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A Life Worth Saving
The lights, blue, white and red, flashed behind me. I dropped my bag and ran.
I couldn’t run fast enough, the cops were closing in on me quickly. One reached out to grab me but I jumped at the last second as he scraped the air with his fingers. I turned around to laugh and then ran into a wall. Damn, that hurt. Of course I would run into a wall. I cringed as I rubbed my head. Two police officers snagged my shirt, hoisting me up off the ground and pulled my hands behind my back, locking handcuffs onto my wrists.
“You do realize what you were doing right?” One officer, Officer Spencer, said to me. “Vandalizing the wall of a bank! Cassandra, I’m not going to take you in, but this is the last time you got it? You have to get it together,” Officer Spencer tells me.
Officer Spencer was a friend of my mothers. Her first love actually, until she met dad. He tries to be the father I used to have. Spencer’s face is clean shaven. His hair was greying, dark brown, which I sometimes wished I had, then I would be normal. No, I don’t want to be normal. I have to do this for Lizzy and mom. Their memories, they need to be shared with this world, I thought.
Spencer opens the back of his patrol car,tells me to get in and then says to the other officer “Keep her arrest off record, alright? I don’t want chief to find out about this.”
The officer nods and gets in his car, driving away. Spencer gets in, and asks “How’s school going?”
“Fine.” I respond monotonously.
“Cassie, you know that I care about you right?”
“I guess.” I answer.
“God Cassie! Your mom asked me to look after you when she died, do you just not care about her wishes anymore?”
I stayed silent.
“Cassie, I know you miss your mom and Lizzy, but you aren’t honoring their memories by going out and doing crazy s***. Think about that okay?” He tells me.
As I sat in the back of the car, listening to the police scanners, I ran my fingers through my unbraided rainbow hair. I thought back to the first time I dyed it rainbow colored.
“What did you do to your hair?!” yelled my father, pointing at my newly dyed hair. He was sitting on the couch, holding a sick Elizabeth in his arms. She was sleeping so soundly that she didn’t even make a peep when he started to yell at me .
“Oh, it’s not that big of a deal dad. It’s just hair. The lady at the salon said she loved it and she gave me a discount because she had so much fun doing it.” I said to him, as I walked into the kitchen.
He must’ve set Lizzy on the couch, because he was in the kitchen, at my throat instantly.
“Your mother is dead and your sister is dying! And all you can think about is dying your hair a ridiculous rainbow color?!” he slaps me, “‘Get it together Cassandra, or so help me you’ll go straight to an orphanage so I don’t have to put up with you anymore!”
That first day my sister realized she was dieing and I told her why I dyed my hair a brilliant rainbow color, how it was to honor mom. Later, I realized I had also dyed my hair it’s extraordinary colors because of her, because of Lizzy. I felt a tear escape my eye as Spencer turned the corner onto my street. I could already see my father standing on the curb, a beer in his hand. Spencer parked the car, letting me out saying,
“Cassie, I’m always here for you. Call if you need anything, okay?”
I nod my head and walk towards my father.
“Thank you Spencer.” he says gruffly, pulling me towards the house.
Once inside my father grabbed another beer from the fridge.
“Out again? What was it this time? Drugs? Drinking?’ he asked as anger flashed through his eyes.
“Vandalized a bank.” I smirked.
He walks towards me and I brace myself. He punches me in the mouth and I spit blood from my lips.
“Go to your room.” he tells me. So I did.
The next morning, I woke up relieved to find the house was empty. As I got dressed for school, my hair perfectly coordinated with my outfit, showing first the blue’s, green’s and purple’s; then the rest of the brilliant colors. The warm hues of red, pink, orange and yellow. I wore black jeans, a navy blue shirt with a pretty cool muscle car on it, and boots. Not bad Cassie. I thought. I left the house, not bothering to lock the door, I could get in but my idiot father couldn’t, especially drunk.
I turned the corner of my street and a black Dodge Ram almost runs me over.
“Jesus Christ! You idiot! Can you not see that I was walking?!” I screamed at the driver.
The driver gets out and walks up to me.
“I am so sorry! Are you hurt? I should’ve been watching where I was going. I’m sorry.” he says.
