Lou tries out her new attitude around home. However, that soon creates problems, and an unforseen family holiday.
Some of you have been asking about updates in reviews, so I'm just gonna say it here and now so you know what's going on. This story will be updated every second week on Wednesday (Well, Wednesday where I am), so today, and then the next update should hopefully be on the 14th March. And so on and so on. This gives me time to write the chapter and get them sent to my beta and all that jazz.
Oh, and I know that Lou doesn't specifically mention it at the start (but she does a bit later I think) but the time frame is a few weeks after the day at the park, so the guys are off touring and stuff. And again, I apologize for the lack of geography and place names and stuff. Please bear with me though.
I bounded down the stairs with a leash in my hand, whistling softly for Yankee. There was no danger in my tripping or falling - I had climbed these stairs so many times I knew them like they were a part of my body, like you would an arm or leg.
Yankee met me at the foot of the stairs, whuffing softly. "Ssh," I whispered, pressing a finger to my lips. He shoved his head under my palm when I held it out and I ran my fingers through his fur to quietly clip the leash to his collar. I didn't have time for the harness. Returning home after hanging out with the band was like a death-sentence, and despite my new attitude, I could already begin to feel myself fraying at the edges, like a piece of material.
Quietly, I navigated my way to the front door. Just as my skin came in contact with the cool metal of the doorknob, I was startled by a voice.
"And where do you think you're going?"
I turned around to face my mother, feeling her stern facade leak out of her voice, silently cursing. I bit my lip to stop a smart-ass reply leaping from it. Nails for Breakfast, I mentally whispered to myself.
"Mom." My voice betrayed nothing; a fact that I was proud of. "I was just going out for a walk with Yankee."
"Without your father or I?" Mom asked sharply.
"Yes. I can manage by mysel-"
"No you can't!" she snapped. "Lou, you are blind, for crying out loud - you can't see! Something could happen to you-"
My posture had gotten more rigid as she went on. Fuck this, I thought. I'm going to fight for my freedom. I deserve it.
And in my eyes I did. I was sick of being bullied and pushed around by my parents - I was freakin' 18 years old; I was perfectly capable of making my own decisions. I didn't want to have to deal with their shit anymore.
"Yankee does a better job of looking after me than you ever could," I spat, tired of listening to Mom rant. Doesn't she know I'm not fragile? Doesn't she know that while I can't see, I'm not made of fucking glass?
There was a stunned silence for a few seconds. "Something could happen to you!" Mom repeated, getting pissed. "You could get abducted, you could get hit by a car while you're crossing the road-"
"And die?" I bit back a harsh laugh. "Because I know how much you secretly wish it would happen. Then you can get on with your life and never think of me again. I'm like a leper to you, aren't I? I hear you at night you know, I hear every single fucking thing that you say about me." When I take a deep breath, I realise I'm shaking. Weakling, I thought. Toughen up, dammit! You won't survive like this. Toughen up!
Mom takes advantage of my pause in speech. "Don't you dare say those things ever again, Louise Jones. You don't know the half of what we go through."
"And what about what I go through?" I yelled. Yankee whimpered at my outburst. "No one in my life has ever cared about me, ever! But those four boys I met the other week do! When I'm with them, I don't feel like shit. When I'm with them I can be myself - you don't even know what I'm really like, Mom! You've never bothered to find out. But they did."
"This is ridiculous," my mom fumed. "You only met them a few weeks ago! For God's sake, Lou, I'm your mother."
I sneered, and this time I didn't bother to hold back the laugh. "Yeah, and we all know how much you wish you weren't, don't we?"
I whirled around, not even giving her time to answer. Reaching for the doorknob again, I yanked it open, slamming it shut behind me as I made my escape with Yankee. The sounds of my heart beat filled my ears, providing a soundtrack for my attempt at a jail-break. Yes. Attempt. For despite my best efforts, I know I’ll be forced to return to the prison.
When Yankee finally guides me to an empty bench outside my favourite cafe ten minutes later, I'm a mess. I'm still trembling and my breath is coming in shaky gasps. But I'm happy. Because I finally let my mother, and by extension my father, know where I stand, let her know that I know what she thinks of me. I've made my mark.
Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks, eh? Damn right, I should think.
I've finally toughened up.
I don't know how long I wandered the streets with Yankee, but it must have been hours. I didn't know what time it was even though I could have pressed a button on my watch that would have activated a voice to tell it to me. Yankee padded quietly alongside me, his furry body pressed against my left leg. I had my left hand on his collar, while the leash was held loosely in the other. I didn't really need it - Yankee was obedient and would pretty much do anything I told him to. Unless it involved me in danger.
My sensitive ears heard loud footsteps fast approaching me from behind. I moved closer to the wall so they could pass me unhindered. So it came as a surprise when they didn't.
My arm was grabbed roughly and I was wheeled around to face the person. Terrified, I opened my mouth to scream, my mother's earlier warning haunting me.
"What the hell is wrong with you?!" my father's voice said, low and taunt with anger. "Do you have any idea what you've done?!" He began to pull me roughly behind him, whistling a brief, "Yankee, come."
