In a normal household you would have a father, a mother, and then the children. But this was anything but a normal household with my grandparents, my three older sisters, and then me. I never thought much about it at the time about how much my life was different than others. I didn't have to at first, but as I got older I realized that something was majorly different. My life and my family wasn't like those you saw on the TV or even like the families that live down the street. Eventually, my little family stopped feeling like a family to me. The older I got the more I learned about my family. Our dad was off doing whatever and our mom had died. Because of this, we lived with our grandparents. I longed for the families I saw on TV but I knew I could never have it no matter how much I wished or prayed. I felt alone, that is, until I met Maddye.
It had started like any other day. Upon being woken up by my grandma, the first thing I would see was her walking over to the closet to find me something to wear. After helping me get dressed, she would lead me out of the room, through the living room, and down the stairs to the kitchen to give me some toast with strawberry jelly. After eating, I would go to the living room to watch TV with my sisters. When the clock showed that it was 7 am, my sister Lauren would go outside on the porch to watch for the bus. Fifteen minutes later, Lauren opened the door and told us that the bus was at the top of the hill. When we heard this, Cassie, Katy, and I followed Lauren out of the house, off of the porch, on the walkway from the house the the sidewalk. There we stood as we watched the bus come down the road, stopping occasionally, until finally stopping in front of us with a screech of the brakes.
In the mornings we would have to cross the street to get on the bus. My sisters never allowed me to go before them or after them, I was always in the middle. When crossing the street, I would have at least one sister in front and behind me. We didn't have assigned seats so finding a seat was a little chaotic since we were one of the lasts stops. It was loud, very loud, I could hardly hear my sisters telling me to walk forward because I had stopped dead in my tracks. I never liked sitting with anyone, none of my friends rode my bus. Normally I would find an empty seat, sit next to the window, and place my bag next to me so no one sat there. But today there were no empty seats towards the front and I wasn't allowed to go to the back. I saw a girl that I didn't recognize sitting by herself. She was reading a book so that meant she wouldn't talk to me. I was shy so I didn't like talking to new people.
She didn't look up when I sat down next to her. I was happy because that meant she wasn't interested in talking to me just as I wasn't interested in talking to her. When my sisters sat down, the bus started moving again. I started going over the bus route in my head. We turn left first, pick up a girl up, then turn right, pick a boy up, a stop light, go straight, turn left, turn right and then the school. I looked over at the girl and saw that she was still reading, my curiosity overruled my shyness.
¨What's your book called?¨ I asked.
She looked up, startled, and showed me the cover, ¨Warriors. It's the first book in the series. Its really good.¨
The cover showed wooded area with a fire red cat sitting, with the word ¨Warriors¨ in big, yellow letters at the top. Underneath it in smaller, white letters that said ¨Into the Wild.¨
¨What's it about?¨
¨A cat goes into a forest to discover that there are different clans of cats. The clans all live together following rules that was created before their time that is called the warrior code. The cat becomes a part of one of the clans and helps them through trouble.¨
¨It sounds interesting.¨
¨It is. I'm Maddye by the way. What's your name?¨
¨Why haven't I seen you before?¨
¨I moved here last year but my grammy usually drives me to school.¨
¨Oh, what grade are you in? I'm in the 1st grade.¨
¨I'm in the 4th grade.¨
And thus the conversation continued as we got to know each other better. By this time we were at the elementary school but we were already friends. That was the start of our friendship. Maddye, a girl older than me by three years, a girl that is also shorter than most, with long brown hair, and who was cool and nice, was my friend. Little did I know that this girl with the book about cats would become my closest friend. She understood about my family and was there for me when I needed her. She was a better friend for me than I probably deserved. I still feel that way about our friendship. Her family accepted me immediately and I felt for the first time that I had people there for me. Sure I knew that my sisters would always be there for me, but I never felt like I could go to them in need of help.
I was at home when it happened. It wasn't the first time this had happened, it wasn't the first time I was home when it happened, and it was not the last time. Katy and Lauren didn't get to me in time. They didn't get me to the back porch fast enough. If only they had caught me before I could witness what would happen. I walked up to the screen door and looked out. There he was, he had his boot in his hand, but his boot soon left his hand. It flew through the air and ended up hitting Cassie, who was in the front yard.
