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Abused and Empty - Part 1
What do you think of when you hear the word "abuse"? I think of a drunken mother or father beating their child with a belt and breaking bottles over their heads. I was wrong, abuse isn't limited. It comes in "all shapes and sizes". I realized this one warm March evening.
Aidan. That's my name. I've always hated it because it sounds like a boy name. It means "The little fiery one". That doesn't suit me, I'm not fiery, just impulsive. I can't even stand up to my own mother. I'm worthless, unloved and stupid.
These are the things running through my mind as my mom takes another whack at me with the plastic vacuum cleaner extension. It hurts, but I try not to show my emotions. I don't want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that she hurt me. Little by little my endurance becomes weaker and I finally yelp. Tears start streaming down my face as she hits me harder, yelling at me to "shut up" when I let a whimper escape my lips. I already feel the bruises forming on my bottom. When she finally stops she calls me a "Rotten, ungrateful little b****."
This was the punishment for slamming my door, only I didn't slam it. My window is open and the wind blew it. Of course, she didn't believe me. I hope and pray that the neighbors heard and called the police, or Child Protective Services or something, anything!
There I waited, on my bedroom floor, for someone to rescue me. No one came. No one cared. I was alone in a house full of people, a world full of people, hoping that someone would come and take me away from here, but no one came. I was empty; no longer able to feel anything. It's like my emotions disappeared behind some wall that I couldn't climb over to retrieve my once passionate soul. It's all gone. Nothing is in my chest. I feel nothing, and it scares me.
I've been laying on my floor for hours now. It's dark and it sounds like everyone has gone to bed. I'm sore, achy, I don't want to move. This is my chance though, my only chance to escape. I slowly get up off the floor searching for my book-bag. I empty its contents and load my clothes into it. I walk quietly to the bathroom and retrieve what I think is necessary.
Out the window I go, running. Running has always calmed me, it soothes me, it clears my head. I feel like I'm untouchable, unstoppable, steady and strong. My legs move at an increasing rate. My heart's beating loudly in my ears; that's the only thing that reminds me that I do have something in this empty chest of mine. I'm running; running away from my problems. A temporary escape of the hell I just went through.
Headlights. Finally, I see headlights as I jog down the highway. I stick out my thumb and hope this truck stops. I sigh as it passes me, but soon realize it slowed down and stopped, waiting for me. I open the door and climb in.
"Thanks." I hear myself saying.
"No problem. Where ya heading?" asks a deep voice to my left.
I turn to face a teenager, probably around 17.
"No where, everywhere, anywhere." I fumble.
He laughs. It's a nice laugh; he seems friendly enough.
"Well, I'll tell ya what, you can ride with me for however long you like. I'm not going anywhere in particular; just driving to clear my head."
We drive in silence for about thirty minutes.
"When exactly do you plan on turning around?" I ask.
"Never." was his reply.
"Hm." I thought. Simple enough.
I watched the trees passing by, wishing I could run beside them, but knowing I wouldn't get very far. I wondered why I felt so comfortable and safe next to this stranger. He could be a killer for all I knew. These were my thoughts as I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up with a start and screamed.
"Hahahaha! You should of seen your face!" The boy from the truck says.
I glare at him and start planning my revenge.
He rubs the back of his neck and smiles sheepishly.
"Sorry, you wouldn't wake up so... I figured I would try to scare you into waking up."
"Ah. I understand. I'm a heavy sleeper." I smile innocently and he grins.
"But don't do it again." My face turns into another glare. He just laughs and starts walking away.
We're at a rest area, because he needs to sleep and I can't legally drive. Of course, he's going to ask some questions. I roll my eyes.
"What's your name?" He asks.
"Next question please." I say.
He laughs. "No, I think I have a right to know your name. I mean, you have been tagging along, in my truck, for more than twelve hours. I deserve a name."
"Fine." I grumble. "It's Aidan. Don't laugh, I know it's a boy name."
"I think it's a pretty name. It's like the name Casey; it goes both ways."
I sigh. "What's your name?"
"Kaden. Most people just call me Kay." he replied.
"Hm.. Kaden." I tested the name out on my lips. "I like it."
I lay in the bed of Kaden's truck, thinking over the events of last night. I don't know why, but I feel drawn to Kaden. Even though I haven't known him very long, I feel like he'd protect me. He has that edge that makes him seem protective of anything that he comes in contact with. I'm happy he seems that way; I like knowing someone would protect me, even if they haven't known me more than a few hours.
I guess I had been thinking for a long time because the stars had come out. I found myself making wishes, looking for the Big Dipper, and half humming, half singing Face Down by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
I soon realized that I wasn't singing alone. Kaden had joined in; he has a pretty voice. He seemed to understand, through that song, why I ran away. He had something about him, something I couldn't quite place. For some reason, I felt like he was running for the same reason I was.
"How old are you?" I ask in a whisper.
"18. What about you?"
"16." I say.
A long comfortable silence passes before I ask, "Why aren't you in college? Or working?"
Another silence. "Well, my dad abused me, and I ran away at 15. Got tired of him pushing me around. I stole his truck, but I guess no one ever noticed because he was always so drunk. They probably figured he dumped it somewhere and forgot where it was. I've been on the move since then. Floating from place to place, doing odd jobs to make money. No one will hire me because I only have this truck to live in. I don't mind though, I'd rather be on the move with odd jobs than be restrained by a job and bills."
"What about your mother?" I ask.
"She left when I was 5; I'm not sure why. That's when my dad became an alcoholic."
I felt so bad knowing what Kaden had been through. This was a situation you see on T.V. and you hear about on the news. This is what I think about when I hear the word "abuse".
"What about you? Why did you run away?" he asked.
I don't know what compelled me to do so, but I told Kaden what had happened the night before. He seemed to understand.
"Gosh, I'm sorry." he said.
"Ha. Don't be. You had to worse than I did." I said.
"I don't think so. I had my aunts who would take care of me most of the time. It sounds like you had nobody."
"I still do have nobody." I whispered.
"No you don't Aidan. You have me."
I smiled and leaned my head on his shoulder. "Thanks Kaden."
He put his arm around my shoulder and we watched the stars for a little while longer.
"Kaden?" I say.
"You have me too."
He smiled and kissed my forehead.
"Aidan, I have a feeling this is the start of a beautiful friendship."
I realized I have never been so... so... full ( The opposite of empty. ) being here with Kaden. I knew, just from a few hours, that we'd be great friends. And.. maybe, more than friends. I glanced up at the stars one last time, made a wish, and feel asleep beside my new best friend. The only person in the world who seemed to understood the word "abuse".