"Do you have any idea what you've done?" I shot back, my displeasure for the situation clearly showing. I stumbled as I was dragged down a curb, hating the way I automatically made a grab for my father - shows how much we've drifted apart doesn't it? Not Dad, but my father - to steady myself. He responded by opening a car door and practically throwing me inside, sending me hurtling across the back seat. A muffled pant signalled that Yankee had jumped in after me. I pushed myself into an upright position, manoeuvring myself into a seat as the door slammed. I was in the process of locating my seatbelt when my father got into the driver's seat and started the car, pulling out of the parking space a little faster than was legal.
Because it was summer, the air conditioner had been switched up to maximum, cooling the interior of the car but doing nothing to cool the anger of both of us. The drive home was completed in silence, with not even the radio to ease the tension. Upon arriving at home, the engine was shut off quickly and my father exited the car while I hesitantly unclicked my seatbelt, unsure of what was going on. It all became clear in the next moment, when the back door was thrown open and I was yanked out, finding myself being dragged again. I was manhandled all the way from the car to the front door of the house, up the stairs and to my room, whereupon my father threw open the door and pushed me inside. I landed on the soft, carpeted floor, sprawled in a heap. The sound of a lock being clicked reached me, followed by the heavy retreating footsteps of my father and the gentle scratching and whining of Yankee at my door. I closed my eyes and pressed my cheek into the floor harder, wishing it would just open up and swallow me whole.
I was being held prisoner without my best friend for company. My parents hated me. Fuck, even I hated me.
And this time, when I gave into the ocean of tears I had been holding back, I didn’t tell myself to toughen up.
I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.
I was awoken the next morning by the soft scraping of a coat hanger against the railing in my wardrobe. Wrapped up in my cocoon of blankets, I buried my face in my pillow deeper and tried to fall back asleep. Needless to say, it didn't work. The quiet thump of something - clothes, probably - hitting the floor made me blink groggily, running the sleep for my eyes as I sat up slightly. I yawned. Yankee's familiar weight at the end of my bed wasn’t there.
"Your father and I had a discussion last night," my mother said abruptly, making me flinch and swing my head in her direction. I bit back a remark. What, no Good morning? Then again, I can't say I deserved it. "We decided that we all need to go away for a bit; go on a holiday, if you will. We leave later this morning." She threw an item of clothing down with a louder thump than all the rest, adding an air of finality to it. "I've packed for you and laid out some clothes; get dressed and come downstairs when you're ready." The creak of a carpet-covered floorboard told me she had left the room. There were no sounds from opening and closing the door, leading me to the conclusion that it was wide open. Her footsteps continued down the stairs.
I sighed, picking at a blanket covering my body. I got dressed, swearing as I tripped over an open suitcase at the foot of my bed. Before leaving the room, I went to my bedside table and felt around in the drawer before pulling out a cell phone and a charger that Chris had bought for me. Our parents didn't know I had it - hell, they probably didn't even think I could use one - but Chris had come up with a system for me.
On each of the important buttons - the talk and end call ones and number 1 with Chris's own cell phone on speed dial - my brother had stuck a gel-like sticker with superglue, one of the types that protrude and are 3D. There was a different shaped sticker for each button - a triangle for the talk button, a square for the end call and a diamond for Chris. This allowed me to use the phone to a certain extent. I could only contact Chris myself, but he had programmed other numbers into the cell so if need be, I could get someone else to do all the necessary searching and fiddling for me. But that would be in extreme circumstances, and I didn't think I would require it anytime soon.
Going back to the suitcase, I cursed again as I stubbed my toe, sucking in air sharply and rubbing it before hiding the phone and the charger under a pile of t shirts that had been packed. Standing up, I swallowed hard, dreading the moment I went downstairs. I knew my father would be more than pissed at me for yesterday's events, but if my mother’s behaviour just before was anything to go on, the most he would do would be to give me the cold shoulder. I lightly rubbed one of my arms with the other hand, feeling the skin made tender by his manhandling of me. Yesterday had been the first time he had touched me in... Well, I didn't know exactly how long it had been. All I knew was that it was a long time.
I bit my lip, wishing Yankee was at my side. I wondered where he was. Ducking my head down to its usual position - staring blankly at the ground - I reluctantly shuffled out of my room to face the music.
The silence was intoxicating. Seeping in through your pores, it travelled through your bloodstream, meaning there was no escape from it.
I was curled up on the backseat of the car, my body pressed against the door and my head resting on the window. Yankee lay quietly next to me, his large head resting on one of my feet. Running my hands idly through his fur, I bit back a sigh. So much for being worried. My father hadn't exchanged a word with me, leaving only my mother to inform me of anything I needed to know. Of course, there were still things I didn't know - where the hell we we're going, for starters, and why they had kept me away from Yankee last night. But I doubted I would get an answer for either question.
Shutting my eyes I let a small grin steal into my face as the radio host introduced the next song. My mind drifted back to the time I had spent with four guys as the opening notes of 'I Write Sins, Not Tragedies' filtered through the small speakers. I listened quietly, humming along in some parts of the verse. My eyes flew open as the song stopped abruptly, being replaced with smooth jazz music.
