It had started again. The tremble from downstairs grew louder as Venice tried to keep his mind hold to the place and the time. Frozen, unable to speak, a small, curled up human leaning his back on the door. It was about him again, wasn't it? He didn’t knew. He was just scared, scared that one of them would hurt the other. It wouldn't be so out of place, after all. Even though none of the fights had become violent yet, the tension had grown to the point where throwing plates, or even knives, would at any moment become to play a part.
Loud “bang” as someone hit their hands on the table. It was most likely Markos. And now Venice heard his shouting, maybe a bit shattered voice taking the spotlight above all the other noise:
“Understand? What the fuck is there to understand! Fucking tell me! You think I'm just going to swallow whole everything you bitch say and not think a two god motherfucking seconds ab-”
“Only thing you have to understand is that you can't act like this and not expect any kind of consequences for it!” mother shouted over Markos, cutting his sentence to conspicuous silence.
“All this time you’ve been acting and going in and out like you own this whole house, with no respect or consideration for people around you whatsoever. And when I try to make some sense of your actions, when I try to teach you something, you take nothing! You’re just going around like a criminal. You complain like you’re being held hostage in this house, and after I’ve given you everything. I did nothing to deserve this kind of treatment! You’re, every day of the week, treating everyone of us like shit! I’ve told you to stop, I’ve gone through any kind of method, reward and punishment, but you continue with the same route. No kind of punishment ever works with you! You tell me what should I do with you. You tell me what the hell do I do with you!”
Venice expected Markos to throw a row, but after Anna’s statement downstairs was silent. Markos didn’t yell on top his mother’s speech. He had been silent for the whole statement, but the similar fights had occurred and gone through so many times that Venice knew the silence was everything else than a good sign. Markos was gathering his anger as the monologue was going, searching for bullet points and making his thoughts clear. Going through them, laying them out and biting his tongue ready to take action. Markos was a character who didn’t really give respect to anyone, his mother the least. But maybe he had reasons. Venice waited for upcoming statement, almost in dread. But it didn’t come. Venice pricked up his ears to get sense of it. But no. Silence. Was it seconds? Minutes? Was it even a one second? He didn’t knew, he wasn’t able to grasp the concept of time, not right now. Right now all there was was this feeling of panic and uncertainty, and the striking silence. Eyes wandering, dashing from object to another. Totally zoned out. This time it would go violent, Venice was sure. Markos’ silence had felt unusually long which, Venice thought, would only mean the most outrageous turn of events this far.
“Well then lock me out if you want.”
Strikingly quiet. Markos didn’t shout. He didn’t raise his voice. The words were laid out calmly, slowly, monotonically. They felt almost peaceful after all the screaming, shouting and row. His voice was cold and biting, words striking. It was the reaction mother most likely wasn't waiting for. He didn't shout, didn't start rampaging - all mother was able to get out of him was this cold, impassive response.
“Throw me out and have a nice family-life with your beloved son.”
Those words. Those damned words. Markos had opened the pandora’s box for himself. Wrath that was buried under the calm way of saying the lines burned in the words themselves and the meaning behind them. Second, and Venice snapped to movement. Mother started raising her voice, shouting out the words and the row began again. Venice started to look around shaking out of panic. He rushed around, picking any near objects up and throwing them, as seeking something furiously. He grabbed a hoodie and - thonk, as his phone fell on the floor. Venice took the phone to his shaking hands and reached for his headphones. He did not want to hear anything anymore. They were shouting the same words again. Insults and words cut the air like sharp knives. It was about him. The whole thing had again became about him. He did not want to hear those words again, did not want to hear anything regarding him: the yells, the insults, the sharp stark anger in Markos’ voice. Venice plugged the headphones in and hit play. Quarrel in the downstairs grew larger and larger, and click by click grew the volume of the music. He did not want to be here, not now, not in the moment like this. He tried to escape, tried to trick himself to distract his attention from the storm that roamed downstairs and made its way around him. But the shouts came through all the music, and there was no volume bar left. Only option Venice had was to push his hands against the headphones and the ears as some attempt to block out the noises. One more shouted response, then loud crash, and a roaring slam - then it all was over.
