008: Tantrum

Hazel rode in the ambulance. The house phone was still in her hands, clutched between fingers that only seemed to grow more white and tense as I drifted in and out of consciousness. She said nothing, not even to the paramedics who tried to make her laugh. Solid as a rock, and just as unmoving – she glared across the tiny space. Glared at me.

God she looked like Kate.

At the hospital, she watched me recover with the same stony gaze. Sober, I tried to make light of it. As if it might someday be funny, but the seriousness of the situation had settled with her. Quietly she ate the meal the nurses brought, chewing in dead silence. She didn’t speak at all until we got home. Storming in the door ahead of me, she charged straight for the cupboards. One by one, she took the bottles out, smashing them on the floor in her own silent tantrum. The sickly smell of alcohol flooded the house immediately, making my already weak stomach turn.

‘Hazel…’ she was overreacting. She stood in the middle of the broken glass, shoes and socks soaked in the mess. Shaking. With fear, or anger? I couldn’t tell anymore. This girl was a stranger to me. She glared at me, and whatever else I had thought to say stuck in my throat.

‘Rebecca’s Mum died too.’ She snapped at me. Somewhere through the haze I vaguely recalled her telling me. A sickness of some sort, sudden, but I didn’t care. What was one less person in the world to me? I shrugged now, as I had then. I didn’t see the connection. With the smash of another bottle, Hazel made it for me. ‘Her Dad still loves her.’

My heart, or what marinated mess was left of it, dropped to the floor. Surely she didn’t think…? and yet, the dark angry glare aimed my way suggested otherwise. She left the room, slammed her bedroom door and turned the music up.

Piece by piece, I picked up the glass. Mopped up the alcohol. When the floor was clean, I grabbed a glass of water and sat outside her door until she could forgive me. It took an hour, but that night – we cried together for the first time since I told her Kate wouldn’t be coming home.

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