He couldn't see the carpet. There were too many photographs and sheets of paper covering the floor. He sat against the bottom of the bed, topless and barefoot, wearing only a pair of torn jeans amongst the photographs. A cigarette sat between his trembling fingers as he lifted a photograph of himself hugging a girl, the camera obviously held at arm's length by him to take the picture. They were smiling, arms around one another, his chin on the top of her head. On the bottom section of the Polaroid was her handwriting.
'I love you. Let's make this last forever. Leanne x'
His mouth twisted quickly into a half-smirk, before he tore the photograph down the middle and disposed of the pieces in separate directions. He took a long drag on his cigarette and lifted a sheet of paper. It was a letter, something he had passed to her one day in a lesson. They had seated opposite sides of the classroom, but used to still correspond with one another by written letters. This particular letter had been when she had broken up with him for doing something stupid.
Hey Leanne. I'm really sorry.
I know it seems empty, maybe heartless just writing out a letter to say this but you know I've always been better with written words than actually talking to you about stuff.
I just want you to know that I love you. I spent all night last night locked in my room thinking over what an asshole I've been, and I never intended to hurt you. Hopefully you can see your way to having me back.
You mean so much to me, I don't want to lose you.
On the bottom was her reply, written in thick black letters.
'I forgive you ♥'
Again he smiled briefly before crushing the letter in his hands, screwing it up and throwing it to the floor.
He scanned across the other things on the floor as a tear dripped cut down his cheek. He made to stand, but his legs failed him, something like a baby deer trying to stand and simply stumbling. Thankfully he fell backwards onto the bed, and crawled across it to reach the dresser, where an open bottle of painkillers lay on its side, its remaining contents in a pile before it. He grabbed a handful and fell backwards onto the pillow. Throwing the pills into his mouth he swallowed them in one foul, loud gulp. Then he put the cigarette to his lips and took a long, deep drag. Blowing the smoke out over himself in a plume, he pressed his palms into his eyes and sat back up.
Staring across the room, he could see a million different versions of Leanne staring back at him form the floor. And next to the door, a can of petrol, the large X on the can and the picture of the flame mocking him, daring him to try it.
But the contents were already on the floor, soaking Leanne's many faces, soaking into the carpet. The smell was strong, but he couldn't smell it. As the cigarette neared the butt, he inhaled so deeply it made him feel sick. He turned over and vomited onto the carpet next to the bed, before he flicked the butt of the cigarette across the room. It hit the wooden door and bounced back, falling to the floor.
The petrol went up in a second, burning the entire room. He took one last look at a curling, burning image of Leanne's face, took one last handful of painkillers and lay back on the bed.
His mother took the last remaining thing from the fireman's hands. An answering machine for a telephone.
Back home, she plugged it in to find that the LED display blinked '02'. Pressing play as the tears welled up, she sat back and listened.
'Hey… It's Leanne… Listen, I've been doing some thinking… I don't… I don't think this can work out for much longer… I just… Don't feel attracted to you as I once did… I'm sorry…'
A click, a whirr, and the second message started.
'Oi. Where the fuck are you? It's Josh. I was just walking through town and I saw Leanne at the café… She was with Matt… Holding his hand and everything… What the fuck's up with that? Call me when you get this message…'
The answering machine clicked off and his mother burst into tears, falling over on the sofa, she clutched a cushion tightly to her face and wept.
The news report came on the television. A boy had died in a fire, following that, the boy's mother had killed herself. A lump formed in Leanne's throat as she saw the pictures on screen. She suddenly felt ill, sick, she had caused it. Jumping up from the bed naked, she ran to the bathroom and locked the door behind her.
There was a knock at the door, it was Matt.
"Leanne? You OK babes?"
"I'm fine, Matt… Go away…" Leanne said.
"Come back to bed then…"
"Matt… Fuck off…" Leanne said. There was a slam as Matt's fist predictably hit the door in anger, then she heard him crossing the room and climbing back into her bed.
Looking at herself in the mirror, she cried… For a long time she cried… She splashed some cold water over her face and looked in the mirror again, and then she screamed. Slamming her fist against the mirror, the shards fell into the sink as her hand bled. She grabbed the largest chunk of glass from the sink and fell to the floor, leaning against the door. Matt began to knock on the door.
"Leanne? What's the matter? Are you OK?"
She ignored him. Pressing the sharp edge of the shard of glass to her wrist as the tears fell onto her lap, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. The shard of glass draw blood, she pushed it deeper, slowly everything faded, the hammering on the door subsided, the bathroom swirled into blackness, the pain became numb…
It was over…