Im Coming Home

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He is drunk. Again. I am sleeping in my room but I can sense the tension downstairs. Muffled voices tell me about an argument, steps tell me about a fight and then…a crash. I get out of bed and down the stairs in less than five seconds. I find disaster in the middle of our kitchen. The white sticky floor, the glisten of a million shards of glass, pans and pots thrown, all caused by an angry hand. In the midst of it all is my mother, her eyes puffy and red, her face wet with tears. I don’t have to ask what’s wrong, or even what had happened. I knew everything by the look on her face and the wide open door. The one left that way by my father, who had drunk too much once again. My feet take me carefully through the minefield of painful glass and up to my mother. I give her a hug, that’s all she needs to know I’m there. After five minutes she lets go of me, a sign that she is better. Her eyes scan the floor and almost automatically we both reach for the mops. As we are cleaning, my ears sense a patter of feet on the top of the stairs. A few seconds and this same patter is coming down, probably searching for an explanation to the noise. My glance comes up for a second and all I see is my little sister, only seven years old.
“Hey pretty girl.” I say as I mop, not meeting her sight with my own. Her sad smile
will surely make me cry and that is the last thing I want to do right now. Apparently my mother thinks the same because her eyes stay stuck to the floor, almost as if trapped by the mush of milk that wouldn’t wash off.
“Sarah?“ Don’t make me look up. Please, I don’t want to cry. “Sarah.“ Her voice is determined now. “What happened? “ I know I will have to explain; I will have to look up. Out of the corner of my eye I see her move. She will get cut, but I don’t make a move to stop her. In five seconds she will be next to me and then I won’t have a choice. I feel her little hand, two seconds earlier than I thought, carefully place itself on my right upper arm. As slowly as I can manage I make my eyes sweep over hers and then away. You have to look at her the hand tells me. This time I force myself to see her, all my fears confirmed. Her smile is sad indeed, and her eyes are old, experienced. Somewhere inside me I knew she already had an exact idea of what had happened, but she needed me to confirm it.
“Dad…“ I can do it, I can do it. “He…um….he….“ My head falls to the ground and salty drops of water fall from my face to be combined with the floor below. Millie’s hand never leaves my upper arm, telling me I didn’t have to say anything else. She makes her way through the cleaner floor, watching out for glass on her way. Before going up the stairs she stops.
“Will you take me to the Zoo today? After school?“
“Sure.“ In my mind I was doing it only for her, but I knew it would help me too. Anything to take this morning out of my head.
When I come home from school Millie and I give my mother a kiss goodbye and go out. We cross the street and start walking. We won’t get lost, the way to the zoo is infused in my brain. How many times had I gone before? Too many to count. It is my escape place, a little piece of unrealistic life hidden by this too much of a real world. I’m not saying the zoo is filled with unicorns or flying monkeys, Of course not, I’m not crazy, but it is magical. For five years I had been an explorer, a jungle cruiser, a ghost. Ever since that dreadful twelfth birthday, I’ve had the choice to transform into a princess with her own guard of gorillas. When my sister turned five, I took her there, just the two of us. Didn’t want my father to plan another of his birthday parties. With me, she became someone else too. Millie and Sarah the archaeologists, Millie and Sarah the detectives, Millie and Sarah the sisters. My father isn’t the only problem in our lives, but he is the reason we keep coming back. Today we are in luck, admission is free for kids under 18. This meant there is more people than usual, but we really don’t care. I follow Millie to see the seals, her favorite animal. It is in the middle of the zoo. Stairs surround the tank. Sitting on them I could see countless of couples intertwining fingers and intertwining lips, I almost wish I had someone to love me. The sudden grasp of Millie’s arms around my waist remind me that I do have someone, I have someone I need to protect. The feeling of moisture against my hip makes me look down. She is crying. Why? I follow her gaze to the third step of the circle. Next to an older couple holding hands and a lonely tourist taking pictures, I see three people. The two girls are almost identical. Curly blonde hair, milky white skin, a touch of pink on their cheeks, pretty blue dress and miniature white sandals. Between them is a thirty-something guy smiling as he hugs his five year old daughters. In my mind one of the girls turns older, and her eyes turn blue. The other stays the same, but her hair transforms to a darker color. The man in the middle now looks a lot like my father, the environment seems to be older, from years before. The alcohol came into our lives the year I turned five. Mom and dad had been married for six years and that big fight set everything off. Mom cried herself to sleep, Dad went to a bar and just kept going back. Now, almost thirteen years later, they are still together. I guess my mom really thought everything would get better one day. She thought that maybe if she stuck it out, better times would come ahead. Maybe. I never really understood, but who listens to a seventeen year old? I kept telling her to leave him, but she never listened. One day, I gave up, I had something more important to focus on. I feel two little arms tighten their grip and I bend down. I give her a hug.
“You do have love in your life.“ I whisper “I love you, and I will always love you.“ Her little arms let go of me and I look at her face.
“I’m ok. “ she says. “I love you Sarah. You’re my best friend.“ Those last four words take control of my arms and I hug her again.
“Let’s go home.“ I say.

