Breaking In This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 5, 2012
By
Eighteen. He was above all this. Pressed against the side of the building behind where the super always stacked the garbage, trying to ignore the rat the landlord insisted did not exist. Pathetic, thought Matthew ruefully as the light in his parents’ room went on. From the third floor, the sound of his father bellowing reached his ears.

“Stop your blubbering! It’s giving me a headache. If the little jerk cared about you at all, he wouldn’t have left. Stop it! You chased him away with your crying all the time. I’m not gonna tell you again; knock it off.”

The rat went out of focus as guilt threatened to reverse peristalsis. When Matthew looked up again, the icy moon was reflected in his room’s black windows, but a bear thrashed beyond the amber shades of his parents’ room. The yelling suddenly ceased, the light in the refrigerator feebly lit the kitchen and, man once again, his father’s shape obscured the bulb. Finally, the bedroom lamp was extinguished. He would give it an hour. Hey, a street rat has all night, right?

The cold November wind clawed through the holes in his black jeans and the flannel shirt got thinner and thinner. A long, cold hour by the old watchtower clock across the street. He rose stiffly, avoiding the mystery pool leaking from the garbage, threw a can against the wall and waited. Nothing. He broke a bottle. Nothing. Kicked a garbage can. Nothing. Fifteen minutes for them to go back to sleep.

Standing on a recycling can, Matt crossed himself for the first time in eleven years and jumped. He caught the first rung of the fire escape and pulled himself up. Climbing to the living room window, he sacrificed his pocket knife (stolen from a guy in a street fight) and pried it open. Moving the cactus out of his way, he stepped into the apartment. He listened with a dead man’s body, afraid they would hear his breath. He knew his way through the dark, like a ghost, to his prison. The closed door sent a jolt of panic through him as he remembered the squeaking hinges. His rational mind caged his panic, and he spit on the hinges, thanking Harper Lee.

The door opened silently and Matt stepped into horrors he had thought abandoned. Ignoring the black corners of the Marilyn Manson poster his father had torn down, he opened the closet. Matthew took his army duffel and stuffed in some more flannels, a couple of sweatshirts, two pairs of pants, his shorts and socks, a jacket and some tee shirts. He took the hardcover Catcher in the Rye his friend had swiped from a bookstore as a birthday present, the hunting knife he’d found in the street and the photo of his mother, smiling happily in her white dress, with the ragged edge where he had torn his father from the picture. As an afterthought, he grabbed the comic books he had lovingly kept and collected, in case he needed money.

As he stole from the room, his heart nearly stopped at the faint, thunderous creak of the door. Going to the window he climbed out and threw the bag into the shadow of the garbage. Then he climbed back in.

In the bathroom, hanging on the door knob, Matt found his father’s pants with his wallet. Taking the $20 from the wallet and a comb, he snuck into the kitchen and crawled under the sink after the $20 hidden there. Finding it, he went to the liquor cabinet over the fridge and took down the two bottles of his father’s scotch. One he spat in, the other he took. On the table lay a new package of bread and his favorite Oreos.

As he picked up the cookies, he noticed the Eagles CD that lay next to it. “Welcome to the Hotel California.” As he stepped from the kitchen, he heard the sound (audible only to his well-trained ears) of his father’s feet hitting the floor. The old, paralyzing terror burned like cyanide through his veins. His 18-year-old brain lurched into action as the slippers scuffed the carpet. He ran to the window, clutching the food to his chest, kicked one leg out, dropping the cookies as he shifted over the sill. Matt jumped the ten feet to the ground, not even twisting his ankle, stuffed the liquor in his bag and ran, with his father’s voice reverberating in his head, through the night.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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In_Love_with_Writing said...
Jan. 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm
Wow. This really was an amazing story. I truly fell in love with it. Amazing job!!!! Can you comment and rate some of my work as well?
 
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