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“I told you not to!” he screamed angrily.
“I had to!” she yelled back equally angry.
“Why don't you ever listen to me!” he shouted.
A loud slap was heard followed by a muffled cry, screams followed, pursued by more shouting. I clamped my hands over my ears trying to drown out the noise. I yanked my iPod out of my drawer and quickly put the headphones into my ears. Scrolling through the songs I randomly clicked on one and turned the volume all the way up.
Music blasted into my ears and I knew I was safe. Music was everything to me. It was one of the only ways I could forget about all my problems and continue with life. With music I was safe. I kept repeating that to myself as tears threatened to spill out of my tightly shut eyes. I knew their fight was still going on by the vibrations that shook the house. I sat with my knees hugged to my chest and my back against the wall. I felt it every time they threw something or slammed each other against the wall.
Suddenly it stopped. I couldn't feel it anymore and I knew that he would be coming for me next. I took my headphones off and shoved my iPod into my jeans pocket. It was silent as I sat there, terrified. I tried making myself smaller, more invisible. My head hung low and I could feel the familiar sensation of my straight black hair falling over my face. Then I heard it.
“Caden! Where are you!” my dad yelled.
His voice made a shiver go down my spine and fear gripped my heart.
“Caden!” he yelled again.
I heard footsteps come up the stairs and then a door opened somewhere down the hall. The throwing of things and the sound of shattering glass filled my ears. The door slammed shut again. He was coming. I was next. The footsteps neared and then stopped right outside my door.
“Caden!” he yelled as he pushed the door open.
It took him a moment to spot me huddled in the corner, but I felt it when he finally did see me. His glare burned into the top of my head. His footsteps approached me quickly and I cowered in fear. His hand wrapped around my arm and he harshly yanked me up into a standing position. My dad wasn't much taller than me but he was a lot bigger and more intimidating. I reached to about his eyes and he was about twice as wide as me. My blue eyes looked up to meet his gray ones as he shook me.
“Why didn't you answer me?” he asked, his voice eerily calm.
I knew what was coming. I also knew it was best to say nothing. It would only make things worse.
“I asked you a question!” he roared, losing his temper almost immediately.
I looked down and stayed silent. He shook me one more time before bringing his hand back and slapping me hard across the face. I felt the sting on my cheek and knew there would be a mark. He threw me onto the floor and I crouched into a ball as he kicked me over and over again. My whole body ached but I stayed quiet as he yelled at me. I didn't know what I had done wrong, but he obviously did. He kept repeating that I deserved it. Finally, he grew tired and with one last kick he left the room, slamming the door behind him.
I rolled over onto my back and finally opened my eyes. Now that he was gone the tears spilled down my face, soaking my hair and matting it to my neck. I cried for a while before finally wiping my face and standing up. I winced. Every movement brought me pain.
Suddenly I was angry. I didn't deserve any of this! I got beat at least once every week if not more and I didn't even know why. I was tired of this. I didn't want my whole life to be like this. I hated it here. Taking a deep breath I finally made a decision. I was leaving.
I began shoving a couple of shirts, jeans, boxers, and socks into a backpack. I put my iPod in my pocket and placed the charger inside the bag. Throwing on my favorite black hoodie I walked to the only window in my room and opened it. The cool night air felt refreshing against my skin and taking a deep breath I jumped. I landed silently on the soft grass and quickly began running down the street. My mouth stretched into a grin as I realized I was finally free.
I continued to run until I couldn't run anymore. Night was approaching fast as I walked down a small street with shops lining both sides. A cold breeze blew past and I zipped up my hoodie. The night was quiet with the subtle background noise of crickets chirping in the distance. I continued to walk; pulling out my headphones and iPod I quickly put them on shoving my hands deep into my pockets. The night continued to grow cold, but I tried to ignore it and concentrated instead on the music blaring into my ears. I hummed softly along to the lyrics of the song and soon I felt myself relax.
After walking for a while longer I began to grow tired. I took my headphones out of my ears and turned off my iPod. As soon as it was off I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I heard loud laughter coming from behind me. I turned around slowly and my eyes widened when I saw a group of large, drunk men running towards me. Their faces were full of excitement as they rushed forward. I spun around quickly and began running away.
