I awoke early, to the sound of my alarm clock. I sighed; it was seven thirty on a Saturday. I wandered across my room to the window and drew the curtains, summer was rolling in and it was warm, the sun was up, but that was all. My family still slept.

I sat back down on my bed and played softly on my guitar,  whimpering slightly as the cold wood touched my bare stomach, but I continued – it felt good to play music, it had been the best therapy in the previous months, the scars of which stood out on my forearms, cold and sharp like the knife that caused them. As the guitar warmed I could ease my position and relax. I was playing my own things and didn’t need to concentrate. I looked around my room, it was full of posters, mostly of old bands whom I drew inspiration from. I found their music easy to fall into and absorb. I put the guitar down and stood up carefully, my room was a mess I didn’t care. I left my room and walked steadily down the stairs. I was barefoot and wanted to let my feet soak in the carpet; it was new and soft and I liked to curl my toes in the fabric and I knew it would be nicer than the tiles in the kitchen. Eventually, I reached the kitchen and began to quickly make myself a cup of coffee. We had a coffee machine so it mostly involved waiting around, I didn’t mind. I had become addicted to coffee recently, because I couldn’t go to school and I had nothing to do except drink coffee and learn Italian. My father was Italian and he wanted one of us to speak his language and I needed something to do, desperately. He didn’t know though – if he did he’d probably talk to me in his native tongue constantly. I wasn’t having that.

I filled my cup and went to go back upstairs, pausing at the door to pinch a couple of matches from a draw. Again I walked slowly along the hall, but for a different reason: the carpet was new, they’d replaced it not six months ago. I’d got blood on it, a lot of my own blood, and if I dropped coffee on it they’d kill me. I trundled upstairs and shut my door. I slid into my favourite routine. I put the things I was holding down on the table that was by my window, stepped back across my room and locked the door. I grabbed my cigarettes out of my top draw, flipped the lucky cig, replaced it and put another in my mouth, setting the box down next to my coffee. I picked up a book and the matches, putting them in one hand briefly while I opened the window slightly. I turned around to face the table and the things I had gathered on it, then put the book back down, used the free space in that hand to hold my cigarette, and used the other hand to ferry the coffee cup to my mouth. I took a big sip before realising how hot the coffee was and replacing half of it; the rest I swallowed. I sat down on my windowsill, with my back to one wall and adjacent to my table. I took another sip of coffee before swinging my arm out and putting the coffee cup back down; as I did I put the cigarette back between my lips, snatched a match, struck it and used it to light my cigarette. Without getting up I picked up the book from my table and sat it on my lap before putting the match back into its place on the table.

I inhaled deeply on the cigarette, holding the result in my lungs before blowing it out of the window. From my seat I looked at the countryside that lay at the back of my house. Someone was walking a dog on the field. I checked the time on the clock beside my bed, taking another drag as I did so. It was eight fifteen, still early – I didn’t expect anyone to be up much before nine, so I had time to enjoy. I took a drag again and breathed out as I reached for my coffee – it had cooled quickly as machine coffee tends to do, so I drank the rest of the cup quickly, enjoying the strong taste mixing with the tobacco at the back of my throat. I flicked my ash out of the window before opening the book that lay in my lap. It was an Italian book: I had learned enough Italian from teach-yourself tapes and my dad’s old English homework to be able to read it. I left my cigarette in my mouth and was beginning to enjoy the nicotine that was starting to flow steadily through my veins; it made me relaxed and that made me able to concentrate on my book rather than on other things. When my cigarette reached the end of its short life, I stubbed it out on the brickwork just outside my window and threw it across the room into the metal bin that stood at the end of my bed. I reached again for the cigs and the matches, putting another in my mouth before I lit it and replaced the paraphernalia. I knew cigarettes were bad for me but when I started I hadn’t planned on living much longer and so it had never really mattered, and now just over a year later I just didn’t want to stop. I could, oddly – I had gone weeks before without a cig and had never so much as craved one – but it was just something I enjoyed.

I carried on reading.