4 mins

She watched them leave and realized that they could be there for a long time. Melissa Gray watched her mother and Ray leave her down the old Abbey street, grayed by the bleaching of the sun. The air was of course cold, but Melissa hadn't expected the same dampness that comes before rain.

Melissa had a rough childhood. There were nights nothing could drown out the shouting and on those occasions her mind would fill with escape plans. No matter how dark the storm was she always scampered back with the wide eyes of a child, confused, hiding the fear. Two people she loved with all her heart go to war. Each desires to know whom she loved more, but in truth there is no such distinction. The truth was her parents were like children, fighting over a toy until it broke. Even then they carried on, not caring for the damage they'd inflicted. It was difficult, in truth every harsh word was like a lash from a whip, though they never saw it. At dinner there was always tension, his rage at the hardness of his life, her sullen withdrawal at the receptiveness of hers. She would serve the meal and he criticized. Mel would eat in mock oblivion, constructing volcanoes from the mashed potatoes, anything that kept her eyes on the plates and not their hating faces.

Then the storm grew into a hurricane. Mel was ten and it was after the divorce that she and her mother moved to Seabrook with her Granny Hayley. Gran was an old woman, with fattened lips and false eyelashes. At her age she should have one foot in the grave. While her heart beats stubbornly within her pigeon chest, her skin is fragile. Mother hired the young girls for cheap house help and babysitting, while her mother spent her days away from the house. Mel's favorite maiden was Raydell with flowing golden curls and ivory skin; piercing eyes of green. Mel asked her once, softness in her voice " What are you doing here Ray? Washing the dishes and cleaning my room? I guess you should be in the Brooklyn magazine" she chuckled.

Ray looked up from her morning cup of coffee, and gave her a smile that melted her heart "The thing is that I can't bring myself to leave you".

Now here Mel was lying in the dormitory of the boarding school, The Harrow.

It was her first day after the sleepless night she had after Ray and her mother left her. She could still remember the way her mother was struggling back the tears not looking towards her once. Mel recalled the words Ray had said, bending down, her lips wobbling "Everything would be alright and you could be with us again. We will visit you and I will your make your favorite blueberry pie as well". She believed her.

She rose around 7:30 by the loud summer tune of her alarm. She dragged herself out of bed knocking her roommate Emily, over in the process. When Mel first met her, her head was wrapped in a pink baseball hat whilst her burnt sierra hair were pulled back in a bob.

Emily too woke up with a start as they ran off to their bathrooms. Then as reality struck, Mel felt her happy mood transformed to a dark sullen temper. Ray was not here to help her with the homework or feed her breakfast and tell her stories about terrific slimy dinosaurs. Why did her mother do this to her?

As she struggled to find a pair of non-laddered tights she checked the time- five minutes until breakfast. Somehow she was still struggling to do up her grey shirt, her hands trembled as she tried to wrap her hair, at the same time trying not to break the floral vase in the process. Emily rushed out of the bathroom casting her bobbed hair onto the faded Prince t-shirt that was two sizes big. It hung so low that her shorts only just peeked below the dirty hem, a fringe of denim cut-offs.

" Looking good? Need to look fresh on the first day of school otherwise my sister says that the principal is very strict and kids who do not......." Emily babbled on....

As they stepped back into illawarra after a nasty breakfast of pink sausages and beans, they were bombarded with books and people.

A deep voice emitted through the speakers " Good morning and welcome home" she announced." And new admissions welcome to The Harrow....." she went one and on about the rules. Mel wasn’t listening but the only words she quietly listened were " you will be meeting your loved ones thrice a year". The harsh tears flowed and a huge lump formed in her throat. Why did her mother do this to her? The drugs and the bills had kept her away from her own child.

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