The “He” in question was tall, about six foot, he had dark chocolate colored hair and brown eyes. He wasn’t built but he wasn’t completely skinny like a freaking twig. In all honesty he was pretty cute.
“It’s fine. I’m not hurt, but watch where you’re going okay?” I tell him.
He scratched the back of his neck, nodded as I turned and continued walking. It wasn’t but maybe a minute before he pulled up next to my walking form.
“Hey! Where you going?”
I turned to look at him. “School, where are you going?”
He grinned at me. “Same, you want a ride?”
I looked at him slightly baffled. Why would he want to give me a ride? Could he be some kind of crazy serial killer? I ask myself.
As if reading my mind he said “I promise I’m not a mass murderer.”
I thought for a second, then nodded. Couldn’t hurt. Besides, if he does kill me then my father will stop beating the hell out of me.
I climbed into his truck, which was surprisingly clean. It smelled of cinnamon and vanilla, mixed with the faint smell of cigarettes.
“I’m Sebastian Williams.” he tells me, holding his hand out for me to shake.
I shake it, saying “Cassie Reyes. Nice to meet you Sebastian.”
He smiles and starts to drive.
An awkward silence filled the air as we drove on towards the school. I was the first to speak up. “So, uh, how old are you?” I asked. Wow Cassie. How old are you? Really? I thought to myself.
He laughs saying, “I’m seventeen. What about you?”
As we continue to talk, it got easier and easier. The conversation went on until we got to school and we had to go our separate ways.
Throughout the first part of the day, during every class, I couldn’t wait to see Sebastian again. In my mind, I had given him the nickname of “Bass” and I hoped that he would like it. Being around him I forgot about the life I led; the vandalizing, the drinking, the beatings, especially the beatings.
At lunch, he finally asked me “So what’s up with your rainbow hair?”
I smiled at him, “It’s a long, depressing story. Honestly, it’s a tribute to someone.”
“I’m sorry Cassie. But it’s great that you’ve kept up with your tribute for so long.”
“Yeah. I guess I just hope that the person, well actually people, are happy with the person that I am.”
He looks at me with sadness in his eyes “If I were them, I would be.”
Later that day, as Bass was driving me home, i saw my father’s car parked in the driveway.
“Oh s***!” I yelped, crouching down in the passenger seat. “Drive around the corner and stop behind those trees”
“Why? What’s wrong?” Sebastian asks, worry crowding his voice.
“My father, he’s home and if he sees me get out of some strange guy’s truck, he’s going to kill me.”
“Ha. Is he that protective?” he laughs.
“Um, yeah?” My voice failed to sound convincing.
“Cassie? Did your dad do that to your lip?” he asked, pointing to my newly scabbed over mouth.
Sadness fills my voice and a tear escapes my eyes as I say,
Sebastian’s face flashed with anger as he put the vehicle in drive and peeled away from the curb.
“I’m not letting you go back there. You’re going to stay at my house for a few days.” he tells me.
I immediately was relieved, then terrified. “Sebastian you can’t! He’ll realize that I’m gone and he really will kill me, like literally! Take me home now! Please!” I scream at him, but he didn’t listen, just kept driving.
For thirty minutes we argued about taking me home but in the end Bass won the fight. When he pulled up to a beautiful mansion, I say mansion because believe me the place was huge. It was an incredible, victorian style house on the outside and was so big that it probably had at least twenty rooms.
“Bass what is this place? It’s incredible!” I tell him.
He chuckles, “Bass? Hm, I like it. It’s a new nickname, no one’s ever called me that before. But anyway, this is my home and you can stay here as long as you like. I want you to be safe Cassie.”
I smile at him, “Alright, can we go inside?”
“Sure.” he says as he we walk towards the door. Suddenly he grabs my hand, softly and carefully, almost as if I might shatter at his touch. With his hand in mine, for the first time in what felt like forever, I feel safe.
As soon as he opened the door I feel welcomed, the front entry already gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, and it’s comforting. As he set down his stuff from school, I looked around at the photos on the wall. Some were of Bass and others had a man and a woman who looked almost exactly like Sebastian. One picture caught my eye. An image of a young girl. She looked happy in the photo, even without her hair. She smiled brightly at the camera, holding a doll in her hand.
“That’s my sister Emily. She had cancer when she was young. You’ll get to meet her when she comes home.” Bass tells me.
