Book 1: Shattered Promises TBR September 2014 (or earlier)
Excerpt (subject to change/unedited)
The darkness surrounded me, enveloping me within its embrace. The solitary embrace that I came to know. Came to rely on. The light from the apartment’s security light beamed drearily through my dirty window. Trying to find me. But if it found me, then they’d find me. HE would be able to see me. I huddled farther into the corner as the voices grew louder. The yelling. Screaming. I covered my ears and rocked back and forth, pretending that I wasn’t there. That I couldn’t hear. That they’d never find me.
My breathing rushed through my ears, creating a white noise to match that of my heartbeat. I flinched at the sound of something shattering. She threw something again. She always threw things. Always screamed. At least she didn’t hit, unlike him.
My toes curled into the thread bare carpet as I continued rocking, helping me keep balance. I couldn’t remember if I ate that day, or the day before. I wanted to remove my hands to scratch the flea bites, but I couldn’t. Wouldn’t. If I moved them, then I’d hear more. I’d hear him call her a drunken whore. Hear her scream back at him, saying how he didn’t know what she went through. Didn’t know that she deserved to drink. Deserved the release. I shook my head slowly, trying to rid my mind of those words. The sound of their voices. There would always be a HIM. I knew that. Over time their faces would blur together, creating one man. One monster.
I bit my tongue as a cry begged to be released. I couldn’t cry out. It would get their attention, then HE would come in. I didn’t want him to come it. I dropped to my knees as a thud sounded against the wall outside my room, shaking the floor around me. I almost panicked as my hands dropped to the floor to keep me from falling over, but it was quiet. The quiet scared me more than the noise. I hated the silence.
I stayed still, trying to hear past the panicked beating of my heart. A cold sweat dripped down my back, making my Barney pajamas stick to my dirty skin. I brushed my tangled dark blonde hair out of my face, staring with wide eyes towards the door. I couldn’t hear her anymore. Couldn’t hear my mom. Tears streamed silently down my face as my lip trembled along with the rest of my body. Maybe HE finally killed her.
I crept forward, pausing with every step to listen. I thought about going to my brother’s room and waking him up, but I didn’t know where mom was. Didn’t know if HE was outside my room along with her, just waiting for me to make that fatal mistake. I leaned my back against the wall and put my ear to the door, straining to hear anything. I jumped back, covering my mouth to stifle my scream. My heart raced even faster, thumping loudly in my ears, almost drowning out the noise of my mom’s muffled cry. I stood on shaking legs, panic taking hold of my body. She was still alive, but I didn’t know for how much longer. I knew he did something to her, but I didn’t know what. I scratched a bite on my arm and danced from foot to foot, indecision rolling through me, making me nauseous.
I had to help her, but I didn’t know if I could. He was much bigger than me, stronger than me. They all were. I placed my shaking hand on the door knob and counted silently. Counting always helped. Always centered me. I swallowed hard, trying to get past the lump of fear in my throat. I opened the door quickly and stepped outside, almost running straight into him.
I couldn’t look at him, and instead focus on my mom. Her blurry eyes stared back at me, bloodshot from her drinking, and from the streaks of mascara dripping down her face, from the crying too. The blue of her eyes stood out sharply against the red, almost scarily so. His hand was gripping her shirt, his fingers tangled in her necklace as he shook her over and over again.
“What the fuck are you doing up you little bitch?” I dropped my gaze down to the floor and didn’t answer. It was always worse if I answered. I glanced again to my mom, to her sad eyes staring at me, almost straight through me. I wondered for a moment if she could see me, really see me.
His hand cracked across my face, snapping my head back and sending my small body flying into the wall opposite my mother. Pain bloomed in my face, radiating down my neck, making me dizzy. I thought I heard my brother’s door open, the quickly close, but I couldn’t be sure. Everything was foggy.
“Don’t do that!” Mom’s slurred shriek drew his attention back to her.
“Don’t fucking tell me what to do, you fucking cunt!” He raised his fist back, and sent it flying into her face. Blood and spit flew from her mouth as her head snapped to the side. I shook my head, trying to clear my mind. To concentrate. He forgot I was here for a moment. Now was my chance. I stood up and pressed my back against the wall, side stepping around them, away from them. Finally free of them, I sprinted into the kitchen, looking for the phone. I stood on my tiptoes, reaching up onto the counter where I knew it should be. My fingertips brushed trash and empty liquor bottles out of the way until I finally felt it.
The cool plastic almost slipped out of my sweaty hands. I fumbled the phone, the echoes of my mother’s cries dancing around in my head like a litany of curses. My small fingers quickly punched in three numbers. Three numbers that they taught us in school. Three numbers to get help.