I can’t get there quick enough. The streets had been dark for an hour now and I don’t trust any of the shadows. I keep holding on to Millie’s hand, leading her to the now visible white building. I start searching my backpack and panic. Where are my keys? Where are my keys, where are…I sense metal. Thank God. I pull the round keychain and stick the right key into the lock. The stairs that lead to our apartment look even darker than the streets. I go up, Millie’s hand griping mine. I try the door marked 2B, knowing my mom always unlocks it for us but…It’s locked. Dad must be home. Great. The apartment seems empty when we go in I know it isn’t , the smell of alcohol is still in the air.
“Go upstairs and lock the door.“ As soon as I hear my sister’s door close I walk around. The stench is strongest in the living room, which is where I find him. My father is slumped on the couch, a bottle knocked over on the floor beside him. He is fast asleep. I turn around and go back upstairs. He won’t bother us tonight.

The next day I hear a crash too, but this time there is no crying from my mother. I go out quietly and walk towards her room. I open it and see she is fast asleep. How…..I notice a bottle of pills on her nightstand, sleeping pills. Looks like I’ll have to confront him myself. The stairs creak when I touch them, but the crashing doesn’t stop. I get to the living room and see my dad holding a stack of plates and throwing them to the ground, everything while standing on the couch.
“Dad.“ I say. He doesn’t seem to hear me or even realize I’m there. “Dad.“ I say again. I walk up to the couch until I’m standing right below the crazy man breaking plates. I slowly put my hand on his lower arm and call him once more. “Dad.“ He jerks as if he had just been burned and looks at me.
“I told you Judy! Leave me alone!“ He thinks I’m mom.
“Dad it’s me, Sarah.“ I reach once more to his left arm, but this time he does realize what I’m doing. Before I’m able to touch him he raises his left hand and slaps me, making me fall to the ground. For ten seconds everything is still. I look at the floor the whole time. I try to control the burning that I feel in my right cheek and suppress my tears at the same time but out of the corner of my eye I see that my dad is standing proud, not a drop of remorse in his face. The first tear runs down my cheek and into my jeans. Without thinking about it I run outside. I can’t let him see me like this, I have to be in control. The stairs outside of the building are cold, I can feel the hard stone against the denim. My face feels wet, the tears cling to my eyelashes and turn them into ice. I replay the last moment over and over again in my head. Slap, slap, slap. A new tear falling down with every time. I can feel a bruise forming on my face and by trying to hide it my head ends up between my legs. My ears are covered, disconnecting me from the sidewalk, the trash and the real world. After what must have been five minutes I feel a pressure on my shoulder. As I realize it’s a hand I see someone sitting beside me, someone I hadn’t seen in almost a year. I react, a little too strongly and the guy stands up quickly, leaving me on the corner of the last step.
“Sorry.“ he says. I just look at him. Dark pair of jeans, black sneakers, blue plaid shirt. He is the same as always, just a little bit older. In his arm he holds a skateboard. Did I hear a skateboard? I completely forget about my face.
“Wow, haven´t seen you in a while.“ I guess it sounded a little too blunt, accusing even, but I was not in the mood to be nice.
“Yeah, I know…I was….“ I knew where he had been. He was taking care of his brother, in Boston.
“Yeah I know. “ We both look down “So you’re back now? For good?“ What do I care?
“Yes, I am.“
“Good.“ Nothing else to be said. It seemed as though we had forgotten what had happened just moments before, but my face still feels wet. I rub my eyes with my left hand. He sees this and remembers, he hadn’t explained what he was doing here.
“I’m sorry about before. I….uh…I was skateboarding through here, I knew you still lived in the same place. I saw you there….crying…and I just….“ He grabs the back of his neck with his right hand before going on “I asked you if you were okay and you didn’t answer so….I sat down and tried to make you feel better.“ That’s….nice. He has always been this way. Even when we were four he always treated me like a sister. He smiles shyly and I notice, for the first time, how cute he is. Has he always had that shaggy brown hair? Or those ocean blue eyes? He’s a guy Sarah, he’s not important! But that was so nice, how he tried to console me…no guy has ever tried to do that with me, ever.
“Thanks.“ I say. It’s a short thing to say to someone that you shared your childhood with, but I’ve never been good with emotions. At least not when they are for a guy.
“Don’t mention it.“ He just stands there for a few moments, but seeing that I don’t say anything he turns around and starts to leave. Can’t believe I’m doing this. Why am I doing this?
“It was good seeing you. I’ve missed you.“ The words just blurt out. I’m not even sure I did miss him. He must knows this too, because I’m not like that, but he turns once more anyway, and smiles.
“I’ve missed you too Sarah.’“ With the smile still in his face he gets on his skateboard and turns the corner, leaving me, to my surprise, speechless.

