This week I have been working on my new project ”In The Dark” A novel about Sarah, a journalist investigating her husband’s death, while losing her sight. This is the prologue, and a rough first draft. It is set when she is only thirteen (twenty years before the present)
‘Joe, can I borrow your High Speed CD?’
I knew he was out, but pushed the door open anyway. As normal, perfect boys room is immaculate. Mine, not so much. There are more clothes on my bedroom floor than carpet, but it’s just the way I like it.
If Mum says one more thing, I’m going to pack my things and live with Sophie. At least her mum isn’t constantly on her back.
It’s not in his CD rack, but sometimes he puts it in his rucksack, ready for school. I shut the door behind me, and opened his walk-in wardrobe. It’s normally hidden at the back. I reckon it’s because he don’t want Mum to find his condoms.
The zipper got stuck, but I managed to open it.
I removed his smelly gym socks – would it harm to change them once in a while – and there was something soft inside. A large bundle of . . . what looked like drugs, stuffed in one of the socks.
‘Sarah! I’ve told you before not to rifle through my stuff.’
He makes me jump, and I clutch the bag to my chest, as if it is a bomb and going to explode.
‘I was looking for your Cold Play CD, but found . . .’ I grabbed the socks, swiped them in front of his face.
His face is pure white, just like the drugs inside his rucksack.
‘Please, Sarah, don’t tell Mum.’ He snatched the bag off me, and the drugs were pushed back into his bag, covered with his smelly socks.
I am crying now, I’ve heard all the talks at school, and how dangerous they are. It’s how I recognised that was heroin. The police showed us before and after pictures, of kids, my age.
‘Drugs, are you mad!’
‘They’re not mine, I’m . . . I’m looking after them for a mate.’
‘What sort of mate does drugs! Is it Tom?’
‘What’s going on up there?’ Mum shouts from the kitchen.
‘Sarah, shut up, please.’ he whispers.
He pushed everything to the back of the wardrobe, and almost pushed me on the bed. He gave me one of those stares, and in that moment his secret was kept. We might not get along, but our unwritten rule, nobody snitches, was on full display.
‘What’s going on?’ Mum said.
‘Nothing Mum, Sarah was just in my room again, but we’ve sorted it.’
He smiled, and I did too.
‘Yea Mum . . . all sorted, I’ve apologised.’
Once she left, Joe shut the door again, so we won’t be heard.’
‘You promise you’re not doing drugs.’
‘No, look I owe someone some money, and was asked deliver this, to get rid of my debt like.’
‘How do you owe anyone money?’
‘Teflon did me a favour, lost my wallet once, said he’d pay for our take-out a few times. I have to do this.’
‘Can’t you go to the police?’
I feel sick, like the contents of my stomach will empty on to his Man-United bedspread.
‘I’ll be arrested, cause I’ve got the drugs. Look, I’m getting rid of em tomorrow, I won’t ever do anything like this again – just don’t tell Mum.’
I kept his secret, but weeks later, Mum asked me to wake him. I pushed his innate body. It was cold, so cold. Even then, I kept his secret. Even when the police raided our home a few weeks later, I didn’t say anything.
They showed Dad a warrant and told us to stay in the front room. Mum kept on repeating – Joe is a good boy, Joe is a good boy, Joe is a good boy. I couldn’t speak or cry. Dad, great in a crisis, held me close and told me it would be okay, it was just a silly mistake.
We huddled in the front room. Our little, green plastic tree was still in pride of place. Our paper ceiling decorations shook, as they crashed around upstairs.
They found heroin, hidden in his rucksack and we never spoke of it again.