Back To Square One

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Chapter 10

Day 1

I was still totally out of breath from my speech when Sam shouted at me: “I AM NOT MY FREAKING PARENTS!” and stormed off. I felt so disconnected from what had just happened that I thought I was floating above, and looking down, over everything. I couldn’t believe I had made a scene like this in front of the entire school. But I was so mad at my parents and her parents for everything that had happened, and she was the closest outlet, the weak point that I knew I would be able to break.

I heard Kimberly whisper, “I can’t believe she thought she stood a chance with him.” Sam suddenly stopped and turned around again, ending up standing in front of Kimberly. Oh no! This could not be good. Up until today Sam had never said a word to Kimberly. No matter how often Kimberly taunted her, Sam just kept her head down and walked away. With a raised eyebrow and a cocky expression on her face Kimberly looked at Sam. “What?” she asked.

I looked at Sam, waiting to see what would happen next. Sam took a deep breath and said, “Have you got something to say to me, Little Miss Not So Perfect?” Her tone of voice dared Kimberly to say something back. I was not sure of Sam’s plan, but it seemed she really wanted Kimberly to hit her with another snide comment. And just like Kimberly, she didn’t disappoint.

“I cannot believe you actually thought he would fall in love with someone like you! I mean, like he said just said, look at you. People are repulsed by you!”

Before anyone could do anything, me included, Sam pulled her arm back and landed a punch right in the middle of Kimberly’s face. Kimberly was still crumpling to the ground when comprehension dawned on me. What had I just done? What had I said to Sam? I pushed her over the edge; I made her punch Kimberly. Me! This was all me. I provoked Sam to breaking point. Looking at Sam I saw her gazing back at me with tears running down her face and so much hurt in her eyes. And then she bolted.

I was frozen in time as the events of the last few minutes rolled over me. Kimberly was lying on the floor, blood oozing from her nose, crying and cursing death threats towards Sam. But that all vanished. I was focused only on the last place I saw Sam before she disappeared.

I felt a playful punch on my back as a voice broke into my thoughts. “Wow man, congrats on putting Sam in her place. And go Sam for finally shutting Kimberly up. Well sort of.” I looked over my shoulder at who was standing behind me being an even bigger moron than I was.

I gave Danny a hard look and pulled my arm back, copying Sam to a‘T’, and landed a solid punch to his face.

“It’s about time someone shut you up as well.”

I finally got my feet moving and my brain working. “That is your kid’s mom who just got punched. Maybe you should check on her and not bag on her, you idiot!” I took off running in the direction of the parking lot, wanting to stop Sam before she left. I needed to apologise and make sure she was okay.

As I was running I kept thinking how stupid I was. How Sam didn’t deserve anything I had told her.

But I was too late. By the time I reached the parking she had already gone. All that was left was a cloud of dust. I ran to my car, hopped in and raced off in what I thought was the direction of her house, hoping she was also heading that way.“It’s fine. I’ll talk to her when I meet up with her at her house. I will explain to her that it’s not her I’m angry with, but my parents and her parents. I will comfort her if she need sit. I will do all those things if she just opens the door for me,” I reasoned out loud with myself.

The place looked deserted when I arrived at her house.The grass was overgrown, the paint peeling off the walls and the gate a skew on its hinges. Parking in what was left of the driveway I got out of the car. I couldn’t see her VW Bug so maybe I had beaten her home. I decided to wait for her and started looking around. From what I could tell, this place was a dump.

Apart from the way it looked from the street, when you get closer to the house you could see that most of the windows were broken. The doors were all missing and it smelled like urine and death.

“How does she live here? Why is she living here?” I kept asking myself those questions. Making the decision before thinking it through, I decided to go inside to get her things. “As soon as she gets back here I’m taking her to my house.No wonder she is such a mess,” I said aloud.

I would be, too, if I lived here. She can argue all she wants with me, but I will drag her kicking and screaming to my house if that is what is needed. Staying in this death trap is not an option.

Inside the house there was more peeling paint, cracked walls, and part of the ceiling in one of the rooms was missing. But there were no belongings anywhere that I could see. Looking at the staircase, I couldn’t believe she would risk going up there.

Not seeing any other option but to go upstairs, as there was no other place downstairs where she could keep her stuff, I started climbing the stairs. I tested each step as I went ,keeping my ears open for any sign that she had arrived.