I know I have school. I know I am late and I know my face just turned purple. I think about it and make a decision. I go back inside and to my room, without even glancing at the couch.

I fall asleep the instant my head hits the pillow. The next day is Saturday so I don’t think about getting out of bed right away. The throbbing pain on my face hasn’t gone away and I don’t even dare to look at any of the mirrors. I stay in bed until I drift off again.

On Sunday I am woken by a strange sensation. The bed feels different somehow, heavier. I roll to the left and almost throw my little sister to the floor. She must have come in the middle of the night, when I was fast asleep. I let her sleep and carefully get out of bed. I glance at the mirror and decide to risk looking into it. My face doesn’t look so bad today, but you could still tell that someone or something had hit me. I couldn’t possibly sleep anymore so I get dressed and go downstairs. The apartment is empty, which could mean two things: My parents are still asleep or my mom is asleep pills and my dad is out bar. Outside I can hear the garbage truck, and nothing else. It seems very inviting. I take the stairs and open the door. Like yesterday I sit on the third step in front of the building. Maybe he’ll come again. I was actually hopeful of seeing Steve again, who knew? The minutes start to feel longer and longer until they turn into even longer hours. Suddenly, it is dark, and I can’t see the buildings anymore, let alone a skateboard passing by. I give up and go inside, I shouldn’t be caring about him. Even if I can’t help it. The next day, after school, I do the same thing, but still he doesn’t show up. What am I doing? Why can’t I forget him? I just wait because I don’t have anything to do. My dad doesn’t care what any of us do, my mom is always sleeping now and Millie stays in her room, taking my advice a little bit too seriously. On Tuesday night, I don’t want to go home right away. My sister is staying overnight at her school because of a free camp she signed up in so I don’t have to go back, at least not until 10, so my mom doesn’t worry too much. But she’ll probably be asleep anyway. There isn’t much to do around my school, so I just walk around. New York is beautiful, but not when you’re seventeen and all the money you have is hidden in your room. I don’t want my dad to use it. At 10:07 I am walking by my street and at 10:08 I hear the skateboard.
“Hey.“ Steve jumps out of his transportation and right next to me.
“Hi.“ I smile at him. I shouldn’t care about him. I shouldn’t . I sh…“Where have you been? I’ve looked for you the past two days…“ What?
“I went to Boston, for the weekend. Just checking on some last things for my brother.“
“Oh, right.“ His brother. I knew the story. When we were both 12 and his brother 15 Theo, that’s him, bought his first pack of cocaine. It had all gone downhill from there. “How is he?“
“Um..“ Steve looked surprised. I never ask about his problems, and he never asks about mine. But today, I was actually…worried. His manner turns uncomfortable so I don’t press him to answer, but he continues after a few minutes. “He’s better….but his addiction hasn’t gone away. Maybe it never will.“ Wow.
“I’m sorry.“
“Yeah well.“ We both stare at the floor for a minute. “You were late.“
“What?“ He starts laughing as if I was supposed to get the joke.
“I’ve been skating around here since 8:30.“ He laughs again and then turns towards the street. “Don’t you usually get home at five or something?“
“How do you know my schedule?“ And why am I happy he does?
“I just do.“ I smile, feeling pretty good about myself. What is happening with me? I start analyzing my feelings. When did they start? Are they real? Should I forget about him? I think about just leaving him here, but I get a glance of his smile so I just say.
“Right…“ I look to the right and back to him. “Want to go to the park?

