Tamsin hoped the bathroom door muffled her tears. That was the curse of being soft, of being emotional, her parents said. The curse of crying when things hurt.
Tamsin didn’t agree. Being soft was not a weakness. Feeling her feelings to bottom of the depths of her soul was not a weakness.
She hiccupped, grabbing more loo roll to blow her nose. Her face felt puffy, heavy, like nothing she had ever felt before. There was no frame of reference for this level of grief, this level of pain that burned inside of her.
Every ounce of her being fought the memories. The road. The blood. the thoughts running through her mind as she ran through the events again and again and again.
A knock at the door broke her thoughts.
“Tamsin?!” her mother barked through the door, “are you in there.”
Tamsin gulped for air, wiping her eyes.
“Yes, just coming,” she said. Her voice ached, but it sounded normal. Normal enough she hoped.
She heard her mother huff on the other side of the door.
“Don’t be late,” her mother said, “we’ve got your grandparent’s coming.”
Tamsin waiting for her mother to hit the third squeaky stair before she stood up. Then she counted to ten, just to make sure that she was alone.
Come on, Tamsin thought. She turned on the cold tap and splashed water into her face. Her face stung as the cold water slapped it again and again. At least this was more comforting a slap than her mother’s open palm.
She grabbed the towel and dried off her face, looking up into the mirror. Her eyes were still bloodshot, her hair a mess. She tried to pull her hair back into a ponytail, but the eyes she could do nothing about.
Let’s home Grandma has the tact not to ask, Tamsin thought. She’d not be able to keep the tears in if she did ask. And then her mother would be disappointed again.
“Come on,” Tamsin said to her reflection, “we’ll get through this.”
She hung the towel back on the radiator, and squared her shoulders at the door. She’d get through this, she had to get through this.
Miss you, Tabby, she thought. Her cat had been the only solitude in this hell of a home. And now, Tabby was gone too.
Tamsin grabbed the door handle, unlocked it, and stepped out of the bathroom.
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