The dawn comes too fast. Too fast for my weary mind and my sore body. It shakes me gently from my peace, and rocochets me into tomorrow. But soon enough, I realize it's not the dawn at all. It's Matrix.
"Mmm?" I question. I flutter open my eyes. "Mat, it's not even light out yet."
I start to close my eyes again, but he violently shakes me by the shoulder.
"We're leaving," he says suddenly. His voice is so serious, it sends chills up my spine, and I realize I have to get up.
Matrix pulls me off the couch as if I can't move fast enough on my own, and yanks me outside by my arm. His car is now sitting in the driveway, next to a police car. Oh, no...
"I had Racket bring my car by. Get in! Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up!"
Feeling the panic in Matrix's words, I jump in the passenger's seat as fast as I can. He starts the car and books it out of the driveway. As we speed down the street, I remain silent. Matrix will tell me what's going on. He always does.
We drive for what seems like hours, but in reality is only a few minutes. And at last we pull into a driveway. This driveway belongs to a little wooden house with missing roof shingles and a one-car garage. It looks sad and heavy, like an old war veteran who's seen too much. The forest green paint is peeling, and all the windows are broken except one.
I look over at Matrix.
"Racket's house," he states plainly.
I had kind of been hoping for an explanation for this rushed escape, actualy. But obviously that's not gonna happen.
The two of us get out of the car and walk up the concrete steps to the front door. Now the sun is just beginning to come up over the horizon, a glorious desplay of pink and orange despersing the nighttime darkness. Matrix lets himself in, as the door isn't locked. I step in behind him.
My nose is greeted witht he detestable smells of smoke, alcohol, and vomit. It's even worse than our house! Empty pop and beer cans litter the floor, and there are stains of various unknown substances everywhere.
As Matrix takes me down a set of stairs, I ask, "Where are we going?"
"To get Racket."
We go down a narrow hall and stop at a door at the very end.
"Stey here a sec, Marley."
Matrix enters the room quietly. I hear him jump on a bed, and an unfamiliar voice yells a few cuss words. Then, after a few seconds: laughter. Matrix comes out of the room with another boy, whom I assume to be Racket.
Racket has dirty blonde hair, that's short in back and long in front, paired with hazel eyes and perfectly white teeth.
"Are you guys hungry? Sorry I probably won't be much help. I've got a bit of a nasty hang-over," he says drowsily. I hear a hint of an accent in his voice. Where did Matrix say he was from? Oh, Australia. That's right.
"I'm starving," Matrix says, heading back up the stairs.
Racket follows him and I follow Racket up to the kitchen. The kitchen matches the rest of the house: stains everywhere, trash littering the floor, an over-all wreck.
As Matrix rummages through the pantry, he says, "Marley and me need to shower, too."
"Oh, right then," Racket replies. "Well, Marley can take hers now if she wants."
He turns his gaze to me.
"Yeah, ok. Where is it?"
I'll play along for now, like the good sister I am. But sooner or later, Matrix is gonna have to explain himself.
"Downstairs, first door on the left. Towels are under the sink."
I follow Racket's instructions and find myself in a tidy, little bathroom. It doesn't seem to belong in this house; a speck of sanity amidst a sea of chaos. A mirror stretches across one wall, and for the first time in what seems like ages, I take a good, long look at myself.
At first I'm surprised by what I see. Because when I look into the mirror, it's not me looking back; it's Jamie. But of course, I realize, that's not so strange. We are sister, afterall. So I brush it off and get in the shower.
The hot water feels nice against my sore, bruised muscles. But in places where I've been cut or there's an open wound, the water is needles, shocking the still unformed layers of skin into submission. After quickly washing my hair and body I get out and dry off. I glance down at my clothes in a wad on the floor, all covered in dirt, blood, and sweat. No way am I putting those back on. What to do, what to do...
Soon enough, I walk back upstairs to the kitchen, clad in one of Racket's t-shirts and a pair of his sweatpants.
"Are those my clothes?" he questions good-humoredly.
Matrix quirks an eyebrow.
"Well I wasn't gonna put my clothes back on! Disgusting."
"Fair enough," Racket says, going back to his bowl of cereal.
I sit down at the counter next to him, and across from Matrix.
"Now, tell me what's going on, Matrix," I say, leaning forward.
He looks up at me from his toast.
"We're probably going to be staying with Racket for a few days."
"It's safer here for now."
"But, why, Matrix?"
"Just forget it, okay?"
"No!" I yell, standing up.
Matrix tenses in his seat.
"I'm not a little kid anymore! I'm not just going to do whatever you say! I'm walking out right now, unless you start giving me some real answers."
I pause for a moment, but Matrix says nothing. So I head for the door. It's not further than a couple inches open when Matrix says, "Marley, wait."
I look back to see Racket silently excusing himself from the table.
"There's something I have to tell you," Matrix says quietly.
I go back tot he counter and sit across from matrix again, looking straight at him. He averts his gaze to the floor and sighs.
"I'm the one who called the cops."
He looks up at me, and I can see his blue eyes glistening. They look like the ocean on a bright, sunny day, an ocean with a hidden secret deep beneath its surface. It's not a look I'm accustomes to seeing. I frown.
"Because, Marley, I'm tired of seeing you get hurt. I'm tired of getting hurt. I wanted a way out, and this was the only way I could think of."
I stand up and quickly slap Matrix across the face.
"Are you crazy!? They're our parents! They love us... don't they?"
Matrix just looks away, rubbing his cheek.
"What's gonna happen to us?" I ask softly.
"They wanted to put us in foster homes, which I wasn't too happy about. Then I found out they were going to seperate us. That's when I woke you up."
"But what about Jamie? She won't know where to find us!"
I start to back towards the door again.
"I have to tell Jamie where we are, and that we're safe!"
Matrix stands up now, too, and walks around the counter to me, grabbing my wrist.
"Forget Jamie! See, this is exactly why I don't tell you anything! I don't want you worried about something dumb, like Jamie!"
"She's not dumb! She's our sister!" I yell, pulling away from him. Then I lower my voice. "I talked to her last night."
"No, Marley, you didn't. She's not coming back."
"How can you be so sure?"
"I guess I really can't, Marley. I just hope."
"She's your sister just as much as mine, Matrix! Don't you miss her?"
Matrix mumbles something under his breath.
Matrix locks his eyes onto mine, and for the first time, I notice how exhausted he looks. And his eyes--they've lost their shine.
"I said, I hope she's dead."
Next thing I know, Racket is pulling me off of Matrix while I kick and scream. He's lying on the floor, covering one side of his face with his right hand. The only damage I can see is a cut lip, but I just know he has a black eye under that hand. Hah. Eat that, Matrix.
Finally regaining his senses, Matrix stands up slowly, lowering his hand so I can see his black beauty. Oh yes. He definately won't be seeing out of that eye anytime soon.
He spits out a few swear words at me, clenching his teeth. Then he raises his hand as if to slap me. I shrink back, a small, pathetic whimper escaping my llips. Suddenly, Matrix's hard gaze softens, and he lowers his hand.
Looking at Racket, he says, "Gimme a smoke and something to drink."
He sits back down at the counter, and Racket gives him a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, and a bottle of beer.
"There's something else you're not telling me," I say, still standing near the door.
"Just forget it, Marley," Matrix replies.
And this time, I do.