We end up walking until 1 am, talking the whole way. There was so much things we still didn’t know about each other. I opened myself, telling him almost everything. It was the first time I actually felt an affinity with another person, specially a guy. Getting to know him makes me realize he is the complete opposite to my dad, and that makes me happy, I don’t know why. When we start going back I notice that once again he is glancing at my cheek. He has been doing that since he saw the bruise under one of the street lamps.
“So how are things going? Anything change?“
“Nope, but I’m ok really.“ I think about Millie.
“How’s Millie? “ Creepy.
“Um…she’s ok. She’s strong.“ I laugh. “I think she’s even stronger than me sometimes.“ He smiles at this and gets close. Am I going to tell him do this? I try to create distance between us, but every time I try he closes the gap. Finally I give up.
“Have you been to the zoo lately?“ His hand finds its way into mine and I don’t pull away. Who is it hurting? That’s not too intimate, I hold hands with Millie, it doesn’t mean anything.
“Yeah, actually. We went yesterday.“ I look around, we are already in front of my building. Maybe we can stay outside for a while. Who is going to miss me? We sit, and he continues to fiddle with my fingers. I stare at them. Why am I not doing anything? Look at mom and dad, I don’t want to end up like them. But although this is going around my head I don’t do anything to stop it. I guess somewhere inside me I already know he isn’t my dad, and I’m not my mom. I guess I realized I can’t cut off every feeling I have, I should try to be more open, specially to him, he knows me.
“Did you see the seals? Those are Millie’s favorite aren’t they?“ He stares at my eyes.
“Yeah.“ I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. At this point I’ve already let go. “They are.“ His free hand starts to caress my healthy cheek, and his face seems to get closer to mine by the second. I don’t stop it because I don’t want to. In the blink of an eye his mouth is less than an inch away and I am no longer sitting on stone but actually floating over the red and white buildings and parked cars. I’m thinking clearly, I can stop it if I want to, and I don’t. Now I can’t see anything but his lips. Parted, slightly pink, and not too big. CRASH. We jump apart and my heart starts to beat. That came from inside my building. I run towards the door. I fiddle with the keys. I go inside. The door to the apartment is open and everything is dark. My feet make no noise as they make their way through the mess. My ears hear screams from upstairs, from…Millie’s bedroom. The reaction is quick, my legs take me as fast as they can towards the last door on the upstairs hallway, the pink door. My hand turns the knob and I push . The first thing I see is Millie, what is she doing home?, hunched in a corner next to the bed, and my dad on the center of the room. He is screaming at my little sister and on his hand he holds a….a knife? From my parent’s bedroom nothing can be heard, meaning my mom is asleep. Again.
“Dad.“ He doesn’t realize I’m here. “Dad.“ I see Millie’s face. With Steve trailing behind me I approach this crazy man in the middle of the room. Carefully, and ignoring the loud screams, I put my hand on his shoulder. “Dad.“ This time he doesn’t jerk away. He stops screaming, slowly turns around and stares at me for a whole minute before saying:
“Judy.“ Not again. “So glad you’re here. You have to tell Sarah“ Sarah? “that I’m right. I AM RIGHT“ With a movement of his hand I see what he is holding. It is a knife. He must have gotten it at the kitchen. With each new scream the knife moves even more.
“Dad.“ I don’t take my eyes off of it. “Give me the knife.“
“Judy, you don’t understand! Our daughter won’t listen to me. None of you listen to me!“ With this last word he points at my sister leaving the knife only inches from her face. Without thinking I step towards him but Steve moves faster. I watch, almost in slow motion, as he grabs the white wood chair next to him, picks it up and hits my dad right in the face. Drunk and unbalanced he falls, completely unconscious, to the floor. Time stops for a second. I stare at his body and at Steve, still holding the chair. He just hit my dad. Oh my god, oh my god, he hit my dad! I prepare myself to scream at him but I remember Millie. I look at her.
“Come on sweetie.“ I say towards the corner and crouch. She runs to me and I give her a long hug. I pick her up and hold her in my arms. To her ear I whisper “Are you hurt?“ Her head moves no. Good. Meanwhile, Steve is examining my dad. “Is he alive?“ Why did you do that? I want to scream at him, run to my dad, never see Steve again, but the shaking girl in my arms reminds me. She reminds me why he did what he did.
“No, he’s still breathing, but he’ll be out of it for a while.“ His expression turns very serious. I look at him the same way. He looks towards me, specifically at my cheek. “Was he the one who hit you?“ I take a deep breath. He was trying to help me, I cant be mad, my dad would have stabbed Millie. I can’t be mad.
“Yeah.“ He only nods, and I know he understands everything. “I have to take Millie out of here.“ I say. I stare into his eyes, looking for a solution, all the anger dissolved inside me.
“You’re coming home with me.“ His look is determined.
“What about your parents?“
“They’re in Boston“ Of course. “with my brother. I have the house to myself. “
“Thank you.“ He leads me downstairs and I follow him towards his house.

