Chapter 20: "Are you ready Ryder?"
Patients were finally allowed to roam the halls once again and I couldn’t be more thankful. I sat in the eating hall at my own table. I took small bites of my food that I couldn’t really decipher what it really was. It tasted okay, but the look of it was suspicious.
I heard someone clear their throat. I glanced up to see no one, making me shrug and return to my plate of questions. I then felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to my right to see nothing. I let out an annoyed sigh and turned back to my food yet again. I then heard a chair shift on my left and looked to see a familiar face. I took in a sharp breath as my eyes slowly filled with warm tears. “D-Dad?”
He softly smiled, “Hello Ryder. Before anything else, I just wanted to apologize for not being in your life while I was alive; I was kind of ...caught up in something.”
I wasn’t sure what to say or what to do -- my dead father was sat next to me and was laughing off his death like it was nothing. I was left speechless to say the least. “W-Why are you here? What made you want to come here?”
Dad let out a short laugh as he ran his fingers through his hair (at least now I know where I got my bad habit). My father looked up to me and stared me right in the eyes. “I know you and Blaze are in different terms, but I’ve gotten to know him over the years I’ve been trapped here. I don’t think you fully understand what the boy has been through. I wanted to show you want he went through; leaving him in the dust the way you did ...I’m disappointed Ryder. Hasn’t your mother taught you anything?”
I shrugged; Mom hasn’t really taught me anything. My mom barely cared for me in general growing up. I’ve had to teach myself everything I know since I had no one to rely on.
“You should never judge or hurt someone, no matter who they are. You have no idea what they’re going through and what struggles they’re dealing with.” Dad scolded.
Those wise words felt like a knife to the skin. My father was right; everyone’s going through something and you never know how badly things really are. I had no idea how much Blaze has truly suffered growing up. Now that I know his past, I felt sick to my stomach. He didn’t deserve anything I said or did to him. I don’t love him and I barely count him as a friend, but he’s still someone in my life.
I was on my bed with my father standing over me. He wanted to take me into the past to see what Blaze had lived through. In all honesty, I didn’t want to throw myself into Blaze’s story; I shouldn’t be caring about him this much. My father says I don’t understand half of what Blaze dealt with in his life. I only understood his violent and dark side since that’s all I’ve been exposed to. He hid who he truly was so well, I had no idea what to expect.
“Are you ready Ryder?”
I glanced up to my father. I nodded my head even though I felt uneasy on the inside. My father walked up to me as I lied on the bed. I shut my eyes and started to drift into a sleepy state. What was I getting myself into? I shouldn’t care about Blaze; he meant nothing to me. He was a psycho 19 year old who was in love with me. I shouldn’t be digging a hole and dwelling into his life.
I found myself in a middle school environment with pre-teens all around me. It felt weird being out of Mills Mental Institution. I noticed a group of young teens, they looked around 14 or 15 years old, crowding around another young teen. I hurried over to the group to see them pushing and shoving a young blonde student who was begging them to stop.
The group only laughed louder as the blonde struggled to escape. “Please let me go! I want to go home!” the blonde cried out. The pleas only made the tormenting teens erupt in laughter. The blonde was pushed hard and then fell to the floor, books falling from his arms to the floor. The laughter continued as well as the bullying.
“When is he going to realize no one wants him here?”
“You’re a freak!”
“Learn how to fight for yourself, Dixon.”
Blaze gathered his books and ran past the bullies, past me, and straight out the school doors. I looked back to the group of guys who continued to shout insults. Even though they couldn’t see me, I still flipped them off as a release of anger. I hurried behind Blaze to see him walking with his head hanging low. He walked down the sidewalk while staring at his shoes as he continued to inch further from his school.
I studied Blaze; he seemed so different than how I know him now. In the institution, he was dark and sinister. Not to mention he was 19 years old and he’s only around 15 years old here. I then remembered: Blaze was thrown into Mills Mental Institution when he was 15 years old. This must have been a little while before he was signed off to the asylum.
He looked ahead of him and let out a long sigh. I followed his gaze to see a house not too far from where we were. That must have been his house, but I was getting a vibe that he was dreading even coming near the home. It was as if he would rather be anywhere else than be at home. The papers Dr. Michaels gave me did say he had a rough home life …
We slowly approached his home and I was beginning to get an uneasy feeling in my stomach; something felt very wrong. I was scared for Blaze; I may not have known what was coming, but I was still feeling terrified for whatever was about to happen. He was 15 years old and had yet to develop his tough cover he has now. He has no idea how to defend himself.
Blaze unlocked the front door and cautiously entered. He walked in the house and quickly hurried to his bedroom. I looked around the small home as I walked behind Blaze. It was a typical home -- three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, family room, etc -- it felt as if there was nothing wrong with this house. The things is, with the Dixon’s, things were definitely wrong.
“Blaze, is that you?” another voice called.
Blaze took in a shaky breath, “Y-Yeah it’s me AddaLynn.” AddaLynn walked into Blaze’s bedroom to find him pulling out his homework and textbooks. There was a look of curiosity on her face as she studied him. Blaze seemed uncomfortable as AddaLynn continued to stare at her brother.
AddaLynn walked closer to Blaze, grabbing his arm and pulling the right sleeve back. I covered my mouth in shock as I stared at the scratches and bruises covering his skin. “You got jumped again, didn’t you?” she asked in disgust. Blaze hesitantly nodded, fear obvious on his face. She dropped his arm and rolled her eyes. “Let me guess, you didn’t stick up for yourself? You’re 15 years old and you can’t even man up and fight back? You’re truly pathetic.” AddaLynn continued to spit out insults.
It was obvious Blaze was taking every word as if they were staps to the heart. AddaLynn was quick to shove Blaze harshly, sending him to the ground with a thud. AddaLynn sat on Blaze’s chest and held his arms to the ground, staring at him dead in the eyes. “You’re so weak Blaze. You’re never going to amount to anything if you keep allowing people to walk all over you. Toughen up and grow a pair already; it’s about time you learn from all these beatings,” she spat in his face.
The front door opened and closed. AddaLynn was quick to pull Blaze’s right sleeve back up and jump off his chest and running to her room. Both Blaze and AddaLynn’s parents walked into the house. Blaze’s mother entered his bedroom to see him still on the floor. “Blaze, what are you doing?” she asked. Blaze quickly sat up and brushed himself off.
“Just ...relaxing.” he awkwardly chuckled.
His mother shrugged and left the bedroom. Blaze walked up to the door and closed it, enveloping himself in silence. He sat himself on his bed and pulled his sleeves back down to see the marks once again. There were bruises and scars along his right arm while there were slits on his left -- the cuts on his left arm definitely looked as if they were on purpose. He was only 15 years old and was already covered in scars. “I wasn’t good enough anyways,” his voice was full of pain.
I sprang up in my bed with my heart racing. I looked to see my father staring at me. I stared back at him at a loss of words. “You feel bad about what you said to Blaze, now don’t you?” my father asked. I slowly nodded my head; I had no idea it was that bad. He felt as if he wasn’t worth anything and after what I said, he must feel ten times worse.
Guilt ate away at me as I sat in the bed. I knew I had to apologize and fix these broken pieces, but that was going to be anywhere but easy.