Chapter 25: Amaya
Seven years earlier...
“$250, Amaya, that’s how much you fucking costed me tonight,” Derrick grits out through his teeth.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
That right there is a half-truth, I didn’t want him to lose $250 today, but that man didn’t deserve to be beaten the way they wanted me to hurt him. He looked terrified and was lanky, I don’t know that he’d be able to survive the night if I did what Derrick had told me to do while we were still sitting in Derrick’s friend’s beige Corolla.
The brass-knuckles that my hands were weaved through had my hands feeling weighed down. Neither of us wanted to be there and so I let him run off thinking that the amount of money wasn’t all too high that was owed.
I could easily scrap up $75, but $250, that’s an amount that would take me impossibly long to get when Derrick takes practically every penny that ends up in my possession.
“You didn’t mean to?” he growls out before I notice a vein in his forehead starting to pop out. “I guess I’m sorry magically gives me the cash that you cost me, doesn’t it? Great damn trick if it fucking worked, but you knew good and damn well it wouldn’t. You also knew that it was a stupid damn choice you made, and we don’t make stupid choices.” He starts to roughly roll up the sleeves to his leather jacket before making his way over to me.
I know what’s coming. It always comes when I try to do the right thing.
"Please don’t do this,” I beg out as I start backing away from him.
“You did this to yourself,” he grinds out, his strides getting wider before he’s right in front of me and throwing his fist forward, connecting it with my mouth.
Every time he says that I do this to myself I feel tempted to say, “No you idiot, I’m not the one throwing punches at me, you are” but that would only end in more pain.
Instead I stand there, holding the fresh injury without allowing tears to stream down my cheeks. The taste of blood in my mouth doing nothing since I’ve gotten used to it. The second hit is to the gut and I find myself doubling over in pain, dropping down to my knees in the process.
I drop my hands from my mouth and stomach to instead crawl into a small ball and protect my head from the worst of the blows. With each kick I see more and more spots, feeling myself getting closer to fading out of consciousness, but I fight it. I’m always going to fight it. I have no choice.
Passing out is one of those things that can result in far worse treatment because in Derrick’s mind it means you were too weak to handle the pain, but I’m not weak. I’ve made it this far and I’m still alive. That makes me strong. I continue to place others first even when it means having to suffer the consequences. I’m always going to do that and that’s a promise.
I won’t turn out like Derrick. I’m better than that, I couldn’t ever drop down to his level. I’m also going to prove to him that I’m not weak. Derrick says the weakest are left for dead and I don’t ever want to be left for dead.
“Next time I tell you to do something, you fucking listen to me.” He kicks me one last time, this kick harder than each of the others. I sputter out a mouthful of blood since the taste is starting to get a bit overbearing now. “Get the hell out of here, I don’t want to see you for the rest of the night.”
I slowly but surely force myself up off the ground, wheezing the entire time because my air supply is limited. Two times I almost fall thanks to the immense amount of pain I feel in my leg, but I know it’s not broken, I’ve felt the pain to know what to look for.
“Move faster,” he grunts out.
I work through my spotty vision to get to the front door before throwing it open and wandering out into the pitch black night in my vulnerable state. My left leg drags the entire way to Shawn and Xavier’s house since they’re the closest to the house and their parents already half-know about everything. It’d be easiest to come clean to them.
The moment I get on the doorstep I give a quick knock. I stand there for three seconds before a wave of dizziness takes over me. I start to fall before a pair of arms wrap around me, lifting me off the ground.
“Jourdyn! Shawn! Xavier! Come quick!” Mr. Harper’s yell comes to my ears before his hold becomes a bit tighter on me. I force myself to open my eyes, being met with the sight of Mr. Harper’s deep green eyes staring down at me in concern. “Did he do this to you?” I don’t say a word.
“Hey, what’s wro- Amaya!” Shawn shrieks out before I shrink down a bit. “Who would do this to you?”
“Yeah, who did this? We can help.”
Mr. Harper exchanges a look with his wife, neither of them saying a word since they already know. The only people who don’t know about my home situation is Shawn and Xavier, but I think it’s about time for them to know too.
“D-Derrick,” I force out as I slowly sit up and force myself out of their father’s arms. I wipe at my busted lip, ignoring the burn that comes along with it. “He did this and then told me to get out of his sight with a few meaner words.” I glare down at my leg before rolling up my pant leg to access the damage done.
It already started to swell along with some purple splotches.
“Who would he do this?” Shawn whispers out while taking a sea on the floor in front of me; he starts to untie my combat boots but goes slow to make sure he doesn’t hurt me.
“I costed him $250.” Shawn freezes, looking up to me with clear confusion.
“How’d you manage to do that?” Xavier asks in a retreating voice like he’s unsure of himself.
I reach into my pocket to pull out the brass knuckles I refused to use on the man. “What the hell?” Mr. Harper says from beside me before holding his hand out for them; I reluctantly hand them over. “Why do you have these?”
“What’s that?” Shawn asks as he starts to crane his neck, hoping to get a glimpse at what his father seems to be so invested in. I only look down at my hands. I don’t want to hear him being disappointed in me.
“Amaya, why do you have brass knuckles? What has he gotten you into?” I allow my cheeks to stream down my cheeks now.
“I never used them, I promise. I- he- he wanted me to use them tonight. He pulled over and told me there was a man around the corner that owed him, I wasn’t s’posed to ask him why, so I didn’t. Derrick told me that if the man didn’t give what he owed I had to hurt him, but I didn’t touch the man.
