Brick crushing bone is what she’d expected the first time. The second time she’d punched harder, twisting on her heel and landing in a scrabbled heap on the corrugate carpeted floor, knuckles untouched.
No blood. No pain. No graze.
The dents were there where she’d hit it before. Fits of rage followed by falls of tears. Arguments resounded downstairs, vibrating the floor. The TV echoed too loud. Dishes crashed in the kitchen.
Zoe continued to stare at the wall from her prone position on the floor, palms flat against the cardboard carpet. The noise downstairs was just a dull throb at the back of her brain. Feet shaking, she stumbled to the wall.
Palms braced the smooth plaster.
Her forehead pressed against the cool vertical. What on earth had she been thinking? She must have missed the wall. It was her temper, that was all. The blood pumping in her face, risen from anger, had probably clouded her judgement.
But that second swing… How could she have missed that?
Sighing, she threw herself down on the bed, calling Ray like she promised. He picked up on the first ring, all nasally with no charm. “It happened again. You’re sure it isn’t the tablets?”
“There’s nothing in the side effects list, but that doesn’t mean anything. You’re not going to become a superhero, Zoe.”
“No.” But that would be better than this. “So you think they’re just hallucinations?” Pills. Pills. Pills. Why did she have to take them? There was nothing wrong with her. It was him downstairs, her mother’s boyfriend. Si. Perfect Simon.
Well if Simon was so perfect why did he want to ship her away to that school? Why did he want to get her away from her mum? He was like poison. They’d always been so close, but now her mother looked at her like she’d spat in her face. And it was all because of him.
Put her on the pills, Maureen. She’s imbalanced, Maureen. If we send her away to this school she’ll get the help she needs.
The conversation trailed off. She snapped the phone shut, slamming herself down on her desk chair. She tumbled with no connection. Shock cracked expectation. On the floor again, she stared at the chair that remained untouched in front of her. It hadn’t even wobbled.
“I knew it. You’re unnatural.”
The voice came from the hallway. The door, once ajar, was pushed wide open to reveal Simon’s stare of horror. His face usually pale with disdain was flushed a terrible puce, eyes bloodshot and popping.
“I knew you were one of them the moment I saw you!” he accused, finger pointing, arm shaking.
Zoe backed against the wall. It wasn’t a hallucination. It wasn’t! Her heels felt for skirting board but found no friction and no surface, body willing her to use her only means of escape.
“A blot on humanity!”
Simon charged, aiming for her with a murderous intent. Everything slotted into place in Zoe’s head. She leaned back and fell through the wall like a knife through warm butter. Landing in the grassy garden outside, she knew she didn’t have long and that she could never return.
Tears already pricking her eyes, she whispered, “Goodbye mum.” Her fast feet carried her far away from home for good.
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