Caged

Part 1: Drizzle

CAGED

PART 1 – 10 YEARS OLD (2007)

Drizzle

My dad's reaction to my getting suspended (expelled? It's not like I'm going back) is less than pleasant. The vein in his forehead pops out and I watch as his Adam's apple bob with his loud swallow. I consider showing my bruised wrist as some sort of olive branch as he shouts at me across the table. I don't think that would work to quell the storm however. It's not like dad hasn't grabbed my wrist before.

"And you claim to be smart? No one more than idiotic would destroy a rosary. I try to be patient with you Gray, but you just keep trying me. There's only so much you can do before I can't take it anymore. It drives me insane."

I avert my gaze, fiddling with the cloth napkin rested on my lap. Lyon kicks me gently under the table, flashing me a small, comforting smile. Dad rants for a few more moments before he turns to my mom.

"Ur, I just cannot believe you took all out of school."

Ultear asks me to pass the salt and I raise my left hand instinctively, flinching as the muscles tighten under my bruised wrist. If anyone notices, they don't show it.

Dad tosses his napkin down on the table, the corner of the striped cloth landing in a pile of buttery green beans, the moisture formed on top of it gathering on his napkin, turning the blue a darker shade. He leaves the room quickly, the jingling of keys being pulled from the table signals his departure to drive through the streets and calm down. It won't work. It never does.

As soon as I hear the car roar to life I hop from my seat, shoving the rusty back door open and leap off the back porch's steps onto the cool grass. The family in the other half of the townhouse we live in are inside. There is a golden glow seeping from their windows and I hear happy laughter inside. I wonder if they heard my dad yelling. I wonder if they even care.

The grass is cold on my feet, the dark green blades tickling the pale skin on the sole of my foot, a long strand curling over my toes. The chilly rain falls on my hair, gathering in the dark strands like dewdrops on a spider web and I stand in silence as they make their way through the tangled paths of my raven hair onto my scalp, a few escaping down my forehead or neck.

I watch the swirling colors painted across the sky, over a portrait of silhouetted pine trees—the kind that stands tall and proud, quivering in the wind and spraying it's soft pointy needles through the air with their sweet, Christmassy scent. The sky is turning a thick, smothering indigo, blending with the final rays of deep red and gentle orange that outline the horizon. Stars are beginning to appear like freckles in the purple, wispy clouds picking up the brilliant hues of the sunset. The earth itself is better than any artist you'll find in a museum. My breath is forming clouds, each puff of air clinging onto each other for a second before disappearing into the painting.

The door creaks open as Lyon sticks his head out. "Mom says to come in before you get pneumonia."

"Okay."

The leaves get stirred up as the wind picks them up in its cool grasp, a few damp, browning leaves sticking to my feet and then the kitchen tile.

Ultear is on the phone, chatting away with her friend by the kitchen counter, rolling her eyes in annoyance as Lyon and I clomp loudly upstairs to our bedroom. I close the door behind us, the dark wood dusty and creaky with age.

I walk to my bottom bunk bed, the floor groaning beneath my steps with a raspy shudder. Lyon and I like keeping the window open almost year-round and the wind is circling around the room, shifting papers and picking up the corners of blankets. I watch rainwater gather in small pools on the floor and stare at the orange maple leaf fly into the screen, sticking and flapping in the breeze before it flies off. Lyon blocks off my vision as he goes to close the window, sighing as he sees the rainwater soaking our windowsill.

He climbs up onto his bed, the mattress sagging above me. I can see the corner of one of his porno magazines peeking out from under the bed spread. The bleach blonde hair is all I can see, styled tall and big like Amy Winehouse's.

Lyon leans over the bed and tells me to climb up with him. I sit cross-legged on his blue comforter and watch as he pulled the magazines from between the mattress and headboard and stuffed in his sheets. The blonde lady's face now gazes up at me as she leans on a motorcycle I doubt is hers.

"Thanks for getting me out of homework kid."

He flips open his new magazine and we begin to count how many times the words breast and penis (and other variations of said words) appear.

If dad walked in, we'd be dead, but he's likely to not be back for another few minutes, so for now we're safe to watch girls' cleavage as Lyon tells me more things I'm not sure I want to "understand when I'm older."

These moments are more for brotherhood for me. For Lyon I think it's just a way to get me not to tell. I don't care either way. If magazines are one of the ways that I keep my only friend, I'll take it. Ultear isn't really a friend. She's exactly as all older sisters are to their brothers—a person who you're friends with one minute at a time.

The house rattles as our dad makes his reappearance and Lyon and I freeze until we're sure he isn't heading upstairs before I leap from the bed and Lyon smothers the women under his bed again. Dad's likely to ignore us for the rest of the night, but we know you can never be too careful.

Lyon hops off his bed and heads for the stereo, placing our mix CD I made him for Christmas in the CD cartridge, the sweets melody of Eleanor Rigby drifting towards me. The voices of McCartney, Lennon, Starr and Harrison calming me with their antique lullaby. I wonder if someone else is listening to the same song right now—if they are sharing it with their best friend too.

The drizzling rain adds a deep, gritty feel to the music, furthering the comforting sounds in my bedroom. The rhythmic thumping of Lyon's baseball against his mitt as he tosses it in the air and catches and the strumming latching onto the bedroom walls with its echoing pulse is the lullaby that sends me to sleep each and every night.

Strum, thump, strum.

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