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Something ripped the comforter from my body. I awoke to the extreme cold of my ceiling fan on high. That hadn’t been on when I went to sleep. I thought?
“Wha?” I jerked into the fetal position to force body heat on my cold skin. My eyelids fluttered a bit but they shot open when I felt a forceful grip against my bicep to rip me from my bed. I stumbled, dragging my feet on the floor. I scaled my eyes against the flesh strangling form.
“Patrick? What are you doing? Where are we going?” I saw the lightning flash behind the tree house in my backyard. My mind still hadn’t awakened enough to register the torrents of rain pattering against our roof. Through a skylight in the corridor I saw twigs and branches quiver against the thick glass. Slowly my mind started to capture details. Patrick was now behind me, shoving me down the stairs. I usually had impeccable balance but I wasn’t allowed to be on one step long enough to descend to the next.
“What are you doing?!” I shouted at him.
“Be quiet.” He clamped his hand over my mouth and pressed against my back, sliding me across the wood floor in my socks. I looked around for anybody else in my family. There was nobody. I wanted to trust that my brother was protecting me against some awful harm. But then he carelessly shoved me against the wall as he put on his jacket hanging by the door. I had only enough time to pick myself up from the floor before he pulled the door open and both of us were outside into the black storm. He tripped me so I rolled down our concrete porch steps. I hit my head on the edge. I moaned and touched my skull. I could feel the sticky liquid and the wind blew the aroma of salt and rust against my senses. It made me dizzy. I lay there for barely a moment before Patrick stood over me, pulling me to my feet by my wrists. My brain jostled and I grew nauseous.
“Patrick, what are you doing?” Hot tears flowed down my cheeks. The buildup in my eyes only pressurized more in my chest. Never before had he hit me. This was more than a playful fight over the television remote.
“What the hell happened last night?! You being so disrespectful to Dad! He’s all we have now, thanks to you! If it wasn’t for your stupid volleyball, Mom would still be here! And you have the nerve to keep playing! When you come home from practice, don’t you think that it hurts everyone?! No one even wants you here!”
“You don’t even know what happened, Patrick! Don’t you dare tell me it’s my fault! She would want me!” I cried out. And I lied. It was my fault. I missed her so much.
“I-I want her back,” I whispered, tears staining my face.
“Suck it up, Kailey. Mom is NOT coming back. You of all people should know it best!” Patrick, now 16, towered over my father, sister, and I. He leaned down a little bit to scold me more, gripping my arms so I was forced to listen to this.
“I’m sorry! I know! Please stop! Try to understand!” The wind was wrapping us in a vortex of frigid, dusty air. My skin rippled with goosebumps and my breaths were shaky. Patrick only held me tighter, exhibiting no warmth. His blue eyes were little by little, turning, ever so slightly, the deepest shade of red. I had never been so terrified in my life. I was losing feeling in my body as his hands slowly wrapped around my throat. White flurries clouded my vision. The hair I once saw whipping in my face fell straight, or so I thought. I gasped for any air that could enter my windpipe.
“Everyone has dealt with it except for you! Everyone is sick of your moping. Get over your pitiful self and move on.” My little brother shook me intensely. I could feel my brain pulsing inside my skull.
“Stop it, Patrick!” I tried to push him away, panicking. My brain throbbed as I reached out for him. He was relentless, literally pulling the life out of me.
“Stop! STOP!” I mouthed. Any sound was scratchy. It rubbed against my esophagus painfully. Finally, my desperate attempts to push him off failed. My last intake of oxygen had left me. I moaned and went limp in his arms. My last sight was my little brother smiling at my demise.
I bolted awake, sweat clinging my hair to my forehead. I couldn’t take it anymore. I clasped my hands around my throat. Taking slow breaths, I lay my head back on my pillow. I held my hand to my forehead. Indeed, Patrick did hold a grudge against me, but I tried so hard to overcome it. It was hard to imagine a family with such hatred toward one of their own. Of course; I didn’t have to imagine it. It was all around me. I often considered running away but I couldn’t when I realized I had nowhere to go. None of my friends knew how badly I hurt and I certainly wasn’t going to tell them. I would rather spend the night at a friend’s house laughing about movies and swooning over sexy men. I’d rather pretend to be someone I wasn’t rather than whom I really was- a nobody with a happy family.