I stand there for a minute in shock after he kissed me, watching his taillights fade away. After I can't see them anymore, I turn and walk inside. Giggling and bedsprings creaking are coming from my dad's room at the back of the house. I shudder disgustedly and run up the spiral stairs to my part of the house. After my mom left, I took over the small finished attic. It's an upgrade from a room downstairs.
I set my bag down on the floor, and put my food on my dresser. I look out the small arched window at the street below. Right there, beneath that street lamp, Trace kissed me. I brush my fingertips against my lips, still in shock and wonder at the feeling of his lips pressed against mine. Even though I'm eighteen, Trace is my first kiss. Keeping up a scholarship means I don't have time for a relationship. I still don't, but something tells me that he'll make it work somehow.
And speaking of scholarships, I have more homework to start on, so I turn on my lamp and sit down at my desk by the window and start on homework.
At six a.m., my alarm goes off, and I jerk my face off my desk. I fell asleep doing my homework. Again. I quickly sort through the papers, relieved to see that i finished my homework before I fell asleep. As quietly as I can so I won't wake my dad, I open my creaky door only to find him standing outside of it.
"You were out late, Vivian."
"I was with a friend, and besides, you were busy when I walked in."
My dad glares at me. "I shouldn't have let you go to that rich school, you're starting to get to uppity for me now. You need to come down a peg or two." before I can do anything, he hits me, leaving a red welt on my cheek.
A tear rolls down my cheek.
"Don't you start crying!" he yells as he hits me again and again. A knock sounds on the door, and he gives me another glare before walking downstairs. I walk back into my room with tear-blurred vision. I look in the mirror and see bruises starting for form on my face and arms, and I start crying.
I quickly get to school and am happy to be the first person in Mr. Green's class. Mr. Green is sitting at his desk, but doesn't look up when I walk in. I sit at my desk and pull out a small mirror from my bag. Most of the bruises are completely covered, but my lip is noticeably swollen. Thankfully, the school uniform requires a long-sleeve white collared shirt to hide my arms. I gently touch my lip, and my eyes immediately start watering. I wipe them with the cuff my sleeve and pull out the book we're reading in literature, Moby Dick. Slowly, the other early students start trickling in. The desk next to me creaks as Trace sits down.
"Hey, Vivian. How are you?"
Hearing his voice suddenly makes me cry again, and I put the book down.
He quickly wraps his arms around me. "What's wrong, Viv?"
His fingers touch a fresh bruise as he moves my hair back and I wince.
"Is your face bruised?" he asks softly.
I nod and look into his eyes. The outrage and shock shows in his eyes as he takes in the bruises and swollen lip.
"Who did this to you?"
I shake my head. "It doesn't matter."
He looks into my eyes. "Yes it does. If someone's been hitting you, it needs to be stopped."
"Trace, you don't understand. He needs me, he'd be lost without me."
"Please tell me this isn't about an abusive boyfriend."
I manage a small smile. "No, my dad."
Trace frowns. "But you're eighteen, you can move out."
"And go where, Trace? My paycheck goes to paying for everything anyway, I never have any leftover."
"I'll find you somewhere, and I'll pay for it," he says with force.
I shake my head. "No, I don't want you doing that."
Trace kisses the top of my head. "But I want to. Can you at least let me find you an apartment and make the down payment?"
I nod slowly, knowing I'm not going to win against him.
He smiles. "He won't be home after school, will he?"
I shake my head. "He'll be at work."
"Then I'll take you after school to get your stuff. You're not working today, are you?"
"No, I'm off Tuesdays and Fridays, and weekends."
Trace nods. The bell rings and Mr. Green calls for homework. I hand it in, and think about this blessing disguised as a distraction named Trace.