I never fall asleep. Throughout the night I either lay on the bed or sit on it, watching Millie sleep. Finally, at two am I give up and go out to the living room where Steve is laying on the couch. He’s not sleeping either.
“Hi.“ He looks up.
“Hey, how you doing?“
“I’m ok.“ I walk towards him, and he makes room for me on the couch. I sit and look at my hands. “I’ve been thinking.“
“Yeah?“ He sits up.
“I have to take Millie away, anywhere but here.“ Steve just stares at me. I continue. “I have money saved up. Enough to take a bus to Washington. If I take care of it, it will do for three months, maybe more. Then I can find a job.“ He continues to stare, not uttering a word. “There’s only two weeks till graduation so I would be ok. I….“
“Wait…what?“
“I’m… taking Millie away.“ I don’t tell him about all the risks, everything that could go wrong and has ran through my mind a million times. What about Millie’s preschool? What if they think I kidnapped her? What if they find me, put her in an orphanage and send me somewhere? I specially don’t tell him about the darkest thought that I had. What if I left on my own? What if I left my little sister and never came back? All these disappeared as quickly as they came, but the memory of them was still there.
“But….“ But what? “But what about me?“ Him? Anything could go wrong and he says what about him? I take a moment. I remember all those years of playing in the playground, the time I beat that big kid because he hit Steve. I remember the day he went away to Boston, explaining everything in a letter I didn’t even keep. Finally I remember our near kiss of the previous night. I remember his hand in mine, but I remember who I am.
“I’m sorry but I have to do this.“ A tear falls down my cheek. I had to forget about what had changed in me because of him. I had to protect my sister. Steve’s face turns from shock to determination.
“I’m coming with you.“ Could he?
“No.“
“Yes.“ He can’t, he’ll just be a distraction. Besides, we’re only seventeen! It’s too soon.
“No.“
“Yes.“
“NO.“ He pulls back, stunned. The tears can’t be stopped now. “You can’t come. I have to protect my sister myself. It has to be just the two of us.“ Millie and Sarah. “I’m sorry, I know we’ve known each other for a long time, but this is my responsibility, not yours.“ He looks down and he looks sad. “It will be dangerous, I don’t want you to get involved. “ He doesn’t argue anymore. He knows I’m right.

Steve walks with me towards the apartment, he wouldn’t let me go alone in case my dad is there. The apartment is open and it is empty. I walk to my room, not even checking my parent’s bedroom. I know they are not here, it’s too quiet, but I don’t want too spend too much time here anyway. I pocket all of my money. It is hidden under my bed, the most obvious place, but no one has ever found it. In a duffel bag I pack most of my clothes and all of Millie’s, also essential things like deodorant and soap. When we’re inches from the doorway I get a thought.
“Wait.“ I tell Steve. I walk back and with a paper and pen from the kitchen I scribble a note. In it I include why I am leaving and the number of the cell phone in my pocket. I write that she should only call in an emergency. I put it in the counter, where I know my mom will see it. After taking a last look around I leave.

Steve drives us to the bus stop. “I don’t want you to go.“ He and I are standing at the bus stop, just minutes away from the departure time. I really don’t know how this happened, and I should know better. Relationships are too complicated, my mind tells my heart, but my heart, like many parts of me, is too stubborn to listen. Now, it is the one that is in control, not my brain. Millie is behind, holding on to my legs. The bus reads WASHINGTON DC on it’s front, and it is half-empty.
“I already told you I….“
“You have to. I know.“ He takes hold of both my hands and looks into my eyes. I hug him, for as long as I can.
“Sarah! The bus is leaving!“ I hear Millie’s voice from below. That wasn’t long enough. I don’t want to let go. But I do. I have to. Without a word I back away from where he stands. When I finally turn around I can’t get my feet to work. “Come on!, It’s leaving!, it’s leaving!“ I look at her face.
“Wait here, I’ll be right back.“ Without thinking I run towards him, the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever seen and with still nothing in my mind I give him the most passionate kiss. His surprised face transforms into calm and my heart transforms into mush. We stand there kissing for what seems like forever, only to be interrupted by the motor of the bus. “I’ll miss you.“ I feel his lips on mine and his tears on my cheeks.
“I’ll miss you too.“ He gives me another quick kiss and then watches me go away. The last I see of him is blurry, hidden by the dirty glass of the bus.