Venice counted first to ten, then continued to twenty before he took his headphones off. As he started to take a grasp of the world he was living in and his current state Venice realized how fast his heart had beaten all this time. He noticed how his breathing wheezed, how inconsistent it was. He felt his whole body shivering, and as he moved his legs closer to his body he started to taste a disgusting, iron-like taste in his mouth. Venice’s head hurt, and he started to worry about passing out. To prevent that, or to at least to do something, he lifted himself up with his whole body still shaking from panic wreaked adrenaline-strike. Venice wasn’t sure what to do, he wasn’t sure if anything had happened - to his mother or Markos. But there were no thoughts right now, he didn’t imagine the worst genarios in his mind. Maybe the best way to put it is that all his actions were on autopilot, as his mind had wandered to the clouds, with still no clear thoughts or clear observations of his surroundings. Venice leaned on the doorframe of his room and looked around, trying to catch some sounds which would give him some sort of picture of what had happened. He took few careful steps. It was quiet, no reaction, so Venice decided that it would be safe for him to just make sure of the situation. Venice walked to the staircase and peeked down. The light flickered in the living room, as the lamp still rocked around after it had been hit. Mother was there, standing next to the dinner table, still facing towards the door. She was in one piece. Some of Venice’s tenseness cooled down, and unconsciously he let his arms relax. Nothing had happened, at least not anything too severe, since mom at least seemed like she had no scratch. One, two, three, Venice counted few seconds, then few minutes before he cleared his throat.
“Mom”, he said with quiet, croaking voice.
“Mom are you alright?”
Anna flinched a bit and shifted her eyes from the empty entry to his younger son standing on the top of the stairs.
“Yeah, I’m alright.”
She turned to the table and started picking up papers that had flown all over the place.
“He just never learns.”
Anger started showing through her whole figure, as she started working with only bigger and sharper gestures, collecting the documents and bills in her hands.
Anna muttered through her teeth: “He just never learns.”
Left - right - left - right - left - right. Heels hitting the asphalt, panting in-out-in-out, with every breath shearing his lungs. The dusk and the darkness around made everything else feel nonexistent, although sometimes a lone car driving by laid it’s headlights on him and reminded that in this world of darkness and no time there were in fact other people around. Slam of the door, and with such power fueled by anger he had started running, as always.
Time had passed so that developments of evening weren't clear on his mind anymore, only memory of atmosphere, and running on the roadside had started to feel in his feet. But he had no time for giving them a break. He had to get away. Away, anywhere but just away, further from that hell of a place. He dashed in the dusk, as the bushes and road signs swept by. Faster. Further. As fast as he could. Being present and trying to fight through the web of rules, expectations and seemingly senseless hierarcy while also letting it just go by, not acting to it, was something he wasn’t able to do. But running, that was something Markos could get a hold on. Fight or flight response: first fight, and when it stops working, get away. Run. Run, and there would be no more shouting or being stuck. And now there was no place to be stuck in, only emptiness without clear sense of being or purpose. Running didn’t ask for purpose: only if there was a reason to start running in the first place. But once that was done the feet took pace of their own and didn’t ask for place, time, or reason till something needed to change. For that they asked a reason, why to change, why to change the pace or direction. Thoughts didn’t need to be involved, neither did logic. Emotions and thoughts had their freedom to sweep and go without control, since there were no humans around. And just so had Marko’s mind taken the pace of its own: the thoughts and images popped up in his mind, and as fast as they came they also faded away. The logic and second thoughts Markos had left as soon as he got himself out the door, and now all his imagination ran free, producing almost outrageous imagery fueled by all the mess of emotions burning inside him. He hated everything, hated that chosen son of a bitch. He wanted to throw him on the ground, kick him till he bled and crush his skull, smash it on the ground to a bloody mush. He wanted to burn them. Burn them all. Lock the doors and burn the whole house down. The hatred and the overviolent images gave him the power to go on. There was only him, his thoughts, breezeful air hitting his face. And time; time which Markos had no sense of passing, other than it most likely had since the muscles build up acid and started to feel sore. By the effect of time, and by the effect of that time being effectively used, soles of his feet didn’t take the rocky asphalt so kindly anymore. Markos decided to ignore it. Little pain didn’t weigh much when he had a place to get away from. Left, right, left, right, left, right, in a steady and swift pace. Time continuing to pass by, as it always does, not slowing but ticking impassively. Getting away, further away, Markos continued with his nonexistent plan. He would have probably kept going with just as impassive and invariant state as time, if physique hadnt made it otherwise. Soreness build up in his body, and cold air had become more difficult to breath. With every new step a jolt struck through his legs. They were starting to get numb and starting to shake, but he kept going with anger, with fear. Most importantly with the anger. Hatred, fueling the violent imagery which swirled in his mind, building up to just more brokenminded fantasies. Running, wishing to get away and quietly promising himself to never get back, although that promise was most likely an empty one. Left, right, left right, just few more steps. The body probably listened, but was unable to meet the expectations. It begged him to slow down: he started feeling overwhelmingly dizzy, it all felt like his heart was going to jump through his ribs and legs like they were about to shatter into pieces at any second. But if he now stopped, he maybe wasn’t able to get himself to run again. He had to keep going. He needed to get as far away as he could. But slowing down really may not be so bad idea after all. As long as he kept going forward, it could be okay. Promising that to himself Markos slowed down a bit, and so did his thoughts. Speed now down to jogging he still took leaping steps through the night, with no destination or clear plan. Left, right, left, right, left, right, still hitting the asphalt in a steady phase.
