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Us and Them

By @ZoeAmber

Lillie

Friday / October 11th / 4:23 PM

My arm feels as though it’s about to ripped clean off as he throws open the door of the house. My feet struggle along the tile flooring of the kitchen to catch some balance, but he’s dragging me at too much of an angle for me to get my footing.

His voice is deep and sinister as he hisses slander at me of all kinds. I can barely hear it as I shriek at the sight of my sister down at the other end of the room with my twin brothers cowering behind her. She’s frozen in place at the scene and he huffs out in annoyance that he has an audience. I’m lucky for that, because the less people there is to see it, the more damage he can do.

I finally get my footing before he whirls around and strikes me across the face with his hand, sending me back onto my knees, once again. I press a palm to my cheek and just when I think he’s about to strike again, he stomps away into his office.

• • • • •

Friday / October 12th / 7:23 PM

What am I doing?

Honestly, what the f**k am I doing?

My bruises were still fresh as I snuck out and took a cab to school. But luckily, I got away before my parents could confiscate my phone.

Still, somehow, I don’t even care. I’m acting completely on impulse and barely giving them a second thought as I try to comb through the crowds toward the locker rooms. All I want is see his face again. To apologize for yesterday. Or to beg for forgiveness. Or…something. The way things are going is giving me this ominous feeling like I shouldn’t be here. That I should be using this time I have to say goodbye.

I enter the stadium in a hoodie, jeans, and converse’ and on the way down the hallway I grin wide-eyed as I see Jonah plant a hand on Mila’s lower back while they engage in a close conversation. Eventually, he spots me, they both go stiff and Jonah lets go. Since I’ve been spending so much time with Hayden, I’ve barely asked Mila about any of this.

She gives me an embarrassed wave and I approach them. Jonah is dressed in his gear but he doesn’t show any interest in playing now that Mila’s standing next to him.

“Hi.” She says, her cheeks pink. “What are you doing here?”

“Relax guys. I’m not here to chaperone you two.” I smile, but it fades as I look up to Jonah. “Do you know where I can find Hayden?” Both of them give me a look of disbelief.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Asks Mila after Jonah points me in the right direction.

“It’s a long story.” I say as I make my way down the hall. “I’ll explain after the game, okay?”

After a while of exploring the nearly empty hallways, I get a call from my Mom. It jars me and I turn it to silent. When the call ends, I notice that Melanie’s left me a ton of messages about what’s happened. I tell her that I’m fine but I won’t be home for a while. After I hit send, I hear the sound of cleats against the tile flooring and I look up. It’s him in his gear at the other side of the hallway and he looks at me with disbelief in his creased eyebrows. He breaks into a jog to reach me and takes both my forearms in his hands.

“Jesus Christ, I thought you might not make it.” He smiles down at me and squeezes my good arm.

“I almost didn’t,” I say, as he lifts my other sleeve up and smooths his thumb across the reddish/bluish skin. He doesn’t know about what happened after he left. And intend to keep it that way.

“What happened?” He asks, his smile disappears and I can tell that he feels guilty. But this is as much my fault as it is his, if not more.

“Don’t worry about that,” I pull my sleeve down and look up at him. “Don’t you have a game to get to?”

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  1. Kathleen Fazio

    Feb 2, 2022

    omg I love it so much! you are an amazing writer.

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    0 Replies Feb 2, 2022
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