"Hey!" I said indignantly, "I was listening to that!" I shot a glare toward the front of the car. Someone bit back a large sigh as if to say, 'How tedious,' but I ignored it as the radio station was changed and Brendon's voice filled the car.
"Thank you," I said stiffly, relaxing fingers I didn't know I had tightened in Yankee's fur.
With the exception of Jon, I hadn't talked to the band since that day at the park. They were never around when Chris called to say hi, off doing interviews and whatever it is they do in their spare time. They had probably forgotten about me by now anyway, my conversation with Jon only lasting about five minutes and only happening because he walked into the room where Chris was talking to me. I hadn't wanted to admit to myself that I missed their company - that whole 'toughen up' thing again - but now, as the final chords were strummed and the last cymbal was hit, I realised that I did. Immensely.
It wasn’t because they were famous and I wanted the publicity that came with that, hell no. No, it was because they had actually talked to me like I was a human being and not some fucked-up retard that couldn't see. The only other person who treated me like that was my brother, but it was obvious to hear the concern laced subtly into the tones of his voice. These guys were actually interested in me, and for someone who had never had that happen in her life, the attention was like a high - it made me feel good about myself; confident and happy. Then, when it had been suddenly taken away, well…
Everyone wishes and hopes for something. Is it too much to ask for me to be accepted and treated normally?
I played with the hem on my pants as my parents quietly conferred with each other in the front. Sighing, I pulled a face. I hated holidays. We hardly ever went on them because it was too much stress on me - unfamiliar territory and the hotel always became a minefield as I crashed and stumbled into objects that I could have easily avoided had I been at home. I hated the way I had to rely on others, being totally dependent on my parents or my brother to help me around. And another thing was that most hotels had a 'no animals' policy, which made it extremely hard to find a place that would allow a service animal.
Yeah. Our family holidays sucked.
I must have drifted off to sleep, bored out of my mind, because the next thing I knew, a cell phone was ringing and my mother was talking to Chris. I ignored the conversation, patting Yankee instead. All of a sudden I was poked, causing me to jump and flinch.
"Lou, Chris wants to talk to you."
I held out my hand, letting her press the phone into it. Moving it up to my ear, I spoke.
"Lou!" his voice greeted me enthusiastically. "How's it going?"
"Yeah, it’s okay," I said, holding back the answer that I really wanted to give him.
"What about you, how's the tour going?" I listened as my brother then proceeded to give me all the latest details about working for Panic!. I hmmed and ahhhed, making all the right noises in the appropriate spots as Chris told me about the band.
"They've been asking about you too, you know," he added.
"Oh yeah?" I said, biting my lip to stop the grin radiating off my face.
"Yeah," Chris repeated. "And you know, we're actually gonna be in town the same time you guys are. Maybe we could catch up?"
My heart beat faster. "You think?"
"I'm sure the guys will say yes," he told me. "I'll mention it and organise it with Mom or something."
"O-ok," I breathed as Chris chuckled.
"I knew you'd like them," he said. "Now I gotta go, but I'll let you know, ok?"
"Alright," I said. We said our goodbyes and I passed the phone back. Resuming my position against the back seat door, I grinned to myself.
Maybe this holiday wouldn't be so bad after all.
Sometime later I felt the car slowly round a corner and gently drive over a speed hump in the road.
"We're here," came the abrupt explanation. The seatbelt of my father clicked as he undid it and left the car to sign in at the reception of wherever we were staying at. The engine was still running, so when he came back a few minutes later, all he had to do was shift it into gear. He drove slowly through what I assumed was the parking lot before pulling up in a vacant space. Getting out of the car, I stretched my stiff limbs, holding the door open until I heard the click of claws that meant Yankee had jumped out. He sneezed and shook his head, placing it under my palm whereupon I gripped his collar. My father hauled the baggage out of the trunk while my mom took me by the elbow and directed me a few steps to where I assumed the front door of the apartment was. Keys jingled, a lock clicked and the door creaked as it swung open.
Helping me to a bed, my mother said, "Here, this is yours. I'll help your father with the luggage."
Sighing dejectedly as she left the room, I dropped my travel-weary body onto the soft mattress, bouncing slightly as it took my weight. Within seconds, my mother and father entered the room with the luggage and I heard them setting it down in a corner out of the way. The TV was turned on and Yankee jumped up onto the bed beside me, laying his body down on the covers with a yawn. My parents moved about the room before finally settling down to watch TV. Which meant I was resigned to listening to it, trying to work out what was going on. An awkward silence fell over us, with no one knowing what to say. Then my father’s stomach grumbled.
"We're just going out to get something for dinner, we'll be back soon," my mother told me as they left, closing the door behind them and making sure it was locked. My father still hadn't said a word to me.
Shortly after the car drove off, I began to get hungry too, my body telling me it was time to eat. It can't be too much longer, I thought, sending a blank stare in the direction of the door. I combed my dog's soft fur with my fingers, growing increasingly bored and hungry.
But they never came back.
Oh, a cliff-hanger; I'm so evil! XD Rate and review, guys!