There's always something that will push you over the edge until there's no way of going back.
Anyway, thank you to anyone reading this (or the chapter in general), and enjoy!
It changes you
From what you used to be.
But you never knew
That it would go this far.
My Mom told me I needed to take the week off from school. A whole week? I wasn't a huge nerd or anything, I mean I enjoyed school, I really did. When I wasn't being beaten, obviously. What I wasn't looking forward to was the week at home, my mother out all day, my dad supposed to be at work, but a drunken mess at home half the time.
I was usually up and out in time to get away from him, and he was gone most evenings, either staying late at work because he never went in early, or out drinking. But now I'd be stuck.
Bed rest, she told me. I argued I didn't need it, my nose was the only thing really damaged, and that would heal regardless of what I was doing. Of course, she had insisted, glancing over the bruises of last night's torture, whilst trying not to acknowledge them. She didn't want to think that it had happened.
So here I am. Sat in my room, not daring to make a noise, for fear of waking my extremely hungover father. My Mom probably assumed that he would sober up during the day and be the sweet man he used to be.
She tries to see the good in everyone, even after everything. She still loves him. She tries to deny his anger problems, drinking problems. 'It's just a rough patch' is her argument. Yeah, a rough patch for the past 10 years.
Of course one day he'll just wake up and feel happy again, come home sober and give us a big hug. Sometimes I wish I could live in her little world of denial, but the more I think about it the less I want to. If someone is an asshole I would prefer to know they're an asshole rather than imagine they're some ducking saint who has just lost their way a little.
I wished to be a happy family. I wished on stars, birthday candles, dandelion seeds caught in the wind, every time the clock struck 11:11. I had all of these weird little rituals, like if I walked all the way home from school without stepping on the cracks in the sidewalk, my dad would be sober when I got there. If I held my breath when I saw a blackbird, counted to seventeen and closed my eyes then I would be safe again, not beaten anymore.
This was all years ago now, I had given up on wishes. I realised none of it worked, and I gave up wishing. I knew nothing would change, except to get worse.
I wished right now though. Not something stupid or impossible, I knew he wasn't magically going to become sober or stop being aggressive. All I wished for was for him to leave the house today so that I could play my guitar. Something about playing relaxed me, made me feel as though I was in a whole world of my own. But I didn't want it to result in a beating if I woke him up.
There were many... Unsafe ways in which I had tried to express my emotions, tried to understand them, fight them, or just try to block them out completely. Drinking, smoking, drugs, self harm. None of it worked. Well, at first it did, but then it just began to intensify all of the anger and the hurt; it left me with noticeable traces of feelings I'd rather forget. I gave them all up, except for cigarettes when I was stressed.
I tried to put everything into something new. I'd tried drawing, singing, sports. I wasn't too bad, but something was still missing. In the end I just happened to be walking down Main Street, and a shiny acoustic guitar, coloured electric blue, caught my eye from a shop window. As soon as I saw it, I knew that would be the thing to keep me going.
Luckily I have a savings account in my own name, so my Dad can't get to it and use it to feed his addiction, so I was able to buy it straight away.
I was brought out of my reminiscing when I heard a grunt, followed by heavy footsteps. He was awake. I held my breath, half to keep silent, and half because of the familiar feeling of fear building up inside of me.
I let out a long sigh of relief when I heard the footsteps going downstairs, followed by the clanking of bottles. He was getting himself some more drink. Great.
Maybe I should have gone out somewhere? Taken my guitar to the park or something? I cursed myself for not thinking of it sooner. Now I'd have to try and sneak out... I grabbed my guitar case as I heard footsteps making their way back up the stairs. Guess it's out the window, then. Hastily I yanked open the window with such force that the frame rattled. I put one foot outside, reaching with my free hand for the tree to the side of my window. I groaned as a pair of hands pulled me backwards, making me land on the floor with a thud. I hadn't even heard him come in.
"Whaddya think yer doin'?" He slurred. His breath smelt like alcohol and vomit, and I puked a little in my mouth.