I try to smile but I fail and start to cry.
“Cassie? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” he asks me worriedly.
“N-nothing. I-i’m fine.” I lie.
“Bull. Talk to me.” he demands.
I sigh and begin to speak, telling him my story.
“When I was sixteen my mom died in a car accident; a drunk driver hit her. After she died, about a month later, my father and I found out my sister had cancer. It was so bad that the doctors gave her six months to live. That was the first time I dyed my hair like this.” I pause to take a breath. As I was talking, I had been looking at the ground. But when I stopped, I looked up at Sebastian. He was watching me carefully, holding a breath. I started again,
“My mother loved rainbows, she thought they were the most beautiful thing in the world. She loved all the colors, every single hue and streak between the clouds. My sister had adopted the love when she was about two years old. She loved them ever since. That’s why I dyed my hair the way it is. To honor my mother, and later my sister. When I came home after dying my hair, my father hit me for the first time. It was the beginning of a year of beatings. My sister lasted those six months, and for a while we thought she might actually beat the disease, but we were wrong. Two weeks into the seventh month, the cancer reached her brain, killing it. My father was the one who made the call to pull the plug on her heart. The day she died was the seven month anniversary of my moms car accident.” I finished with a sigh.
We stayed silent for a moment but then Sebastian closes the space between us, wrapping me in his arms and hugging me tightly.
“I’m so sorry Cassie. That’s awful. You lost your mom and sister within the span of seven months and your dad started to beat you while your sister was dying. I’m so sorry. Nobody should ever have to go through what you did.”
I hug him back, inhaling his scent. The same smell that was in his truck floods my nose. Thinking back to the smell, I pull away asking,
“Can I have a cigarette? I’m dying for some nicotine.”
He smiles at me saying “Sure,” as he walks into the rest of the house and I follow him.
When we reach a door that leads outside, I follow. He walks over to a table and picks up a pack of cigarettes, Marlboro black, red shorts.
“I hope you like strong flavor.” he tells me.
I nod, taking one and lighting it. I inhale deeply, letting the smoke fill my lungs.
“I know, it’s bad for someone whose sister died of cancer to be smoking, but it calms my nerves.” I tell Bass.
He nods and we sit in silence just smoking our cancer sticks, killing our lungs just a little more.
After smoking we walk inside, while I told Sebastian,
“I need to go back and deal with my alcoholic, abusive father. I promise, I’ll be okay.”
He whips around quickly and walks towards me.
“Cassie, I’m not going to leave you there with him. You can go get your stuff and get out. I’ll wait outside for you, but I’m not going to leave you.”
“Okay, okay. I won’t stay.” I answer him.
Just then a woman walks in on the phone with someone. She is pretty, she looks like Sebastian. Same dark brown hair, same chocolate brown eyes and she was just as tall.
Once she was off the phone she smiles at Bass.
“Sorry Sebastian, I’ve had a long day at work and my idiot boss just called saying that he needs me back at work. When’s mom supposed to be home?”
So this is his sister. Her hair is short and choppy, indicating she had a relapse recently, causing her to cut her hair short and why it is thin in some spots.
“Um, I’m not sure. Oh, by the way, this is Cassie. She’s going to stay with us for a while; no I haven’t talked to mom or dad about it. I will though, don’t worry.” Sebastian tells her.
His sister, Emily, looks at me carefully; analyzing my clothes, my hair, my body. With her eyes narrowed she says,
“Cassie can I talk to you in private?”
I nod my head and follow her into an office and watched her as she shut the door behind me and turned to face me.
“Why do you need to stay here? Parents aren’t home?”
“Not exactly.” I say quietly.
She looks at me expecting an answer. I sigh,
“My dad is beating me and your brother is insisting that I stay here, honestly I can’t go back there again. I only plan to get clothes and come back.”
She looks at me with sadness and anger in her eyes and then tells me to go ahead and go.
Sebastian and I drive across town and when we arrive I tell Sebastian,
“Look! He isn’t home now.”
“Run inside and grab only what you need and get out; I’ll watch for his car. Go!”
I run inside and head straight to my room. As soon as I open the door I see my father standing by the window. He turns around and smiles wickedly at me.
“So, where have you been?”
