I’ve got to get out of here...
“Rhea! Get back here!”
I’ve got to get out of here!
As my father keeps screaming behind me, I climb into my old pickup and turn on the ignition. I’ve got to go, now! I put the car in reverse and gun it out of the driveway.
As the house and my father shrink in my rear view mirror, I feel the tears roll down my cheeks. I drive to the upscale neighborhood of my classmates and make my way to the grassy patch at the nearby playground. It’s been my safe haven for years. Whenever my father would get drunk I would hide by the pond, now I use it to hide and cover the bruises he leaves. Today I’m covering his hand print on my cheek, my bruise, and a cut from him throwing his beer bottle at me.
I move slowly, cringing with every touch. If it were up to me, I would never go back to that house, but I didn’t have much of a choice.
Every high, every low... Every trip to the make-up store, every dollar I earn flushed away on hiding it, every excuse... It was too much.
Climbing back into my truck and getting ready to drive to school, I look around at the pristine houses before me and wonder, what is it like to be well off, to be loved by your parents? I can’t keep thinking about it, I’ll go crazy. I hit my radio and lose myself in the music as I drive.
Arriving at the school, I go to my locker and try to soak in the happy space I’ve made. Pictures of my mom before she died, dad before he drank, best friend before she moved.
I was so happy... Was...
I jump as the school doors swing open and my classmates file in, all the pretty, perfect, popular people. I roll my eyes and start to gather my books while they pass me. I try and pretend I don’t envy them.
"I don’t care..." I tell myself, ”I don’t ca--”
As I start to walk to class I feel something smack against my face and suddenly I’m on the floor, books sprawled, beanie flying off showing the gash on my forehead courtesy of my father. I panic pushing myself backward to get away from what I hit.
I watch the Lacrosse captain and his friends laughing at me, that is until he’s met with someone gripping his shirt and pressing him to the wall.
“Why don’t you stop that laughing and apologize Trevor,” Jordan, the school’s notorious bad boy whispers threateningly, “Or else you’ll start finding out how it feels to have no teeth.”
Trevor fights against Jordan’s grip, letting his body thrash to no avail. Watching his muscles tense in fear, I begin to wonder if he can speak.
Jordan raises his fist, clenching so hard his knuckles turn white, causing Trevor to wince, “I’m sorry! It won’t happen again, I’m sorry!” he cried out and dropped to the floor. I watch his friends help him up and run down the hall.
“Hey, whoa, are you alright?” I turn and see Jordan’s hand outstretched, my instinct is to shy away from him, “I’m sorry, did I scare you? Oh, you’re bleeding. Did they do that?”
I take a deep breath and get up. I gather my stuff as fast as I can, “I’m sorry,” I start muttering under my breath, I glance up at him once before I disappear in a running haze to my classroom.
Dropping down onto my seat, I frantically put my hat back on and try to hide in my little corner of the world where no one sees me or knows I exist. Sitting and waiting for the time to pass I pull out my phone, noticing a minor crack start to form across the screen.
I release a deep, withheld breath and pull up my texts. As I press button after button I feel the hairs on my arms and on the back of my neck stand up. I search the room until my eyes land right outside to door.
My heart drops and I feel as if have a knife in my lungs. I dart my eyes down and continue my message... Hitting send and watching the message join the conversation between my best friend Maria and I.
“I miss u... A lot is happenin’ and I can’t w8 to talk!”
In reality I wanted to scream. She knew about everything going on, it killed her to move, so in an effort to help her feel better I lie to her about how things are. I hate lying, but I have to for her sake.
The rest of the day I spent on the verge of panic, class after class. When it came to lunch and sixth period I felt ready to puke, Jordan put himself two seats behind me and I could feel him watching me.
When the final bell rings, I couldn’t get out fast enough. I gather my books and homework, shoving everything in my bag as I rush out the front door.
I stop dead in my tracks at the sight of Jordan by my truck.
“Hey,” he smiles down at me, “how are you feeling?
I walk up as calm as possible and keep my head down, “Look, I’m sorry about this morning,” I mutter quickly, “please let me get in my car and go ho--“.
“I know what your dad does,” my head shoots up, “I’ve seen you go to the pond and cover it up,” he sees my embarrassment and takes my hand, “I want to help.”
“How could you possibly help?”
Pulling me along to the bed of my truck he takes both of our bags and throws them in, “Let’s get out of here.”
I look in his eyes, “Where’re we going?”
He smirks, shrugging his shoulders. For a few moments it’s silent and I contemplate running back into the school. He lets his smile fade as he walks to the passenger side door.
He opens the door, “Wherever we want, wherever you’re safe. He won’t touch you again, I promise.”