Ryan recalls his tragic past. Will it be too much for him to bear?
I placed her on my infamous black couch and covered her in a light blanket, as silently as possible. I continued up to my bedroom, flicking the light on and going through my closet to find some pajamas. It was hot in my room, so I grabbed a pair of light sweatpants and pulled them on. I left my chest bare, with no shirt to cover it, and threw myself into bed. Everything seemed to be falling apart.
As I lie there staring at my darkened ceiling, I went over memories in my mind.
“Ryan?! Are you playing that damned guitar again?!” My father screamed from upstairs. I was in my basement in hopes that he wouldn’t hear me, but my plan had failed, like always. He thundered down the stairs with fire in his eyes.
“Dad, I was just-”I tried to explain myself. But there was only one explanation for what it looked like I was doing.
“I told you already. You will never make it in the music industry. They only take the talented people, so you might as well just fucking stop! You’re becoming a nuisance now, and I do not appreciate your lack of respect for me,” My father shouted.
He tore my guitar from my hands and launched it across my basement. Tears stung at my eyes, but I couldn’t let my own father see me like that, so I held them back. The top part snapped off, echoing in the cold dampness of the room.
“DAD!?” I screeched. “How could you do that?!”
He approached me with cold, harsh eyes and an expression full of rage. I had raised my voice towards him; that was like a federal offense in this house. As he advanced towards me, I stepped backwards, falling over the old tire of a bicycle, long discarded. He hit me and hurled his steel toe boot on his left foot into my ribs. I winced, just barely hanging onto my sanity.
“Don’t you ever raise your voice at me, George! Do you hear me? Next time I won’t go so easy on you,” He warned me. “Now get to your room, and take your fucking guitar with you. Don’t let me hear that again, so help me God. One more time and that’s it,” My father finished.
I didn’t dare ask what he would do if he heard me playing again. The threat was clear and horrifying, a monster inside of me, chewing me from the inside out. I fled upstairs with the two pieces of my guitar as quickly as possible, and rushed to my tiny bedroom. I lifted my shirt; there was almost an instant bruise, massive and purple, a proof of what had happened between him and me. Once I knew that my own dad couldn’t see me, I let my tears run rampant down my face from my eyes, wishing that my life was different. Maybe he was right. Maybe I would never have a chance in the music business.
I planned for that to be the last day I played my guitar.
I opened my window and climbed my way down to the ground, praying for my father not to see me through the kitchen window. I ran to Cammy’s house down the road, knowing she would be there to comfort me. I was a little nervous to allow her to see me crying like I was, but there had to be a first for everything. I knew she would understand.
When I finally reached her house, she was in her backyard, sitting at a small picnic table, scribbling something down in her black journal. Every time I caught her writing in it, every time I watched her place her innermost feelings down on a piece of that worn paper inside, I longed to read it. But I knew that she forbid anyone else read it, no matter how close I was or just how much I wanted to.
Maybe it was for both of our own goods.
“Ry?!” She exclaimed, throwing her notebook and pen down on the table so she could rush over to me. “What happened?!”
“My- My dad, he h-hit m-me….” I cried. I didn’t want her to see me so weak, to allow her to see the most vulnerable piece of me, but she was the only one I had.
Of course I had Brendon, Spencer and Jon, but they were too far away. It would have taken me forever to walk there, and either my mother or father would have realized that I was gone.
“He hit you?!” She almost shouted, putting her arm around my shoulder and leading me inside up to her room. “Why?”
She sat my down on her bed and embraced me. “I w-was playing my guitar…” Was all I could manage. “He t-told me to q-quit, and I think…”
She didn’t need to hear the rest.
“You cannot quit music, Ry. You’re too talented, you’re too dedicated, and you’ve worked so hard! You can’t give up now…I promise…I promise that we’ll make it through this. Together,” She assured me.
“He broke it,” I said, the tears refusing to stop.
