Daniel let out a frustrated sigh and threw a pen across his bedroom floor. He reached up a hand and rubbed his aching neck when suddenly he heard raised voices.
He sighed, thinking it was his neighbours having yet another row but after a few seconds he realised that the argument was coming from inside his house. He launched himself out of the chair, crossed his bedroom in two strides and yanked open the door. The man who always started a burning feeling of loathing inside Daniel had just left his mother’s bedroom: Sam Marlow. Last time Sam had set foot inside the building he had been forcibly removed two minutes later. Daniel didn’t think it was possible to detest this man any more than he already did. Sam stopped in his tracks for a split second when he noticed Daniel glaring at him and glared back before he quickly walked across the landing and down the stairs.
Daniel waited until he heard the front door slam and then pushed open his mother’s bedroom door and entered the room. As soon as he stepped inside he knew exactly what had been going on; his eyes drifted from the unmade bed to the sight of her pulling on a dressing gown, her back to him. She didn’t notice he was there until she turned around, her blue eyes full with moisture, her face streaked with salty tears.
“Oh, Danny.” She said with a thick voice, and sniffed. “If you give me five minutes I’ll put the dinner on.” Daniel said nothing, he just glared at her, not sure who he was angrier at right now; her or Sam.
“How do you fancy pork chops?” Artemis asked, smiling in a feeble attempt to distract him from the current situation. He wondered why she even bothered to put on this charade anymore. After twenty years of seeing her sabotage every good chance she got she must have known he would see right through it.
“Don’t look at me at like that Daniel.” She said, her voice wavering, threatening to break.
“Like what?” He uttered from between clenched teeth.
“You know what like.” She replied.
“How do you want me to look at you?!” He yelled. “With a look of glowing admiration?! Congratulations, yet again you’ve been only too willing to sleep with the man who left you for another woman who he’s now married to; a man you know is only using you because you give him exactly what he wants, and who you argue with every time you see! Bravo mum, what a fantastic example you are setting.”
He hadn’t meant to explode like that, but he didn’t regret it. He was sick of watching his mother give herself up to a man who only wanted anything to do with her when his wife wasn’t in the mood. He was sick of cleaning up the messes that Artemis left behind her with every failed relationship. He was sick of having to be the parent to the woman who gave birth to him at sixteen. Artemis rushed towards Daniel and grabbed him by the arm.
“Don’t you ever speak to me like that! I might make mistakes but I’m still your mother, and you should respect that!”
“Respect?!” He spat, letting out a single, cold laugh and pulling his arm free from her grasp. Artemis reached up a hand to slap him round the face but he dodged her attack and hurried out across the hallway and back into his bedroom. Reaching under his bed he found the battered, brown suitcase that he never kept too far from reach, opened it and started throwing things in. In his fury he wasn’t even sure what he was packing; he didn’t really care so long as he had the basics. He heard a floorboard creak near the doorway and knew it was her coming to apologise, but he wasn’t interested. All he wanted to do was get out of this tiny, cramped flat and away from her.
“Daniel.” Artemis said. “I’m so sorry... don’t go. Please?“ If this was the first, or even second time she had pleaded with him not to leave then perhaps his reaction might have been different. Perhaps he might have been able to turn round, and say sorry and that he was always there for her no matter what. But they’d been through this situation countless times before. Each time she promised that things were going to change. She was going to get a better job and get them out of the estate and sort her life out; cut Sam off for good. But it never happened. Things would change for a week, maybe two if he was lucky, but eventually Artemis would slip back into her old ways and bad habits. This life was crushing him, and there was nothing he could do for her by staying. The only option was to leave and hope that it shocked her enough into changing for good.
“No.” He replied, his back still to her as he gathered up his belongings and crammed them into the suitcase. Hearing Artemis crying quietly behind him he spun round. “Don’t bother trying to pull that one on me; I’ve seen it before, remember?“ He reached up a hand and rubbed his tired eyes. “I can’t do this anymore mum. You don’t seem to realise, or care, that your actions don’t just affect you.”
“If this is about Sam... when you love someone-“ She started, but Daniel interrupted her.
“Don’t even attempt to justify what you two have going, you sound like you should be on Jeremy Kyle. And don’t patronise me, I’m not a kid anymore. You can’t just cook dinner and expect that everything will be fine between us.” The more she tried to delay his departure the more angry he got. “Don’t you realise what I’ve sacrificed for you?! How many great opportunities I’ve had to give up?” He yelled, slamming the suitcase closed.
“You know I’ve had a really hard time-“ Artemis started to say.
“The only reason you’ve had a hard time is because you are your own worst enemy. I’ve tried to help you, I’ve always been here, but I can’t anymore... I just can’t.” He took a deep breath. “If you ever sort yourself out then get in touch.”
He walked past her sobbing in the doorway, descended the staircase and walked out the front door, hoping that he wasn’t making a huge mistake.
Well, that's the first part. Please let me know what you think