"G-going to the p-park." I stuttered, knowing he didn't like it when I didn't answer him.
"Through the fuckin' window? You'll get yerself killed. But that's best, ain't it? You don't deserve to live."
He ranted as I whimpered, waiting for the first blow. But no punch came, instead I felt his hands grab at my throat, and a yelp of pain escaped my lips. The pain intensified as my airways were constricted, leaving me gasping for breath that would never reach my lungs. This is it, I thought. 18 short, miserable years, and who would have thought he'd be the one to finish me?
"You worthless... You worthless little shit. The world would be better off without you. You're pathetic. And weak." He grunted as tears of pain spiked in my eyes, his grip on my throat gaining force. I tried to fight the black spots which were blurring my vision, my arms thrashing around wildly. I felt nothing but hate for this man with whom I shared half my DNA as the pain in my throat burned, finally forcing me into oblivion.
I woke up gasping for breath, coughing due to the pain engulfing my throat, which of course made the pain worse. This wasn't the pain-free paradise I had been promised, unless I was in hell. But a quick glance told me I was in my bedroom... So I was pretty sure I was still alive. A fleeting thought scared me. 'It would be better if you had died.'
Cautiously, I tried to sit up, still feeling dizzy as if I could pass out any second. My mouth was dry, my tongue felt like sandpaper, and, with a lot of effort, I managed to stand, holding onto the wall for support. I couldn't hear any noise in the house, and I hoped I was right in assuming he'd gone to a bar for more drinks.
It was difficult getting down the stairs, my vision burning every so often, my whole body feeling weak; but somehow I managed it. The kitchen was empty and I made my way to the sink, lapping up water straight from the tap. The pain dulled a little, only to be brought back in full force when I gulped.
I collapsed into a dining chair, only just noticing the tears which had been pouring down my face.
My Dad had tried to kill me.
My own Father.
What sort of worthless piece of shit couldn't even get their Dad to love them enough to not try to kill them?
The more rational part of my mind told me that it was because of his problems, not because of me. But it still niggled that it was my fault. Somewhere along the line I'd let him down... I wasn't the son he wanted, the son I should have been. I wanted to scream. I needed to get out of my head.
I needed to get out of this place before he got back.
I managed to stand up easier this time, the fear of his return already pumping adrenaline through my veins. I went upstairs, still slow on my feet, and rushed to my room. I grabbed a backpack and filled it with some clothes, any cash I had lying around, cigarettes, and anything else I thought I might need.
I grabbed my guitar and bank card before making my way downstairs. I couldn't remember how much I had left in my bank account, it had taken quite a dig through some of my bad habits, but hopefully there'd be enough for a couple months of rent. I could find a place, get a job and keep myself going. I went to the kitchen and ransacked the cupboards, putting food and a couple bottles of water into my backpack before closing it. Done. Now for the note... I couldn't leave my Mom without anything. I found some paper and a pen and began to write, tears cascading down my cheeks as I did so.
Mom, I'm sorry things have to be this way.
I love you so much, but there's no way I can stay here any longer. He tried to kill me, Mom.
I hate to leave you alone, but next time I might not be so lucky. I'll be okay, I'll find work and my own place, and I'll call you so you know I'm okay. I know you always make excuses for him but I can't take it here anymore.
I just want you to know that I love you and I'm sorry. Hopefully one day everything will be okay again.
I left it on the counter; if he had gone to a bar it was unlikely he would make it home first. I hoped like hell my Mom would get it.
I looked around one last time, my head filling with old and new memories. The older ones filled me with happiness; us all playing in the garden, my Dad reading me bedtime stories, playing board games and watching TV as a family. The most recent ones, the ones from the past decade, were the ones which propelled me towards the front door with my guitar case and backpack; the ones which filled me with dread. All of the beatings, the taunts, screaming, shouting, smashing, crying.
I opened the door and made my way into the world, knowing I'd never go back to that house, never finish my senior year, never be the same again.