Saturday, 10 January 2015

Silent Scream: Part Seven

[Thank you to everyone who is reading along. Your comments, tweets, DMs and Instagram pictures light up my life more than I can say. I have the best (and most demanding!) readers in the world <3 If you need to get caught up, parts 1 - 6 can be found here. 

Just a word of warning...It slipped my mind to do a blurby type thing for this before I posted it because I was too excited to share. Which means you all jumped in having no idea what it was even about, and I LOVE you for that. Up until now, it's been quite cupcake-y and light.

It's going to get dark.

If you don't like dark stories (which is perfectly fine, many people don't), then I would suggest leaving this one here and staying in the happy side of CupcakeLand. Of course I don't want anyone to do that, but I also don't want to upset anyone. So consider yourselves warned. I am dark and twisty. I am scary and damaged. You know that if you've been to The Dark and Twisty Place. It's not Trigger Warning dark, but it's also not all cupcakes and Ferris wheels.

Thank you for reading. Hopefully I didn't scare you away. Xo]

A frail-looking James Axton spotted on a play date.

See the pictures of screen writer James Axton’s love child!

How did James Axton manage to keep his son a secret for so long? Exclusive story inside.

James Axton’s shocking weightloss – The stress of being a single dad!

James slams his iPad on the table hard enough to crack the screen. He can’t bring himself to care.

Fucking paparazzi scum, he thinks, stalking downstairs. His team stops talking as soon as he enters the room. He glares at them all.

“Kira,” he says, tossing her his work phone. “Get Bradley over here. Now.”

Kira nods and punches in the number. James walks away, searching his mind for a solution. It doesn’t worry him if the world thinks he has an illegitimate love child. It wouldn’t be the craziest rumour about him out there. What worries him is the fall out for Alexander and Jenna. He can’t bear the thought of them being stalked, of Alexander being followed to school by some lowlife photographer desperate to make a buck…

He pulls out his phone and calls Jenna. She picks up on the third ring.

“Hey,” he says breathlessly. “Can you come over?”

“Sure,” she says without needing to ask why. “After work and after I pick up Alexander from school.”

No, now, so that I know Alexander is safe.

“Great,” he says, pushing the thought away. Of course Alexander is safe, he thinks. Why wouldn’t he be? “See you then.”

“Sure. See you then,” Jenna repeats. The line goes dead.

He stands in his kitchen indecisively. Hunger gnaws at his stomach. With all the stress filling his stomach, he’s barely been able to eat lately. Hunger has become his constant companion. It’s not an entirely unpleasant feeling.

He leaves the kitchen and goes upstairs to his bedroom. He closes his door and sits on his bed, scrolling his contacts for the one he wants.

One ring. Two rings. Three rings. She picks up.

“Hey, sweetheart,” his mom says. “I just saw. I’m so sorry.”

“Fucking paparazzi scum,” he says, echoing his earlier thought. It feels good to say it out loud. “What gives them the right?? Write whatever you want about me, but fucking leave my family alone!”

My family.

“I know,” his mom says. “I know. They think they should be privy to every aspect of your life. That’s the career you chose, unfortunately. Is Alexander okay?”

“I haven’t seen him yet,” he says, lying back on his bed. He stares at the ceiling. “I called Jenna. They’re both coming over after Jenna finishes work. It’s just…” He takes an unsteady breath in. “I’m leaving for Louisiana in three days. I’ll be filming for at least a month. How am I supposed to just leave them? Leave him? How am I just supposed to go?”

His mom sighs. “They’ll be okay, sweetheart,” she says. “I’ve had photographers follow me, too. They get bored pretty quickly if you don’t give them any attention.”

“Maybe they should come with me,” James says, more to himself than to his mom. “Maybe I can convince Jenna to take some time off.”

“That would just draw more attention to them. The best thing you can do is ignore this. It will blow over soon enough. You know how fickle this business is. They’ll forget about you as soon as soon as the next big scandal breaks. Miley Cyrus actually wears clothes to an event!

James laughs despite himself. His mom always knows the right thing to say.

“You’re right,” he says, looking out the window. “Of course you’re right. Thank you.”

“That’s my job, sweetheart,” she says. “Now.” Her voice turns serious. “How are you doing? I understand how you get whenever you have a deadline hanging over you, but honestly these new pictures of you scare me. Have you been eating?”

“Of course,” he says automatically. He hates to worry her.

She’s not fooled.

“Have you been eating enough?” she clarifies.

He can’t think of anything to say, so he says nothing.

That tells her everything.

“If I wasn’t in France right now I’d be over there right now making you dinner. Promise me you’ll eat something today?”

“I promise.” For some reason, he feels close to tears. Everything is amplified when you have an empty stomach.

“How much do you weigh?”

He looks at his arms. Bones and sinew; that’s all that’s left of him.

“I’m not sure anymore,” he says honestly.

“You can’t go on like this,” she says. “Remember when HEAT was being released? You must have lost thirty pounds.”

“I don’t do it on purpose,” he says defensively.

She sighs. “I know. You’ve always been like this. Ever since you were a kid. What was it you used to tell me? That your feelings live in your stomach??”

He chuckles. “Yeah. I did. And they do.”