“I saw how afraid he was when I walked up to him with them on and he knew why I was there. I told him which way to run so he could avoid Derrick seeing him as he ran, I was gonna tell Derrick that he ran and I wasn’t fast enough to catch him. I didn’t want to hurt him or see him get hurt.” My lip puckers out.
“Derrick somehow knew I let him go and then he did this when we got home. I’m not too surprised, he can have a bit of a temper. I don’t like brass knuckles, a pair was used on me before and I still have the marks. I’m not the type of person to use those. I swear,” I whimper out as I bring my shaky hands up to my face to clear my face from the tears.
“We don’t think you are, right?” Xavier questions; Shawn is the first to nod his head in agreement, their parents following in pursuit.
“Amaya, you’ve got to tell someone other than us what happened. Derrick, he’s a bad man that you and your brother have no right to be around. You guys need to get away from him.”
“If he finds out I told you guys he might kill me, and Mom, she’ll go to jail or something. What about Jonah and I, we’ll be in foster care and could end up in an even worse situation.” Nobody says a word, probably absorbing how heavy everything I’ve just came clean to.
“Well can you stay the weekend with us?” I open my mouth to speak.
“We’ll arrange it,” their parents answer for me.
“One of you go get her a pair of sweats and a shirt to sleep in, I’ll help you clean your face and wrap that leg up.” Mrs. Harper gets into commando mode, getting the boys into action the moment the words are out of her mouth. “You,” she turns to her husband, “go make that phone call.” He nods before walking out of the room.
She stands up, helping me to do the same. Mrs. Harper slowly makes her way to the downstairs bathroom so I can keep in sync with her. When we get into the bathroom she motions me over to the closed toilet seat for me to take a seat.
“This shouldn’t have happened to you,” she mumbles out as she retrieves a washcloth and begins to dampen it. She squeezes it out before grabbing an ace bandage from the cabinet above the sink, most likely for my leg. “That man doesn’t have enough sense to fix his shit or at least keep it his own. He always has to drag people down with him, including that father of yours.” My head shoots up but I sit silently, words never manage to do much good for me.
“Dab that on your lip and see if you can stop the bleeding before we ice it.” I nod, watching as she takes a seat on the side of the bathtub. Mrs. Harper gingerly lifts my leg to place it in her lap instead. “We should be taking you to the hospital for this.”
“No hospitals. Derrick will find out and if he can’t get to me he’ll go for Jonah.”
“Two questions: where is Jonah now? How bad has Derrick been to him?” She starts wrapping my leg but makes sure to go slow.
“Jonah slept over at one of his friends’ houses, I think the kid’s name was Sheamus or something like that.” I watch her movements. “He never gets it to this degree, I always make sure to keep the attention on me. If I can’t save us both, I’d rather save him than myself.” She slowly nods before biting down on her lip; her attention stays on my leg.
I begin to dab away at my lip as I was instructed to do.
“I’ve got everything set-up, you’re with us for the weekend and Jonah’s set to come here after his sleepover with Moose,” Mr. Harper says as he walks into the open bathroom door. “How you feeling, kiddo?”
“Not great, but this isn’t the worst of what I’ve gotten so I’ll be fine. I just need to sleep and allow my leg to heal enough so I can run by Tuesday.”
“Why are you gonna have to run?” Mrs. Harper asks while making eye-contact.
“To make up for the $250+ money that Derrick’s gonna be expecting for tonight’s fail in his eyes. Sometimes we’re told to race as they place bets against us, or do some field work, but I really hope it’s the racing. I can worry about healing right later and push myself.”
“Why doesn’t anything surprise me anymore?”
“Here you go,” Shawn interrupts us before making his way over to me. “I gave you a pair of sweatpants and one of my beanies since I know you like to wear them, and this time, you won’t have to steal one from me. You can keep it if you want, I know green is your favorite color.” I flash him a smile. He clears his throat, looking down at the small pile of clothes in his hands. “Xavier gave you his Spider-Man shirt.”
Shawn’s cheeks turn a rosy tint before he nods to me, striding out of the room only a few seconds after. I watch as he leaves and continue to watch even though he’s already gone. I look away the very next second, resisting the urge to bite down on my lip since it’s busted and I don’t need it getting worse.
“You go and get yourself some rest, we can ice your lip in the morning if it’s still swollen.” I nod before handing her the still damp washcloth.
“Thanks for being there for me and Jonah.”
“You don’t need to thank us, we wish we could do more,” Mr. Harper says after me.
“You each have done more than enough for us, I wish I could say the same for Mom,” I grumble out the last part but part of me believes they still heard it. “Good night.”
I make my way into the guest bedroom that I usually end up sleeping in to notice Shawn on the left side of the bed as Xavier lays at the foot of the bed using his arms as a pillow.
“Can we spend the night with you? I don’t think we’re gonna be able to sleep if we can’t physically see that you’re alright.” I nod to the request but don’t say anything, because truth be told, I didn’t want to be alone tonight and I didn’t want to admit to that.
I climb into bed, motioning for Xavier to come up beside us so there’s no worry of kicking him off the bed. Shawn wraps his arms around my waist, I scooch a bit closer to him, allowing him to hold me close.
“I know you doubt a lot, Wolff, but never forget that I love you. We all do.” I don’t say anything, letting myself fall asleep with that being the last thing I hear.