Patrick Swayze stared at him from the bedside table. His sisters were chittering on the other side of the door. He had tried the handle but they were pushing it closed – two against one, it wouldn’t budge. He slid to the floor with his back against the door. Swayze looked on. It was just his head, framed in sparkling wood and stickers, his eyes staring at him through long lashes.

The bunk bed opposite him was a plush madhouse of animals and worn out dolls. He counted twenty on each. The walls were light pink, almost white. Somehow they’d managed to squeeze in a desk between the bunk bed and the door. It was topped with gel pens, loose sheets of paper, and brightly coloured paperbacks stacked wonkily by the edge. They were precariously close to falling on Swayze and his disgustingly lopsided grin. One of his sisters banged on the door above his head.

“Enjoying yourself?” she egged on.

He sprung to his feet and slammed himself against the door. He felt Swayze’s eyes on the back of his head. The door opened an inch before thumping back into place and pushing him further into the room.

“Have fun!” they sung in unison. There was a click, followed by quick footsteps and silence. He rushed forward and reached for the door handle. It turned only for a second, before stopping in its tracks. There was no use jiggling it, it was locked. He got onto his stomach and peered through the slit under the door and into the hallway. It was empty. He lay there for a minute, not wanting to get up and face the room.

There was glitter covering his shirt when he peeled himself off the floor. The Swayze he expected to find when he turned back to the bedside table was a laughing portrait, but instead he found the same snapshot smirking at him with disinterest. He tried to brush the glitter off his clothes, but it dug into him.

The sun was fading through the dusty purple curtains, and the towering stuffed animals were starting to look like shadow monsters guarding a fortress.

He trudged towards the bedside table and flicked on the teddy bear night light. Before falling onto the pile of toys on the bottom bunk he carefully placed the framed Swayze on his face to suffocate.


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