The Impossible Vastness Of Us
I stared at the floor, trying to will my heart rate to slow. I could barely hear anything over the whooshing of blood in my ears.
I started at Hayley’s touch and looked up. She’d decided to ignore my body language and cross the room to take hold of my arms. She ducked her face to stare into my eyes.
“No one,” she whispered fiercely, “no one will hurt you. I promise.”
The scream rang out inside of me but somehow I swallowed it.
This was happening.
She was taking my control away.
I slumped beneath her touch, dropped my eyes from the promises in hers and nodded. She kissed my forehead and squeezed my arms.
“Why do we have to move? If he has so much money, why can’t he move here?”
“Because it’s not like he’s a lawyer who can move to another firm. He owns the firm. Plus, Eloise goes to a very good school in Boston. It just makes more sense for us to move there.”
“We’re two weeks into the semester already. What about my classes?”
“Classes at your new school don’t start until next week. By the time you start there it will be the end of September, which means you’ll only have a missed a few weeks of classes instead of a month.
“Sweetie, this is going to be the best thing that’s ever happened to either of us. And didn’t you hear the part about Theo being a lawyer? I know you want to work in the district attorney’s office one day. Theo can open doors for you there.”
I was stunned she’d even considered that for me. I wanted to put criminals behind bars where they belonged, and so I didn’t want to just study to be a lawyer, I wanted more. I wanted to work my way into the district attorney’s office one day, and in my secret heart of hearts...I wanted to be the DA. I didn’t realize Hayley had actually listened to me about my career aspirations.
But still... I wanted to do it on my own. I didn’t want to depend on anyone to get me there, especially not Hayley’s new sugar daddy.
* * *
Fries. Pop-Tarts. Cap’n Crunch. A Hershey’s bar. Burger. With cheese. I really like cheese. And mustard and ketchup on top. SpaghettiOs with little hot dogs cut up into it. Like Mommy used to make.
Stop thinking of food.
I can’t even cry. It would hurt too much to cry. Take too much effort.
Too cold. The shower in our tiny bathroom in the trailer wasn’t the best place to sleep. I had water. But the water was starting to hurt my tummy.
How long had it been? I needed food.
I tried to get out but he’d done something to stop the door opening on the other side and I could see he’d boarded up the tiny window above the sink.
Sleepiness kept coming for me.
I was so tired of thinking about food.
Just be sleepy.
I heard the stomping of feet outside the door.
A cracking sound.
I felt a sudden tingle of warmth over my face.
“Open your eyes, Trash.”
I opened my eyes.
He glared at me from the narrow doorway. “Punishment is over. I’m sick of using Carla’s bathroom.”
My mouth felt dusty. Dry. Gritty. Like our road outside in the hot summer.
“Well?” He grabbed my arm and hauled me up. It hurt more than usual. “Get the fuck out.”
He let me go and I fell against the door frame, then slumped to the ground.
My legs didn’t work right, I thought, panicked.
Suddenly pain flared up my side and I turned.
He drew his foot back from contact with my hip. “I said get the fuck out.”
Somehow I managed to crawl.
The bathroom door slammed shut behind me. I lay on the floor of our kitchen, staring up at the cupboards.
Finally I whimpered.
There was food. But I was too tired to reach for it.
* * *
I WAS TOLD WHEN I GET OLDER ALL MY FEARS WOULD SHRINK!
I shot awake at the blaring sound of Twenty One Pilots coming from my phone. My alarm. Fumbling for the phone, I turned off the alarm and sat back.
My body was coated in sweat.
I hadn’t had a nightmare like that in a long time but it didn’t take Freud to figure out why the bad dreams were back.
After all, in a couple of weeks I was moving all the way across the country to live with a man I’d never even met.
Groaning, I dragged myself out of bed, wondering why I had been blessed with the most selfish, irresponsible mother on the planet.