Pair: Kryoz x SMii7Y
Word count: 4806
Trigger warning(s): child abuse, graphic details for violence, near death, and vulgar language.
AU: high school
Characters & ages: Tyler Wilde 18, John Krizzo 18, Craig Thomason 17, Lucas Murron 16.
We hang out until midnight, just goofing off and having a good time being around one another. Though, the anxiety within me began to rise as I remembered—more or less realised—that he could wake up at any moment; noticing that I’m not in bed or at home for that matter.
John drives me home. We talk about how Tyler slipped and fell on his ass. About the fun. There’s no question pretending to not see your friend suddenly fall feels good.
I lean back in the seat, eyes closed, and breathe steadily.
“What would he do to you if he found—”
“No. Don’t talk about it.”
“I’m worried about you.”
“Lucas, I’m serious.”
I shake my head. I need to keep my ever growing anxiety low and relax.
“You should write everything down,” John says.
“Everything. Anything. Anything he does to you. Keep a record of it. It might be important. Later. If you ever tell anyone.”
I cringe inside at the reproach in his voice.
“Why don’t you?” He adds. As if he’s never brought it up before. We’ve been over it. And over it. And—
“You don’t understand.” I say.
“I’ll leave. It’ll end. I’ll go to college or something.”
“Plan on paying for that yourself?”
He’s got a point. I’ve never talked about school. Neither has my father. Maybe John’s right: maybe my father is planning on keeping me at home. Forever.
John pulls up in front of my house, putting the car in park. We sit in silence briefly, just enjoying one another’s company.
“You going to be okay?” John asks as I open the passenger door.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Lucas, damn it…” He sighs as he leans back into his seat.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I say, and get out. I close the door before he can say anything.
John waits at the curb until I reach my house. I appreciate that. Lots of people think my neighbourhood is dangerous, but it’s not. Not really. My neighbourhood is safer than my own room. My father moved us here after my mother left. I haven’t heard from her since. I think she’s forgotten me.
I climb slowly climb through my window. My legs ache, but it’s getting better. My room is dark, dark like some of the caverns in the cove down by the beach I had ventured through, hunting for nothing in particular and alone time to enjoy.
I replace the screen gingerly, taking my time, then close the window. Safe.
Safe until my father grabs my neck from behind.
I have no time to gasp, to scream. He pulls me backwards. He shoves me forward. I’m facedown against the mattress. John would have never let this happen—
“Thought you could just slip in and out whenever you wanted, huh?”
“No,” I say, hoping, praying, wishing. Not again. Not so soon. “No, no, no, I—”
“Shut up. You shut up and don’t move.”
I shut up.
I don’t move.
I also do not go to school the next day because I can barely walk by the time he was done.
Someone knocks on the front door at 7:34 the next night. My father already finished dinner—steaks and canned corn, which I cooked.
The knock punctuates Pachelbel’s Canon, which is playing softly on my radio, an old Scotch-taped-together thing that my father let me keep in my room. Who on earth could it be? No one ever comes over here.
“Who the hell is that?” He shouts.
“I don’t know. Want me to go—”
“Go see, Christ’s sake!”
I pick myself up from my desk chair and hobble to the door. I don’t know who I’m expecting, but it’s definitely not John.
He grins but doesn’t seem to want to. “Hey, bud. Can I come in?” I don’t know the answer to this. I don’t know what my father will do. But I open the door and shut it quickly as soon as John is past the threshold.
“What’re you doing here?” I say, glancing behind me toward the living room. He can’t see us from here.
“I know it’s after Christmas, but I wanted to give you something. Hey, can you show me your room? I’ve always wondered what it looks like.” He’s lying. But I don’t know about what. And I don’t know the rules. No boy has come over here, ever.
“You should meet my dad first.”
John grins that same non-grin. “Won’t that be fun.”
Nervous now, I take him into the living room my father barely glances up as I introduce John. The only thing he says after John says hello is, “Don’t stay too long—it’s a school night.”
“Of course, sir,” John says.
He glances again, like he doesn’t know how to react. And I think…I think for just one fast moment…John scares him.
I take John back to my room.
“Where’s your door?”
“It, um, broke.”
He knows I’m not being honest, but he doesn’t push. We go in together. John scans the room carefully, and I see him eyeing the pillow on my desk chair with distaste.
John takes his backpack off and sets it on the desk. For some reason, the last thing I want to know is the reason for John’s sudden visit. He fixes me with a friendly but determined stare.
“Missed you at school today.”
