Axel and Alex part 4
I lay next to my father, both of us reeking of alcohol and smoke. It was ten months ago that I met Axel, the man I love. I don’t have anyone else in my life but him, and I’m grateful for him.
I spend every day with him, although I tried to go to class once in a while to keep up. But I am failing in school. Not because I don’t know it, but because I never hand in assignments or homework or do exams.
Axel says it doesn’t matter as long as I pass my exams in senior year, which is ages away. He plans to take me to Europe after senior year, get married in Venice and watch our children grow up in London for good schools. He has it all worked out for us together. But I am still fifteen. I haven’t really lived yet.
It’s three in the morning, I decide to go out and clear my head, passing a bar on my way.
“Hey, little lady, can I see some ID?” greets the bartender, suspiciously. I am six years underage but a lot of places just don’t cares. I whip out my fake ID, and he just nods, although knowing I’m not 21. They just want the proof so that it’s my fault if there’s an incident. “What can I get you?”
“Anything,” I reply, and he smiles, handing me a drink of whiskey, and something else. The drinks soon start piling.
“You remind me of someone?”
“I do?” I ask the bartender a little dazed.
“Yeah, same blue eyes and blonde hair. Is your dad Phil?” I groan internally, forgetting this is my dad’s bar.
“I’m his daughter, yes,” I say.
“Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” he comments moving on to serve someone else.
I throw down some money on the bar and head out angrily, hating his words. I am not like my dad. I can’t be. He’s a good-for-nothing drunk who cares about no one but himself. It’s me who pays his bills, who pays for food, who does everything around the house. I’m not like him. Am I?
When I get back home, I stare at myself avidly in the mirror and I finally see it. I see me. A shell of a girl I once was, drowned by pills and alcohol. I want to tear my eyes away but I can’t. I won’t.
I’m like him but I’m not as weak. I’m not going to carry on, and ignore it. I’m not happy. I’m not free. I’m just drunk and high, and happy and free aren’t the same things as drunk and high.
I love Axel, I do, but he is bad for me. He tries to control me, and manipulate me. I love him, but I hate him. I hate that I love him. He wants what’s best for me, but he doesn’t know what’s best. I can’t live like this forever; this is barely living. I don’t feel anything anymore, not like I used to. I don’t feel real emotion, only what the drink and the drugs make me feel.
I hate it. I hate it all. I want to stop it, but I’m afraid. I’m not strong enough to stop all of it. I’m an alcoholic just like my dad, but I’m worse. I’m addicted to drugs. And to party life, and to him, to Axel. I have no real friends, no education, no free will anymore.
I have to do something.
The next afternoon, after I’m more sobered up, I stay in my house, reach for my phone to dial Matt’s number.
“Hello?” Matt’s voice is like a ghost from the past. He never really talked to me after they sent him away and so I never thought to call. But I need a fresh start. Away from all of it.
“Hi Matt, it’s been a while.”
“Wow, Alex? Hi, how are you? I heard about mom and dad. Are things okay?”
“No, they’re not. Mom’s gone.”
“What do you mean she’s gone?”
“She ran away with her new boy toy. Left dad to me. He drinks himself until he passes out every night.”
“I’m coming to get you, to take you away from him.”
“No, it’s not him. I want me and dad to move in with you, please.”
“You want to move to California?”
“Yes, we’re moving, we have to. A fresh start. Can we?”
“Yeah, of course," he replies, sounding hesitant. "You sound really bad. You’re not doing well, are you?”
“I just need to get away, Matt. Thanks. We’ll be on the first flight out.”
“Text me and I’ll pick you up from the airport.”
I'm not going to bother to ask my dad. It isn't his choice anymore. I need to be strong, and if I stay here, I’m not going to be strong enough. Axel will try to stop me and I really need to change. I don’t want to be like my dad, that I know for sure. He’s a fuck-up, why should I be too?
I am not going to wait until something bad happens because of what I’ve been doing to stop. I’m stopping myself now.
