As Aaron screams at my father to stop one more time, his hand freezes only centimeters away from my face. He drops it back to his side, narrowing his eyes at the two of us.
"Watch it, kid," he snarls at Aaron as he walks out the door.
Aaron turns to me and starts crying again. "Ry, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry he does that," he whimpers between sobs.
I frown, unsure of what to tell him. I can't say that it's okay, because I know it's not. It's never okay for someone to hit their child.
I hear the door open and then slam shut; Peter must be home.
"Shh," I whisper to Aaron. "Peter's home. Don't... don't tell him what happened, okay?"
Aaron nods, wipes his face dry, and pulls a convincing fake smile. Weakly, I smile back at him. Thumps come from the stairs and soon enough, Peter stood at the doorway.
"What's up with the doorknob?" He asks, pointing to where it lies on the ground.
"We're um... about to fix it. It was loose," I say, making up the first excuse I can think of.
"Oh," he says. "I'll be in my room if you wanna play, Aaron."
"Alright!" Aaron says in a strained voice. I can tell he's holding back tears.
I give his shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Go on and play. It'll keep your mind off things," I whisper in his ear. He nods and darts off, throwing me a pitying look over his shoulder.
After fixing my doorknob, I sit down on the edge of my bed. I felt bad, making Aaron hold such a big secret when he was so young. He's only seven; the only thing he should be worried about is what to play with next.
'I wonder how many other times dad's been drunk when he hits me,' I think silently to myself.
I don't want to think about that anymore, though. Just that one, single thought makes me want to start crying, but I force back the tears by blinking rapidly.
To take my thoughts off of things, I pick my guitar up, out of its case, and begin playing the first few songs that come to mind.