They were at it again. Damn. Why did they have to go through the same process again and again every Sunday night? It's because Dad's gone. Everything went wrong when he left. Mom lost her job, I had to start living with Granny and Pop, and I had to face a new world, all while enduring the same fight every Sunday when I had to go back to staying with my grandparents after a weekend with my mom.

I shouldered my bag filled with my belongings as I headed towards the door. I had everything I needed. Clothes, blankets, sleeping bag, food, money…. All that was left now was to make a run for it.

"You aren't taking good care of her. You’re not even taking care of yourself. Look at you, Kristie! You can't even take enough time to dress yourself decently." My grandma’s voice sounded from the kitchen.

Mom's voice was strained, and I knew she was crying. "Mom, please! I'm getting there, I just need a little more time! I just need you to care for her for only a little bit longer. Just until-"

"Stop fooling yourself. Until you can take care of yourself, I think you should consider giving up custody of Dezimbrae to us. It’s time you faced reality. George is dead. You need to get over it." My grandpa's loud voice was overwhelming and powerful.

That was it. I couldn’t listen. My feet were already running, taking me somewhere, anywhere, as long as it was away from that damn farmhouse. I don’t know how long I ran, but I didn’t stop until the lights from the house were out of sight and I was in the woods. I pressed my back against a tree and slid down to the ground and sat, nestled in between its roots, with my head buried the sleeves of my of my army jacket. Dad’s army jacket. Hot, angry tears ran down my face. Pop didn’t have to say it so bluntly. Dead. No, he was just… away. Like he’s still overseas. Still in Iraq. One of these days, he’s gonna walk in, with his cheesy smile, and say, “Fooled ya!” and hug me. I just have to wait a little longer.

I brought my head up out of my arms and screamed into the night. It wasn’t real. It was just a dream. God, please say it’s just a dream. A nightmare.

I looked up at the sky. Fireflies danced with the stars, blinking as they waltzed to the cricket’s night music in the summer air. I felt calm watching them. I closed my eyes and listened to the night sounds and remembering better times. I could almost feel Dad’s arms around me. I blinked away the tears and stared in amazement at the air around me. Was that… Snow? I held out my hand to catch them and watched as the flakes melted on contact. Snow? In the summer? No, I was hallucinating. Yeah, that was it. Not enough fluids.

He snow was starting to stick together on the ground around me. Still unconvinced, I stuck my hand in a pile. It was cold. There was no way I was imagining this.

Then, as quickly as it begun, it stopped. I sat there for a long while, trying to understand what I just experienced. Before I knew it, I was asleep between the roots of the oak tree.

The End

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