“I was sick. I am sick, I mean.”
“You sound okay.”
I don’t answer.
“Anything happen when you got home last night?” I shrink under John’s gaze. His words automatically bring up a replay of last night and make me feel like I’m six years old.
Nothing, I almost say. Nothing happened. I was bad, I got what I had coming, end of story happens to everyone. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and I know that.
John’s chin drops, adding a degree of severity to his already serious expression. “Let me help you.” I look at the floor and count bits of fuzz that dot the cream-coloured carpet.
John steps up to me. He keeps his voice low so my father won’t hear. “He’s killing you, don’t you see that?”
“You can’t help.”
I’m still counting bits of carpet fuzz when from the corner of my eye, I see John go into his bag. He unzips it, then turns toward me, his arm raised. When I look up, my heart seizes and my vision goes cross-eyed.
In the middle of the blur is a matte black barrel of a pistol. “Oh yes I can,” John says, and lowers the gun to his side.
“Are you out of your mind?” My voice is a clenched fist. “Do you know what would happen if he came in here and say you with that thing?”
“Yes. I know exactly what he’d do.” John moves a step closer.
“That’s a gun.”
John nods easily. “Yeah. And I know how to use it, my dad taught me. Want to see?”
I try not to, but my eyes drift down to the pistol still hanging in John’s right hand. It looks heavy and deadly.
“It’s a nine-millimetre Glock ninteen,” John says. I’m grateful he’s still keeping his voice down. “It’ll stop a person, you know?”
I actually laugh. This scene must be fictitious. Eighteen-year-old John, video game player, a boy who knows how to style and put together outfits standing in my room and giving me lectures on firearms.
“You are not serious,” I say in a hushed voice.
John plops down on the edge of my bed. “Lucas, look, I love you, okay? I’m not going to explain that any further because you know what I mean. I know what he’s doing, and I know it hurts because you can barely walk. But can you guess how much it hurts to know that it’s happening and I can’t do a damn thing about it?” He takes a deep breath, looking at me sorrowfully. “People shouldn’t be able to do that. He shouldn’t be allowed to hurt you. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of—”
He clenches his jaw shut, eyes glistening like glass. I sink into my pillow-softened chair, gripping the back with small, dry hands. I know he’s right. John scoots toward me, still seated on the very edge of my mattress.
“Do you know how much Craig hates watching you sit in the bleachers during gym? He told me you tell Coach Phillip that you hurt your knees, and that you can dress out because you keep losing your gym clothes. You’re going to be the first person on Earth to fail P.E. Because of him.” John slips the gun back into his bag, not zipping it up.
My voice barely carries. “When I’m eighteen, I’m moving out. Maybe I’ll go to New York or Seattle or Salt Lake City or something.”
“That’s two years away. You can’t wait that long. You have to do something.”
“I will. Someday.”
A shadow in the hall. I gasp and stand up, then bite my lip to stifle a groan. My legs and back are knotted.
My father stands in the doorway. John quickly zips up where he put the gun. He shoots my father a quick glare, him not noticing.
“You’re done in here,” my father says. “Time to go.”
I nod. Fast. Urge John to leave without a word. My father sneers at him and goes down the hall to the bathroom.
John gets up and slings his backpack over his left shoulder. “You’re sure you won’t take it?”
“No. I mean, yes, I’m sure. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologise to me.”
He gives me a weak smile. “Take care, okay?”
“I will.” Another lie.
We walk to the front door. I open it for him. He steps out onto the porch, and turns back to me. “Doesn’t it make you mad?”
Back in the hall, the toilet flushes. I hear my father go into his office. I don’t say anything to John, but maybe I nod a little.
“Doesn’t it make you want to do something about it?”
I nod a little more.
“Yeah, well. Just saying. I would too.” John places a gentle kiss only forehead. He goes out to his car and gets in. I watch him drive away and don’t close the door until I can’t see him anymore.
“Get me some ice cream!”
I shudder. He sounds like a child. I waddle into the kitchen and make the bowl for him, bringing it down the hallway to his office.
He was seated at a long brown desk, his computer screen displays some sort of accounting program. I wonder how I will manage my own finances without my father when the time comes.
What if it doesn’t come? What is he never lets me go? Can he do this? Is it legal?
Does it matter if it is or isn’t?
“Is that Birdland bastard finally gone?”
I turn to go back to my room. “He’s my friend.”
“Didn’t ask, don’t care. He’s a Birdland bastard. All those Birdland assholes think they’re hot shit.” He grumbles.
