Isaac re-read the email, unable to take it in. Approved, remorse, protection unneccesary… How could that be right? He’d been sent down for three years, why would they let him out? He felt his nails digging into his palm and quickly released in case Lucy saw. He swore silently when he saw the bloody half-moons etched into his palm, and resolved to bandage it as soon as possible.
Lucy was still in bed. He didn’t know if she was awake or dozing, but her eyes were closed and her pale hair fanned out across the pillow. The sight of her stilled the monster which threatened to erupt with anger at his father’s release on bail, and he could breathe again. His father was several states away, and in any case he wouldn’t want to visit Isaac.
He stretched, feeling somewhat hungover, and stumbled towards the bathroom. He got halfway there, but stopped, suddenly afraid. His hand flew to his chest, subconsciously running over the scars which zigzagged across it. He could feel their rope-like pattern beneath the thin fabric of his shirt and it made his stomach turn. Isaac never looked at his naked torso in a mirror if he could help it - the spidery map of his childhood made his feel nauseous, he was so repulsed by the disfiguration.
He couldn’t let her see them. He couldn’t bear to look at them himself, so how much would they repulse her? She’d run a mile - no one could be expected to deal with that baggage. He wouldn’t blame her for leaving him. He was hideous, a freak. He felt suddenly weak, and had to sit down on Vernon’s bed. He was thankful for having an absentee room mate; it took a lot of the stress out of shared accommodation. But with Lucy, there would come a time when their relationship became more physical, and the thought of her seeing (or worse, touching) the scars filled him with panic.
Without realising, his hand had moved to his hip. The texture under his fingers changed as his shirt rode up and he felt shiny scar tissue. Bile rose in his throat, and he barely made it to the bathroom in time before he was violently sick. He curled around the toilet and quietly sobbed. It was just so unfair! Lucy Knight was the best thing to happen to him.
And he’d have to let her go.