“Don’t worry about that…I was saving this for your birthday, but seeing as how these circumstances call for some improvising…” She said, as she went into her closet and searched for something. “Close your eyes. It can still be a surprise…Sort of,” She insisted upon finding it.
I did as she said and closed my brown eyes. She placed a new guitar in my hands, much nicer than the one my dad had broken. When I opened them, I saw that it was shiny and red, the kind I had always wanted but could never afford. She knew me better than anyone else did.
I was speechless. She became worried.
“You do like it, don’t you? It’s the kind you wanted…”She explained to me.
“Of course I do!” I finally said, getting to my feet to hug her. She was one of the sweetest people that I knew.
“Phew…You had me worried, Ry,” She replied, hugging me back. I strummed it happily. She smiled in return, ecstatic to see how fulfilled I was.
“Since that was your birthday present, don’t expect anything great in August…” She explained. “I don’t know how much money I’ll have to buy you another present.”
“I love you, Cammy!” I said, the tears fading. It wasn’t awkward, because at the time I wasn’t sure about my feelings for her. “Can we walk to Spence’s and drop it off there? If I bring it to my house it’ll get ruined.”
“Your parents won’t find out you’re gone?” She wondered, only in her worry for me.
“No,” I replied. “They can’t do anything else to me. Now let’s go.”
We left the house with my guitar, preparing ourselves for a longer walk than we were used to. It took us about twenty minutes to get there, walking rather quickly. It was about three now.
We approached his house on the lake to find Brendon, Spence and Jon sitting in the backyard, shirts off from swimming, sipping lemonade. They looked so care free; I would never completely know their sides of the story.
“Ry, Cammy, hey!” Brendon exclaimed, standing up from his chair. “Sweet guitar, Dude! Where’d you get it?”
“Cammy gave it to me,” I replied. “My dad…well, he broke the other one. Spence, can I leave this here for when we practice? I don’t want anything to happen to it.”
“Yeah, sure,” He replied, clearly dozing under his sun glasses in his reclining beach chair.
“Do you guys want to go swimming?” Jon suggested eager to get back in the water. “It’s nice.”
“I don’t have my bathing suit,” Cammy replied.
“Oh my God! Come look at this!” Brendon exclaimed, standing on the ledge above the lake. A tree hung low over it with a rope that we swung on, and then jumped into the deeper water. Cammy and I rushed over to the ledge, about four feet from the water, and looked over.
“What is it?” Cammy asked curiously. She leaned over the edge, as did I.
There was nothing there. Brendon just pushed us off the edge into the water below, a cruel trick that only he would try to pull. The funny thing was we were laughing the whole way down. Cammy and I both hit the water with a splash surfacing seconds later. Jon was on the rope, swinging and ready to jump. Brendon backed up and began running, only to jump off and perform a cannonball.
“CANNONBALL!” He shouted, creating a mammoth wave that soaked us even more.
“WOOOH!” Jon pursued, letting go of the rope to cast himself into the water next to us.
Spencer remained in his comfortable chair on the land above us, lazily soaking up sun without a worry in the world. I envied him.
I tore my shirt off as it was weighing me down considerably, and remembered the bruise. My friends gaped at it.
“It’s nothing,” I informed them, with an unwanted spike of desolation in my voice.
Cammy waded her way to the shore near Spence’s back door. She picked up a pail and filled it with water, put her finger to her lips to say ‘Shh’ and crept up on Spence. Once close enough, she poured the water on him, disrupting his peacefulness.
“Hey!” He yelled, shooting up from his lounging chair. “That was uncalled for!”
Spencer rushed to the other side of his house. We were completely unaware of what he was doing, but when he returned with the hose, it became clear. Cammy ran from him as he sprayed her, squealing as teenage girls do. It was actually pretty cute.
Stop it, Ryan, I thought to myself. She’s your friend, and your friend only.
Spence was laughing with each drop of water that hit Cammy’s skin. It was obviously colder than the lake, which was quite warm. We watched as they continued.
These are my friends. This is my family.
This is all I have to depend on.