“He’s not like that.” I am almost out the door.
“I didn’t ask for your opinion. That better be the last damned thing I hear out of your mouth.”
John’s voice rings inside me. Not in my ears, not my brain–my entire body. Doesn’t it make you mad? Doesn’t it make you mad?
I’m so tired. Exhausted. I’m sick of it too, John. I’m sick of it too. “Fuck you.”
This is what it’s like to fall into a black hole. My body stretches, time stops, infinite blackness ahead and the real world left behind.
The metal prong of his belt buckle clinks as my father slides the leather out of its loops. It slithers like a snake.
His heavy, thumping, maddened footsteps shake the ground behind me. I turn the hallway corner, aiming for the front door.
Screeching, I duck and spin. The muscles in my legs cry from the torque. My father crashes into the door above me, bellowing, swinging. The tip of his belt lands across my shoulders as I race for the kitchen. The door in there leads to the garage. Maybe I can get out that way, call for help.
“—say that to ME in MY HOUSE?!”
I am either screaming or crying or laughing because terror makes my brain mushy. I can hear myself apologising, as if that will stop him. I scramble for the kitchen door, past the counter where the remains of our dinner sit in a domestic pile by the sink. The plates clatter as you bear down on me, and the butchers knife bounces in the frying pan where it’s soaking in soapy water. I grasp the doorknob for the merest of moments before my father’s weight crashes into me, expelling my breath out in one near-fatal cough.
His arms circle my midsection. My ribs bend and threaten to snap. He slings me easily to one side. I smash into the edge of the Formica countertop, head tapping painlessly against the faucet above the sink. The counter is less forgiving: the edge cracks into my hip, send a pistol shot of agony down my leg. The grease-stained plates shift uneasily nearby.
My father swings me around to face him. His eyes are demonic with rage. I don’t see the first blow coming, and don’t register the pain in my face until a half second later. My head bounces the opposite way beneath his returning backhand.
“What did you say to me? WHAT DID YOU SAY?”
I really say this. Because, as my brain settles down in its case, I assume he means, what did I say just now. Recently. A moment ago. In which case, the answer is truly nothing.
It occurs to me, dimly, that my father is probably talking about what I said in the office. Oh, that. Yes…yes, maybe that was not a good choice.
My father slams a fist into my abdomen. I stop breathing. He spins me fully around with one hand and forces my head into the stainless steel sink. My breath backs up as my father pushes me against the counter’s edge. The air in my lungs can’t get past it as it drills unmercifully into my abdomen.
He is either muttering or screaming. I can’t tell. I can only try to maintain both consciousness and sanity.
I realise John might have been right. Whatever else my father has done to me these past years, it wasn’t like this. Right now, my life is in literal, mortal danger. His powerful fist sinks deep into my kidney area, making flames lick the inside of my throat and lift my feet inches off the fake tile floor. My hands hang loose and numb beside my head in the sink. It’s like being in s colonial pillory, arms and head secured. I stare with absurd fascination at how close I am to the sink drain. Such vivid feat ail up close like this…
He has dropped his belt. My father doesn’t bother to go back and get it. Instead of his usual weapon, he rain blows into my entire back side with alternating slaps and hammer fists, deadening my already bruised flesh. My breath chokes in and out in a painful wheeze.
“Bitch! Show you what fucking HAPPENS when you—”
I go numb. This is what it’s like to die. I twist my head. What will be the last thing I see? The dirty dishes. Wonderful. The frying pan. The cracked wooded handle of the old butcher knife, sticking out from the rim of the pan.
My right hand, oddly steady, reaches toward that handle. I pull the knife out of the pan, watching it’s dull edge drip thick gobs of water. I wrap my fingers around the handle tightly and stare at it for what felt like an eternity.
“How’s that FEEL? Huh? Talk like that to ME in my own—” In one heartbeat of time between blows, I throw myself upward out of the sink and twist my hips around to face him. My right hand shoots out like it’s got a mind of its own. I feel a sickening moment of resistance before the blade plunges into my father’s midsection.
He was paralysed, one arm upraised in a fist that slowly relaxes. His face contorts, red, screwed into what a moment ago had been mad rage and is now clearly pain. My father looks down at the handle protruding from just below his rib cage. And stumble backward.
I am motionless against the counter, watching with total clarity as he cups his hands beneath the knife, but do not touch it.
He states it, and it almost makes me laugh. It’s like he forgot to start a load of laundry or missed a TV show.
