Authors: Lila Felix
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited.
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be resold or given to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard word of this author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or a used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Cover Photography by K. Keeton Designs
Cameo Hopper and Justin Schroc
“The anguish of the neurotic individual is the same as that of the saint. The neurotic, the saint are engaged in the same battle. Their blood flows from similar wounds. But the first one gasps and the other one gives.”
First and foremost, my husband and my kids. For every time you got me away from the computer and requested that I be present, I love you for it.
To the Hellcats:
Thanks for taking in a glue-eating
, iguana stealing, weird, fuzzed out girl from down the street and making me feel like I belong.
For Shelly and Mandy: You are the wind beneath my wings.
To the Rink Rats: I love all your guts times infinity!
To the ones who love me,
Despite the squeaky voice and endless jabber
To the ones who miss me when I’m gone
Who never split and scatter
To the ones who give
and embrace me freely,
Without score or scribbled pen,
You love me without falter
Through choice you are my kin.
Two Years Earlier
“Oh come on Breaky.” Why in the hell I’d put up with her calling me ‘Breaky’ for so long was beyond comprehension. It reminded me of a song, sung by that mulleted country singer years ago. But I went along with it, blindly. I went along with a lot of shit. I complied when she took all of the money from our bank account on a weekly basis and went shopping. And I’d given her a debit card attached to my account, the most ludicrous decision by far. I relented when credit card bills came in with my name on them that I’d never applied for, and certainly never charged fifteen grand on. I backed off when she asked for space. I didn’t even say anything when she claimed not to want to sleep in the same bed as me anymore because I snored. I’d never snored a day in my life. I thought I was giving her ample space—everyone needs space, right?
All black clouds that portended the storm.
And then I was in the middle of a full blown panic attack, cowering in front of her friends.
I’d walked into the party wanting to spend time with my friend Memphis who I hadn’t seen in a while since Holly hadn’t come home again. I also just needed a break from being home alone all the time. I hated it. It was too silent, too eerie. As soon as I opened the door to his apartment, he turned white as a sheet and tried to stop me from entering.
“What the hell, man,” I asked him.
He looked left and right and gave me a glance that registered apology and embarrassment. I rubber necked, looking for the source of his shame and spotted it immediately. Holly was straddling some guy on the couch, her hand down his pants, her tongue down his throat right there in front of God and everyone I knew.
I stalked over, the anger brimming to the surface and barked at her, “Jesus Christ, Holly!”
This is the part where she started her
act in this play.
The guy beneath her guffawed out a laugh, “Come on man, she’s been screwing me for months like this. She’s been screwing you by robbing you blind. Like you didn’t know.”
I didn’t. I didn’t have a clue.
His friends started in on me next and the more they jeered and the more cackles erupted from her mouth, I lost it. I couldn’t do anything but stare at the sneer on her face as their revelations pounded in my ears. The edges of the room fizzled into shadow as her betrayal sunk in.
“Where do you think all the money’s gone man? Or does Daddy give you so much you haven’t even noticed? She’s been paying our rent and buying us beer. Hell, I even got new shoes out of the deal—plus a piece of this fine ass,” He squeezed her behind and she yelped, a dog pissing on his property.
Drums beat in my ears, a creature clawed to get out of the confines of my chest, organs somersaulted, menacing salty waves clanged against my eyelids. The density of the air changed and I sucked in molasses instead of air into my lungs. It was that moment that ruined me. It was in that moment I shed my former self and left it dead in Memphis’ house. All the world faded.
“It’s disgusting,” I parroted her; she always got nasal when referring to all things pestiferous. The top items on her list of foul objects: Ground beef, roaches, carpet of any kind, and of late, me—well, my growlery in particular.
“Don’t you sass me Breaker James. I could care less about your detest for my meddling. Get it cleaned up before I show up next week or I will hire a maid myself,” she quipped.
The shudder ripped through me at the thought and she knew it. She couldn’t hire someone—she wouldn’t. Damn her for knowing how to hit below the belt.
“Fine. I’ll take care of it, Mom,” I groaned back at her. It wasn’t that bad. Yes, the dishes were piled up in the sink and something growing a fur coat on one plate in particular—I think it was spaghetti,
being the operative word. And maybe the dust could be seen flying in formation when the sun shone through the splice in the curtains. There was no soap scum ring around the bathtub, but that was because I never took baths, that has to count for something. If I were a regular person, I would keep up with the everyday chores. I would keep up with chores like emptying the dishwasher and washing my clothes.
If I were a regular person, I could actually walk out of this prison—house, it’s a house.
“Test me not Breaker. I will not be moved on this. And I get what you’re going through, I do. But no son of mine will live in filth—period.” She hung up the phone, unwilling to hear my response. I had to clean this place up. I had a week.
I didn’t used to be like this. I was that guy who did the dishes after dinner because my girl had cooked. I spent Saturday mornings cleaning the house and making sure the grass was mowed. I got dressed in the morning and ran—outside. I went to visit my mom and my sisters. I went to school where there was a real classroom and the phrase virtual classroom was unheard of. There were lots of things I
to be and do.
During the week that followed, I did some things, none of which I would call cleaning. I wrote. I journaled. I stayed in chat rooms constantly, my only method of social interaction. I expected a knock at the door telling me I’d been catfished any day now. I studied and worked on classwork. I didn’t clean. In fact, I would say the mess had doubled in volume and stench. I just didn’t care. Why should I? In this chasm, not quite living and not quite dead, no one, except my mother, gave a rat’s ass if my house was clean.
I did do my laundry, mostly because I was out of things to wear. I didn’t wear real clothes anymore. I wore basketball shorts and old band and sports t shirts. Who was gonna see me? And my bedroom was clean for the most part. The rest of the house—no one came over, so why would I care if it was presentable? Anyway, she wouldn’t hire a maid. She knows how I feel about—people. I really didn’t mind people one on one but eventually they would want to go out into the world. And that was where my part ended. I never left this house, not even to go to the mailbox. I never went to the grocery store or the park. I didn’t get to hear concerts or leave a lame party early.
It had been two years, three months and nineteen days since the party. Subtract three days spent in the hospital for monitoring and that’s the length of time since I’ve been out of these walls.
I threw a t-shirt on, since Mom would be at the house any minute and tried to scroll excuses through my head, picking the most lucrative options as to why I hadn’t obeyed her request as I tore down the stairs. I plucked ‘I had a ton of schoolwork’ out of the mental pile and decided that was my story.
I heard her car in the driveway; it was the only car which made an appearance in my driveway. I smirked to myself.
She was soooo not hiring a maid.
I had this in the bag.
She walked in and I hugged her, kissed her cheek and smiled that gooshy sweet grin I knew she loved.