Chapter 10: No backsies!
Olivia sat on the living room couch quietly. She hadn’t dared to remove her jacket, fearing that if she even moved, the four men in the kitchen would stab her to death. One of them still had a wooden knife in his hand and kept staring at her with this crazy glint in his eyes. Her panda bear was on her lap, and she only looked away from it a few times to glance towards the kitchen area.
Speaking of which, the four men were sitting around the kitchen table, speaking in low voices.
“I really don’t get it,” Mikey admitted, nodding his head at Olivia. “How could she be our sister? Why didn’t dad ever tell us?”
“All those times we spent together... And it was just a lie,” Frank sighed dramatically. “I suppose after all, I was just a delicious piece of meat to Don.”
Ignoring this very disturbing comment, Ray asked: “What will we do with her, though? She can’t stay here, can she? Let’s face it, this is no place for a child. We drink and we fight, that’s all we do, isn’t it?”
“Well I can teach her how to fight but someone else has to handle the drinking,” Frank replied.
“You’re right,” Gerard nodded. “We have to take her back.”
“Did you guys see, though?” Mikey asked, lowering his voice even more. “The bruises on her legs?”
They all glanced at Olivia, who quickly looked down to avoid eye contact. The dress she wore only reached to her knees, so the bits of yellow and purple were visible from knees to ankles. The sight did worry them, of course, but it was Gerard who pointed out that kids can get rowdy while playing. And though he sounded like he didn’t even believe those words himself, the others nodded.
“So we’ll send her back, then?” Mikey asked quietly. He sounded somewhat guilty.
“I guess so,” Gerard sighed. “She’s supposed to be with her mom, obviously. It’s better than living here with him,” he said with a straight face, pointing a finger at Frank who was shoving cereal up his nose and shooting them out at Ray so that they got stuck in his fro. “And besides, with Ike on our throats, we can’t risk her, too. She’ll be safer away from us.”
In the end they decided that when he goes to visit Don the next day, Gerard should drop off Olivia on the same trip. That meant they had to keep the girl around for one night.
Olivia didn’t look too happy when they explained to her that they’ll have to take her back to her mother. Then again, maybe this miserable looking frown was her happy face? They couldn’t know, so far they hadn’t seen even a glimpse of a smile on her.
They found her a somewhat clean blanket and a pillow, told her she could sleep on the couch and forbade Frank from going out to drink and coming home wasted in the middle of the night.
Olivia laid in the dark living room, her head resting on a pillow that had the strong scent of alcohol and something else completely disgusting on it. The blanket was itchy, and the apartment was rather cold, so she had kept the jacket on.
She couldn’t say she was disappointed. Sure, she had been happy for a few hours, knowing that she had finally gotten out of that trailer and away from her mother, but hadn’t she also know that no one else would want her either? Hadn’t she known that these men who were supposedly her brothers wouldn’t want her? Hadn’t she known there was really no escaping the life her mother had given her?
The blank expression on her face didn’t change when a few tears rolled out of her eyes and down to the pillow and her hair. What had she expected, really? That they would be happy about her? That for some reason, they’d decide to save her by keeping her here?
Olivia’s thin arms wrapped tighter around the panda bear for comfort. Tomorrow she’ll have to face mother. But what if she won’t take her back? What will she do, then? Now she wished she hadn’t wished to be homeless. As horrible as mother was, at least there was some sense of safety and security while living with her.
The girl closed her eyes, and until she fell asleep she clung on to the hope that somehow her father would come around and make everything better, although she knew that was never going to happen. He had never done that even when he wasn’t in jail. How could he now? How could anyone, really.