I slide along the length of the counter toward the doorway to the living room. My father collapses, one arm stretches out, trying to find something to grab against the wall to slow his descent. He finds nothing and slips to the floor, his head angles down, staring incredulously at the knife.
That’s when thick crimson fluid seeps through his shirts. At the sight of it, I try to rush for the doorway, but the knots in my muscles drop me to the floor. I pull myself toward the front door with one hand, I manage only to crawl.
It’s a lifetime before I can pull myself up enough to unlock the front door. I stumble through it and out onto the lawn. It is brown and brittle in the January chill.
I fall to the ground just as a Ford LTD drives past, thumping its bass for the world to hear. There are no clouds overhear, just pin-prick stars dotting the dark sky. My right side is a cauldron of ice spikes and fire. I try to find a comfortable position in which to pass out.
A face face suddenly hovers over mine. A boy. A man. Some mix between the two. I’ve seen him around school. He’s a superstar. Evan. An angel.
“You okay?” He says, like it’s not something he says very often.
I open my mouth—it’s so dry in there—Can’t speak.
Someone behind my eyes pulls gray draped over my vision. That’s it.
I’m alive, and I think it is Spring.
Spring begins in March, doesn’t it?
It … is March, right? No. January, I think. It was January when—
Morning doves pipe outside my window: who-whoooo, who-whooooo. But that’s not where my window is supposed to be. My window is—
I’m not in my room. I close my eyes, I’ve been taken somewhere. Taken me.
“Baby? You awake?” It’s not my voice. It’s my mother’s. I open my eyes and turn my head and there she is, standing beside the bed and holding my right hand. Beyond her, I see a very wide door, open to a hall. A smell like rubbing alcohol invades my nose. Something sticks in my left hand.
Hospital. I am in a hospital.
“Mom?” She touches my face, tears pool in her eyes. “I’m here, Lucas. I’m here.”
It occurs to me that I’m on some kind of medication, because whilst I recognise I’m in pain, I don’t actually feel it. Very odd. My back feels thick and bumpy, as if I’m lying on a series of racquetballs.
“I’ve tried to find you, but your dad kept moving and the courts would only do so much….I’m so glad you’re here instead of…” Before she can finish, a man walks in. Not my father. He wears dark dress pants and a blue button-up, no tie. There’re a gun and badge on his belt.
“Hi, Lucas,” he says, coming to the foot of the bed. “I’m Detective Garrett. How are you feeling?” A sheepish smile on his lips.
“Hurt. Sleepy.” I mutter to him.
“Well, that’s fair. You’ve taken some damage to your liver, it sounds like. Nothing serious at the moment. Doctor said they want to keep you here for a while; see how the rest of your tests come out.” The detective informs me.
I nod slightly. “Okay. Where is he?”
“Who? You mean your dad?” I nodded meekly. He adjusts his sleeve before saying, “Stable now. And in custody. You’re safe. Alright, Lucas? You’re safe? You need to know that.”
I nod. My eyes start dropping like those old night-night dolls whose eyelids raise and lower depending on how you hold them. “Can you answer a few questions for me?” He says.
What happens is, I tell him everything. He doesn’t need to ask a question. I leave nothing out. I hear John’s voice somewhere in my brain, hiding behind a corner, telling me to be brave and not hold back. Mom being here, holding my hand, clear-eyed and smelling of lavender instead of alcohol—that helps too. She breaks down sobbing less than a minute into everything I say.
But I don’t. I don’t cry. Not one bit. I just tell the cop everything.
He seems satisfied by the time I’m done. He talks half to me, half to Mom. “That’s all consistent. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
“I wanted to kill him. That bastard…”
Detective Garrett frowns. “Ah … that’s the kind of thing you shouldn’t say to people, Lucas. All right? This looks to me like self-defence and that’s how I’m reporting it.”
But I don’t care. I look up at my mother, her still teary-eyed. “If I’d had John’s gun, I would have shot my dad. Well, at least tried to have shot him. I wish I'd—”
“Excuse me.” The detective’s voice is sharp. Louder now, suddenly. “Did you say ‘John’s gun’? John Krizzo?”
I face the cop again. “Yes, but it’s okay, he was just trying to help. Really. Please, I don’t want to get him in trouble…I love him…” My mother wails and almost smothers me, lying across my body, wracked with great sobs. The cop stares—glares?—down at me. Not nearly as friendly as two minutes ago.
“You knew John Krizzo, and you saw him with a gun.”
