I’m sitting here, 40 words into an essay that’s supposed to be 500 words long by tomorrow. But bus rides only last 15 minutes, that’s not enough time to do 4 classes worth of homework. It’s a few weeks in to my third year of tenth grade. I’m 18, and I guess it’s time to just give up and drop out. I need more time not consumed by school. I need to work, I need to make money, because if not, my family wouldn’t survive.
My mother died while giving birth to my youngest brother, nine years younger than me, I’m the oldest and I have two twin sisters who are 10 years old. After my mom died my dad kind of faded, he blanketed is pain with alcohol. I hardly ever see him sober anymore. We moved into a trailer soon after moms’ death, easier to afford. When I was 10, my dad quit his job and became a full time alcoholic. What kind of a father quits his job when he has 4 kids? He’s weak. But not too weak… So, when my dad quit his job, I had to step up. I did backbreaking labor at a nearby farm for about 5 dollars a day. We barely squeaked through, when I turned 15, I got my working papers and a real job, I worked at the small store in our town for $10 an hour, a major upgrade for our family. But that’s when my own life started to slip. Every Friday when I got my paycheck, I bought enough groceries for us to live another week, and if there wasn’t enough for my father to buy his booze for the next week, I felt it, he would beat me up, because he depended on the alcohol more than he did me. So, right when I got off the bus I walked right to work, the twins made sure my youngest brother didn’t anger my dad too much and I would work until the shop closed. I would get home exhausted, eat a bite of something in the fridge and then sleep on the couch, my bed. My body clock is used to short sleep, so I wake up at 5, make everybody dinner, and get everybody ready for school, make sure everybody has their homework done, knowing that none of mine is, I want my siblings to lead as normal a life as possible. And that’s how we lived, up until now.
Instead of working on my essay, I email my principle and tell her I’m dropping out. I’m sure there is a whole process, but I don’t know it, I will just stop showing up, I’m sure they suspected it anyways. I got home and decided to take the night off. I’ve been so loyal to the little shop; I’ve been promoted to assistant manager. And I wouldn’t worry about money because I’ll work all day tomorrow, it’s a Friday so I want to show my siblings a good time. I don’t tell them my plan; I just tell them to be ready for anything and tell them to wait in the truck. I knock on my dad’s door: no answer. I push it open and I see him lying on the ground, doesn’t come as much of a shock as it should, he passes out all the time, so instead of bothering him I just leave the room. We drive around for a while, just taking in the sights and then we arrive at our cities low budget water park. Its small and probably not government approved, but my siblings have never seen fun like this, I buy them day passes with this week’s grocery money, but I leave out myself. I let them roam free and enjoy themselves while I sit on a bench and take it in. I’ve never really had a moment to just sit and think. And I never want one again. Memories came, memories that I locked away, stress over school came, everything all at once, it was overwhelming, but then, she sat down, the girl with the power to change my life. “Well, somebody looks stressed.” She said to me, I noticed, from her shirt that she worked here. “Uh, yeah, never had this much time to just sit and think.” I told her. “Uh huh, I understand man, demons never leave.” I looked up and saw her face, she was stunning, a goddess. “Hey, um, you know, I could use a wife.” I didn’t say that out loud, oh shoot, I did, oh dear god she’s just smiling at me, what do I do? I started to apologize and walk away, but she says yes. I just laugh and walk away because if she said yes to that, she’s more insane than I am.
When we get home, the kids are tired, so they go to their room and I decide to check on my father. No answer when I knock, so I just push the door open again, he’s still laying there but I turn on the light and notice something else, he’s laying in a pool of booze, that’s strange, I thought, he loves his alcohol, he wouldn’t spill it. Then my blood runs cold as I realize he didn’t spill any alcohol. My father committed suicide; he is laying in a pool of his own blood.
The ambulance races away, I didn’t go with them because the kids were asleep. I feel, numb, lost, and again, these demons that came while I was at the waterpark were grabbing at me, I clenched my fist and grinded my teeth, but then I softened, and walked into my father’s room and picked up one of his full bottles and chugged it as if I had done this a million times. What came next was something I had never felt before, I was relaxed, the past, the demons, they were gone. After finishing the bottle, I passed out. I woke up the next morning with the worst headache but remembered that my father put whiskey in his coffee, and he called it his “hangover cure.” It helped, a small buzz to start off the day. Remembering the feeling of relaxation, I decided to call off work again and, like father like son, I drank the day away. I locked myself in my fathers’ room and forgot the past.
Around noon, there was a knock on the house door, one of the twins answered, I expected it to be my boss, so I tried to sober up and go out, but the girl from the waterpark was standing there. “Hey, um, sorry for stalking you, but I thought I should know where my fiancé lived.” I stared at her but then the world spun and then went black.
I woke up in a hospital bed and everybody was there, my siblings, and waterpark girl. They looked worried, but I felt fine, I assured them. But they weren’t worried about me, physically, and that angered me, waterpark girl doesn’t even know me, so she saw me drunk once, whatever. And all I do is provide for my siblings, it annoys me that they think they have the right to look at me like this, its demeaning. Waterpark girl speaks first, it’s clear that somebody told her the situation. “So, Connor, CPS is taking your siblings, you are deemed an unfit supervisor, I don’t know how they didn’t realize that you’ve been their guardian this whole time… but it is what it is I guess… and I don’t know how you were so distracted that you didn’t recognize me, but I’ve been In all your classes, your entire life. I’m not kidding when I say I want to marry you, it’s clear you need… help.” And that does it, I don’t need ‘help’ who is she to say that. “obviously I recognized you, Ashleigh, I was just… I don’t know, tired, but I don’t need you, now that the kids are going to be gone, I’ll have more money to spare.” They have been burdens anyway.
I got out of the hospital and a few weeks went by, no alcohol was in the house and I couldn’t buy any. All the memories came back every night, every minute that I wasn’t working, my mind was remembering. I was lower than ever. I was ready to end it. But then I got the mail one day with a handwritten note inside: Dear brother, we have been adopted, we are all together, we would like to see you sometime, Ashleigh adopted us, she wants to see you too. The end Love you. The letter came at the best time that it could. And I realized that the past doesn’t matter when you have promise in the future. And if not for me, for my siblings, I want them to go to college and lead great lives.
We decided on a diner for lunch and my siblings looked genuinely happy, they had a mother figure, a stable parent figure, that I never had, but tried to provide. I saw Ashleigh, and we met eyes for a few seconds. In that moment I thought, well, if somebody who has seen me at my lowest and still wants to be in my life, then maybe I want her in my life. Lunch goes by and we talk about, everything, the good things, and I smile, actually smile for the first time in forever, and it feels great. After lunch, I loop up my straw wrapper and truthfully propose to Ashleigh.re…
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