High Hopes – Short Story Saturdays

I’m putting off ‘Drowning in Jealousy’ for a week because I hit a huge road-block.

Instead, I grabbed a writing prompt when looking up different prompts, and it came from here. I liked the following:

‘You wake up on a beautiful Sunday morning, feeling happy and ready to take on the day. Then you remember. A wave of anxiety washes over you, and the beautiful day turns foreboding in an instant. Who are you? Where are you? What has happened to make you feel anxious and ruin your day?’

That was all I needed. There is a lot of swearing, but I have to stress that it is the characters. You know by now I don’t often swear in my posts, because I don’t find necessary ways of incorporating them.

I do have to mention there isn’t much cohesiveness with some of the spoken dialogue, but that’s how narcissists behave.


It was a beautiful Sunday morning to wake up to, even the alarm couldn’t put a dampener on the day ahead. I was ready and motivated for the first time this week, and I was ready to take on the world, never mind the day ahead. There was nothing that could-

Oh.

I remembered that there was something that I had to do, and a sudden wave of anxiety flooded me from my toes and rose up to my head. I felt dizzy, as though I’d been smothered. Thus, I laid back down.

Today was the day I had stupidly agreed to visit my parents alone. I would have gone with Quentin, but he had to work. My hand was forced – after all, the parents were persistent people.

I begrudgingly got out of bed and hopped into the shower, hoping it would calm my racing heart. When that failed, I resigned myself to going. I could already hear in my head their reactions if I bailed last minute – how I was a disappointment of a daughter, how I should be sectioned, the usual spiel.

*

Three hours and just as many anxiety attacks later, I had left the safety of my apartment, and in the horribly familiar setting that was my old street, where I had escaped a year ago. I trudged up to the door and tried to regulate my heart.

‘Had to have high, high hopes for a living, shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing, didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision, always had high, high hopes,’ I could hear from outside the house. I felt nauseated just hearing that song, probably the worst song from that band for a multitude of reasons, and my PTSD being one of them. I so wanted to turn tail and run, but the side-door opened to my mother, in a dressing gown, followed by my bumbling father, already drunk. Both were about to have their cigarettes, and I got the greeting that would start off this encounter:

‘Oi!’ That greeting came from the father, whose voice always grated on my nerves. It was the kind of voice that sounded like something had permanently lodged in his throat. I rolled my eyes before making my approach.

‘Oh, hey,’ I responded.

‘Turn the fucking music down, you knobhead,’ my mother aimed the jibe at the father, and he retorted back:

‘No, you!’ I knew it was going to be a long afternoon.

*

Grey-rocking was something I had learned to do before moving out. The Amazon Alexa was sitting in the dining room, a far cry from when it was placed on the arm of the sofa right next to me. For that, I was slightly relieved. But for them to play High Hopes, my worst of the PTSD trigger songs. I’d grey-rocked most of the conversation – how are you, how’re the preparations before I start my new job, what hours would I be working, etc. Meanwhile, I noticed that the drinking problem hadn’t subsided – empty bottles of cider were strewn all over the living room floor, crates of beer were taking up space in the hallway, and I noticed as I looked around my old room, more expensive alcohol was being kept hidden from the father.

The mother was in the kitchen making some light snacks, and the father fell silent, and instead fell to drinking his cider and watching Law and Order. The air was tense, thick with uncertainty. I didn’t feel safe, and I knew I could escape, go home and bury myself under the covers and watch re-runs of Come Dine With Me to make myself feel better.

While in my current train of thought, the father huffed loudly before taking off into the kitchen. I busied myself with my phone, texting Quentin:

‘I shouldn’t have agreed to this, it’s horrible. I wish you were here right now xxxx’

I definitely wished Quentin was with me. Unfortunately, the parents chose a time and date when he was at work so that I would be isolated.

‘…on her phone, playing that stupid fuggin’ game,’ I heard the father bellow from the kitchen. I stiffened, my instincts kicking in, begging me to stay still, not breathe.

‘Like you’re any better with your drinking!’ the mother replied harshly. Well done, mum!

‘At least I have a fuggin’ job! What does she do? She cares more about that game than she does getting a job!’

‘She’s starting a job tomorrow!’ I heard the father scoff from in the kitchen. Of course, we’d already discussed my starting a new job, and then pretends the conversation never happened. Whatever fits his narrative, I suppose.

I was always supposed to be the lazy one, never interested in anything that wasn’t important. My graduation was ignored because I didn’t deserve to amount to anything. I managed to secure a job in the area I studied for, and he’s pissed it’s not a factory job.

‘She needs to stop deluding herself. She needs a factory job,’ he bellowed more. I knew it.

‘Not when she already has a job!’

‘SHE’S CRAZY! SHE’S MENTAL! SHE NEEDS FUGGIN’…LOCKING UP! Fuggin’…Alfie’s smarter than her, and he’s SIX!’ Alfie was my cousin that was on track for an ASBO before he turns 10. Of course, Alfie is smarter than me – in terms of being a rotten troublemaker.

At that point, I’d had enough. I just wanted to disappear from this place, and I knew that I could. I had my own home, I had my freedom. And so I stood up, gathered my belongings and started to leave.

‘Running away, are you?’ the father shouted from the kitchen.

‘No, just can’t be arsed with you, as usual. At least I have a home to get away from you.’

‘Yeah, just go fuggin’ running crying to Quentin, like usual!’ I felt rage coarse through me before I shook it off. No, I’m not that person anymore.

‘Well not really, considering all I’m doing is getting away from you. There’s no point arguing, there’s no point being logical. At least I don’t live here anymore.’

With that statement, accompanied by shaking hands, I opened the door and left the toxic environment.

*

‘Thanks, dear,’ I spoke, as Quentin handed me a tub of ice cream.

‘I wish I was there with you,’ he whispered, as he crawled into bed and wrapped his arms around me.

‘You’d be wishing you’d never gone, trust me,’ I responded, opening the tub of cookie dough ice cream, and began to chow down.

‘What about your mum?’

‘She’s asked me if I wanted to go round again so that he can apologise. I said I’d nip over on 30th February,’ I replied, waiting to see if Quentin would get the joke.

‘Well then,’ he replied, with a tone of voice signifying that he got the joke.

2 thoughts on “High Hopes – Short Story Saturdays

  1. Tim

    I’m so happy I’m not the only one that can’t stand High Hopes. Even if it is just a story, it’s one of the two worst Panic! songs I can think of (that and Hey Look Ma I Made It are equally bad in my book).

    I’d never heard of gray rocking before reading this story. Interesting technique. I’m genuinely surprised it hasn’t come up in my therapy sessions with some of what I’ve dealt with.

    Like

    1. thatlittlelola

      I can’t stand High Hopes purely because it triggers my PTSD. And grey-rocking was always hard for me to do because I tend to get too emotional in certain situations, but I’ve been working on it.

      Liked by 1 person

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