My heart was pumping furiously in my chest as my breathing became ragged and uneven. My legs began to grow tired and I felt myself slowing down. They were close behind me. Finally I couldn’t run anymore, I just stopped. I placed my hands against my knees and bent over as I gasped for air. The men caught up to me and I looked up at them in fear. One reached forward and grabbed my arm. His breath reeked of alcohol.
“Whacha doing all alone in the middle of the night, pretty boy?” he asked me dragging me closer to his friends.
I remained silent as they all stared at me.
“I asked you a question,” the man said as he grabbed a hold of my hair and swept it away from my face.
I cringed as his words reminded me of my father.
“Well look at that, Ricky, this boy has pretty blue eyes. I think he was meant to be a girl. Look at them,” One man said leaning forward to look more closely at my face.
“That’s stupid George,” said Ricky, “eyes don’t define your gender.”
“Did you just call me stupid?” asked George in a drunken voice.
“Yeah, I did,” replied Ricky, releasing his hold on me and stepping closer to George.
George’s face became bright red as he started shouting a string of curse words at Ricky. George swung his fist, intending to aim a punch at Ricky, but he missed and punched me instead. My head spun as my jaw received the blow and I couldn’t help but stumble back, pushing a couple of the guys in the process. This made them angry and before I knew it, they were on me. One grabbed me by the neck and held me as his friends aimed punches and kicks at me. I tried to curl in on myself but he held me tight so that I was standing straight in front of them. I screamed in pain, but still they did not stop.
I thought the torture would last forever and I was regretting my decision to leave home. One man was enough, but seven? That was worse. My hope was revived when I heard the distant sound of a police siren. Even in their drunken state the men still recognized it and they yelled at one another as they scrambled to get away. I slumped on the floor after the man let me go and pulled my knees up to my chest. My whole body ached; I was hungry, and thirsty. For the first time in my life I wanted to go home.
I was sitting in the police station waiting for my parents to come get me. I hadn’t spoken a single word to the policemen who had found me. They had been shocked at my appearance and had hesitantly carried me over to the police car. I had whimpered when they picked me up and their faces had softened. Once we arrived at the police station I was sent to the infirmary where the nurse had gasped before she began to treat my wounds. I was all bandaged up and I felt better. The painkillers they gave me were kicking in. I felt safe.
Since I hadn’t answered any of their questions they decided to look for my file instead, by using my fingerprints. On the file they found all my information and called my parents. At least I think that’s what they did. I didn’t really know and at this point I didn’t care either. I felt drowsy and my eyelids drooped as I fought to stay awake.
A man and a woman entered the police station with panicked, yet hopeful eyes. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but the woman made frantic hand motions and placed a hand over her heart. The man rubbed her back soothingly and they both turned as the woman behind the desk pointed towards me. The woman ran towards me and suddenly I was fully alert, I pressed myself further into the hard plastic chair and balled my hands into fists, pressing them against my lap.
The woman was rather pretty with curly black hair and blue eyes that reminded me of something, but I couldn’t figure out what. The man stood behind her. He had straight brown hair and gray eyes. They both smiled softly at me. I looked into their eyes from behind my black bangs. Their eyes were filled with a swirl of emotions. Hope, agony, regret, joy, and disbelief.
“Caden?” the woman spoke first.
I nodded slowly a feeling of trust bursting within me at the sound of her voice. She smiled at my response and slowly stuck her hand out.
“Let’s go home,” she said.
It had been three weeks since I had found out the news that had changed my life forever. My ‘parents’ weren’t really my parents. They had stolen me from my real parents when I was a baby and now after all these years I was finally back where I belonged. My new family was much different from my old one. I was still an only child, but where in the last home my life was full of fear and suffering, in this home it was full of joy and laughter. My parents were amazing and after only three weeks I knew I trusted them with my life. Every morning instead of waking up in fear, I woke up full of joy and excitement.
I smiled to myself as I lay in my new room. I had decorated it along with my dad. It was full of my favorite band posters and wasn’t black like my old room, but white instead. I had decided I wanted to start anew, yet keep some of my old self too.
“Caden! Time for breakfast,” my mom called from downstairs.
I smiled and got out of bed. As I exited my room I turned around to gaze at it. My mouth twitched into a grin again and I suddenly laughed. I could finally say that my life was as perfect as it was getting.