A night to remember

The moon shone between the cracks of the shades that hung in my room, causing the shadows to loom over the furniture and piles of clothes and creating the illusion that more than one person was in the room. It was only me though, it was always only me. No one else in this house would dream of coming up here and the lock on the door stopped anyone whose common sense had left them. Not saying that it was a risk for them to actually enter my room, but everyone knew this was Chase’s room. My room. My space. Not for anyone else.

            Tonight though, I didn’t expect anyone to wander accidentally into my room. For one it was past midnight, what time it was exactly was beyond me. We didn’t actually own a working clock, but rather scheduled our time around the bus that drove by at half hour intervals. It was only during the night that we were never sure of the time seeing as they stopped running around nine. At five they would start up again, signalling for our day to start. So I was pretty sure the time was around one. Or two. It was night, what was all I needed to know.

            Another reason why I didn’t have to worry about locking the door was because I was the only conscience, sane being in the house at this time. Dad had stumbled home a while ago, swearing loudly that the bars never stayed open long enough. Of course they were still open but he was always sent home because he always managed to have one too many and start a fight with someone or something. Last time it had been the barstool that he had tripped over when he had staggered off of his own stool to head towards the washroom. This time…well I didn’t actually care why he got sent home. All I was worried about was if he would stay downstairs and sleep off his hangover or if I had to lock the door that led to the second floor. Not for me…but for Kayla.

            My little sister who was two rooms down the darkened hall from me was the usual target for my dad’s misplaced drunken anger. Although I was pretty sure that tonight if my dad managed to stumble up the stairs he would take out his anger on Kayla’s midnight visitor. Or visitors, I wasn’t sure how many had shown up tonight, but the giggling and smoke coming from under her door suggested more than just two. I knew it was bad to let her carry on like this, especially since I was the older brother who was supposed to look after her and make sure she didn’t do anything stupid. I was too tired to worry about her anymore, plus it wasn’t like this was a daily occurrence. Our home was only a nightmare when mom wasn’t here. Which had become a frequent event, but she still bothered to show up at least a few times a week.

            We all knew that she was over at Eric’s house. Well all of us except dad. Kayla, Dannie (our other sister who was as good at a disappearing act as our mom), and I had no idea if he knew about moms affair. None of us could blame her. If you actually took the time to look around our house you’d see how much of it was a garbage heap that seemed to suck the life out of everyone that came in contact with it. Eric was also a pretty nice guy, the total opposite of our dad. He was charming, polite, actually had a job and a house that didn’t look like it was about to collapse in on itself. Mom had introduced us to him a few weeks ago, and while Kayla had freaked out, both Dannie and I accepted it. We had both known that she had been seeing someone else, and at least this guy wasn’t a monster like our dad could be.

            I let out a sigh and leaned back against the wall, taking the time to look around my room for a moment. My bed was bare so the mattress pressed against the bare part of my legs as I sat. It was a nightly ritual for me during the summer. In a few minutes I’d get up and throw on a pair of old sneaker and hit the streets. Then it would be my time. The only time of the day where I felt it truly belonged to me and no one else. No one else was ever out for a run at this time, so I was able to be alone with my thoughts for a while, the only sound accompanying me ever was the sound of my sneakers hitting the pavement. It was a moment that I would actually describe as being beautiful. A moment where I didn’t have to worry about Kayla, or where Dannie was or where our next meal was going to come from, where I could just be the seventeen year old that I was supposed to be.

            Reaching down I searched through the darkness until my hand connected with a familiar, well worn shoe that had become my lifeline to the outside world for the past year. Parts of it where falling off, and I had to replace the laces more than once but they were reliable.

