I could feel the frost trying to grip my fingertips as I slammed the trunk of my Light Blue Ford. Looking up at the house, with all the lights on, I gazed upward looking for the Orion constellation. Fall was my favorite time of year, mostly because no matter where I was I could look up and immediately find Orion. He was my unofficial, and unspoken, imaginary friend. I hardly ever spoke to him, but always looked to him when I had the chance. Letting out a sigh, and looking back down, I climbed into my car and drove away leaving my Mother’s new home behind me. I wished I’d never have to go back, but it was Sunday night. After a full week of High School, I’d go back and do nothing but work to avoid being inside that house.
As I turned off her street, I thought about how she had remarried earlier in the year, between the warming breeze of spring and the humidity of summer. The man she had chosen was a man I didn’t believe could have been trusted. They were in love, and my feelings didn’t matter. Nor did his 13-year-old son’s, or my 4-year-old sister. It was like we had woken up one morning and found ourselves a part of a new family. A family filled with Baptists and German words.
They had stood in front of what could have been assumed to be a mountain scene where they exchanged vows and rings. I kept feeling worse as the ceremony went on. My mother’s spring dress was flowing through any breeze it found, and I kept wondering what would have happened had I taken a pair of scissors to it. Suddenly they were kissing, and my life was forever changed. I’d move an hour away from the only town I’d known, and start a new High School in that tiny “Children of the Corn” hick town. My Great Aunt Mary’s voice was in my head, talking about finding the good in life’s unexpected adventures. Her British accent made it sound like this adventure would be exciting and dramatic. I wish it had changed how I had foreseen this forced situation play out. I wish I had listened to her when I had the chance. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen, and I refused to change.
Her husband, and his son, had short fuses and bad tempers. This lead me to having seen my mother clean more than I’d ever seen before. The house was practically spotless while her, my four-year-old sister, and I walked on eggshells around the other two for the entire summer. I found myself begging to see Orion in the night sky, each night. I spent those few months trying to create any form of acceptance for my new life. It was after my first week of junior year, when I realized there was no way I’d survive. I could have overlooked the extraordinarily different cliques, and slightly frightening fashion, but the IQ of my fellow students led me to believe some form of obedience drug was being pumped into the city’s water source. So, I left in the middle of the night. Leaving a note on my bedroom door. I had just gotten my driver’s license before the school year started, but hadn’t gotten my car yet. I decided to walk the whole way back to my home town, constantly checking for Orion in the sky whenever I had a clear view through all the trees.
It had probably taken my new “family” about six hours before my new pod-people family noticed what had happened and sent the local police to look for me. Had I not gotten lost, and taken a wrong turn on a back road, I’d have made it home. My step father had found me well before I had figured out where I was. I heard the brakes slip ever so slightly on the morning frost of the road.
‘James!’ He bellowed as he rolled down his window, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’
Just glancing at him, I could feel the fire in my eyes. I kept walking as he crawled alongside. The last thing I wanted to do was get into his dark green Malibu. He literally purchased it because it matched the color of the bank where he was a security guard for.
‘James, come on,’ he pleaded, ‘your mother is worried sick. We had to call the cops!’
‘It must’ve stung when you found me before they did, eh?’ I snarled. Everyone knew that he had failed the tests to join the local Police Force.
‘Shut the fuck up and get in the car.’ He insisted. I could see the darkness filling his eyes as he looked at me. ‘We’ll go home and figure this fucking bullshit out.’
My fire met the black of his eyes and I knew he’d try running me over if I refuse again. I through my bags into his backseat and climbed into the passenger seat, having slammed both doors. I sat in silence for the thirty-minute drive, while he talked my ear off with nonsense about being a family and making things work for the better and what would God think. I just wanted out. I couldn’t take hearing his voice, or fearing he’d be wondering around the house and yard in his birthday suit.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how many times he’d scream in my ear for running the water too long while I did dishes. Or how I came home one night to see the last of my Harry Potter books in the woodstove, because they were “doorways for demons to enter our lives and bodies.” I was remembering how my four-year-old sister had been crying in the car on our way home from visiting with our grandparents, and he’d had enough. He slammed on his breaks, in the middle of the highway, came to a complete stop and began screaming at the top of his lungs at her. That’s when I told him to turn around, that I refused to go back to his house. I ordered him to bring me to my grandparents. To the only place that still felt like home. I’m still surprised I didn’t get whiplashed when he back out of the driveway and tore down the street. This time, we were both silent and nothing would’ve made me happier.
As the sun slowly rose in the sky, we drew closer and closer to my grandparent’s home. It felt like his fury was filling the car to the very top, and I’d drown if I didn’t get out soon. I kept looking at the navy sky, as it turned paler by the minute, desperate to see the stars. My chest kept swelling, and tears would fill my eyes but not one could fall. The last thing I wanted was to seem weak in front of this man. I couldn’t wait until we’d get there, and I’d soon have the chance to call Heather.
She’s the only person who’s ever told me it’s okay to feel whatever I was feeling at the time. I hated dumping all my baggage on her, but she was always willing to listen. She hardly forced her opinion on me, nor did she suggest ways to deal or accept what life had given me. She only ever told me how strong I was. No matter the situation, she knew I’d get through it. If I had to survive, I’d survive, but she would always show me I could do so much more than just survive. I was sure it’d be a while before I could speak to her, but being back in the same town was comforting enough.
The man with demonic eyes pulled into the long drive-way, barked at me to get out and told me I was killing my mother by doing this. I slammed the passenger door shut, threw open the back seat to drag my meager belongings out, and slammed that door harder. Walking up the stairs to their wooden porch, I heard him squeal out of their drive-way. As he did, my Grandmother opened her front door with panic in her eyes and embraced me for a solid minute.
‘Now,’ she said, her eyes lightening, ‘let’s get some breakfast into you.’ She turned to walk inside, and I followed her finally feeling my chest release as I closed the front door behind me.