I woke up the next morning still thinking about Uncle and Jason. Part of me hoped I'd see Jason again, but the other part felt safer if I stayed away. At least if I did, Uncle wouldn't get upset because of me.
I'd decided that Uncle's unhappiness and the silent ride home yesterday were my fault. I wanted to make up for it. After all that he's done for me, I still feel like I keep letting him down. I didn't have time to ponder more on the subject as I entered the kitchen to find it a wreck. It was clear that my dad had drunkenly made his way in here and trashed it while I was asleep. I glanced up at the clock--that now hung crookedly on the wall. It's 9:45. I hope Dad went to work. Lucky for me, his room was empty. Hungover Dad is the worst person in the universe to deal with. At least Drunk Dad had his moments. When he was hungover, all he ever did was yell and compare me to Mom, demanding to know if I was going to walk out on him like she did. That was the worst.
Taking one more look at the mess, I sighed and retreated to my room. I threw on an old Metallica t-shirt, torn jeans, and mud-covered Converses. Sweeping my wavy auburn hair up in a ponytail, I returned to the kitchen to tackle the destruction.
"Okay, it's official. I severely underestimated the level of destruction here," I commented, blowing hair out of my face.
Cracked and broken dishes littered the sink, counters and floors. Empty liquor and beer bottles overflowed from the trash can--how he got them all in there, I had no idea. The already-thin layer of dust that covered the counters was now sticky and soggy from spilled alcohol. Let's not forget the dirty dishes I hadn't yet loaded into the dishwasher. Those were scattered across the dining room floor. Among all that was ripped up newspapers, half-eaten snacks, and old pictures that had been ripped off the fridge.
I spent a solid three hours cleaning the kitchen, two trash bags full of broken dishes and outdated food, and forty-five minutes scrubbing the puke stains out of the Dad's bedroom carpet. However, once done, I popped some popcorn and watched our lively neighborhood from the front porch swing. There was a little of everything in our neighborhood--boys riding skateboards, hordes of girls laying out in bikinis on their front lawns, the perverted high school boys spying on them, kids role playing fantasy games, families teaching children to ride bikes, and so much more. This single neighborhood is in a world all its own. This town is a larger part of that world. Anything outside of the town is a universe away. My town was more or less secluded from large cities. It was a small-town-in-the-woods-where-everyone-knows-everyone kind of place. This town, which didn't really show up on any map or GPS, we simply called Freeridge. I don't know where the name came from or why Freeridge but it just fit so we kept it. Now that I think about it, how did Jason end up here? Did he just come across it by accident? Impossible. There's really only one road in and Freeridge is pretty well hidden. Still, now that the thought crossed my mind, I wasn't about to let it remain unanswered for long.