*The loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.*
My heart pounded in my chest.
Mrs. Vasquez, our principal, glared at the three of us from behind her desk. It wasn't her cold look that was scaring me, but her hand that was currently resting near the phone as she got ready to call my father.
"You know that we do not tolerate this kind of behavior. Julian, I know you're new here, but you'll learn quickly that this is not fight club," She said in a calm voice, but I could hear the underlying anger she was trying to suppress. "What were you two thinking anyway? Fighting in the middle of the hallway. Especially you, Spencer!" She says like he's the best person in the world.
Spencer had a disinterested look on his face, staring out the window. He won't get into any trouble and he knows it. Whenever he gets into trouble with the school, mommy and daddy just throw some money at them and they look the other way. She pursed her lips, knowing she couldn't say anything.
Julian on the other hand, had a neutral expression, sitting upright as he listened to Mrs. Vasquez's lecture.
"And you, McKenzie!"
I snapped my gaze away from Julian, my eyes widening in surprise.
"Me?" I asked, pointing to myself.
What did I do?
"I didn't do anything!" I protested loudly. "I was just watching!"
She shot me a glare. "And it didn't dawn on you to call a teacher?" She interrupted, raising a sharp brow. "You decided it was better to just stand there and watch?"
"I-i... Well, no..." I stuttered, lowering my gaze. "That's not what I meant..."
"I've already emailed your parents when you were waiting in the office, Spencer," Mrs. Vasquez said, "I'll sort something out with them, don't worry."
Spencer scoffed under his breath, rolling his eyes not so discreetly.
Pretending she didn't notice, she turned to Julian. "Your parents didn't answer but I left a message."
"I'll give your father a call now," She said, nodding to me.
My heart starts pounding again like it's trying to explode out of my body, my eyes wide with panic and fear. While my mind was screaming at me to run and hid, my body betrayed me by staying motionless. Small beads of sweat collected at the top of my forehead.
"Wait!" I suddenly exclaimed and all eyes turned to look at me. Julian and Spencer had curious looks on their faces at my outburst. I forced a laugh and leaned back in the chair. "My dad is on a business trip so he probably won't answer the phone," I lied.
Mrs. Vasquez just shrugged her shoulders. "I'll leave him a message then, He'll hear it eventually."
I cursed discreetly under my breath. I know Mrs. Vasquez doesn't like me, so trying to get anything to go in my favor with her is basically impossible, but I have to try unless I want to be black and blue before nightfall.
"Actually, I just remembered his phone is broken," I cried out desperately as she picked up the phone. She heaved a sigh and shot me an annoyed look.
"He dropped it down the stairs and it shattered and he hasn't gotten around to getting a new one yet!" I exclaimed, crossing my fingers behind my back, hoping she'll put the phone down.
"I'll call it anyway. If he doesn't answer then I'll leave him a message he can listen to when he got a new phone," She snapped, punching in the digits.
My stomach sank as she held up the phone to her ear. Once dad found out I'm in trouble... I don't even want to think about what will happen. Dread crept up my spine, like a spider leaving a trail of silk.
I jumped as Julian's voice came from beside me. I turned to see a concerned look on his face. Even after I'd said I didn't want to talk to him, he's still concerned about me.
Blinking rapidly I nodded and said, "Yeah, of course."
I turned to look back at Mrs. Vasquez as she held the phone up to her ear, patiently waiting. I watched with panicked eyes as the phone began to ring out.
"Hello? Is this Mr. Anosova? Good morning sir, I'm calling in regard to you daughter being involved in a fight earlier today..."
My stomach dropped even further as soon as she began to speak. I felt my hands trembling as my father's unintelligable voice talked back through the phone. Blocking out everything else, I roughly ran a hand over my face. There was no chance I would be able to avoid what he is going to do to me now.
"Okay. That's all three of you done. Your parent's are coming to pick you up for me day." Mrs. Vasquez's voice broke through my racing mind. "Wait out in the office for your parents to arrive. When you get back to school tomorrow you will have lunch detentions for the next two days."
I was the first to stand, my knees shaking as they threatened to give out any second.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Julian murmured quietly to me, coming up to stand beside me. "You look pale."
Anger and frustration boiled inside me. Slowly suffocating me, I lookked at Julian and couldn't help but blame him. If he'd have just walked away instead of provoking Spencer, none of this would've happened. But I could've gotten someone instead of just standing there as I watched them beat each other bloody. I should've ignored Julian and ran past him to class. How could I blame Julian when it was so clearly my fault? I should've stayed away from him.
"Yeah," I whispered, walking to one of the chairs in the office, Julian following close behind. "I'm fine."
But I'm not fine, and I want to curl up in his arms and tell him everything. And that scares me. I shouldn't be so dependent on him when everyone I care about either leaves or hurts me.
Since it was before noon that dad had picked me up, Belle was still at daycare for a few more hours. I'll call Julie and see if she can pick her up from daycare and have her spend the night because I know I won't be able to get out of bed let alone feed and clothe Irabella.
I sat in the backseat of the car and kept as much distance between us as possible.
Dad didn't didn't say or do a thing the whole ride home. When we reach the house, he parks the car and gets out, walking inside. He gives me a glare as he opens the front door and walks in.
I wait in the car for a few more minutes, my whole body shaking. After five more mintutes, I shakily open the car door and step out, walking slowly to the door.
When I got inside I closed the door and saw dad sitting at the kitchen table when I walked further into the house. He looked eerily calm as he sat in front of me. I stood there with my arms folded around my stomach, staring down at the floor in shame.
"It's not how Mrs. Vasquez described," I tried to explain in a panic. "I was just-"
Suddenly, dad swept his hand across the table, knocking two beer bottles to the floor. I let out a shriek, ducking my head as he grabbed another bottle, aiming it at me. I moved out of the way before it could hit me and shattered on the wall. I didn't move as he suddebly kicked back his chair, letting it fall to the ground with a bang. His eyes looked feral.
Fear traveled in my veins, but nothing in my face betrayed my emotions. Looking dad in the eyes with confidence when all I really wanted to do was curl up and cry, and he hasn't even hit me yet.
"What did I tell you at the beginning of the year?" He said, stepping forward and grabbing my chin in his hand.
"Not to draw attention to myself," I whispered in a small voice.
Dad grabbed me by my collar, pinning me against the wall. I let out a choked cry as he tightened his grip.
"Do you think I accept this kind of behavior in my house!?" He yelled and I shook my head rapidly.
"N-no," I stuttered, trying not to cry.
He balled his fist and punched me in the stomach. I doubled over in his hold, my hands immediately clutching my stomach.
"Why is it that you never undertsand what I tell you?"
He dropped me to the floor, letting me collapse in a heap. Raising his foot, he brought it down on me. I let out a pained cry, lifting my hands up in a futile attempt to protect myself.
"Why." Slap. "Do." Punch. "You." Kick. "Make." Kick, kick. "Me." Punch. "Do this!"
I shut my eyes tightly as my back arched up off the floor in excruciating pain. Dad delivered one final blow to my face, his body heaving with anger.
"One more call," He said, bending down to my level. "And it's going to me much worse than this."