Radiant

James picked at the scab on the back of his hand. If he was careful he might peel it off in one piece leaving a faint, white line of scar tissue. The scab snapped, and he slammed his fist hard on the table. Give me a break, somebody.

I shouldn’t have had those shots after the beers. He could taste the salt and feel the self-inflicted sting of lemon juice in his eyes. He had felt up for a ‘laff’ that night. Why did Dave have to post that photo, he’s supposed to be a mate. I was only trying to hear what that girl was saying. He remembered she had smiled right into his eyes and he could smell her coconut shampoo. She’s always fancied you mate, the lads had egged, and he’d been flattered. ‘Flattery comes before a downfall,’ he told himself. One stag night and you piss your life down the pan. Kerry would make him pay and he would not see his son. You’ve truly blown it this time, mate.

He had felt such a stag muffin, getting a girl pregnant at school. He had heard lads boast about this sort of thing and it had sounded cool. Instead he had become the butt of every joke and stopped bothering to stand up for himself. He had lived in a daze for months, an appendage to the situation, shrinking as Kerry grew.

His future was mapped out by Kerry and the grandparents-to-be. Tom was born, all radiant and delicious nine pounds seven ounces of him. A large return on a small deposit, people sniggered. He had learnt how to pick up Tom and hold his baby head, so it didn’t flop. He had got used to the rapid thumping of that tiny heart under the fragile ribcage. He finally understood what it was to be in love. Kerry was another matter.

My life is officially over. He started to tease at the remnants of his scab again. If he was very careful, he could get the rest of it off in one piece.
Radiant

(Another assignment on the Future Learn Course ‘Start Writing Fiction’.)

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