“Lulu! Put me down!” Ellie squeals as I lift her upside down in the air and spin around. Her brown hair hangs around her face, framing her light skin and brown eyes. She flaps her arms around, laughing in excitement. To my left, I hear soft footsteps and turn my head to see Blaire come down the stairs with a smile directed at me. Her brown eyes light up, and she starts pulling her darker hair into a braid.
The thick, pungent scent of alcohol comes to my senses, and I immediately know it’s my father, Zac. I hear the car door slam loudly, and the jingling of metal; the keys. His footsteps get closer, meaning he’s coming closer to the house.
My eyes zero in on the clock that sits on the wall, and I see that it’s only eight o’clock. The feeling of panic hits me; my heart beats faster, and my palms start to sweat. Zac’s home early; that only means one thing, he’s angry. My father, if you can even call him that, is an alcoholic and an abusive man. He’s been drinking and abusing us for the last several years. If it goes on much longer, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m constantly in pain, and I don’t know how much more I can take.
“Blaire, take Ellie and go to the hiding place,” I instruct my sister. She looks up at me with wide eyes. “Do not come out until I come and get you,” I order, but neither of them moves from their spots. “Go!” I whisper-yell as I hand off Ellie to Blaire and start to straighten everything up.
I know what you’re thinking, why are they hiding? Well, my ever since my mom died he’s been drinking. He blames me for my mom’s death and takes all his anger out on me. I do my best to hide the girls, so he doesn’t hurt them. Ellie is only four, and Blaire is only seven, so they shouldn’t have to be subjected to this; in fact, no one should.
My sisters wouldn’t be able to take the pain, so I take it upon myself, as their sister, to protect them. So far he hasn’t hurt them, but that’s only because he’s too busy beating on me to remember that they’re here.
The beatings are always bad, but the worst I’ve ever had was a couple of broken ribs and those healed in the next two or three days. My healing is faster since I’m a werewolf, and because I shifted at the age sixteen. Since neither of my sisters are over the age of sixteen, they don’t have the abnormally fast healing that turned werewolves have.
I’m in the middle of picking up plates off the table when the door opens, making me freeze. Zac walks into the house, so I stand still and quiet, hoping that he will walk right past me and leave me be. My eyes follow him as he passes and before I realize it, I let out a breath of relief. Big mistake. He turns around with a glare set in stone on his face, and he launches himself at me. With a shriek, I try to dodge his attack, but he’s faster than I am. Not moving fast enough results in him grabbing me and pushing me against the wall with a snarl.
“What are you doing!?” He yells, throwing his fist forward and hitting me right in the stomach. Gasping for air, I fall to the floor as he delivers several more blows to my stomach and chest. My breath leaves my body for several minutes. Tears sting my eyes as I gasp, trying to get air into my body. Pain sprouts in my torso and I hunch over, trying to relieve the aching.
A blinding pain slams into my stomach and runs through my body, making me fall to my side and curl into a ball. My vision goes blurry as I feel the tears threatening to spill over my eyes. “You’re worthless!” Punch. Kick. “Filthy!” Kick. Punch. “Murderer!” He yells, kicking me one last time before grabbing my arm. I bite my lip to keep myself from screaming due to the neverending pain.
As he pulls me to my feet, he twists my arm behind my back. A crack echoes through the room, and I can no longer hold in the scream as pain flares in my arm.
“You look like her, you know?” Zac questions, speaking right into my ear. I shudder as he pushes me, face first, into the wall, pinning me there. “Why do you have to look like her?!” He screams before twisting me around and punching me several times in the face. I try to lift my arms to block his hits, but large hands grab them and pin them at my sides. “You should be dead too,” he tells me, throwing me to the floor.
Zac stands over me, breathing heavily and glaring at me. When I try to get up, he grabs my hair and pulls me up. He smirks, pushes me back against the wall, and grabs my throat. An intense pressure clamps down on my windpipe, cutting off my air. I claw at his hands, but it’s no use, he’s stronger than me.
I fight to keep my eyes open, but they start to get heavy from the lack of air. Black spots swirl in my vision, tempting me to give into the darkness that’s creeping up on me. At the last minute, Zac finally lets go of me. I fall to the floor coughing and gulping down as much air as I can. We need to get out of here, I think to myself.
After looking down at me one last time, Zac walks away to his room. I stay lying on the floor for about ten minutes before readying myself to move. Standing up, I cradle my broken arm to my chest. I push it back to the position it needs to be in and sigh when I feel the break starting to mend. I pass Zac’s room on my way to the stairs, and his loud snores pierce through the wood of his bedroom door.
