so quietly.

My stomach plummeted, and I think my mouth fell open a little way too. I was sure I must’ve looked stupefied. Thomas wouldn’t meet my eyes.

I’d let go of his hand.

I wasn’t proud of my reaction. There was no reason for me to assume he
hadn’t
been with anyone else. And yet I had. I’d assumed he was as inexperienced as me. I felt like a fool. And an awful swell of jealously ballooned in my stomach until I burst it by opening my mouth.

“Oh… I didn’t know…. Recently? Who?” Why did I have to know? What on earth would that help?

“It was a while ago now. Last year. We just messed around a couple of times. We didn’t really mean to have sex, I don’t think. It just sort of happened.”

Oops, I slipped and my dick ended up in your arse?
Bollocks.

Why Thomas felt the need to play this down, I didn’t know. I didn’t miss the implication that whatever he and this mystery boy had done had been unplanned, though. Did they use condoms? Thomas didn’t seem the type to want to do it without, but he’d have only been fifteen.

Was it a throwaway first time, or had he actually cared about this boy?

It was selfish, but I wanted to be his first time, like he would be mine—my real first time, anyway. I picked at the hem of my shorts until the stitches started undoing. I was still in shock.

We were silent for a while, and I realized I couldn’t just go home and give us a bit of space. I had to be here now. I had nowhere else. I didn’t fancy wandering around the estate at night.

Thomas nudged me with his foot.

BOOK: The Glass House
4.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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