            As soon as they were on I rolled off of the bed, bouncing lightly on the carpeted floor for a moment before heading towards the door. I’d already stretched, so my only worry was leaving the house before either dad woke up or, for some unexplainable reason, mom came home. Since neither was going to happen, I shut the door of the room and used the key that I had hidden in a nook above my door to lock it. Then, since I wasn’t in an actual hurry tonight, I strolled down the dark hallway, treading softly past the piles of clothes that had been dumped in random places. I passed Dannie’s room and then Kayla’s, where only for a moment I stopped and rapped on the old wood frame three times before continuing on. It stopped the laughter in the room for a second as Kayla registered the message. It was our signal to each other that dad was home, drunk and asleep.

            “Thanks Chase!” I heard Kayla call from behind her door before she trailed off in a hushed giggle. I rolled my eyes but continued down the hallway to a door that led to an old fire escape. While it wasn’t my favourite way to leave the house it was the only way I could leave without waking up dad or being the victim of my mom’s one hundred questions about where I was going.

            The door opened as soon as my finger tips brushed against it, opening up to the silent world that I had grown to love. Stepping out onto the metal platform, I shut the door and took in a deep breath. The air even seemed cleaner this early in the morning. Now that I was outside the need to run was more compelling than it had been inside. And why should I be the one to deny myself something I wanted when I was barely able to even escape for this short time?

            Taking the stairs two at a time, I picked up enough speed so that I hit the ground at a dead run. The stars twinkled above as I took off down the street, passing house after house as my legs flew underneath me. Cool air stung the back of my throat as I gulped mouthfuls of crisp night air but I wouldn’t let that stop me. When I felt like running this way there was nothing that could stop me.

            Until the car lights flashed behind me, I thought I was invincible. At this speed how could I not be? But as they approached and I glanced behind me, I could see that there were two people in the car and that they were approaching at a surprising speed for someone out this early. They weren’t even supposed to be out. This was my time. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of anger as they continued down the street, my street, until they were driving beside me.

I slowed the pace that I was keeping. Nothing good ever came from slowing down for a strange car, but I figured that if it turned sour I could always run into a neighbours yard and make it back to the house before anything happened.

            “Chase?” A deep voice rumbled out of the car as the passenger window began to roll down.

“Uh…yeah?” I took a step off of the curb to take a look at the dark interior of the car. The light from the moon and surrounding streetlights only served to mask the guys face completely in shadows, making the whole scene seem a little shaky. “Who are you?” The guy swore silently for a second as he fumbled with the lock on the door for a moment before popping it open. The inside car light revealed that Eric sat in the passenger seat, his usually perfect hair mussed at haphazard angles and a wild look in his eyes. Past him in the drivers seat sat my older sister Dannie, who looked as confused as I felt.

            “Dannie, what’s going on?” I asked her, ignoring the man in the seat in front of me for a moment.

            She shook her head for a moment, her dark curls bouncing as she searched for words, “It’s mom Chase…something’s wrong…I don’t know.” She swallowed and looked out her window towards the dark street. It was what she usually did when she was trying to hold it all together. Why Eric was making her drive was a mystery to me…well it was until I saw that his left hand was cradled in the crook of his right arm, so distorted that I had to glance away to keep what food I had left in my stomach where it was. That was when my eyes landed on the third person in the car. Lying across the back seat, barely breathing was our mom. Apart from the barely breathing part she looked much better than Eric did, with only a few scratches trailing down her cheek.

            “What the hell? What happened? Actually,” I stopped for a second before slamming Eric’s door closed and opening up the back door. “Just get her to the hospital. That’s all that’s important right now.” I lifted my moms head and slid into a seat, brushing away the mass of blond curls that were her trade mark. Now that I was closer I could see that she wasn’t fairing much better than Eric was. Dirt was matted into her hair and skin, giving it a bruised look. Or maybe they were bruises. I didn’t actually want to check. Instead I looked up at Dannie who was staring back at me with scared eyes. “Just drive Dannie.” My command brought my sister back to reality and she hit the gas with so much force that the squeals of tires echoed down the empty street.

             I glanced down once at my mom and then up at the back of Eric’s seat. His hair was matted with dirt and from where I was sitting I could see a long cut trailing down his neck, disappearing beneath the collar of his shirt….What the hell had happened to them tonight?

The End

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