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Aunt Addie's Closet [Chapter 1]
Brynn, Chad, and Gwen sat, reading in their room at their mom’s small one story house. It was after midnight, and hardly anyone at their mom’s wild party had passed out yet. They were trying to concentrate on their books . Brynn was reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, Chad was reading Dune by Frank Herbert, and Gwen was reading Under a War-torn Sky by L.M. Elliot. It reminded her of a crash that she, Brynn, and Chad had been in.
Nobody had gotten out of that crash without something to show for it.
Gwen no longer has a right eye (she wears an eye patch) and a scar that cuts through the eye socket and down to her jawbone, Brynn has burn scars because she was the only one that they hadn’t gotten out after the car caught on fire, and Chad has a robotic leg from the knee down on his left leg because his leg was trapped and they couldn’t get it out in time, so they had to do a quick amputation.
The door started to open, and all three heads shot up at the same time. A guy clutching a girl close to him with his mouth shoved against hers walked into the room. He saw them and shouted oaths and curses at them before leading his girl out and slamming the door behind him.
“I think it’s time to go to the attic,” Brynn suggested quietly. Gwen and Chad nodded in agreement. Brynn, Chad, and Gwen were identical triplets; age thirteen as of that day.
All three of them grabbed their books and got off the bed. They put their shoes on so that they wouldn’t step on any heroin needles on their way to the attic. Gwen grabbed three flashlights and tossed one to Brynn and one to Chad. They all walked carefully to the door and peeked out. They had a clear shot to the middle of the hall where the string that opened the stairs to the attic hung down. If they hurried, they would make it without any hazards.
“Hold your breath,” Gwen cautioned. Brynn and Chad nodded, taking in a big gulp of air and holding it. Gwen did the same, and then opened the door. They rushed to the middle of the hall. Chad handed Brynn his flashlight as he reached up to open the attic door. He was the tallest and the only one that could reach it.
He grabbed the string and pulled down quickly. The squeak it make was inaudible under the noise of the party. Brynn and Gwen unfolded the ladder. Chad let them climb up first before he joined them. He pulled the ladder up and then closed the hatch. They all switched on their flashlights then sat in the beanbag chairs that they had sneaked up when their mom wasn’t watching, which was pretty much all the time.
They opened their books and started looking at the pages, but not reading them.
“I want to live with dad,” Brynn said loudly, in order to be heard above the noise.
“I’ll come with you,” Gwen said.
“I wouldn’t mind never seeing this dump again,” Chad put in.
Quite unlike their mother, their father was an army officer who helped train new recruits. His house was on the base. They had stables, blacksmiths, bunkers, cabins, mess halls, a few obstacle courses, and wide open space.
“I really miss Sundance and Rachel,” Chad lamented.
“I know how you feel,” Brynn comforted. “I miss Blizzard and Delilah.”
“I wouldn’t mind seeing Chevy and Shae, either,” Gwen added.
They fell silent. Surprisingly, the threesome dreaded the end of the party. They knew what was going to happen then. Everyone would leave, their mom would pass out on the couch, and they would have to clean up. They would pick up the heroin needles, empty and/or half-full beer bottles, shot glasses; they would throw away any clothes left behind, vacuum the carpet, sweep the floor, wipe up the spilled alcohol, take the trash out, and, last of all, air out the house. Then they would carry their mom to her bed and let her sleep the day away.
But this time was different.
Over the music, a drunk male voice shrieked, “Le’s split, man! Da po-po’s here!” Screams and shrieks filled the air.
Brynn, Chad, and Gwen could hear footsteps everywhere and they could here the police breaking down the door, the clicking of guns being cocked, and shouting, “Nobody move! Nobody move! The house is surrounded! We have weapons and they are loaded!” They could hear women sobbing. Someone had turned off the stereo and an eerie silence filled the house.
Bryn, Chad, and Gwen abandoned their books and quickly went over to the side of the attic the had a large vent looking down into the living room.
Women were on the ground crying, and the men were looking dazed with their hands up above their heads. Five or so cops came in and began patting people down. One guy's pants fell to his ankles because he wasn’t holding them. They couldn’t suppress a laugh. It gave them away.
The sheriff's head shot up toward the vent.
“Come down from the attic,” he ordered. They looked at each other with wide eyes. “Come down now,” the sheriff demanded.
“No! Brynn, Chad, Gwen!” they could hear their mother’s frantic voice. “Don’t come down!” They ignored her. Chad popped the vent up and set it aside. The hole was large enough for him to jump through.
He dropped from the vent and stepped aside so Gwen could come out, and Brynn followed from behind.
“No!” their mother cried. She was sobbing and someone had slapped handcuffs on her. The sheriff scrutinized them.
“Who’s house is this?” he asked. Gwen pointed to her mom.
“No, please! Don’t do this to me! I need you guys!” their mom went on.
“Is she your mother?”
“Yeah,” Brynn replied. The sheriff paused. By now, everyone had handcuffs on.
The sheriff addressed to officers. “Take them to the cars.” The police officers started dragging or leading people out to the cop cars. He turned back to the three of them.
“You kids got a dad?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Chad replied.
“Do you know where he is?”
“Yeah,” he said again. The sheriff sighed.
“Where is he, then?”
“He trains cadets on his property in Casper by the County Park.” The sheriff raised an eyebrow.
“‘Ah,’ what?” Gwen asked.
“I’m just curious. The arrangement seems...” he trailed off. Chad caught on to what he was saying.
“They were… young,” he explained. Stupid, he thought.
“Okay.” Sheriff Harrison looked at the house. “Well, I can guarantee you one thing,” he said.
“What’s that?” Brynn asked.
“You’re never coming back here. Ever.” Their hearts filled with hope.
“Meaning we’re going to live with our dad?” they asked.
“If he’ll take you. Otherwise you’ll have to go to foster care.”
“He’ll take us,” Gwen assured him quickly. Then she turned to Brynn and Chad and mouthed, Best birthday present ever! They smiled and nodded. The sheriff thought for a moment, and pulled out a notebook and a pencil.
“I’m not saying he won’t, but hypothetically, if you didn’t have a dad, do you have any other family?” They hesitated. He looked up from his notepad, waited a second, then cleared his throat.
“Oh, uh, yeah,” Gwen replied.
“And who would that be?” The three of them exchanged a quick glance.