After two days of inspections and check-ups, I was discharged from the hospital. My parents are currently in the hospital room to hand me clothes and pick me up.
They picked an outfit I barely wore from home, a sleeveless shirt and casual shorts. Shrugging, I changed into it, looking forward to leaving the location where I have been resting for more than a month. I approached my parents in high spirits, ready to inform them that we could set off.
I was expecting them to instantly get up, as ardent to return home as I was, but instead, they stayed where they were with an expression of flummox and befuddlement.
“Tyler honey, what’s that on your arm?” my mother asked, standing from the chair a meter from the bed and coming over to inspect my upper arm. I was in a state of perplexity as well before I looked down to see the permanent ink I had yet to tell my parents.
“Is that a…tattoo?!” she shrieked, eyes broadening in utter bafflement. “You’ve never told me about wanting to get it! It is permanent. What if you regret it?”
Even my father, who usually do not display disquietude or care, looked over under dubiety.
I looked at the two letters. “I doubt I’m going to regret it, Mom. It’s just two letters.”
She grumbled, tracing it with her fingers before reluctantly letting the topic go.
We moved outside into my father’s car to return to their house, where I would be staying before going back to my own home.
It felt phenomenal being back. Nothing was touched or removed, and it felt as if nothing had happened. I blocked away every current problem like school and reached to grab my new phone, the welcome back gift from my uncle, and immediately punched in Hope’s number.
“Tyler,” she greeted, sounding fatigued.
“What have you been doing?” I asked, laying down on my empty bed and scanning my room with a widened smile on my face.
“I’m out right now, rather far from home, strolling. I told you yesterday about my plan to petition a court and apply to be a legal guardian for Justice because it’s not fair for a child to grow with both parents in jail. I heard Calvin admitted he killed, and so did my mother. He is spending his life in prison, and my mother is serving twenty-five years. My father isn’t the only person she killed, and I’m baffled. I haven’t received explanations, but I’m so puzzled about so many things,” she told me.
“It’s perplexing, everything is. But your mother would be proud to hear that Justice is taken care of. Good deeds have good consequences,” I said.
“I hope so. There were a few nannies taking care of Justice, and one offered to stay to help me take care of Justice,” she explained. “I swear it’s much tougher than you think, you have to carry him a certain way, and you never know when he’ll be spitting out the milk he drank.”
I chuckled and said, “I think you’re doing just fine, Angel.”
“The nanny mentioned that my mother always seemed to know what Justice wants,” she said.
“Hey, about your mother, I think you should visit her sooner or later,” I suggested.
There was a pause from the other side of the line before I hear a sigh.
“I know. There’s this part of me which wants to do it sooner and ask why she would hand over the video, but the image of her stabbing my father comes to mind, and I don’t know how to look her in the eyes anymore.”
“Have hope,” I said, smiling at my joke. “I saw the video playing. She did not look willing to lower that knife. Also, I’ve wanted to tell you something for quite a long time now, but I wanted to confirm it before claiming something that’s not true.”
I heard a hum from her before I told her what I saw months ago.
“You notice how your mother always wears long sleeves? I saw many scars and bruises under them when I was at your parent’s place with you. I don’t want to be commenting on things that are not my business, but there’s a chance your stepfather is the cause of this.”
There was a longer pause this time. “I…I don’t know anymore,” she said, sounding distressed from the new information.
From a distance, I could hear three knocks from outside the door. My mother welcomed the visitor into the house, and I assumed it was my uncle visiting for dinner.
I continue listening to Hope’s voice as she changed the topic and started to rant about how she would get lost in the giant mansion of her multi-millionaire stepfather.
From a distance, I could make out the sound of footsteps nearing my room.
“Are you home already?” she asked.
“I’m at my parent’s place, where you spent the night last time. I think I’ll be returning tomorrow or the day after,” I replied.
“Okay. I think I’ll move to a comfortable home with Justice in the future, a house like Grayson’s. This mansion doesn’t make me feel—”
While she was speaking, a figure who most probably was the person my mother invited entered my room.
I sat up with my eyes widening slightly.
“Josh,” I said, loud enough for Hope to hear from her phone. I cut the call and look into the eyes of the man I called my best friend.
He looked somewhat daunting, having the aim to tyrannize. The warmth of his eyes was gone, and he became the definition of disdainful. Even more terrorizing compared to the first time I saw Hope with her blazing glares. I do vaguely remember her with the same menacing look from the video from her proof after the murder happened. It can be compared to threateningly inauspicious gloomy clouds.
“Why are you here?” I asked, itching to know. I did not expect to see him around for at least a few months before he delivers the torment he promised when I last saw him.
“I did say I’ll hurt you and Hope more than my father ever had,” he said, walking around my room and staring at a photograph of us when we were in eighth grade.
“Why?” I managed to croak out the word I have yearned to ask for the last few days.
