Chapter 1: A Place To Stay
"You’re good for nothing!” he screamed at me.
I was used to years of this. My mom left us when I was only six years old. She had had enough of my dad and she didn’t even care about me. She left me with him to endure this life.
I just ignored him and kept making my dinner.
He threw the remote at me, hitting me in the back. “Listen to me when I talk to you!”
I whirled on him, “Maybe if you didn’t beat me senseless all the time I would pay you a little more attention!”
He pulled his arm back and punched me in the face. His fist hit me square in the cheek. I clenched my fists at my sides and took it. I wanted so badly to fight back but I knew if I did I wouldn’t hold back. I could kill him.
I shoved him away from me and ran out of the house. I looked around wondering where to go. A light in a window next door caught my eye. It was Shaina Collin’s house.
I jumped over the fence and climbed up to her window. Peering inside, I saw Shaina sitting on her bed, with her back to the window, listening to music. I reached up and tapped on the window.
She pulled out her earbuds and looked at me. I tapped again.
She got up and opened the window. “What are you doing here?” she asked sounding nervous.
“I need somewhere to stay and your house is the closest.”
I saw her eyes wander to the bruise forming on my cheek.
“Don’t you have a friends house you could go to?” she asked me.
Honestly, I had two friends and they lived across town. I wouldn’t be able to get there without my dad finding me.
“That’s the first place he’d look.” I told her seriously.
She bit her lip nervously.
“Come on, Shaina. It’s only one night.” I coaxed her.
Finally, she nodded and stepped away from the window.
I climbed in and she went back to her bed.
I sat down behind her and peered over her shoulder. “So what are we working on?”
“Ooh my favorite.” Which wasn’t a lie. I loved chemistry.
“Really?” she asked me disbelievingly.
Before I could answer her mom poked her head in and called Shaina out into the hallway.
When she came back I asked her, “Is it a problem I’m here?”
“No. Not at all.” she reassured me. “My mom was just surprised that’s all.”
“Why?” I asked kind of confused.
“Well because we aren’t really friends so I don’t think she expected you to be here...” she trailed off.
It was completely true. We weren’t really friends. I mean yeah, we were neighbors, but we didn’t really talk or hang out. We're nothing a like.
“Oh,” I felt like I really just needed to relax. “Hey, do you mind if I smoke?”
She looked at me like I had just asked her if she was from Mars. “Not in here!” she exclaimed.
I chuckled, “I wasn’t going to smoke in here. I was just wondering if you minded.”
“I mean, I would really rather you not but if you must, go outside.”
I got up from the bed and climbed back out into the roof. I sat down, pulled out my pack and lighter from my pocket, and lit up a cigarette. I closed my eyes and took a long drag.
Shaina called me, “Hey Matthew?”
I opened my eyes and blew out the smoke, “Hm?”
She looked around all shy, “Could you.... Could you help me with my chemistry?”
I nodded. “Bring your stuff out here.”
She clambered through the window and cautiously made her way over to me. She looked pretty uncomfortable. As she tried to sit beside me, her foot slipped.
My hand shot out and I grabbed her arm and hip to keep her from falling.
She started gasping for air.
“Are you okay?” I asked her concerned.
She shook her head. “I-I hate heights.” she stammered.
“Then let’s go back inside.” I kept a hand on her arm to keep her steady as I put out my half finished cigarette and tossed it onto the grass below. I guided her back to the window and helped her inside.
I immediately noticed her hands were shaking. I gently took one,“What’s up with your hands?”
“It’s-its a fear response,” she answered looking away embarrassed. “It’s always happened. Ever since I was little.”
“Will it stop?” I asked worriedly.
“It should soon.”
I took a seat at her desk as she sat on her bed. We worked through her chemistry but her hands didn’t stop shaking.
She got frustrated and tossed her binder on the floor.
I watched her silently realizing this girl was more broken then she let on.
“I thought you said it’d stop soon?” I asked breaking the silence.
“It usually does.” Shaina responded angrily. “Usually I just distract myself till I calm down and it stops.”
“Why does it happen?” I asked cocking my head to the side.
“It’s anxiety.” she responded quietly. “When I become overwhelmed by something that scares me this happens. It stops when I calm down but apparently I can’t seem to calm down from this.”
“Are you that afraid of heights?”
“I was traumatized when I was little.” she responded quietly.
“I’d rather not talk about it. It usually causes me to have an anxiety attack.”
“Okay.” I said dropping the subject understanding she was uncomfortable.
“I’m going to get ready for bed.” She stood up and grabbed her pajamas.
“Here, I’ll leave. It’s your room.” I said standing. I left her room closing the door with a quiet click.
She opened the door a few minutes later dressed in a t-shirt and leggings. I entered her room again and saw she had dragged a mattress into the room.
“Are you good sleeping down there?” She asked me.
“Oh yeah.” I answered quickly, “It’s perfect.”
It was pretty much what I had at home.
She climbed into bed and turned off the light.
“Good night, Shaina.” I whispered quietly.
“Good night, Matthew.” she answered softly.