Word Count: 510
By the time I’d got that first bull’s-eye, the staff at the shooting range all knew who I was. They weren’t too keen on the idea of letting me practice without my dad there when I asked, but it didn’t take long for my request to turn into a demand, and they gave in. They told me I could practice so long as I paid and let one of the staff supervise me.
The woman that was usually left with me was a much better teacher than my dad. When she asked why I was so insistent on coming on my own on days dad didn’t go there, I’d just shrugged and said to her “I want to make my dad proud of me, and if I can hit a bull’s-eye every time, I’ll make him happy.” After she’d heard that, she agreed to teach me on the sly so I didn’t have to pay. I kinda liked her, she was nice to me. She didn’t give me the feeling I’d let her down when I didn’t hit the center of the target.
It took me a few months, but eventually, by the time I’d turned nine, I could shoot at just about every target I wanted to and get a decent shot. Not all of them were bull’s-eyes, but I was a fuck load better than before.
My dad took me one day, a few weeks after I’d turned nine and I shot five bull’s-eyes in one session. I waited and waited for the praise I’d been desperate to hear for months and not a word. No, that’s a lie, I got ‘I’ve seen better’ from him.
That was the night I decided I was going to run away and take Rayn with me. It would’ve worked if I hadn’t stolen one of dad’s beers and gotten drunk. I got as far as the park before going to sleep on under the climbing frame.
It took me another year to get away. I just… I just wish I’d managed to get Rayn away with me. I don’t think I’d ever forgive myself for it. I ran away, and didn’t get Rayn out of that fucking place. It never bothered me that to get away I’d had to kill my parents, it never worried me that at the age of ten I was already a lost cause. It was not being able to save Rayn. His dad punished him for me protecting him when I wasn’t there to stop him. He was a prisoner in his own home for another three years, and it was my fault.
While I was finding myself being drawn into the dirty underbelly of American life, Rayn was discovering that he could make everything stop mattering with the drugs older kids brought into school. By the time I went back to Reno, confident no one was looking for me anymore, we were both in a similar state: stupidly young and already experimenting with drugs. It was always going to be a downwards spiral from there.