Learning to Love

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Not Okay

“Jess, come on. Please, you have to eat something.” Andrew’s voice sounded through the closed door.

It was now late Sunday night and I hadn’t eaten since the text from my father the day before. I also hadn’t talked to anyone but Aaliyah.

I looked down at my daughter who now lay fast asleep on my bed next to me. How could my own father expect me to just get rid of my daughter? The conversation we had had the day I left was always in the back of my head.

~FLASHBACK~

I took Aaliyah into my mothers old study to show her pictures of her grandmother. Andrew had already been sitting in the corner reading one of our mothers books.

“See baby, this is my mommy.” I smiled, handing the one year old the frame.

“What the hell is that brat doing in here?” I had flinched at my fathers angry voice, he had clearly been drinking.

You would think after hearing him say this and much worse about my daughter over the last year it wouldn’t hurt anymore. However, as my daughter started to tremble and bury her face into my shoulder I couldn’t fight the tears that burned my eyes.

“I just wanted to show her a picture of her grandma, dad.” I said quietly.

Andrew glared up at my father but remained quiet. Later he would apologize profusely for this.

“That bastard’s daughter has no relation to me or my wife.” He snapped glaring down at the one year old hiding in my arms.

“Dad…” I had started.

“If you insist on being that bitches mother, you are no longer my daughter.” He yelled.

“What do you mean?” I winced pulling Aaliyah closer to myself.

It is no longer allowed under my roof. Either find a new home for it, or get the hell out.” He hissed. “If you leave, you will lose everything. I will disown you completely.”

“Dad what the hell?” Andrew gasped, placing a hand on my shoulder. “You can’t do that.”

“I just did.” My father spat at him before storming out.

Andrew pulled me into a hug with Aaliyah safely between us. I welcomed the warm safety of his embrace after the encounter. I cried silently trying to convince myself it didn’t hurt. That I was fine.

After a minute he spoke again, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

~END FLASHBACK~

“Jess,” Andrew said as he sat on the edge of the bed. “Eat please.”

I sighed looking up through teary eyes. I knew he had the best intentions. He only wanted to pick up his baby sister, for what seemed like the millionth time.

I was so tired though. I didn’t want to do anything. Memories flooded my mind and drowned any strength I thought I had built.

“I’ll get you a new phone number, I’ll fix this Jess. It’s going to be okay.” Andrew said sadly. “You have to eat something.”

I shook my head, turning so my back was to him again. I watched my daughter’s face as she slept peacefully. She was happier now, but I wondered if my fathers treatment was the reason she didn’t talk. Had I already broken this beautiful angel?

She was my reason for fighting, my reason for getting up every morning. She was my everything.

I lifted my hand to brush a hair out of her face, and something caught my eye. The scars were faint, and old. All but one. I had failed. I had gone a year without cutting. This was my first since before we had left my fathers house.

“Jess,” Andrew sighed disappointed. “I’ll clean it up. It’s going to be okay.”

I was disappointed in myself. I hadn’t wanted to. My chest had felt like it was going to explode if I didn’t find some sort of release. I had sat on the bathroom floor sobbing as I pulled at fist fulls of my hair late the night before. The nightmares had tormented me until I finally gave up on sleep. However, even being awake couldn’t stop the memories from terrorizing me.

Then I saw Andrew’s pocket knife on the counter. I didn’t know why it was there, but I had to let out the pain. The release had been instant, but followed immediately by regret. Aaliyah deserved better, I had to be better.

I had cried so much the last two days and I was surprised I had any tears left, but suddenly I was crying again.

Andrew came back and bandaged my wrist. He brought food and sat next to me waiting until I slowly forced myself to eat.

“I’m going to call us both in sick tomorrow.” Andrew said, shaking his head slowly.

I didn’t say anything, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to ever leave this room again, but I knew he wouldn’t let me stay alone. He shouldn’t miss more work for me, but I felt too tired to even move.

“No,” I sighed reluctantly. “I need to go to work.”

“Jess…” He started but I cut him off.

“No, I’m fine. Just tired.” I lied, laying back down and wrapping my arms around Aaliyah.

After a long minute I heard him sigh before walking out.

I cried silently into my pillow for what seemed like forever. I was afraid I would have another sleepless night.

However I suddenly woke up to a warm glow shining in my window and Aaliyah stirring in bed. Andrew came in a minute later.

“Last chance to have me call in,” He said awkwardly.

“No.” I said horsley, “But I could use twenty minutes to shower before you leave.”

He nodded and I stood bending over to kiss Aaliyah’s forehead. Grabbing my clothes I walked out of the room and into the bathroom.

After my shower Andrew left and I quickly made Aaliyah breakfast before Balissa showed up to watch her.

“Hey Jess, you feeling better?” Balissa asked as she walked in. Her bright hazel eyes swam with unanswered questions.

I just nodded, “She is eating scrambled eggs, I need to head out.”

Balissa nodded, taking my silent plea for no questions. Instead she wrapped her arms around me and whispered, “I love you Jessy. You have always been the sister I never had.”

“Thanks Lyssa,” I swallowed back the knot in my throat and headed out the door.

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