But how am I going to tell Axel? That I’m breaking up with him and leaving? I love him and I don’t know if I’m strong enough. He has such a hold on me. He's the only person I've had for a year. He's everything I know now.
Heading over to Axel’s, clear of all the drugs and alcohol effects, I gather myself. This will be hard.
It’s for the best, though, you know it is, Alex.
“Hey, baby, want some food?” he greets, ushering me into his kitchen.
“No,” I reply, taking his hand, leading him to a seat at the table and I sit next to him. “I’m leaving.”
He laughs a little, “you just got here.”
“I don’t mean here. I mean the state fucking state. And... you,” I say, my head bowing down to avoid his eyes. He grabs my chin, forcing me to look at him by lifting it up.
“I’m breaking up with you!” I exclaim, pulling my chin away from his grip. Standing up, I look at him warily, scared of what he might do. When he doesn’t get his way, he gets aggressive. He hits me when I disobey him. He just gets in one of those moods; he can't help it.
“No, you’re not,” he hisses, backing me up against the wall, and slams the wall to the side of me. “You’re leaving me, baby? You really think you can? You’re mine; I won’t allow it.”
“I’m not your possession, Axel. And yeah, I think I can,” I yell, pushing with all my rage that I have pent up inside.
My parents made me angry, school made me angry, Axel made me angry. I punch him hard, and he falls to the ground instantly, taken aback.
I feel the urge to do it again and again, but I fear this is another addiction, and if I give in to the addiction, he wins, and my father wins and everyone who doubts me wins.
I walk away, leaving him on the ground, groaning.
I pick up my father, drag him into a car that is heading to the airport. This is it, the hardest part done. I just need to keep away from all of it. I can stay away from Axel as long as he is in Arizona.
It’ll be hard to stay off the drink and drugs, but I don’t have Axel’s supply anyway and I get to look at my dad every morning to remind me that I don’t want to be like that. I’ll take him upstairs and put him in bed every morning so I don’t relapse. I’ll focus on school and having friends and try to keep away from bad influences. And I have to, no matter what, stay in control.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Axel?” I exclaim, still trying to figure out whether this is real.
“I came to find you. God, when you told me you were leaving the state, I thought you were bluffing, just so I wouldn’t try look for you in the city. I should have guessed with your brother.”
I can feel the fury grow within me. I still loved him, I hated that feeling but I did love him. I finally have more control over myself. I’m living my life well even though I have a few lapses now and again. I am in control, no one else.
I push past him, trying to get away but his hand grasps my wrist, tugging me gently back to him. He immediately drops my hand, like he’s trying to control himself.
“I’m sorry. I know no amount of apologizing makes up for what I’ve done, but I’m sorry. I know you still love me, like I still love you. I know I was a bad influence before, and you seem to have your life together now, but I have mine together too. I’m clean now, genuinely. I searched for you for ages after you left, first in the state, then I tried to find out where your brother lived.
"But at some point, after you had been away from me for a while, I took a look at myself and realized that I was horrible to you. I tried to control you and manipulate you and I forced you into doing things you didn’t want to do. I loved you so much though; I still love you now. And if you still love me, please, I want us to try to make us work. I always knew you were it for me, and when you left, all that was running through my mind, my soulmate has gone. I pushed you away, made you into something you’re not. I’m begging you to give us a chance.”
He’s begging me to take him back. I can see he’s clean and he is right, I do still love him. He’s owning up to his mistakes, taking responsibility, something the old Axel never would’ve done.
But I can’t forget what he’s done. He made me lose control in the first place and now I have to fight every second to maintain my newfound control. He did that.
But those eyes, he’s begging me. I think he’s changed. Shouldn’t I give him a chance? What if he hurts me again? It shouldn't happen this time because I should have enough control to get out of the relationship.
“Okay, one more chance,” I reply, and his face lights up like I’ve never seen it before.
He’s genuinely happy. And I love to see him smile.