“Maybe you’re taking on too much,” she says seriously. “First this film, then those awful protestors, plus you’re trying to juggle your agency…It is admirable to try to help and support writers just starting out, it is, but maybe this is too much for you. You need to take care of yourself.”

He sighs. They’ve had this discussion before. “I’m fine, Mom. I am. I’ll eat. I promise I will make food a priority from now on.”

“Hmmm,” she says. He can hear the scepticism.

“I will. I can’t promise I will eat every meal, but I’ll make a bigger effort not to let my emotions fill me up before the food can.”

She laughs half-heartedly. “Okay,” she says. “I guess that’s the best I can hope for.” She takes a deep breath in like she is bracing herself. He knows what she is going to say before she says it. It doesn’t make it hurt less. “How’s Michael?”

There’s a hollowness in the pit of his stomach. He tells himself it’s hunger.

“I don’t know,” he admits. “I haven’t seen him since that night he came over and I haven’t heard from him since he told me he wasn’t coming to the filming. He won’t return my texts. He won’t pick up the phone.”

“He’s done this before,” his mom says. “He used to do it all the time, remember? He would just leave and we would have no idea where he was or what he was doing.”

“Yeah. I remember. I guess I just thought we were past that.”

His mom sighs. “Yeah. Me too.”

They both fall silent.

“Anyway,” he says. “I’d better get going. Bradley will be here soon so we can discuss how we’re going to deal with this shit storm.”

“Don’t say anything,” his mom suggests. “Anything you say will only add fuel to the fire. Just ignore it entirely.”

“Yeah. You’re probably right.” He rubs his back with his free hand. “Anyway. Talk soon?”

“Of course. Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

His mom hangs up. He stays there for a few more minutes, working up the energy to stand. He does so too quickly, and a deep head spin sends him crashing to the ground. He lies there for a while, telling himself he’ll get up once his heart rate returns to normal.

He doesn’t move until Kira comes to tell him that Bradley has arrived, one hour later.

Alexander curls his fingers into James’ hair, shaking his head.

“No,” he says, biting his trembling bottom lip. “You can’t go. No.”

James squeezes him against his chest, feeling his own bottom lip tremble, too.

“It won’t be for long,” he says, rubbing Alexander’s back. “It will only be a few weeks.”

“A few weeks??” Tears spill down Alexander’s cheeks. “That’s like a year!”

James laughs. It sounds like a sob.

“It will be over before you know it,” he says.

“I d-d-don’t want you to go.”

“I know, buddy. I know.” He unlocks Alexander’s arms from around him and pulls a box out of his pocket. It’s wrapped in white polka-dotted gift wrap. He tries to give it to Alexander, but Alexander shakes his head.

“No. I don’t want a present; I want to stay with you!”

James’ heart hurts. He tries not to let it show.

“Come on, buddy,” he says gently. “Take it. Open it. I promise you’ll like it.”

Alexander scrunches up his face and shakes his head.

“Fine,” James says, opening it himself. “I guess I’ll just keep it.”

Alexander tries not to look, but curiosity gets the better of him. Inside is a necklace with a pewter Astro Boy dangling from the end.

“This was mine when I was little,” James says, taking out of the box. “My mom gave it to me because I was…” He stops himself and clears his throat. “She said it would keep me safe,” he finishes.

“Safe from what?” Alexander asks, staring at it.

From a monster.

“From anything scary,” he says out loud. “She said that if anything bad happened, Astro Boy would come to life and save me.”

Alexander reaches out to touch it. “Did it work?”

He crouches down low in the backseat of the car, holding Michael’s hand with one hand and squeezing his Astro Boy pendant with the other. He can hear his step-father screaming inside the house.

“No! You fucking bitch; you can’t leave! You can’t! I will kill you and those bastard children of yours! Elizabeth! ELIZABETH! GET YOUR FUCKING ASS BACK HERE!!”

He blinks, pulling himself out of the memory.

“Yes,” he says, placing it around Alexander’s neck. “It works.” He wipes Alexander’s cheeks with his thumb. “Don’t cry, buddy. Don’t you know? Astro Boy is magic! He will be with you all day, but while you sleep he will fly to me and tell me all the things you did that day. He’ll look after you.”

Alexander fingers the necklace uncertainly.

“Will he tell me what you’ve been doing, too?” he asks, staring at it.

“Of course! But you’ll have to listen really carefully, because he only has a little voice.” James picks up the pendant and holds it close to Alexander’s ear. “Can you hear that? He’s saying, don’t cry, Alexander. I’ll look after you.

Alexander tilts his head to the side and scrunches up his face, concentrating. Suddenly his face lights up.

“I can! I heard him! I heard him say it!”

James smiles and stands up, letting the necklace fall into place. “You see? Astro Boy will keep you company while I’m gone.”

Kira clears her throat. James looks over to where she stands in the doorway of Jenna’s house.

“We’d better get going soon,” she says. “Check-in closes in an hour, and we still have to drive to the airport.”

James sighs. “Okay. Okay.” He picks up Alexander. “Alright, buddy. I’ll see you soon, okay? Be good.”

Alexander sniffs and nods. James hugs him, committing the moment to his memory. It takes every ounce of strength he has left to let him go and hand him over to Jenna.

“Have a safe flight,” Jenna says, holding Alexander against her. James gives her half a smile, not quite trusting himself to speak. He turns and leaves, following Kira out the door.