The light flared and the room came to life. Holly wasn’t alone.
I knew what was coming. This was the second time this week and probably the twentieth since term had started, so I knew exactly what to expect. Didn’t make it any more enjoyable though. It was dark down there and you never knew what would be down there with you.
Had I seen this one before? I didn’t think so, but then they all looked the same really; hopelessly young, wearing skinny jeans and nonchalant confidence like a paper-thin mask. I could see through it all to the bewildered lad inside, why couldn’t Holly?
She picked her way through the chaos of her room, pulled the heap of dirty laundry off the spare chair for him and poured them each a vodka. She was drunk, I could tell. She hadn’t cast about the room to make sure nothing embarrassing was left lying around; dirty knickers, old food, crusty plates. Me.
Luckily I was tucked behind her pillow. Not so much that I couldn’t see her, but enough that she couldn’t see me. It bought me a little time.
She didn’t need to worry anyway, his eyes took in nothing but her. And why should they? She looked lovely, if a little unfocused - the kid couldn’t believe his luck. She threw her vodka back in one and watched him do the same before moving in for the kill.
She straddled him and pulled off her top and they were off. I watched her now and remembered, as I always did, the time when she was just my little girl and I was her whole world.
I had still managed to cling on to a corner of it, though - she’d brought me with her to uni, hadn’t she? A surge of triumph welled inside me when I pictured Rainbow Bear’s face as she’d left him on his shelf and slung me in her bag instead. One of the last good days.
But it was a tired sort of joy - all the strength of the memory wrung out of it, like an old teabag, as, slowly, the little girl I knew disappeared night by night into vodka bottles and strange boys’ arms.
They’d made it onto the bed by now and I knew what was coming. Her hand groped blindly for a few seconds, then she found me and I was rammed, unceremoniously, down the side of the mattress once again.
I landed with a thud. Not much had changed down here since last time. I sprawled awkwardly next to the old sepia photo of her nana and her copy of Macbeth with all of Lady Macbeth’s lines highlighted in yellow.
The morning would be different - all hangover cuddles and whispered apologies I knew. It was always the same; we’d spend the day in bed together watching old episodes of Friends. This arsehole would be gone for good and for a little while, just a very little while, I could pretend things were like they used to be and that I had my Holly back.
Slowly the springs above me fell into their familiar creaking rhythm. It was going to be another long night.