Distraction: Underground kings
WALKING DOWN THE dimly lit hallway to my dadâ€™s home office, I stop just outside the door, watching him pull off his glasses and rub his eyes. I hate bothering him, but I really need my permission slip signed for my field trip tomorrow, and I canâ€™t go to my mom because I know sheâ€™ll freak. Sheâ€™s always freaking out about something these days. Pulling the folded up form out of my back pocket, I step through the door then pause, feeling my stomach turn and get upset when I see my mom asleep on the couch under the window behind the door.
â€œWhatâ€™s up, bud?â€ Pulling my eyes from my mom, I look at my dad and take a step backward. â€œSheâ€™s asleep. Itâ€™s okay,â€ he says softly, studying me.
â€œI can come back,â€ I whisper, swinging my eyes to my mom to make sure she didnâ€™t wake when I spoke.
â€œI gave her her sleeping pills. Sheâ€™ll be out for awhile,â€ he says gently, and I ball my hands into fists, crushing the paper in my grip. It sucks that Iâ€™m afraid of my own mother.
Licking my lips, I pull my eyes from her on the couch, move swiftly to the side of my dadâ€™s desk, and unfold the paper, placing it on top of the stack of paperwork sitting in front of him. â€œWe have a field trip tomorrow and I need this signed,â€ I tell him quietly, moving my eyes to my mom once more as fear makes my hands shake.
â€œWhere are you guys going?â€ he asks, uncapping one of his fancy pens, one of the few Grandma got him for Christmas. One of the hundred he has, because she always buys him pens, the same way she always buys me socks. Her gifts suck, but she never fails to bring peanut butter cookies with Hershey Kisses on top that she bakes fresh, which makes her lame gifts worth it when she comes to visit.
â€œUmâ€¦some museum,â€ I tell him, licking my lips again then feeling my heart stop when my mom moans and rolls over on the couch to face the back of it.
â€œThat sounds fun.â€ He chuckles. I wish I could laugh with him, but I canâ€™t breathe as I wait anxiously for him to sign the paper so I can leave. â€œDid you get something to eat?â€ he asks, placing the pen to the paper.
â€œYes,â€ I lie. When I got off the bus from school, I went right to my room, did my homework, and stayed there until now, because I didnâ€™t want to accidently run into my mom who I knew was home because her car was parked out front, half on the drive way and half on the grass, like she was in a hurry when she pulled up.
â€œI know things havenâ€™t been easy, bud, but I promise theyâ€™re going to get better,â€ he says, and my eyes meet his. I wish he was telling the truth, but I know heâ€™s lying. No matter how many times my mom comes to my school and embarrasses me, or how many times the police come here when sheâ€™s freaking out, he still acts like nothingâ€™s wrong. He always just says things will get better, but they never do.
â€œI know,â€ I lie back, watching his eyes flash with something before dropping to the paper and signing his name across the bottom.
â€œDo you need any money for tomorrow?â€ he inquires, shifting to the side, shoving his hand in his pocket, and pulling out a large wad of money before I can tell him yes or no. â€œYou may want to buy a souvenir or get something to eat,â€ he murmurs, pulling off two twenties from the wad, wrapping them in the permission slip, and handing it back to me.
â€œGo get some sleep. Iâ€™ll take you to school in the morning so you can sleep in.â€
â€œI can catch the bus,â€ I rush out, knowing that if I donâ€™t, I will have to see my mom in the morning, and nowadays, I do everything within my power to avoid any kind of contact with her.
â€œWe need to talk about something, so Iâ€™ll drive you.â€
â€œSure,â€ I agree as his hand comes up to rest on my shoulder, giving it a squeeze before letting me go.
â€œNight,â€ I mutter, rushing out of his office and down the hall to my room. Unfolding the paper, taking both twenties to my desk, and opening the top drawer, I add them to the pile of money I already have. My dad is always giving me money, whether I want it or not. I think he uses it as a way to not feel guilty for how crappy things have been lately.
At first I thought it was cool because I was able to get whatever I wanted, but not now. Now, I hate it. Closing the drawer, I go to my backpack and shove the permission slip inside one of the pockets then dig to the bottom of the bag until I find the candy bar I bought from the vending machine at school. I scarf it down, hating the way my chest hurts as I remember the times we used to have dinner like a normal family.
Jumping out of my sleep, my heart starts to pound. I donâ€™t know what woke me, but fear rushes through me as I turn to look at my bedroom door and see the hall is dark through the crack along the bottom. Closing my eyes, I do what I always do when this happens and play funny cartoons in my head, trying to get my heart to calm and get back to sleep.
Hearing a strange noise, my eyes spring open and my heart pounds hard once more. Getting out of bed quietly, I open my door and peek each way before tiptoeing as quickly and as silently as I can down the hall, through the living room, and toward my parentsâ€™ bedroom on the other side of the house, wondering if they heard the noise too.
When I reach the hall to their room, some of the fear in me leaves. Their light is on, and I can hear murmurings coming from inside, letting me know they are awake and Iâ€™m not alone. Taking a step toward their door, which is open an inch, I feel warm wetness soak the front of my pajama bottoms. When I look through the crack, my mom is standing over my dad with a knife in her hands, her arms and the front of her nightgown covered in blood. Covering my mouth with my hand, I stumble away from the door, fall on my bottom, and then roll over, taking off and crying out in fear when light floods the hall. I hear my mom yell something behind me.
Running to the kitchen, I grab the phone that sits on the counter and a knife from the butcher block. I go to my room, not hearing anything behind me as I scurry into the back of my closet and hide in the crawlspace where I used to play when I was little. Breathing heavily, I dial nine-one-one on the phone and wait only one ring for the operator to pick up.
â€œNine-one-one, whatâ€™s your emergency?â€
Clutching the knife to my chest, my voice chokes as I whisper, â€œMy mom just killed my dad.â€
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