Walking up the stairs is extremely painful. With every step I take, pain shoots through my body, letting me know where I’m hurt. My breathing is still labored from when he choked me, my chest hurts, my stomach aches, and my legs feel like jelly. As a result of the injuries, walking up the stairs takes me longer than it should. When I finally reach the top of the stairs, I take a couple of steps to get to my room. Pushing the door open, I walk into my room and head to my closet. I pull the door open to reveal Ellie and Blaire huddled in the corner.
“It’s over,” I murmur, letting them know it’s safe to come out. I trudge over to my bed and carefully lay down on my back. My body throbs with pain and all I want to do is sleep. Sleep sounds so good right now. Sleep is a good way to heal, so I like to take naps, or go to bed early, whenever I can.
Next thing I know, I’m being squished and hugged by two smaller bodies. “Ow,” I moan, making them immediately let go and climb off of me.
“Sorry, Lulu,” they both mumble sheepishly and crawl into bed with me. The girls usually don’t sleep in their own rooms because I won’t let them. Zac could wake up at any moment and go in their rooms and hurt them. I don’t want them to get hurt, so they sleep with me. It’s one of the things I have to do to keep them safe.
I promised them that I would keep them safe, no matter what, even if it kills me. I will keep my promise to my sisters.
“Lulu! Wake up! I am hungry!” Ellie yells while jumping on the bed. I shoot to my feet and instantly regret it as I feel the pain shoot into arms, stomach and chest, and neck. Blaire groans and mumbles something about sleep before rolling back over and burying her face in the pillow. I chuckle at her actions and shake my head. Blaire loves to sleep.
With a small smile, I head over to the bathroom. As I look in the mirror, I do a check over from last night. I have a large bruise on the right side of my face under and around my right eye and cheek. Next, I lift my shirt up and find bruises all over my stomach. My arm is also bruised, along with my neck.
My arm looks a little funny, but it will be better when it fully heals. After looking at my arm, I raise my chin and cringe when I see the handprint around my neck. Ugly and purple. Before I can do anything, Ellie runs into the bathroom. I quickly pull my shirt down, so she doesn’t have to see the marks, not that it’ll do much good. Ellie holds her arms up, motioning for me to pick her up.
“Ellie, I’m sorry,” I sigh, “I can’t pick you up right now,” I tell her. Her eyes lose a little light, and she frowns. I hate when the girls frown or are upset. For some reason, it makes me feel like I’m hurting them. Clearing my throat, I smile down at her. “How about breakfast?” I ask, and Ellie’s eyes light up while she nods her head.
With one last look in the mirror, my eyes drift down to my arm. My arm is still really hurting, but it’s not broken anymore because it’s almost healed. For me, broken bones tend to heal after ten to twelve hours, depending on the severity of the break. A healthier werewolf would be able to recover from a broken bone after two to three hours, or three to four hours, depending on the seriousness and rank.
Quickly, I dress in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I grab a pair of converse and slip them on. I don’t have much in the way of clothes, so I usually dress simple, so I can save money. I have a stash of money hidden at the top of my closet for when I can finally get out of here. I gathered the money from whatever I get from Zac to get groceries or clothes, putting the remaining money in my stash.
“Blaire, breakfast time,” I call out, walking out the door and heading downstairs. As I walk down the stairs, I check the surroundings. Zac usually leaves early in the morning so he shouldn’t be here. My eyes continue to look around when I reach the bottom of the stairs. When I’m sure no one is here, I walk into the kitchen and head towards the cabinet that has the bowls in it. I pull out two small bowls and one bigger one.
“Froo-oody pebbles!” Ellie squeals as I pick the colorful cereal box out of the cabinet. When I turn around, I realize that Blaire still isn’t down here, so I yell for her to come down. Most of the time, I have to call for her several times before she wakes up and gets down here. I pour the cereal into the three bowls, not putting as much in the smaller dishes. Once I’m done, I pour milk into each bowl and push them across the counter. One goes to Ellie, who immediately digs in with a big smile on her face, and one goes to the spot where Blaire will sit.
A couple of minutes later, Blaire walks down the stairs rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She sits on the stool beside Ellie and grabs her bowl, before shoveling a spoonful of cereal in her mouth. I smile at her tired look and start to eat my breakfast. She’s really not a morning person, unlike Ellie. Ellie is always hyper, and Blaire is a little calmer.
After the girls finish eating, I send them up to get dressed while I start making Blaire’s lunch for school. While I’m packing things into a paper bag, I notice a hundred dollar bill on the counter. When I find money on the table, it means I need to get groceries. Since I graduated last year, Zac always sends me out to do stuff while he’s away doing whatever it is he does during the day; which is probably drinking and sleeping around.
