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“Why? Why can’t mommy and daddy just get along?” My brother asked me, fear and worry heavily coating his words. His pleading light brown eyes locked onto mine, as if trying to find an answer in the depths of my deep brown ones. I hugged him closer as his shaken form clung to my worn sweater, absorbing his tears. I was trying to whisper small words of comfort…but the words never reached his ears as a loud thud resounded from just outside the door.

“No…please….not Paul…stay away from him!” I heard as my mother pleaded for my brother’s safety. “F*** off!” my step dad roared at her, making her whimper. Soon enough, he began to bang and pound at the door, fighting against the locks we’ve put on his door after the first time this happened. Many of them were locks and keys…but not matter how many locks we use, only one door stands between us and living hell…and I continued to listen to my mother’s pleas, and noticed that she was only trying to defend Paul.

Of course it’s only his safety she’s worried about… I thought bitterly. After a couple minutes I sighed quietly and looked down into his curly, dark brown hair. He’s only 4 years old…why did this have to happen to you? I asked myself as I hugged him gently.

Paul wailed in my arms and held on to me until his knuckles went white. His eyes were red from crying, but there was nothing that I could do to dry those tears. I couldn’t say that it would all be okay, I couldn’t tell him that our parents were having a disagreement, heck…I couldn‘t even promise him that everything would get better soon…I just couldn’t give him any affective words of comfort. I unwrapped an arm from around him, and he nearly went ballistic…clamping me in his arms tightly and burying his face into my shoulder, nearly screaming. Who could blame him? People did do this to him before, but left him when he needed them the most…

“Shhh, shhh…I’m not going to leave you,” I said as I rested a hand on his slim, nearly bony, shoulder “Just let me get something from my pocket” I cooed quietly into his ear. It took a few seconds, but he nodded his head and pulled back, only slightly. I pulled my iPod out of my pocket and started to unravel the headphones, just as my step dad’s roars became louder and more colorful. Paul kept whimpering in my arms as I laid him in hid bed, burying him in the covers. One of his hands still kept my sleeve in a death grip as I tried to pull away, so I rested myself right next to him. The bed creaked under our combined weight, and it may have been small for the both of us, but it looked as if he didn’t care. Reaching for the phone, I heard nothing but silence when I turned it on. The phone line was dead…and my cell phone was somewhere outside.

“Just shut your eyes and close your ears.” I whisper right next to his ear. “And all will be better by morning.” I say as I hand him the headphones. He puts them in his ears and I play a song. He’s always loved calming, soothing songs…It seemed to give him some form of comfort. Thankfully, it seemed to drown out the screams of his drunken father. He snuggled as close as he could into my arms as his whimpers quieted down. Then, his breathing evened out. I sighed heavily and looked at his expressionless face.

Paul knows pain…even though he doesn’t understand it yet… I thought as I looked at him. At least he was able to fall asleep…escaping into the depths of his childlike fantasies. As for me, I stayed up the whole night, listening intently for anything else that may be going on…once everything finally quieted down, the glow of my watch pierced the thick darkness as I checked the time….3:17am.

The rest of the night, I kept on repeating “And all will be better by morning.” as if it were some sort of mantra. These words were the only things keeping me sane….night after night…but that didn’t stop the occasional warm tears from sliding down my face…
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The next morning, birds sang in a peaceful harmony outside the window. The sun burned brightly high in the sky, sneaking into the darkness of Paul’s room through the window.

I don’t know when I fell asleep, but the only thing I know is that it was a dreamless night…just like the ones I have had for as long as I can remember. I’ve never dreamed, I’ve never had nightmares…all my nights were simply dark, even in the place where I was supposed to find freedom…

Am I so attached to reality that I cannot escape it? I asked myself as I tried stretching my sore limbs. Paul was still resting peacefully in my arms, far too gone to get back at the moment. His hair had become nothing more than a simple bush on his head, his clothes wrinkled and his cheeks stained from last nights tears. And yet, he can still sleep…as long as he is in the arms of somebody that he wants…needs by his side…

Sighing gently, I pry my sweater from his grip and slide out of the bed. My body is simply screaming “Go back, go back and rest!” but, there was something more pressing on my mind…

There was nothing but silence…

There were no more whimpers of mercy, there were no more screams of agony or shouts of anger…everything was sickly quiet…walking to the door, there was nothing but the subtle taps my bare feet made on the cold hardwood floor. As I was unlocking the door, that was the only thing echoing in the room. Paul didn’t stir, my mother made no sound…nor did my stepfather.