At the top of the stairs I had a choice of four rooms. The room closest to me was empty, and at a guess I thought it was the guest bedroom (where her aunt had probably stayed). Entering the room I could see it was empty, but I popped my head into the bathroom just to make sure there was nothing there, either. I looked around one more time and then moved to the next room. I guessed this was her brother’s room, as, from paint left on the walls I could see where red and yellow and sport brands were once painted. I knew that she wouldn’t have been staying in this room so I moved to the room right next to her brother’s.

This had to be her room. It was pink and purple with teddy bears painted on the walls. I wanted to laugh; I remembered we were only 16 when all these events occurred, so it made sense that her room was extremely girly.

I was very surprised when I couldn’t find her stuff. I really thought she would have stayed in this room. I went through it twice, making sure I hadn’t missed anything.

I finally went into the last room (which I assumed was her parents’), still wondering why she would have chosen to stay in this room, when I stopped dead in my tracks. Before my eyes was a sight I had only ever seen on TV, and never in my entire life thought that I would see in real life. You could clearly see this room had been left untouched. It was in the best, and also the worst, condition of all the rooms, painted a combination of brown and blue.

But what really stood out was the blood imprint left on the blue wall with an accompanying blood mark on the floor right in front of it. You could see it hadn’t been cleaned up properly as the floor was still stained.

I wasn’t able to move and kept staring at it. Her dad made sure that the moment she walked into the room she would see him. He made sure of it! Anger towards her dad flared up in me. I would also have been a mess if I had come home one afternoon to find this. Turning my head away, I looked into the rest of the room when my eyes caught another slightly lighter stain.

I painted my own picture in my head of what the room had looked like and assumed where the bed had stood and her aunt was shot. The paint was completely stripped off, as if someone had used a strong chemical or something. I suppose they hadn’t got round to painting over the stain when her dad shot himself, and I guessed that after her dad died Sam just never bothered trying to fix up the room, as she moved away very soon after that.

I didn’t know how she had been able to live in this place with all the memories and the way it looked. I tried to phone her again as I made my way downstairs but it rang through to voice mail, so I left yet another message for her.

“Sam, it’s Brandon. Please answer your phone or just send me a text so I know you are okay. I’m at your house but I can’t believe that you live in this place. It’s a total dump. But don’t worry you can stay with us. Just please call me back. I’m worried about you.”

As I headed back to my car to wait, my phone rang. Without looking to see who it was I asked, “Sam, where are you? Are you okay?”

It was my dad.

“Brandon? It’s not Sam. It’s your dad. What is going on?” came my dad’s very confused voice.

“Hey dad, what’s up?” I answered.

“Where are you? The school phoned to tell me there was some sort of fight and you took off. What’s going on?” The anger was evident in my dad’s voice but concern for me won out.

“I’m at Samantha Preston’s house. There was an incident at school involving her and I went looking for her to make sure she was okay. I am waiting for her at her house, but dad, you should see this place, it’s a dump. I don’t know how she could have come back to live here.” The disgust could clearly be heard in my voice.

“Brandon, she sold that house when she moved away. She doesn’t own that house any longer. An investor friend of mine bought the place. What the hell happened at school today, Brandon?” His anger was coming through now that he knew I was okay. “She doesn’t live there. She doesn’t even own it.”

Relief swept through me, quickly replaced by concern. If she didn’t stay here, where did she live?

“Dad, I’ll tell you tonight. But do you know where she lives now?”

“No Brandon, I don’t. She is your friend and you are supposed to know this stuff. I’ll see you at home and then I want the entire story.” He ended the call before I could answer. I started my car and drove home, even more concerned and confused than before.

That night I told my parents everything that had happened, leaving out the part that it was me who freaked out on her. My mom and dad weren’t happy about the whole thing and I could see they weren’t buying the entire story. They knew there was more to it than meets the eye. But I wasn’t in the mood to get into the real reason I blew up at Sam. I decided I would tell them that part once I knew she was okay.

They had no clue where she stayed so I decided I would talk to her the next day when I saw her at school. That night I barely slept at all. I kept having nightmares about Sam’s house. So I got up at 3am and decided to go for a jog to clear my head. Maybe when I got back I could get a few more hours of peaceful sleep before school.

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