“Yes, a Glock I believe. He was worried about me, and wanted me to to be able to defend myself. John sincerely loves me.”
Mom won’t stop crying. I wish she would. Detective Garrett won’t stop staring. I get a bit uneasy from him not looking away.
“Okay,” he says finally, like a little sigh. “Well, I’m going to, uh, go back to the station…I got what I needed.”
“Please,” I say, as loud as I can, which isn’t very loud. The effort almost puts me back to sleep. “He’s a good guy. He was trying to do the right thing.” My voice trailed off into an inaudible whisper.
The cop clears his throat, gives me a professional nod, and walks very fast out of the room. He quickly says good day as he does.
Looking back to my mother, “Mom? What’s going on?“ Her face was a bit red, and her cheeks were tearstained.
“Lucas, Luca, thank god, I just…I can’t believe you’re here … ”
Confusion was noticeable from my facial expression. “Mom, what are you talking about? Mom?”
I don’t know if she answers because it gets dark and I fall back to sleep.
When I wake up again, the morning doves are gone. So is Mom. The wide door is closed. It’s quiet outside my window, a bush of some kind—with tiny pale green leaves—gently scrapes and taps against the glass. I must be on the first floor. It’s not a great view from here in my hospital bed, but it’s something. It’s the sun. It’s plants. Life.
I can’t wait to see John again. Thank him. I don’t think I could have gotten out if he hadn’t come over that night I hope he’s not in too much trouble because of the gun.
Soon—mere minutes after stirring awake—I grow tired once more, and drifted off to sleep.
Outside it begins to pour, coming down. I would love to melt away. Six or seven days had past since the detective came by. Mom stopped by to check up on me two days ago, she’s been busy with fighting court to get me into her custody. I feel lonely in my hospital room, it has a dead silence that bothers me in the slightest of ways.
I’m staring out the window, watching as the water droplets hit the glass harshly, an audible noise is emitted as each one hits against the large glass. Suddenly, the wide door that was shut opened. I turn to face the door, pleasantly surprised to see John standing there with a bright smile on his face.
He shuts the door behind him, walking over to the chair beside my bed. He sits down and takes my hand in his, rubbing his thumb over my knuckles softly. “I’m so glad you made it, I was so very worried.” John locks eyes with mine.
“I know you were; I was scared…so fucking scared,” I croak as my eyes well up with warm tears.
John brings my hand up to his lips, placing a soft kiss atop it. “I can understand why, Lucas. You had every reason to be that scared. Just be glad that you don’t have to worry about going through that same amount of fear again. I’ll protect you, keep you safe.” A smile tugs at the corners of my lips. It’s been so long since I’ve smiled genuinely.
I nod in acknowledgement. “Thank you for coming over that one night. I don’t think I could have gotten out if you hadn’t come over that night.”
He intertwines my fingers with his. “It was for the best, and I wanted to see if you were okay.” John gives my hand a gentle squeeze; a loving squeeze.
John gets up from the chair, leaning in towards me, capturing my lips into an affectionate kiss. With my other free hand, I place it on his shoulder. John’s free hand finds its way to the side of my face, cupping it, and using his thumb to rub against my cheek gently. Like he was afraid to hurt me.
John pulls away, staring loving into my eyes. I stare back with content and delight, happy to be in the presence of John. He uses his thumb to wipe away the tears from my damp cheeks. That’s when the door swing open once more, Tyler and Craig stepping in.
“Aye, there’s the cute motherfucker.” Tyler gestures to me.
“How you doing man?” Craig shuts the door quietly. I look over to them, still smiling with a light blush dusting my cheeks.
“Well, I’m doing fine. The doctors want to keep here for a while to see how the rest of my tests come out.”
The two nod, understanding my situation slightly. “We’ve missed you at school man, can’t wait for you to get back.” Craig piped up, his cheeriness abundant in his tone.
“I’ve missed you guys too.” They walk over to—me—my bed and hug me tightly. Not in the suffocating way, but rather a loving or protective way.
“So, I’ve heard hospital food tastes like shit.” Tyler blurts out, causing me to chuckle. “Yeah, it does.” I shrug.
“I could bring you some snacks after school? I don’t have anything to do, and I can stay until visitor hours are up.” John sits back down, our fingers still intertwined. I nod.
“I love you so damn much.” I say to him as Tyler and Craig try to figure out when they should visit again. I lean over my hospital bed, giving John planted a kiss on my cheek.
He smiles softly. “I’ll try my best to protect you from any more damage.”