He turned around, and for a second, there was a flash of despair before he covered it up.
“Calvin Woodland promised me cash, and after that offer, I had everything in my future planned out. I knew what I wanted to do with every cent. I was sincerely euphoric for once after I laid my eyes on my biological father. The job was simple, to kill Hope. He promised I would not get caught, so I crashed into your car with one of his. He was even willing to repair and give me that car if I completed that job, but you stood in the way. She was supposed to be in that coma.”
“I failed the task, but I was given a second chance. Do you know how difficult it is to get second chances from Calvin Woodland himself? I kidnapped Grayson for him to prove I was trustworthy before everything, but that woman was able to free him and the man beside his cell.”
He continued with the information of the man who was trapped in the cell beside Grayson’s.
“Calvin told me that man was young and was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He knows how to fight because of his rich parents who enrolled him in everything he was interested in, but it was because of that he was put into that cell. He picked a fight with one of Calvin’s most trustworthy workers.”
“After they were broken free, Calvin blamed it on me. Of course, there were no third chances, Calvin starved me and would burn my back daily.” He took off his shirt and turned around, revealing the many small burnt marks all over. “He would light a match and put it on my skin, telling me how much of a failure I am while I begged for him to stop.”
He turned so he could look me in the eyes. “Do you know why I’m telling you this?”
I am lost myself. Josh had just been feeding me with information.
“I wanted you to know how much you and Hope had ruined for me, how my future disappeared because the both of you just had to interfere!” he yelled, and I swore I could see his eyes glisten with aversion with every word said.
He reached out and tore our photograph from the wall and dropped it onto the floor. I made no move to stop him or pick it up because I believe I can never see him the same again. I would probably have disposed of the picture myself.
What caused me to hop to my feet in an instant was when he lit a match and dropped it onto the photograph.
It struck me that he might have several matches and could cause more chaos than I thought he would.
He did, in fact, have another. After seeing the fire burn out while the smell spread throughout my room, he took his time to fish out another match from his pocket, nearing it to the matchbox.
Before he could ignite it, I launched towards him, struggling to get the matchbox and match out of his hold. I threw it just a few inches away from the entrance to my room.
I could hear the vague sound of the doorbell and the voice of my mother. We continued to fight, and I realized none of us exactly had the advantage. Although he has no experience, I just woke from a coma and techniques did not come to mind immediately like it used to. Only luck will decide if my house ends up in flames.
I twisted his arm, only to receive a hard bash from his head. I took a moment for my vision to return before holding him back once again.
He escaped my grip, and he was a stretch away from reaching the matchbox before luck decided to side with me, and it got kicked away.
Both of us looked up to Hope, she looked weary, but still shot me a small smile before stepping towards Josh. She brutishly pulled him up with a hand around his neck.
Her expression screamed callousness before shaping into one that showed she was apathetic. Josh was on his feet in a blink, struggling for her to let go, but her grip was firm and secured.
“Leave, I’m not in the mood,” she told him quietly, letting him go. His eyes fluttered closed, almost falling to his knees as he coughed vigorously.
He glared between us, grabbing his shirt before saying in a low and promising voice, “I’ll be back, and when I do, you will regret today,” before leaving.
Hope visibly relaxed as she slumped onto my bed.
“I’m guessing you’re not holding up very well,” I pointed out, crawling beside her.
“I rushed here the moment I heard his name. You’re lucky I was close. Justice is under Danielle’s care for the night, so I was wandering around the neighbourhood park.”
“Danielle?” I caught the name from the middle of her rambling.
“The nanny,” she replied, turning to face me.
“You have to take some time off,” I told her, staring into the pair of blue eyes that is only perceptible in a close range. “How about tomorrow after school? We can go to the west of the town.”
The west is the hectic, feverish and sprightliest side of the whole town, where places of entertainment, eateries, and malls were scattered around. It was like a small city in the area.
“I’ve never been there,” she revealed after a few seconds. “Maybe when I was younger, but I’ve forgotten. I heard countless people talk about it, but never made an effort to go.”
“I’ve been there twice, it’s vivacious, especially in the night. I’m not sure if you’d like it since you despise crowded places,” I described, seeing the image in my mind.
We drown ourselves in comfortable silence for a few minutes before Hope groaned.
“I don’t want to go back to the mansion. I see pictures of Calvin wherever I go. I don’t even feel like taking a lift home either.”
“Stay the night then,” I cut her off, and I could tell she was considering it.
She had done it before that day she first got to know her father left her a million along with a compact disc.
“You can stay for lunch too. My mother wouldn’t mind,” I added.
“I have school tomorrow,” she pointed out, furrowing her eyebrows as she stared back into my eyes.
“We have school tomorrow, I can’t miss more than I already did,” I informed, biting back a sigh as the problem of school came to attention.
“Alright then,” she told me a small smile.