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Change of Heart
I’d had enough. I was leaving.
Fuming, I yanked open my dresser drawers and crammed clothes into my duffel bag at random. Finding my wallet, I shoved it into the zippered pocket, wishing bitterly that my cheap parents hadn’t stopped giving me a weekly allowance. As I chucked more things into my bag, I heard my mother’s angry ranting from the kitchen, loud and defiant.
“...don’t know what you see in that god-awful boyfriend of yours, but why should I care? Run off, get married, have ten goddamn kids! Live in a trailer park, for all I care! And I thought I raised you better than this, but no, there you are, sneaking off to some tattooed pothead boy’s bedroom at two in the morning...”
There was absolutely nothing wrong with Blake. He was great. Better than great, in fact. And just because he’s smoked pot sometimes and sold it occasionally, it does not make him a pothead, thank you very much. And having three tattoos does not make him some kind of delinquent. But whatever. That didn’t matter, anyway, because I was leaving, going to live with Blake in his apartment, where my mom couldn’t judge us anymore. He’d already said I could move in weeks ago, and he was on his way to pick me up now. He could even drive, even if he had gotten a few speeding tickets.
Dragging my duffel behind me, I kicked open the front door, ignoring the yelling coming from the kitchen. I’d had enough of my mom’s constant criticism. I was done. Slamming myself down on the front steps, I waited for Blake, my head in my hands, anger still coursing through me.
Lifting my head, I turned to see my six-year-old sister, Mable, standing outside the door, looking scared. “Why is Mommy yelling? Why do you have your suitcase?” she asked, her wide, frightened eyes gazing up at me.
I swallowed, looking away. In all my fury, I’d forgotten how my leaving would affect my little sister. “I...I have to leave for a while, sweetie,” I said, hating how fake my tone sounded.
Her eyes widened further in horror. “Leave? Why?”
“Its–complicated, May. I just can’t stay here for a little while, that’s all.”
Her lip started to tremble. “Tasha, you can’t leave! You can’t! You and Mommy will make up, you will!”
A lump rose in my throat, and I couldn’t bear looking at her big, sad eyes. “I’m sorry, May. I can’t stay.” Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a single tear rolling down her cheek. Sniffling, she ran inside, leaving me sitting alone.
I covered my face with my hands, willing myself to picture the future. My future, with Blake, and how much better it would be.
But different images started flashing through my head, and I couldn’t get rid of them. Me, in Blake’s car, sitting in the passenger’s seat, gripping the seat and closing my eyes as we sped down the highway, way over the speed limit. Lying on Blake’s bed, listening as he made a whispered phone call in his bathroom, the voice on the other end sounding undeniably female. My face stinging from Blake’s hand across my face, on a night that he was particularly stoned. My friends asking what was wrong as I mumbled, nothing, I was fine, my sweatshirt covering the bruises on my arms. Me, sitting alone at a party while Blake smoked and flirted with college girls, ignoring me. Mable’s eyes, wide and terrified, as I yelled at her for telling Mom that I had snuck off to meet Blake in the middle of the night.
Just then, Blake’s car swerved into the driveway, screeching to a stop inches from the garage door. “Get in,” he called lazily, dangling his cigarette out the window, looking bored. I heard a noise behind me, and turned to see Mable, sobbing quietly at the door. My mother stood behind her, her face grim. She no longer looked angry, more apprehensive and scared.
“Get in, b****,” yelled Blake, growing impatient. He’d never apologized for calling me names, even in front of my mother and innocent little sister. He didn’t seem to care if it offended any of us. I stood, frozen, unable to move my feet.
“Well? Are you coming or what?” he shouted over the noise of the engine.
His harsh voice brought me back to my senses. Heaving my bag over my shoulder, I got up and walked back inside, ignoring my family’s expressions of shock and Blake’s calls of “What the hell, Tash?” from behind me.
I’d had enough. I was staying.