As more cars and signs were left behind, Markos had to pay more attention to himself and his body just to keep the whole thing still moving. Keep going, keep going. Left, right, left, right. Keep the rhythm, keep yourself up, keep facing forward whatever there comes. Left, righ, left, right. Air around swirled, hit him in the face and in the consciousness. Legs started now feeling numb instead of sore, senseless limbs made out of glass. Glass structures which weren’t able to move or hold up a human body. The signals from the body to the brain started getting tangled, making moving forward a game which rules were unclear and pace slow and frustrating. Markos kept taking steps like on autopilot, not really taking any information in enough to fully process it. The road under his feet seemed to be moving around. Still, left, right, left right. It raised up, then down, and now steeply up. Physical reality had become wobbly, unstable mess and an invisible nail hammered deep into his skull. With the pain and the fear of passing out a hopeless realization finally struck Markos’ mind: he had to stop. Slowing down, step by step, until there were no more steps taken. But as soon as he laid his feet steadily to the ground, cold started getting to him. He was shaking, out of cold, out of exhaustion. Markos kept himself up with all the energy he had, limbs senseless and barely able to carry his weight. A shiver went through him, shaking every part of the body like an electric shock. That shiver, and Markos felt an appalling swirl in his stomach. An empty, nauseating swirl that felt like a punch in the guts. And like a punch in the guts, as abrupt and violent was the sudden struck of a spasm, making him to bend over himself. Throat filled up, fraction of a second of panic and feeling of death—and liquid vomit splashed on the cold ground. Drops tripping from the teeth and the lip. Some bits were left in the mouth despite the strength of the strike. Water run through his nose and made him gag. The vomit was clear, a bit yellow, made up by gastric acid and chunks of the evening dinner. Markos juddered, throat painfully cramping like it tried by itself to force out more of the distasteful fluids. One forceful spasm, again, but this time the stomach had nothing to give- All Markos was left to do was few painful retches before he was able to collect himself. Weak, numb, barely holding himself up - not to mention his whole mouth and nose was now filled with gross, acidic, bilious taste. It was everywhere, so strong and so sickening that it made Markos about to throw up again. He spat a mouthful, trying to get the taste away. The taste was all still there. Spittle dropping down the lower lip he breathed in and spat again, not making much of a difference. After all the running, and the unpleasant loss of any water his system had, his mouth was parched, dry as a desert. Agonising hint of spleen filled his head as a whole, and the horrid thirst made him miserable, weak, a burden for himself. He stood there, hunching over his legs, using all his strength to keep himself uphold.
“Dear god”, Markos mumbled quietly and wiped mouth with his hardel.
He sat down on the roadside, placing his back against the bar of a nearby sign. Everything around was dark, hopeless, and Markos himself felt like dying. He tried to rest his head on the cold metal, but that try wasn’t much for anything. Smell of the vomit burned his throat, and no attempt of him trying to get himself to bit more comfortable sitting position really helped the situation to feel any more pleasant. Light - a car raced by. Markos coughed two times, and spat. Back against the sign that seemed to point the miles to the downtown of the nearest other city, the puddle of vomit was only about forty inches away from him; and although the smell of gastric acid wasn’t so pungent in the cold air, it was still clearly there. A nauseating smell which any person would normally get as far away from as they could. Sitting there exhausted and nauseous, Markos started to gather together simple thoughts and ponder his situation. There was no hope or reason to run further. Where he would get in the end? Nowhere. No matter how far he ran, in the end he still would have to go back to the house. There were no other places for him, and he had to sleep. He had to eat. He had to shower. And most importantly, he had to charge his phone. Thought of going back felt like a defeat. But there wasn’t really nothing else to do.
He had lost.
Lost the battle against the demons he tried to run away from. Lost the battle against his own weaknesses and the battle against the physical boundaries. Mind wasn’t really that more powerful than the muscle. Hammering headache gyrated inside his head, hitting both the temples and the back of his head. Cold, tired, nauseous, despondent — defeated. And as Markos looked around — almost gacking as another hit tried to make it’s way up from cramping stomach- and realized that he had no sense of where he was, even hint of fear started to grow inside his mind. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He was strong, revolting individual with no fears. He was supposed to never give up, never obey the nonsensical rules. And here he was, scared and shaking like a child. What does little headache and vomit do — literally nothing! Why the hell was he like this! He had no reason to feel as pitiful as he did. Markos waved his hand in a rapid movement and hit himself on the cheek as hard as he could. Toughen up! Literally, stop crying!
“The fuck I have to loose!”