The girls come down the stairs dressed and ready, so I take the money off the counter. I take hold of Ellie’s hand, give Blaire her lunch, and we head out the door. It will only take a couple of minutes to get to Blaire’s school, even when we’re walking. We can’t take a car because Zac won’t let me drive because he thinks I will run away, which is correct. If I got in the car, we would be gone, and he would never see us again.
I stop walking when I realize the girls have stopped. Looking up, I notice we are in front of the school. Blaire runs ahead, and I wave at her as she looks back at Ellie. Blaire waves back to me and walks into the front doors. I hold onto Ellie’s hand, turning around and heading to the bus stop.
“Ready to go shopping?” I ask her once we get on the bus. I take a seat in the non-crowded part of the bus, and she claps, exclaiming, “Yes!” Her enthusiasm has me smiling as I pull her onto my lap and hug her. She hugs me back, wrapping her arms around me and nuzzling her face into the crook of my neck.
“Aw, your daughter is so cute!” The older lady next to me says, giving me a small smile. I blush and nod, “Thank you,” I mumble. Why not just say she’s mine? I take care of her, she doesn’t remember mom, and I love her like she’s my own. I’ve done everything a mother does, except for giving birth to her.
Shopping took forever because Ellie really wanted to go look at the toys. I couldn’t let her because I know she would want to buy something and I don’t have the money to buy her anything. The thought of not being able to give her little things like toys kills me. My heart aches that I can’t give them what they want. I want to be able to provide them with a safe and decent life, but I can’t do that with Zac in the picture.
After dragging all the groceries back to the house, I start to sort them and put them away. I put the food in the designated areas, like the refrigerator and cabinets, Zac’s beer in the fridge, the toiletries in the bathroom and my room. When I’m done unloading everything, I lean against the counter in the kitchen to rest for a minute. Sighing, I look over at the clock and see that it’s time to get Blaire.
Again, we make the trek to Blaire’s school. Ellie and I stay silent the whole way, just enjoying the quiet. When we get to the school, Blaire is waiting for us out front. “How was your day?” I ask, looking down at her as we start to walk. She gives me a small smile and takes my hand in hers, “It was good,” she mumbles sleepily, giving me a small smile. I nod, knowing that she’s telling the truth. I never have to worry about either of my girls lying to me because they don’t want to make me sad or upset by lying.
As the only parent/guardian figure they have, I taught them not to lie, and when I taught them that, I knew that I had to be truthful with them. Because of this lesson, the girls kind of know what happens when Zac is around. I try to keep myself happy as much as I can for their sakes, but sometimes they see through the façade, and they definitely see the bruises. I don’t really like that they know some of what goes on between us, and I definitely didn’t want them to see, so I taught them to hide. They protested at first, but I made them promise me not to be around Zac when they’re alone.
Both of the girls had many questions about where our mother went and why our father does what he does; I couldn’t give them all the answers. I told them what I could and that I don’t want them to feel the pain of an abusive and neglecting parent.
Blaire and Ellie go inside first when we get home, then I follow behind them. I get Blaire started on her homework as I start dinner. Ellie takes a seat on the counter beside me as I start to boil pasta and put ground beef in a skillet. Cooking the meat, I add the tomato sauce and stir it all up. Once that’s done, I drain the pasta and mix the pasta in with the meat and sauce.
About twenty minutes later, dinner is made. I glance at the clock and remember that Zac doesn’t come home on Friday nights, so tonight we’re safe. Happily, I put spaghetti onto three plates and set the table. We don’t talk much during dinner because we are all pretty tired. I can tell that Ellie is ready to go to bed because she can barely keep her eyes open, and I can also tell Blaire is tired from school because she is yawning.
I finish my food right as the girls do, so I grab the plates and take them to the sink to do them after I put the girls to bed. I look down at the dirty dishes and decide to do them in the morning. I’m always more tired after beatings, and on Fridays, I try to get as much sleep as I can because some other nights, I don’t get a lot of sleep.
“Come on, girls, it’s bedtime,” I tell them. Blaire gets up without protesting and walks out of the room. Ellie, I have to pick up because she’s practically asleep sitting in her chair. I follow Blaire up the stairs and into my room. Once we’re in the bedroom, Blaire is already in her pajamas and getting in bed. I help Ellie into a set of Princess Pajamas and lay her in bed before changing into a t-shirt and cotton shorts.
Crawling into my bed, I lay down in the middle of the girls. “Night, night, Lulu,” Ellie whispers as I turn the light off. I kiss her forehead and whisper back, “Goodnight, girls.” I turn over and kiss Blaire’s forehead, and she whispers ‘good night’ also. With them in my arms, I let myself drift off to sleep.