Cheats and Liars

David sat with his back to the wall looking at his father's hospital bed. His mother and Jessica stood at opposite sides of his father, with his mother combing his hair with her hand. David could only just perceive his father's breathing and the clearest signal that he was still alive came from the repetitive ping of the heart monitor behind Jessica. David turned to face the open door and corridor, unable to look at his father for any longer.

For the next hour he was only aware of that ping and the occasional movement of a doctor or nurse checking the chart. Looking down at his hands, he was surprised to find them gripping the chair, his knuckles bloodless and white with exertion. His mother's hand appeared on his shoulder and ridiculously she chose to whisper despite the fact his father was unlikely to be woken by mere voices.

"David, keep your father company. Jess and I are going to get something to drink. Do you want something?"

David shook his head and lumbered to his feet, moving hesitantly to his father's bedside. He crouched over his father, watching his mum and sister negotiate their route to the nearest vending machine.

"It's ok, dad. I know things will be ok. I won't make this mistake again. Next time you'll die for sure."


David crept around the side of the fridge, trying not to stamp his feet on the kitchen tiles. His mum and Jessica had gone out for the day, and were staying with some friends. David was supposed to be out too, in the centre of town with some mates, but they hadn't shown. David continued through the sitting room towards the stairs, attempting not to wake his father. He checked the clock as he walked by the study. 23:49. David tip-toed silently up the stair case, and paused halfway to try and avoid the creaky step.

At the top of the stairs, David stopped again, contemplating whether or not to go to the bathroom. He decided against it, as the flush would probably wake his father. But, as he was waiting, David thought he heard muffled voices coming from his mother and father's bedroom.

"Mum can't be back already" David thought to himself.

David's cold fingers rapped on the bedroom door. Suddenly the voices stopped. David paused for another few seconds before turning the doorknob.

"Dad?" David whispered as he entered the room.

"Who's there? What? Is that you, David?" Jeff sat up.

David reached over to the main lightswitch and flipped the light on. As he did so, his eyes widened and his jaw dropped.

"Who is THAT?" David yelled.

The lady sitting in the bed next to his dad cleared her throat. "I should get going now."

"No, wait" David shouted as the woman reached for a jumper lying on the floor beside the bed.

"Calm down!" Jeff cried, also reaching for some clothing. "Will you wait outside for a minute, David?"

Glad to escape the awkward scene, David stepped outside and slammed the door behind him. He rushed to the bathroom and splashed some cold water on his face, to make sure he wasn't imagining the whole thing. He blinked rapidly and came out of the bathroom just in time to see the woman leaving.

"Dad!" David yelled across the hall.

"It's not what it looks like…" Jeff tried to explain.

"Don't give me that shit! I'm not a child anymore – I know what you were doing." David spat his words out.

Jeff cleared his throat, and looked at the carpet, slowly turning crimson.

"So who is she then? And why? Why did you do it?" David shouted.

"…It's just someone from work…" Jeff said calmly.

"Just someone? For fucks sake, do you know how much this means to me? How much you'd hurt mum if she found out?" David stepped closer to Jeff.

"I didn't mean for this to happen." Jeff replied weakly.

"I FUCKING HATE YOU!" David screamed, sounding like a little boy again. "You can't even admit it! You know how much this would destroy mum. I can't believe you'd have the nerve to do this, AGAIN!"

"Be quiet David! Don't you dare tell your mother." Jeff started to look worried.

"Or what?!" David paced the top of the stairway, looming closer to his dad. "Or what?!" David repeated, pushing at Jeff.

Before David knew what he had done, Jeff was lying on the floor at the base of the stairs. Neck craned to one side, Jeff lay silent, the blood draining from his face.