Run Away (Part One)
By: Eremitic Girl
This story is dedicated to my table partner in school who I wish will learn to read more books.
I watch the water drip from the ceiling onto the damp tiled floor, another sign of my broken home. She’s still throwing our precious crockery in the other room, trying to dash apart our only eating utensils and the marriage present from my father. She screams profanities at the door behind which he vanished through, taking with him the bottle of whisky that threw out family into this turmoil in the first place – and her heart, for which she’s screaming he return.
Tommy squirms beside me, digging his head farther into my bony chest. He’s four, but he understands that our life is falling apart, although he’s hugging me more for warmth than comfort. I pull away from him to make sure our room door is locked and lean against the cracked sink to stare into the fragmented mirror, nailed and glued to stay upright – just like my life.
Hollow, faded blue eyes stare back at me, so washed out anyone would think it’s grey if they didn’t know its true colour. My gaunt, hollow face is framed by stringy noodles of vomit-coloured hair, as colourless as my ashen skin. Only sixteen and I’m wasted. I wanted to escape but I can’t because this is my home – the only sickening thing that belongs to me. And what about Tommy? I can’t leave with him, because then she’d be alone. I can’t go alone because I don’t know what she’d do to him.
The water that comes from the tap sputters reluctantly and belches through with a disjointed groan of old pipes and spills, a milky-coloured liquid, over my hands. I wash my face in this, then my hands. Tommy crawled to me and I wash him too, the only bath we can get for a while, until she’s calm enough to pay the water bills. My hands turn his silky brown hair into a dark matted mess that he shakes, sprinkling droplets everywhere. Despite everything, I laugh and water bursts into my eyes too.
“We need to leave, Tommy” I whisper. I don’t think he hears me over the screaming and shattering. It’s a good thing too, since we can’t. He tilts his head tiredly and plays with my shirt, twisting the thin fabric in his tiny hands. The crashing stops and I wait. She starts sobbing. It last for a while, until I think I’ve gone numb from standing. Tommy begins sucking his thumb and I set him down on the thin mattress, kneeling next to him as he sits up again in protest, climbing into my lap.
“Delia!” she screams. I don’t dare answer. My heart is pounding again, blood rushing angrily to my face. “Delia!” she shrieks again. I sit so still I can feel the cold draft sift through my hair from the cracks in the concrete wall. The doorknob rattles and I hear the hinges protest. “Delia!”
Tommy, always her little baby, steps to the door and fingers the lock. It clicks and he is thrown back mercilessly by the force of her rage. Two things sting me the same time the door opens and my mother slaps me across the face. She never did that. Ever. Even if he came and they start screaming at each other, even when she lies in bed and makes me take over her chores or even when she destroys the house like this and leaves it to me to clean up her mess. Never. “Clear up that mess! I can’t bear to touch it,” she screams now. Tommy starts bawling. She makes to kick him. “And shut this brat up!”
He doesn’t realize it, but little Tommy is the reason she slapped me, the reason I stay in this senseless hovel. Now, suddenly I am free. I bore my eyes at her; her pitiless, blind, wild gaze, silvers of dark hair raging across her haggard face.
“I hate you,” I spit out.
I run after that, into the only other room in our apartment. My feet bleed from the porcelain shards and the pain cause red spots to blur my vision. My breath comes in angry, ragged gasps. But I don’t stop. The cold air hits me with full force as I burst from the apartment onto the fourth floor landing. The concrete here is colder than indoors, ten times harsher, but I run down the stairs, almost tripping over my own feet. Everything in me is alive with adrenaline when I join the bustling street.
Then, I am free. No one casts me a second glance, but it feels like they do because this time, I’m not returning. I run, losing myself in the maze of streets, running to burn my anger away.
Running to die.