Reaching for the handle, I hesitated in grabbing it…so much fear was rushing through my veins. My heart pounded in my ears and my legs went weak as my head spun. Taking in a deep breath, I grabbed the cold handle with shaky hands. The door creaked as I slowly opened it, expecting the worst…hoping for the best. I opened the door, and everything was simply black…quietly tiptoeing to the nearest light-switch, I flicked it on…and my jaw dropped…

The hallway was in near shambles. The walls bore deep lines in them, as if some crazed animal tore through them, as if a knife dragged along the surface. All of the family photos lie shattered across the floor, the glass catching the dim light that shown above. Leaning down, I brushed away at the glass, and picked up the torn family photo…

My mother’s face was burned out of it…

That thought hit me like a ton of bricks. The blood froze in my veins as my hands shakily traced the missing piece of the picture. The blackened edges around the place her head was supposed to scare me, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it did…

Staring at the picture, it reminded me of what once was in this now broken family. The way my stepfather smiled, the way we all seemed just so happy, it was now a broken shard of the past. It seemed as if our happiness drifted away over the years…as if they were the petals falling off of a wilting rose. Everything seemed so much easier then… I began to chew on the inside of my lip. A sharp pain shocked me out of confusion as the taste of iron blossomed into my mouth.

A teardrop fell onto Paul’s round face, and only then did I realize that I was crying silently. I wiped away the tear tenderly, as if it really were on his face…if only those days could return…then he wouldn’t have to live within the walls of the prison we call “home.”

A loud crash shattered the silence that hung heavily in the air. The sound was familiar, as if it was a sound that I heard in the past. But I didn’t focus on that. Almost as if I was shocked with electricity, I jumped up and bounded down the stairs, heading toward the kitchen. The tiled floor was lined with utensils, plates and bowls…as if everything just flew out of the drawers and cabinets. Everything was white and silver…except for a few small pools of glistening crimson. My vision seemed to tunnel as I focused on the blade that dripped with red, as if it was bleeding…

Wait! Who’s is that?! I thought frantically as I made my way to the knife. I stepped between the fallen and cracked porcelain plates and knelt next to the serrated knife. I picked it up, the ring of the blade singing throughout the seemingly abandoned kitchen. I held it up closer to the light, and the liquid slid down the edge of the blade. There was no mistaking it now, all of this was blood…but…who‘s blood was it?

Reaching out for the counter, I grabbed it for support. All this was too much for one morning, I mean…it never got this serious after a quarrel like last night’s. It was never supposed to end like this…so why did it happen now? Walking past the kitchen cabinets, I walked to the back to go to the bathroom.

Okay, get a grip girl… I told myself. Everything will be alright, you just have to calm down… I thought as I pushed the bathroom door open. I just hope to God that Paul never would have to see this. Taking a step in, I feel a warm, wet feeling sensation at the bottom of my feet. Did somebody forget to turn off the sink earlier? I ask myself as I turn on the light…then my mind was wiped blank once again…

A pool of blood gathered around my feet as I went frigid. The world stopped spinning, time froze and everything else faded into nothing. The birds stopped singing, the trees stopped whispering in the wind, even my brain seemed to malfunction…

My mother seemed to lay in a broken heap on the floor, lifeless. I didn’t think about my next move, but I didn’t know what to do other than go by her side. I even missed the fact that my stepfather stood in the corner, watching every little detail with a devilish smirk on his face. I knelt down next to her and pulled her into my arms. The sickening feeling of warm blood soaking into my pajamas made me want to puke, but I wanted to see of she was still there…if there was still a sliver of hope…

Her hair was a matted mess, her eyes scarily bloodshot and her clothes were drenched in her own blood. There were wounds along her shoulder and stomach…stab wounds. But, she was breathing…if only shallowly. Her raspy breaths made me think that she was still clinging to life, even though she may have been way beyond help now…

She then smiled weakly and raised a pale, weak arm…then held my hand in her bloody palm. Everything was still and silent, I couldn’t hear what she said…but I was still able to read her lips…

Watch after Paul…I love……..you…..

That is all that she said…before shedding one final tear and drifting off into the unknown…more tears began to fall as I saw what little glow she had in her eyes fade away…

Then, the birds finally began singing again, and the branches of trees began to scratch at the walls of this prison once more. I watched as she died in my arms, and I couldn’t have done anything, not even from the start. I put her down as I began to chew on my inner lip, the wound I made earlier getting bigger and bigger…and yet, I couldn’t feel anything…not anymore…I began to cry a little more vocally as I began punching the nearest wall…taking out so much pent up anger, confusion, and sadness on it…

A hoarse laugh began to echo in my ears, making me stop and turn around. My stepfather stood there, shoulders hunched as his jet black hair covered his downcast eyes. His broad shoulders began to shake as his laughter became louder and louder, until he threw his head back and began laughing like an escaped psycho ward patient.

