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Five Rounds

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Anya awoke reluctantly, it was the sound of the toilet flushing first. Then, after a moment, it was the bedroom door creaking open and another body slipping between the sheets, shuffling behind her. Convinced it was Polly, she forced herself to remain still and quiet as if she was still asleep.

It was barely dawn. She ascertained as much from the lack of light in the room. Blinking and suddenly aware of herself Anya sat up and wiped her eyes clear. It was time to kick Polly out, she’d never clambered into her bed before but it was definitely a step too far. She wasn’t about to explain to the police why there was a ten year old child of no family relation in her bed. No, that’s too much Michael Jackson for anyone.

“Come on buddy, back to your room.” Anya yawned and shoved the pile of blanket beside her.

“Wrong buddy.” Raven suddenly appeared, yawning too. “Go back to sleep, it’s alright.” She hummed and settled back down with closed eyes.

“No, this is not alright Raven!” She growled and shoved the blankets again. Raven groaned and moved. Anya rubbed the back of her neck and simmered while the unauthorised ex-girlfriend adjusted beside her. “What the hell are you doing in my bed?” She finally asked reluctantly.

“Technically it’s my bed. You kept it along with the lazy boy.”

“Yeah well you lost the right to call it your bed when you fucking packed your bags and left so you can just go ahead and do what you’re best at and leave. Right now.” Anya sneered and pointed at the door.

“You don’t remember, do you?” Raven’s eyebrows knitted.

“Remember what?”

“Last night. You don’t remember asking me to hold you, do you?”

Anya pulled back and looked her up and down. She twisted through her dreamy memories of the day before like bubblegum around the forefinger, searching through barely there stretched out strands for an iota of recollection. She couldn’t remember much. She swallowed and narrowed her eyes. “I would never say that.” She finally scoffed and clambered out of bed.

“Oh, but you did.” Raven was quick on her tail, sitting up and swinging her legs out of the bed. “I came to check on you. I brought you cereal. I made sure you weren’t dead. I didn’t even bring up the whole functioning drug addict thing, and you?” Raven turned and smiled softly, pleased indeed. “You asked me to hold you.”

“Well, I’m a shitty functioning drug addict then.” Anya grumbled and stormed out of the bedroom and down the hallway towards the kitchen. There was an empty mug in hand, soon to be filled with coffee that she could stir and stare into mindlessly while Raven no doubt made this more than what it had to be.

“You know at first I thought it was cute that you had the kid around. I thought it was really great that you were… doing something? I don’t even know where to begin with that. But I thought it was great.” Raven trailed behind her and leaned against the kitchen island with a cool stare. “But what business do you have trying to take care of a child when you can barely take care of yourself—”

“Stop.” Anya said calmly and looked up from the mug that was quickly failing in its singular task of rescuing her from this shit storm. “You don’t come in my house and tell me what I’m capable and incapable of doing. You don’t know me. You don’t know a damn thing.”

“Because I left?” Raven replied boredly.

“Because you left!” Anya snapped and launched the mug at the wall. “You left! I nearly lost my leg and you fucking left! I couldn’t walk and you left! I stood there and watched you tape up your fucking boxes and you left! You broke my heart, Raven.” Anya’s voice quivered and she felt all the more embarrassed for it. “You broke my heart and you fucking left.”

For a moment she looks embarrassed too, and that makes Anya feel better. Slightly. It isn’t much but it’s something, the way Raven’s head rolls forward and her shoulders slump. It’s a victory, the kind that Anya hasn’t won in a while. She feels better for it.

“You left first.”

“Excuse me?” Anya bit.

Raven lifted her head, her eyes filled with an unphased kind of resolve. “You nearly lost your leg and I stayed. You couldn’t walk and I stayed. You screamed and cried and pushed away everyone who loved you… and I stayed. You burned through physiotherapist after physiotherapist and I stayed. You sat on the sofa with the fucking blinds closed for thirteen hours a day in silence and I sat there right beside you. I stayed.” Raven nodded with righteous determination. “And then for the infinite fucking time you told me to leave and I realised that the girl I loved? The girl I knew? She died in that ring and you took her place and so yeah, sure, whatever. I’m the bad guy. I left. But you left me long before.” 

Raven shrugged and moved around the kitchen island, completely calm and almost bored as she picked up the broken pieces of ceramic mug — as if she was used to this. For a moment Anya swallowed the truth, because the fact of it was that Raven was definitely used to this. Smashed glasses and hateful outbursts made up the better part of their last months together — Raven was expert enough in this game. It ashamed her.

“I’m sorry I didn’t die in the ring and make a martyr of myself for you.” Anya sneered and turned away, opening the cupboard for another mug.

“I can’t say I never wished for it.” Raven sighed uncomfortably and set the pieces in the garbage can. She dusted her hands and moved around Anya’s brooding figure for a mug for herself. “I’m not a perfect person. Dealing with it was hard, dealing with you was harder… I wish I had stayed if that even means anything to you. I guess it doesn’t but I have accepted what I did to you. I hope one day you can accept it to.” Raven rested her hand on Anya’s shoulder for a moment, then blew a piece of hair out of her own eyes.

“I have to take Polly to school at 8.30.” Anya mumbled and changed the subject, desperately.

“What time do you think it is?” Raven almost laughed. “I took her to school this morning. Think again, buddy.”

“Even better, I have to go and pick her up from school.” Anya mumbled and reached for her keys from the bowl. “You should stay here and watch Lexa, make sure she eats right.” She added as an afterthought.