I can’t sleep. Mickey’s snoring, lying next to me in my bed. The noise he’s making isn’t what’s keeping me awake. Although we’ve been shooting smack this evening, the images are still in my head. I felt guilty after I tried to overdose the other day, but right now, I’m back in that place again. I can’t get any peace. I can’t escape the past. I’ve flown to the other side of the world and nothing’s changed. What an idiot I am thinking that would make a difference. I feel compelled to bang my head against the wall. I haven’t done that for years, not since I was a teenager.
I’m crying silently. It’s something I learned to stop the babysitters coming back upstairs after they’d abused me. At first when I used to cry, one or more would come back up. They’d sit on my bed, put me on their lap and hold my body against theirs. I hated it. I hated their hands on me. I thought there was something wrong with me back then, that this is what happens to all the children in the world. They all liked it, but there was something wrong with me because I didn’t. That’s what they told me. That’s why I learned to cry silently.
Who am I fooling here? Me or Mickey? I’m not going to be able to do this. No matter how kind and patient he is, and I’ve already seen that he is, it’s never going to work. Sex is something I do to men I don’t know, men I don’t like, and bar a handful of exceptions, men I don’t find attractive. I do like Mickey and I do find him attractive. I can’t do it to him. That’s not how it works. And even if I could, what happens after he finds out I’m a hooker. He probably won’t be interested then. I can’t take the rejection, not from him and especially after that.
I take a sip from the glass of water on the bedside table. I can’t stay in this bed awake any longer. I can’t fucking do it. I pick up my cigarette packet and my lighter and sneak into the bathroom. I close the door and turn on the light. Standing with my back to the wall, I start rocking. Gently, I’m banging the back of my head against the tiles. As I increase the force, the pain in my head takes over from the pictures.
Then I think of Milly. The bad example I set her. If I hadn’t done it, she wouldn’t be in the state she is now. What that bastard did, it would never have happened, not to her. It’s all my fault. I failed her. I fucking failed her. It should have been me. I throw my head back. I’m losing control. I want to smash it. I want everything to end.
“No, Nicole, don’t.” Mickey grabs my shoulders. “Come here.” He pulls me away from the wall.
“I want to be dead. I don’t deserve to be here.” My crying isn’t silent now. It’s echoing in the bathroom.
He wraps his arms around me. His body is pressing against mine. He holds me tight. I can’t bear being touched. I want to feel close to him. I can trust him. But his hands are on me. His chest is against mine. His hips are against mine. I feel the protrusion at his crotch. His boxer shorts and my nightdress aren’t… This is too close. I shuffle backwards. There’s space between our legs but it’s not enough.
“I’m sorry,” I say. Placing my hands on his chest, I push him away.
“Come in the bedroom and sit down. We can talk. Whatever it is, it’s best to get it out.”
“I can’t.” My body is stiff. I’m stuck to the spot.
“I’ll just hold you then.”
That’s what I want, but when he gets that close, an internal siren blasts the loudest warning.
He takes my hand. “Come in the bedroom. My feet are getting cold.” He smiles.
I realise my feet are cold too. The sensation makes me slightly more present in my body, more like my adult self and less like the child who took me over. The air conditioning must be on too high. I let go of his hand and walk into the suite. I twist the air conditioning control, turning it down.
Mickey sits on the edge of the bed. “Come here. We should talk.” He pats the space next to him.
“I’m too tired,” I say, getting into the other side of the bed. I pull the duvet over me. I know I’m not going to be able to sleep, but I lie down and close my eyes. I’ll have to pretend.