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The Truth About the World
“OW! SHUT THE F*** UP, YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF S***. Your goddamn noise is killing my head.” My mother looks at me, or at least to some extent. One of her eyes stares angrily at the ceiling, the other at the filthy linoleum floors. I tighten my shoulders and duck my head, her words making me recoil like a slap to the face.
“Sorry, Mama,” I whisper, throat clenching shut. I slide my fingers down the strings of my guitar protectively, then wrap my arms around it. I love that guitar more than I love myself.
“Get out of here. I don’t want to see your miserable face anymore,” she says, kicking my ankles as I rise from the smoke-stained sofa.
“Good night,” I tell her softly, hoping for once she’ll say she loves me. Please, please. Just this once and I’ll never ask again, I swear.
“Piss off,” Mama replies. My breath catches in my throat and I hope I choke to death. Come on, fate, just f*ing end it. I am worthless.
Making my way down the miniscule hall, so dimly lit you could get lost on the way to the toilet, I hear the kitchen door open and shut with all the strength of a weak man made even weaker by more drink than he could afford. My father, Lincoln. He told me, long ago, not to call him Dad.
I hear his painful, blood-plagued cough as he walks into the living room and stands by my mother’s side. The TV is on, blaringly loud because Mama can only comprehend what’s going on by listening to it, her eyes so messed up. I can tell they’re talking, but I’m only able to make out two lines of their conversation:
Lincoln’s slurred speech: “Where…that boy at?”
Mama’s hateful voice: “Better be in his gdamn room.”
My heart skips two beats. Oh, f***, f***, s***. Oh, not tonight. Not now. Not again. Oh, gdamn this horrible world.
I take two long strides and reach my room with haste. I close the door quickly and silently, trying the lock and praying for the odd chance that it will work. It doesn’t. Helplessly, I lay my guitar gently in my closet, way in the back so no one can find it. Then, I throw myself onto my bed, tighten my belt, and close my eyes, body shaking with fear.
There is no sound in the hall and I open my eyes. A few seconds later, I nearly let out a breath of relief. I stare at my quivering hand, the skin the same color as a corpse. Constant fear will drain the life out of you faster than a knife wound. Still, there is no sound outside my door. I let myself breathe and slide under the covers, shoes and jacket still on, always ready to run.
But then I hear a sound. Right outside my door. A sickly, heavy breathing that freezes the blood in my veins. My trembling increases, but I will myself to stay still. Maybe if he thinks I’m asleep, he’ll just go away and I’ll be alright for tonight.
The door creaks open and the hair on the back of my neck jumps at the sound. I attempt to steady my breathing as I hear Lincoln creep slowly into my bedroom. He lets out a heavy sigh and a dark chuckle. My stomach lurches.
“Come on, my handsome son, sit up and let Daddy give you a hug good night,” he mutters as if I am still 10 and ignorant as s***. I remain unmoving, eyes shut and hands quaking violently, crushed by the weight of my body. He hisses angrily and grabs my shoulder, shaking me. “Wake the f*** up, boy. Do what I tell you.”
I sit up and look at him. His face and eyes are bright red, his hair greasy and graying at last. He reeks of alcohol; it leaks from his pores like sweat. I shudder in disgust at the sight of this horrible man, this man I have to claim as family.
Lincoln sits down beside me and wraps his scrawny arms around my body. His hands get lower by the second.
“You know I love you, son.” Love. Such a disgusting word.
His hands are on my torso.
“You love me, too, don’t you?” F*** love. I stare straight ahead, void of emotion.
His hands are on my belt line. He’s sliding his fingers underneath my jeans when something inside me breaks, a guitar string pulled too far and handled too thoughtlessly. I let out a scream to wake the entire universe and elbow him hard in the face. It hits him directly in the eye and he screams out in pain.
“I can’t see! I can’t f*ing see! You made me blind, you worthless b****!” He’s up and barreling around the room, knocking things off my dresser and colliding with everything in sight, screaming profanity at the top of his lungs. My mother is suddenly at my door frame and I’m taken aback. It’s been months since I’ve seen her off of the couch. Her stringy hair is absolutely filthy and her crazy eyes are seeing everything and nothing.
“What the hell did you do?” she demands of me.
I have to run. I need to get out of here. I hurdle over my bed and run to my closet, grabbing my beautiful guitar. Shoving my way past my mother, taking up most of the hallway, I scrabble into the kitchen and race towards the door. But he’s fast, that man I hate more than anyone. He’s behind me before I reach the doorknob, hands extending for my neck, ready to kill.
Without thinking, I pull drawers from the counters and start to throw them on the floor, distracting him momentarily. A knife clatters to my feet and I pick it up, panicking. I aim and throw it. It strikes him hard, right below the jaw. Right in the throat. He screams even louder than before and crumples to the ground.
My heart is racing and I swear it’s going to explode. I slide the ground, hands sliding frantically through my hair. S***, s***, f***. I just killed a man. I just killed my father. My blood is pumping so quickly that I do not hear my mother approaching, her slow, thundering steps. She grabs my guitar carelessly and holds it away from me as she takes a painstakingly long time to realize what I’ve done. Wordlessly, she smashes my beloved instrument on the ground. It sounds like my death. At first it sings, but then it cries. She has ripped me in two.
I stand up, unable to speak. She stares around the kitchen without a sound and then throws the scraps of my guitar over her shoulder. I cannot feel anything. We remain there for all of eternity.
Emotionlessly, I open the kitchen door, the sounds of the busy street outside flooding the otherwise silent room. “I just wanted love,” I say steadily, then make my way out of that godforsaken house. She screams something after me, but I am done listening.
My legs lead me to the street corner. My thumb extends by itself. I barely even hear the car approaching. The window rolls down and I see a young man staring up at me coldly. His eyes are the same shade of brown as mine. Plain, unremarkable, worthless. A voice from the other side of the car reaches my ears. “How old are you, kid?”
“Seventeen,” I reply. A pair of dirty eyes is running up and down my body. If I could feel, I would shiver. The guy in the driver’s seat raises his eyebrows at me, an almost friendly hint. “Eighteen, I mean. I just turned eighteen.”
“Perfect,” I hear the voice say with a smile, and I get in the back of the car. The door locks. All by itself.