Ryan visits his father in the hospital.
I opened the door with as little sound as possible. As soon as I stepped foot into the house I smelled the alcohol. I quietly removed my shoes and tiptoed through the house. I walked up the stairs, careful of the creaky one near top. I crept through the hallway only to trip over something.
I heard a groan and realized what had happened. My father hadn’t made it to his room before passing out. I hopped up quickly, hoping that my father wouldn’t catch me, but to no avail. He grabbed the back of my shirt and threw me against the wall. “Where the hell have you been?”
I smelled the whiskey on his breath and nearly gagged. “Out,” I mumbled.
“And what time did I tell you to be home?” He slurred.
He slammed my back into the wall. “Don’t you lie to me!”
I tried to protest, earning me a punch in the face. My head knocked back, hitting the wall. I struggled against his grasp, trying to push him away. He only punched me again, this time in the stomach. I bent over, unable to breathe. He took this as his chance, he pushed me over and I tumbled down the stairs. I blacked out before I reached the bottom.
I awoke several hours later to a loud banging on the door. Without thinking, I stumbled to the door and opened it. Brendon stood on my porch. When he saw me, his eyes widened. “Ry, what the hell happened?”
I shook my head, trying to come up with a response. “I…fell down the stairs?”
He nodded his head, but I could tell he didn’t believe me. He had always been able to see right through me.
I sat in a chair beside my father’s bed. I wanted to shake him awake, to make him relive every memory with me; make him feel the guilt that he should.
Brendon regarded me with suspicious eyes. A new bruise stained my face today, a black eye this time. “Ry, what happened?”
I looked away, “I accidentally ran into a door…”
“Ryan, no one hits a door at that angle. How the hell did that happen?”
“I told you, I ran into a door!”
“Look me in the eyes and tell me you ran into a door.” I looked into his eyes, but I couldn’t make the words come out, and rightfully so. It wasn’t the truth. “You do this all the time! Show up with some new bruise or injury and can’t even come up with an explanation! Last week you had finger marks on your arm and said you did it yourself. Please, tell me, how does someone do that to themselves, Ry?” He looked at me waiting for an answer. I shook my head and looked away. “Please tell me what’s going on.” His tone is softer this time.
I shook my head again. “I can’t tell you.”
I felt the tears prick my eyes. I looked over to my father again, hoping he really was asleep, hoping he couldn’t hear me crying.
I laid on the floor whimpering and holding back my tears, my father towered over me. “You gonna cry? Fuckin’ pansy,” he slurred.
I tried to crawl away from him, away from the abuse, but he stopped me. He brought his foot to my chest, knocking the air out of my lungs. I collapsed onto the floor trying to get the air I needed. “Get up.” I tried to do as he asked, but my arms wouldn’t cooperate. He kicked me again then lifted me up and slammed me against the wall. I flinched, waiting for the hit.
He laughed in my face. “You scared boy?” I whimpered again, unable to hide my fear. He punched the wall next to my head and I recoil. He laughed evilly. “You scared?” He asked again. When I didn’t answer he punched the wall again. “I asked you a damn question!” His hot breath reeked of alcohol. “Answer me!” I felt the tears cascade down my cheeks and I nodded my head, struggling in his hold. He punched my jaw and I fell to the floor again. He spat on me. “Fear is for the weak.”
I placed my head in my hands at the memories. A knock at the door startled me. I looked up to see Spencer and Jon standing there. “What are you guys doing here?” I asked, frowning slightly.
“Brendon called us.”
“How’d you get here?”
“My sister’s in the lobby, she brought us.” Jon said. “Is everything alright? We know you only come this late when you’re upset.”
“I’m not upset. I was just…thinking.”
“What about?” Spencer asked.
“My dad. Look, thanks for coming to check on me, you’re great friends. I’m just gonna go home.” The two nodded and walked out with me.
I looked at the clock on my dashboard; 11 o’clock. I turned onto the unfamiliar roads that led to Kenzie’s house. When I reached the driveway I sat in the car for a few minutes. Should I really do this? What would she do? I got out of the car and made my way to her front porch. All of the lights were off except one on the second floor. I looked up, remembering that to be Kenzie’s window. I quickly and quietly climbed onto the roof and crawled to her window. I peered inside. She was lying on her bed, eyes closed, with a pencil in hand. She looked to be asleep, except that her pencil was moving. I tapped on the window and she sat up.
When she saw it was me at the window, she smiled and let me in. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m not sure. I went to the hospital.”
She nodded and sat down on her bed, cross legged. She pulled her sketchpad into her lap. “So what were you doing?” I asked her.
“It’s sort of like my diary. I close my eyes and write whatever comes to mind. It’s a way for me to get my thoughts out without having to actually look at them later.”
“Can I see?” She showed me the mass of jumbled words. It was hard to read because there weren’t any really clear words. I could make out a few letters, but not what the word actually was.
She shut her book and looked at me for a moment. “How’s your dad?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “How well could a guy whose liver is failing be doing?” She nodded again.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
That was why I came here wasn’t it? To talk. Sure, I could’ve talked to Brendon, Spencer, or Jon, but they already know everything. Sometimes it felt nice to talk to someone who was oblivious. I shook my head. “Not really.” We sat in a peaceful silence for a moment.
The quiet was broken when Kenzie asked, “Can I draw you?” I looked at her quizzically and she blushed. “I-I don’t have to if, you know, you don’t want me to,” She stuttered. In that moment I realized what art meant to her. It wasn’t just a hobby, it was her life. Drawing someone, to her, meant trust.
“Of course you can draw me.”
She smiled and opened her sketchpad again. She started sketching and she was lost in a world of black and white pencil strokes. At 1:30 in the morning, her eyes started drooping and the pencil sagged in her hand. She had moved to a laying position on her bed, her head leaning on her arms. I watched her yawn and close her eyes. The pencil fell from her hand and I knew she had fallen asleep. I quietly got up from the bed, moving her sketchbook and pencil, and turned out her lights. I walked towards the window but was stopped by Kenzie’s voice. “Please don’t leave.”
It was quiet, almost a whisper but not quite. I moved closer to her, but she was still asleep. “Please don’t leave!” Her voice was frantic. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Please, don’t leave me!”
“Kenzie,” I whispered. “Kenzie, it’s just a nightmare. Wake up.” I lightly shook her shoulder. “Kenzie, wake up.”
She opened her eyes and looked around. “Ryan?”
“I’m right here.”
“Was I talking in my sleep?”
“Yeah, you were.”
She bit her lip; she looked as if she might cry. I climbed into the bed and wrapped my arms around her. She started crying, loud sobs racked through her body. After a few minutes, she quieted and fell asleep again.
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