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Love Hurts

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“You’re drunk. Again.”

Clarke dropped her schoolbag on the front porch and stared back at her father. Jake didn’t even deny it. After losing his job at the local garage two weeks ago, Jake’s dignity began to spiral out of control, and he certainly didn’t need his 16-year-old daughter to remind him.

“What time is Mom home?”

Jake shrugged, as he looked up at the soccer game on the TV, clicking open another can. Clarke stomped her left foot down in frustration, and dialled the number for the Cardiology Department at the hospital.

“Hello?”

A familiar voice answered her call.

“Jackson? It’s Clarke. Is my mom with you?”

Jackson was Clarke’s uncle – Abby’s brother. He worked alongside Doctor Griffin and Doctor Kane on the surgical team, and he would occasionally take Clarke to her soccer practice when Abby was busy.

“Uh. She left half an hour ago. Is everything okay?”

Clarke sighed internally as she glanced over at her father.

“Yeah, everything is just fine.”

The phone was abruptly cut off as Clarke hung up and began clearing up the dozens of beer cans left out on the kitchen table. She heard the front door slam shut as her mother walked in. Abby hung her coat and bag on the hooks by the entrance and looked at her husband – she had barely been home for two minutes and her eyes were already burning with aggravation. Clarke knew exactly what was about to happen. She’d be sent out of the house as they rowed, and her mom would throw her some change to get takeaway, because her dad was too drunk to cook and she was too tired after her shift.

“You’re drunk!”

Abby threw her keys down on the table and snatched the lager from Jake’s grasp.

“Hey! I was drinking that!”

“Tough.”

Clarke stood in the kitchen door way, looking between her parents. Abby delved into her pocket and pulled out a twenty dollar bill.

“Clarke, go out and buy something nice to eat.”

Exactly as she’d predicted. She left quickly. Clarke hated the arguments. Abby glared at Jake, as he ignored her and continued to watch the game on the telly. She pulled the plug from it’s socket.

“I don’t work all day to come home and clean up after you, Jake. I’m tired of this!”

Jake stood up from the sofa, and faced Abby – he looked almost twice of her height. The frown on his face intensified.

“Work? You’re not working, we all know you’re screwing Marcus Kane over in the bathrooms. Admit it.”

Abby’s mouth hung open in a mixture of shock and disgust at his accusation. He was a friend, a neighbor, a colleague. Abby had never even thought of him like that in the twenty years she’d known him. And Jake certainly knew that.

“Marcus is my boss, Jake! Stop trying to reciprocate this blame.”

She could feel a rage build from the pit of her stomach as Jake laughed in her face.

“I work endless hours to support this family and you can’t even make our kid her lunch for when she gets home from school!”

She paced into the kitchen, quickly followed by Jake. Abby began clearing up plates and microwave meal boxes, scraping leftovers from Jake’s meals into the bin.

“Why are you so protective over Marcus, huh?”

“What?”

A sigh escaped Abby’s throat as she closed the bin lid and looked directly up at her husband.

“You’re a slut, Abby. You’re just a stupid slut.”

Jake leaned over Abby, as if to intimidate her. But Abby kicked back. She shoved him backwards, Jake not moving too far, but stumbling as he did so.

“I’ve been married to you for almost six years, and now you’ve lost your job because you can’t stay sober, you’ve got to take it out on me and Clarke? Stop being so pathetic and grow up, Jake. Grow! Up!”

It was almost to quick for Abby to register when Jake struck his fist across her face. They’d argued before, but it had never been like this. Abby didn’t even lift her head to look at him. She watched as droplets of blood from her nose hit the kitchen floor tiles. The silence was broken by Abby’s heavy hyperventilating as she started to cry.

“Are you kidding me?”

She wiped her face on her sleeve, more blood starting to gush. Tucking her hair behind her ear, she reaveled a bleeding nose and bruised cheekbone.

“Are you fucking kidding me?!”

If it was possible to heart a heart break, Jake would’ve hear it. Not that he cared, though.