I walked slowly back up the hill with a heavy heart that, surprisingly enough, my dad’s insistent and angry yelling didn’t lift. This was life. Chad was fantasy. There really was no point in even thinking about going outside tomorrow morning. I let my steps slow and my mind drift to the other neighbors I’d met over the years. There were only three, but all three of them had been friends with me until they met my dad. Then suddenly, everything changed. They’d say something like, “Meet you here tomorrow” and disappear. I’d go there the next day and wait, quite literally, all day. They’d never show up again. I heaved a big sigh as I pictured each of their faces and remembered vividly the waves of disappointment that accompanied each let down. This couldn’t happen with Chad.
Apparently I’d taken too long getting to the house after having been called, but that was no surprise. I stayed slow and consistent despite my dad’s grumbling. My mom had left when my dad showed up, so it was just the two of us. I wished with all my heart that my older brother Allan would drop in, but for the moment I was stuck with my dad.
“You haven’t seen me in months and you can’t greet me slowly enough, huh?” was his first sarcastic comment. I say first because I knew my dad, and I knew that there were more to come. Many more. I kept my mouth shut and deliberately removed my jacket. He overlooked my lack of a response. “I guess one day you’ll think differently. Maybe you’ll even eventually wake up to how good you had it before your mom made me leave and started spreading strange rumors. Remember that? Back when you had friends?”
“I only need one friend, really,” I muttered. This was a somewhat touchy subject with me, as anyone else could understand.
“Oh, the boy down the street? I meant real friends, hon.” The pet name grated on my nerves since I knew the real man behind all the sugar coatings.
“If I’d had real friends before, they wouldn’t have abandoned me when they found out that my dad was a psychopath.”
“Excuse me?” I may have just crossed a line there, but I was past the point of caring.
“As a matter of fact, Chad is the only real friend I have, and you better not keep talking so badly about him!”
“Or what?” he asked, laughingly.
“Or I’ll lock you out and get a restraining order,” I threatened. Of course it wasn’t exactly a likely situation, which I knew, but it made me feel a little bit better to know that I was learning to stand against him.
“Then I suppose I’ll have to start spending my free time with your friend,” he replied immediately, completely unfazed by my attempt at a threat. “We’ll see just how friendly he is after I’ve had a little discussion with him.”
“Why would you even say that?” I asked, cold fear beginning to creep in
“For the same reason I’m about to grant you your wish and leave you alone while I tell your boyfriend what you’re really like, who your mom is, and what everyone thinks about me.”
In an effort to stall, I began blurting out whatever came to mind. “Okay, first of all, he isn’t my boyfriend.”
“I’ll make sure of that. No worries.”
“Secondly,” I continued, using his method of ignoring interruptions, “you have no idea what I’m really like because you only see the monster in me that the monster you’ve become brings out. Third, there is nothing in the truth of who my mom really is that would make that a threat, so don’t flaunt your ignorance by using it as such. Fourth,” I was starting to get warmed up now, “You don’t even know what everyone thinks about you because you are so selfish, egotistical, and bigoted that you refuse to listen to anyone else, and fifth, that’s going to change right now so shut your mouth and don’t open it again until I tell you to.”
The look on his face as he clamped his teeth together as if biting back something I’d get him into trouble for saying was enough to bring the cold back, and as he clapped his hand to my arm and marched me up the stairs, something strongly resembling terror was growing. Even though he went to the wrong room first, my fear didn’t abate at all until long after he’d sat me on my bed and explained in no uncertain terms that as long as he was alive, I would never do that again. Even after he’d stalked out the door, locking it with my key, and slammed the front door on his way out of the house, I could feel his glare of anger on me.
I shivered alone in fear, tears speedily chasing each other down my face. That was when I realized that my dad’s glare wasn’t what was terrifying me. I lay down on my bed and fought sleep until I finally realized what scared me more than my dad. It was the thought that Chad wouldn’t live up to the many things I’d ended up saying in his defense. I felt the tears coming again as my exhaustion drove me into a fitful sleep punctuated sharply by dreams of sitting on the curb across from Chad’s house alone and waiting. I dreamed that same dream all night, but in the morning Chad still hadn’t come out of the house, and my pillow was soaked with the many tears of shame, loss, and abandonment I’d cried.
Sure that at this point nothing could let me down, I got dressed for the day and went outside. Maybe it was by chance that I sat in the same place I’d sat in my dreams, but as noon approached, I realized that the dream was coming true. Chad wasn’t coming.
*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious. And resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*
Next part next Friday! Title suggestions, names for various characters, or other questions, comments, or concerns can be left below, or you can e-mail me at the address on my contact page.
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