He banged his fists against the sides of his head. Stay together! Stay collected! Markos huffed a furious breath through his teeth, let his fingers unfold from the grip and instead wrapped the arms tightly around his knees, fingernails cutting into the denim and the skin under it. Pain didn’t matter right now. He just needed to collect himself. Markos had curled up into a tiniest curl he was able to get, hugging his knees and burying his jaw in the space between his legs and chest. Biting his lower lip, rocking a bit back and forth. Cold metal bar tickleing his neck at times, and he felt how burning taste roamed it’s way back up to his mouth. He stopped, sat there still for a time. He should go. Markos stood up, and only within second felt another in his throat. This time being more aware and ready to move, he turned around and took two running steps to the fleak and violently threw up to the dry sike. The mildly disturbing atmosphere and depressing, anxiety filled thought were framed by the silence of the night and a cold wind breeze shaking the bushes on the roadside and messing up Markos’ hair. Markos stood up and fixed the strands back to their place.
“I must be getting sick”, he mumbled to himself.
He took his phone from the pocket of his camo jacket and checked. Clock was 00:13. No messages. Some notifications from Instagram and Youtube, but nothing important. He opened Whatsapp. Dave was still most likely going around the city, so Markos started typing, to have something to do, something to keep himself tied in the place and time. And he started to walk back to the hell he had left about three hours ago.
Left, right, left, right, left… a light. Familiar glow from the outside lamps on the sides of the dark-green door. Markos checked his surroundings, carefully turning his head around. The left neighbour had all their lights out. He assumed them to be an elderly couple. Markos didn’t really remember seeing them that much, but sometimes older man with few white hairs would come to check the mail. House on the right had few windows in the upstairs glowing with warm light. The house Markos himself had come back to occupy had no lights upstairs, but few still on the downstairs. Markos rocked back on his knees a bit, pondering whether it would be safe to go inside. Had the storm settled down yet? If it didn’t, he’d have to face it. He could not just stand there on the street. Markos took a deep breath and laid his hand on his mouth to check his state. If he just got the breath in calm and normal state, he would be okay. Breath out, hold. Another breath in, releasing the shoulders from the tension and letting them relax. Making sure to keep emotionless, blank expression and giving nothing away. He actually started to be good at this. Good at keeping everything to himself, good at lying, good at toughening his skin so that no-one got to see his feelings or even hints of his thoughts. He was there alone, behind the walls. And it was good, for now. He should just keep the same face stepping in. Just steady and quiet movements from now on, he reminded himself. Don’t let mother be in the downstairs, he prayed quietly in his mind, don’t let mother be there waiting. He was tired. He didn’t want to get in a fight again. Even when the growing tension ticked inside his mind, shortening his breath, Markos didn’t let his hand shake even a bit when he placed it on the doorhandle and pushed. Prepared for everything, prepared for possible shouting. Prepared to be back in the house. He opened the door, making just enough room for himself, and listened carefully as he stepped into the entry as quietly as he could.
Slowly, inch by inch, he closed the door, keeping all his senses sharp to detect any kind of sign of movement. The click that door gave off when the lock knocked on it’s frame was almost frighteningly deafening in the sleeping house. Markos swiftly checked around him, like a startled squirrel, if the sound had caused anyone to notice his presence. No sounds. Nothing seemed to move. Heart beating up and the click still echoing in his head Markos stood in the entry still like a deer in the headlights. His hand still laying on the doorhandle. His mind but senseless in a nervous fog . Time ticked on as he examined the surroundings, detecting any possible sounds, ready to take action. Still silence. Markos slowly started to take off his coat, careful to rustle the fabric only as little as possible, and glanced through downstairs. Well, at least checking all the points he was able to see from the entry. The one light that had glown from the downstairs was the light in the kitchen, but no-one seemed to be there. Counting down twenty seconds, if anyone would suddenly show up. Silently checking if anyone had woken up to the sound of the door opening and closing. Silence. No people in the downstairs, no people moving. No-one.
Markos was save. He let the air out, relieved, and folded the green coat to his hands. If he wasn’t so tired, he would easily be almost happy of this safe landing. Letting the tension out with a relieved sigh. Silent. Thank god it was silent.
“You came home.”
The comment somewhere from the stairs struck Markos’ fight-flight-response and he flinched, quickly shifting his eyes to the source of the sound. Heart beating like that of a frightened prey, but now annoyed as he was able to identify the figure in the dark.
“Venice, for fuck’s sake”, Markos whispered sharply through his teeth.
Venice took the words and stepped one step back, hunching a bit and showing clear unnerve.
“Sorry”, Venice squealed.
Markos continued, untying his shoes and taking them off so that the steps on the stairs wouldn’t be so heavy. Venice sat on the stairs, glancing down between the bars of stair railing.
“Mom is sleeping.”
He collected the coat and the shoes in his hands and quietly as possible made his way upstairs, making sure he didn’t make even the slightest eye contact with the scrawny kid sitting on the middle of the stairs.