Once he finally calmed down, he looked at me…his eyes looking as if they were coals instead of their usual brown. I began to step back as he advanced toward me. Only then did I realize the full extent of the situation. His gray tank top was spattered with blood, he had scratch marks along his forearms and…he held a knife…

I ran up and bolted out the door, running away as he howled with hearty laughter. Is he actually enjoying this?! my head screamed. I jumped over the fallen dishes and bolted my way to the door, I just needed to escape. Grabbing the handle, it was locked…

Why, why, why, why, WHY?!!? Why can’t I open the door?! I asked myself as I tried to open the door, all of my attempts ending in vain. I turned around and tried running, but he was already behind me…waiting.

“Now, now, now…where do you think your going?” he asked me in a near singsong voice. I just stared at him, contemplating my next move. I decided to try and run around him. I took a deep breath and dashed forward, trying to push past him. He caught the collar of my shirt and yanked me back, the hem pressing against my throat, making it hard for me to breathe.

My gut churned at the thought of what he’d do to me now…

A hard sting burned at my right cheek, as if I was slapped. I fell to the ground as he stood tall in front of me…my head was fuzzy as my vision swam…I lie helpless…at the mercy of my stepfather no less….

“This game of cat and mouse is over…ALEXIS!” he bellowed as he raised the knife into the air, then digging the blade into my shoulder…

~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Alexis! Wake up! Please…wake up…” I heard Paul whisper harshly.

I sat up quickly and my hand shot to my shoulder, thinking that I should stop the bleeding…but…there was no blood…only the phantom feeling of the blade…

I began to look around, but everything was still dark…the sun hadn’t risen, the birds haven’t started to sing yet…it was as if everything was a…dream. As I finally began to gain my senses, I was covered in a cold sweat. My tee shirt and jeans stuck to my skin, and Paul was holding onto my arm once again, shaking like a leaf in the wind.

“You…you scared me sister…” he said quietly as he buried his face into my sleeve. I sighed heavily as I checked my watch once again. 6:39am. Wiping my forehead quickly, I gained a hold of reality once again. The doors were locked, we were on Paul’s bed…but I could hear a faint argument downstairs this time. Looking at Paul, he had a worried look coating his eyes as he clung to my arm.

I smiled weakly and took my arm out of his grasp, pulling him into a tight hug. He mumbled something into my shoulder, something I didn’t quite understand. I pulled him back and took his face gently into my hands.

“What was that?” I asked quietly. He crawled up onto my lap and looked me straight in the eyes. He took my hands and held them tenderly and then tightened his hold on them. His hands were shaking slightly, and icy cold…

What’s going on?

“Shut your eyes,” he said as he took his hands away from mine, now using one hand to cover each eye. “and shut your ears” he said, taking his hands and covering my ears now. “And all will be better by morning.” he said as his voice cracked…his small arms then snaked themselves around my neck, in a grip that told me that he didn’t want to let go…then, I felt the warm tears that crawled out of his eyes as he buried his face into my neck…

I wrapped my arms around his waist and returned the hug. I gently nuzzled my nose into his hair.

“And all will be better by morning…” I repeat once more…….

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Once again, Paul dozed off in my arms…but fears kept my eyes open. No matter how much time passed, no matter how much I wanted to sleep once again, the nightmare I had kept me conscious, awake and aware. The fight had died down, but my thoughts were far from over. My mind was racing…

Eventually, the sun finally rose…the birds were singing…even Paul’s hair was a mess…it was all déjà vu…I just hope that the events don’t happen the same way that they did in my dream…it felt all to real…I slid my hand out of Paul’s grip, and he snuggled into his pillow, probably imagining that it was me. That simple thought made a small grin tug at the corner of my lips.

Unlocking the door, I grabbed the cold handle and twisted it. I quietly opened the door, swung it open and stepped out into the hallway. When I saw that nothing was really out of place, I let out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding. The family photo still hung on the wall, there were no marks on the wall. Heck, even the measuring chart we use to keep track of Paul’s growth still was taped to the wall.

The house was…simply untouched. As if last night was simply…a nightmare, for the both of us…I just hope that it wouldn’t happen…ever again…
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It has been nearly a week since the argument that happened between my parents. I was glad that the whole ordeal ended, but it was unusual for them to be ignoring each other like they are now. Paul’s late night episodes seemed to be put on hold, so I was all alone in my room. The silence was one that could make nearly anybody go mad.

The days seem to pass by, in some sort of daze…where everything seemed to be a simple routine…and the days begin to meld together.

One night, that routine broke…I don’t know what got into me, what made me do what I did that night. It was supposed to be a simple one time deal, but that one night…turned into a nightly addiction. One that I wasn’t supposed to fall into…but at the time, it seemed inevitable. So I did one regrettable thing…I simply gave into the temptations…all in an attempt to drown out the voices that invaded my mind…

I drank.

What that R&R gave me was simply this: a kind of “peace” that I haven’t had in ages. It was something that blurred my mind and the thoughts that I hated to drown in. it was simply a temporary pause of my mind…one that made everything seem tolerable…it was an escape that I felt like I needed more and more as each day passed….

And when everything goes black…this is the place where I want to stay…..





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