On our first day in Boston I find us a quaint little Bed and Breakfast near the bus stop. We stay there for a few weeks, but a patrol car starts driving too around it. I find another place, another motel, and the same happens. Are they following us? Do they know? This keeps happening over and over again. When we change after the sixth time I make a choice.
“Sarah.“
“Hey mom….“
“I know why you called.“ What?
“You do?“
“Yeah.“ This will be easy. I’m glad.
“I’ll call her preschool. Tell them she is being homeschooled, you should be fine.“
“Thank you mom.“
“You’re welcome, good luck.“ She hangs up. We are going to be fine.
That week I find another hotel. It is five miles north of the first one. The fifty-year-old owner takes sympathy on us and gives us the room half-prize. After a week, she gives me a job. Maids don’t get paid very much, but it is enough to survive. Millie stays at the room most days and sometimes she hangs out by the kitchen, giving advice to the cook on how to make perfect PB & J sandwiches. It is a simple life, but with no broken glass, crashes or knifes, it is perfect. Everyday I remember Steve. I’ve given up, I have always known better but for once in my life I like not having control over a part of my life. Still I promised myself not to call him. I have to let him move on, even though I know he won’t. The days go by, the weeks go by, and the months go by. Today it is January 23rd, exactly three months and a half after I watched the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever seen disappear through a glass window. I open the door to the room, Millie is there sleeping on the bed. I take off my uniform and change into something more comfortable. I look out the window, where everything is dark. I stare at the shadows created by the streetlamp in the corner. That is when my cell phone rings. I look at it. It is flashing a number, over and over again, but my eyes don’t believe it. Mom? It keeps flashing, and flashing…Dad? The little girl in the bed starts to squirm. I take the cell phone and open it, only to stop her from waking. I put it in my ear, not daring to say..
“Hello?“ I recognize that voice. It’s my mom. I haven’t talked to her in three months. I don’t hang up. After our last call I know she would only call because of an emergency. This must be important. “Sarah? Are you there?“ She has been crying, I can tell. Again?
“What did he do this time?“
She sighs. “You are there. How are you?“
“Mom, answer the question. What did he do?“
“Nothing he….“
“Mom….tell me…“
“He didn’t do anything.“ Why is she lying? “It’s not what he did. It’s what’s happened to him.“ What? “Sarah….“ Her voice turns serious. Too serious. “Your father’s been in an accident. A car accident.“ BUM. A stone falls in my stomach. My feet take me to the bed. I sit. There is only one question in my head.
“Is he dead?“ What do I want as an answer? Yes? No? Y…
“Yes.“
“What?“
“Yes, he’s dead.“ He’s dead. He’s dead. He’s dead. What?...What am I feeling? With no control a tear falls down my cheek, then another and another. I’m crying? Of course I’m crying, I loved my dad. He did cause a lot of problems but….well, he was my dad. In a flash, the memories from my first five years of life come to my mind. They aren’t many, but they are happy. I forgot them through the next years, but I know they will always be there, reminding me never to follow on his footsteps. After a few minutes of quiet, my brain moves on and I see all the bad things, the ugly years. With still a pang of sadness and longing in my heart I sense another feeling. This is something else. This is, relief. Never thought I’d say this, but I feel a little relieved. We are free. I wouldn’t see my dad again, but there would also be no more crashes. No more violence. No more knifes.
“Mom, I love you.“ That’s all she needs. I know she will be fine now. She even sounds better on the phone. Not drowsy or depressed, but strong. I guess all she needed was a jolt to wake up. My father’s death was that jolt, and now, she can move on. She waits for a moment and then hangs up. Like always, she doesn’t have to say it. This time only I did. I hang up and look at my little sister. She doesn’t need to know. Not yet. I will tell her tomorrow, in the morning. I stare at the phone and an idea comes into my head. I open it once more, dial a number I have never dialed. At least not in three and a half months. I wait and rub my eyes, taking the tears away with the tip of my fingers. It rings. One. Two. Three.
“Hello?“ His voice seems hopeful, not a bit surprised.
“Hey.“
“Sarah.“ I can hear his smile through the phone. “It feels so good to hear your voice.“
“Steve? I have some news. Something important.“
THE END





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