“No where. I just came to get something and I’m going to see Lizzy, well Lizzy’s grave. Um, where’s your car?” I ask carefully.
He must’ve decided to humor me because he responds “I let a friend borrow it. Who is that outside in the red truck? Looked like a boy.”
I gulped a little and held my breath.
“Oh yeah, I know all about your little friend outside. How he picked you up this morning, how he drove you home but you didn’t come inside. Instead you went to his house, little tramp, probably got yourself pregnant.” he paused and looked at me as I inched my way toward the door.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he asks, pulling me back into the corner, away from my escape.
“I’m not going to stay here and take your beatings. Mom and Lizzy would be ashamed of the person you’ve become.” and as soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I messed up.
He put his hand around my throat “Shut up! Your mother and sister would be happy that I’m keeping you in line. Don’t you ever say a damn thing about your mother or your sister, do you understand?”
I try to nod my head as he grabbed my hair and I screamed.
“And if you ever try to leave, I will hunt you down and kill you.” He punched me in the jaw and threw me into a wall.
I started to lose consciousness as he started to walk out of the room. Then Sebastian walked in as my father was leaving.
“Oh God Cassie. I knew I shouldn't have let you come back. Don’t worry I got you. Let’s get you back home.”
“I don’t think so. She’s not going anywhere, especially with you. Get away from her before I make you.” My father tells Bass.
“I’m taking Cassie home and she’s going to leave this place. “Father” is a name you haven’t earned, you’re just a child with a temper. And I would sure enjoy making you leave Cassandra alone.” Sebastian threatens him.
I was still awake when I saw Bass, walking towards me and my father practically run towards him, with a knife, that came out of nowhere.
“Bass!” I screamed as he turned around and shot my father in the shoulder, with a gun that also came from nowhere.
After that,Bass picked me up and I passed out in his arms.
When I wake up, I find myself laying in a bed with blankets wrapped around me; I opened my eyes a little bit more, despite the major migraine the light gave me. I looked around to see a chair next to the bed and a sleeping Bass in it. I smiled at him. He was snoring slightly, and his nose was crumpled up in a face that was full of sadness and pain.
“Bass? Hey, wake up.” I whispered to him, but he didn’t move.
I tried to wake him again, but still he didn’t make a peep.
Then someone opened the door, it was his sister.
“Oh! You’re awake! Good. I’m Emily by the way, we met yesterday. Here, take some of this, it’ll help with the pain.” she says, handing me a pill bottle that read,
Take one every four hours for pain
“Where did you get this?” I ask skeptically.
“My mom is a doctor. She wrote you the prescription when Sebastian came in with you in his arms and your jaw was all bruised and your head bleeding a bit. Just take it okay?” Emily tells me.
I nod my head and take one in my hand. It was small and white, I thought it looked a lot like Tylenol so I downed it with some water.
“Thanks. How long have I been out?” I ask as I look around the room. I look at the clock on the night stand that read 8:30 a.m.
“Only about a day. You’ve been in and out, but I guess you don’t remember that. Sebastian hasn’t left that chair since you got here. I think he was worried you wouldn’t wake up. He seems to care about you a lot, even if you’ve only been friends for a day.”
I glance at him as he slept.
“He saved me.” I tell her, “I didn’t ask him to, but he did. And I will forever be grateful. I don’t know how I’m supposed to thank him.”
She smiles at me “Why don’t you ask him yourself? Looks like he’s about to wake up. I’ll let you two talk alone.”
She says and walks out of the room just as Bass was waking up.
“Hey, you’re awake now.” He smiles at me sleepily, “How do you feel?” he asks.
I grab his hand “Sebastian thank you. You saved my life and I can’t even thank you enough for what you’ve done for me.” I tell him.
He smiles at me again and kisses my cheek “Anytime Cassie. I’m going to go get food. I’ll send my mom up here to check on you, make sure you’re okay.”
“Alright.” I say as he walks out the door.
Later as I lay in the bed, I think back to my mother and sister; I think about all that I’ve been through and decide that meeting Bass was the best thing that happened in a long time and I can’t wait to tell Spencer about him. I just hope that my father goes to jail for a very long time for what he’s done. I fall asleep for the first time, at peace and I realize that I’m happy again and not afraid for the next day.