Why isn't anyone helping her? Why wont they stop him? How could they just allow it to happen? How could he do this to Cassie? Why did he hate her? Why wasn't my grandma helping her? Didn't my grandparents love their granddaughter? These thoughts were a fire that wouldn't go out. I heard the screaming louder than ever, seen what went along with the screaming for the first time. The difference was that it wasn't at night. The sun was still shining a little, just enough to see what was happening. But there was no one there to see it, they were all inside their homes. Can they not hear what's going on? Do they even care? Why won't they come outside to stop this? The fire spread to the other parts of my mind until that's all I could think about.
Katy and Lauren grabbed me and took me through the living room, down the stairs into the kitchen and dining room, out the back door onto the little enclosed back porch. The images played on repeat in my mind until it took over. The fire was burning me alive and there was no escape from it. The boot leaving from his hand, it hitting Cassie, me not able to do anything, Cassie not being able to escape. They tried their best to protect me, to shield me, to calm me down, trying to limit what I heard. Their attempts never worked. Even when the screaming in the real world stopped, there was nothing they could do about the screaming that played on repeat in my mind. The screaming that hurt me the most, the screaming that I could never escape. All I could do was sit in the fire and let it burn me alive.
There was a huge difference in how my grandfather had treated me from my sisters. I was afraid that I would do something to upset him. I was afraid that one day he would go too far during one of his outbursts and that he would seriously hurt one of them. I carried this fear around with me because I thought that all families were like this. I didn't know any better despite being around Maddye's family. We never spoke of what happened after and we never told anyone. It had cause me to believe that it happened to everyone, that there were violent people in every family. I feared that the family that had accepted me into their family, would turn out to be the same. There was no escape from the violence, no way out. I don't remember the exact moment when I realized that this wasn't true. That what happened in my family wasn't supposed to happen, that it wasn't accepted, and that there were, in fact, good people in the world.
It wasn't until the second grade that it had, finally, came to an end. The fear, the violence, the hate, all came to an end. We were finally free from the torment. We could be happy, at least for a little while. In the second grade, my grandfather had died from old age. At the time, the memories, all of the horrible memories, had been pushed behind a brick wall in the farthest point in my mind, where they would not torment me any longer. My memories of all of the nights, were blocked, and they couldn't escape their prison. I didn't remember all of the horrible things my grandfather had done, and at the time I was truly upset about the death of my grandfather. The older I got, the more I learned about the truth of the man I had grown up with. The man I had considered to be my father figure, the man that I had even loved. It wasn't until last year when the memories had came rushing back to me after breaking down the wall I had built all those years ago.
The school day had just ended. I had pushed my way through the crowds, tuning out the noise of the yelling kids. I got to my locker, opened it, put some things in and took some things out. After making sure I had all that I needed, I went out the door of the middle school and into the heat. There, I turned on my phone and made my way to my bus. Upon getting on the bus and having to make kids sit down, I finally made it to my seat. After sitting next to the window, Mary sat down next to me. I turned on my music, put my earbuds in, and looked out the window. After a couple of minutes the bus finally began to moved and left school grounds. I watched all the buildings, cars, and people go by. A few minutes later we got out of town and in the countryside. I ignored everyone and just continued watching things pass by.
We made five stops and I was getting off in a couple of minutes. Just then it all came flooding back to me like water. The screaming, the boot, my sisters, and more than anything, the fear. I started hyperventilating, started to cry, started to shake. I realized what was happening, I was having a panic attack. Why? Why now of all times? I can't get off like this! I can't function like this! Mary noticed and jumped into action right then and there. She started to calm me down trying to help me. She calmed me just enough so that I could get off of the bus.
Thankfully no one was home to witness me mid panic attack.
I ran through the house and into the bathroom. I had chores to do, I couldn't just not do them, but I couldn't exactly do them either. All I could think about was the screaming. Oh God, the screaming. I closed the door to the bathroom, put my back up against it, and slid down to the floor. There I would just allow it to happen. Rarely have I ever been able to pull myself out of an attack, and this was not one of those times. It wasn't until thirty minutes later when I had calmed down. That didn't matter though, I couldn't escape my mind. My mind was flooding and I was drowning in the water.