Sinners Never Sleep
Kathy watched from the living room doorway as Sharon sat at the Beale's dining room table, swathed in darkness and staring into the empty space ahead of her. A full bottle of gin and an empty glass placed before her. Hearing the soft pad of footsteps behind her, Kathy turned.
"How long's she been down here?" Ian asked, a stricken look on his face as his eyes fell upon his oldest friend. The tidal wave of guilt thrashed over him, but he pushed it down, refused to let it overwhelm him. I have to be there for her now. That's what I can do.
"Not sure," his mother replied, not taking her eyes off of Sharon.
"I thought she was breastfeeding?" Ian enquired quietly, frowning at the bottle of gin.
"She ain't touched it," Kathy snapped, defensively. "Listen, Ian, just go back to bed, yeah? Let me deal with her."
Kathy returned her gaze to her friend's daughter, this poor broken woman that had taken so many hits in life. But this was the worst. And my son played a part in it, he hurt your boy, Sharon. She felt Ian leave, ascending the stairs to his bedroom. But Kathy couldn't move, she couldn't leave that doorway, she couldn't move towards her friend.
My boy killed yours. Bile rose in the back of Kathy's throat as her stomach turned over, but she forced herself to swallow, to push the burning liquid back down inside herself. She found her feet taking a step forward, and then another and then she was walking into the living room. Walking to Sharon.
Quietly, Kathy sat down in the chair beside Sharon, but it didn't matter what little noise she made because Sharon didn't react anyway. It was as though she didn't hear it. As though she wasn't even there. Tentatively, she reached out a warm hand and laid it across one of Sharon's. "You're freezing," Kathy stated softly, but Sharon made no indication that she'd heard or felt her.
"Sharon?" Kathy whispered, as though not daring to raise her voice any louder, in fear that the noise would somehow shatter the woman sitting beside her.
Sharon remained completely still, as though suspended in time. But Kathy pressed on. "Sharon, you need to rest, okay?" This time her eyes flicked from the bottle of gin to Kathy's face.
Sharon still didn't understand her words. She didn't understand what Kathy was saying. Sharon felt as though everyone was speaking through glass, she could see their mouths moving, knew they were telling her things, but she couldn't hear them. She knew they wanted a response from her, but which one was the right response if she didn't know what they wanted?
"That little one of yours is gonna be up soon for a feed, why don't you get a bit of kip, eh?" Kathy attempted to coax her, even though her heart wasn't in it and she knew it would have no effect on Sharon. It had been a week now and whilst initially the residents of Albert Square had flocked to the house to pay their respects, everything had settled now, with Kathy insisting that Sharon needed space.
"My little boy," Sharon said, her voice soft and fragile.
"Yeah, your boy," Kathy repeated, hope sparking in her.
"Where is he?" Sharon's eyes grew wide with fear. She stood up from the table, too quickly, and winced; the physical pain a sharp reminder that she'd only just given birth.
"I'll get him, Sharon, I'll get him," Kathy said hastily, standing up herself and about to head to the corner of the room where the newborn infant lay in his Moses basket.
"Where's my Denny?" Sharon called out her son's name, looking at Kathy like a lost child. She didn't understand. They were meant to be leaving, starting fresh somewhere else. Her and her two children. That's how it was meant to be.
"Oh, Sharon," Kathy murmured, the tears welling in her eyes. Swallowing the painful lump in her throat, she continued the path to the sleeping infant. Reaching into the confines of his bed, Kathy lifted the newborn into her arms. "Hey, little man, let's go to your mum, yeah?" She said softly as she crossed the living room once again. "Hold your little boy, Sharon," Kathy urged, leaning forward to place the infant in her arms.
Instinctively, Sharon's formed a cradle and she held her baby close to her chest, inhaling his scent. An overwhelming love hit her square in the chest, but then her face crumpled. "I couldn't keep him safe," she whispered, her voice thick with devastating emotion. Sharon sucked in a shuddering breath, she brought a hand to her mouth, attempting to stop a sob from erupting. She took another breath, swallowed hard, pushed down the grief.
Kathy watched her, watched as she fought the onslaught of emotion. Oh, Sharon. How did we get here, eh? Stepping away from the image of mother and child, Kathy reached for her phone on the sofa. Looking over her shoulder, she peered back at Sharon and the baby. She remained still and silent, her eyes fixed on the sleeping baby in her arms. Kathy jabbed at the screen of her phone, selecting a contact. "Linda?" She spoke into the phone, after bringing it to her ear. "I know it's late, but Sharon needs yer."