Authors: Heather Allen
Tags: #Young Adult
Published by Heather Allen
Copyright 2013 Heather Allen
Cover Art by B Design
All Rights Reserved. This book contains material protected under the International and Federal copyright laws and treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without express written permission from the author/publisher
Table of Contents
*** Dedicated to Richard, my shooting star ***
You always make all of my wishes come true.
Centaurus- The Centaur
Chiron was the son of the Titan king Cronus and the sea nymph Philyra. Cronus seduced the nymph, but two were surprised by Cronus’ wife Rhea. To evade being caught in the act, Cronus turned himself into a horse. As a result, Philyra gave birth to a hybrid son.
“What the hell was that, Miranda?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Joe.”
I flinch. The yelling on the other side of the door is starting to grate on my nerves. It always ends with some form of physical assault. I learned six months ago that the best thing to do is to stay out of it. Joe and Miranda were going through this when I arrived and I’m sure they’ll continue after I’m gone.
I hear a shrill cry before the sound of another hit strikes causing me to wince. Immediately after the strike Miranda starts pleading through her sobs, “No Joe, no, please, don’t hit me again.”
I push my ear buds in and turn the music up as loud as it will allow but I can’t ignore the sounds just mere feet away from me. My foot moves with the beat but a clap through the air forces me to stand up from the bed and clench my fists. As I near the door another sound of a hand connecting with skin echoes through the apartment. My body forges quickly and I whip it open to find Miranda cowering on the couch as Joe stands over her. He is yelling about something she said. Her tear streaked face looks to me as if calling out for help. I march up to him with my fists ready. He turns apparently surprised that I’d attempt this again. His mouth twists in a snarl. The dull light glinting off his shaved head as he scowls reminds me of a cartoon character. He’s dressed in a stained wife beater haphazardly hanging over ripped baggy jeans.
Joe warns, “I told you not to get involved. You head on back the way you came or you’re out on your ass.”
I stand still, glaring at him and refusing to move my gaze for anything. I don’t give a shit at this point. No woman deserves to be a punching bag.
He turns his thin frame toward me, pushing his shoulders back, trying to intimidate me. I’m comparable in size and I think he knows it. My body is bulkier than his and I tower a few inches taller. I just don’t have the punching experience he’s collected over the years.
“Jamie, I’m gonna tell you one more time. Leave and go back to your shit life. This is between Miranda and me.”
He looks down, causing her to shrink further as if she is trying to roll up and disappear. I take the opportunity and force my fist to connect with his side. He arches at the contact and turns a swing at me in response. It lands across my jaw. I stumble back grasping the spot he made contact with.
“I told you to leave it alone. Now you’re out.”
Readying myself, I take a step forward. What do I have to lose now? I’m already out, I might as well try and help Miranda. She’s been pretty crappy to me but what the hell? I push my fist into his jaw. His face turns on impact, spewing blood across the glass table situated beside him. Before he can come back from it, I punch his side again. He falls into a chair nearby.
I turn to Miranda and tell her, “I’m sorry. Maybe you should leave too.”
I head back to my room slamming the door, making sure to lock it. We’ve been through this time and time again. Joe knows I can win if I put my mind to it. He’ll leave for a few hours, drowning his loser self at a bar. Tonight though, I won’t be here when he gets back.
A long glance in the mirror reveals a bruise slowly surfacing along my jaw. I cringe when I graze my fingers along the shadow slowly surfacing. Tomorrow it will not be pretty.
I gather all of my things, dumping them into my large, black duffle bag. Finally grabbing my cell, I dial the number I shouldn’t know so well but it’s ingrained in my memory.
It rings twice before it’s picked up. An alarmed voice on the other end answers, “Jamie, are you okay?”
“I think I’ve outstayed my welcome. Can you come and get me? ” I add as an afterthought, “Sorry.”
“Oh, Jamie. Just one more year, that’s all you needed to hold out.”
I remain silent. She doesn’t get it. She’s supposed to understand because it is her job, but in truth, no one knows what it’s like unless you’ve lived it.
“I’ll be there in ten minutes. Do the Stones know you’re going?”
“He kicked me out.”
The phone clicks off. I know how this will go. She’ll call Joe who will be half drunk by now and he’ll give her some shit story that I attacked him. This is home number four not including my sorry ass beginning in the group home. It always plays out this way. It is never the parent’s fault. The reality is that I’m just a check, free money, that’s why they do it. Of the four, there has only been one where I wanted to stay. I was six when I moved in and the daughter, Sam, was my best friend for the six years that I lived there. I thought adoption was a possibility but it all came crashing down when her dad died in a car accident. It was the closest I’ve ever come to having a real family but it ended like everything always does.
“Jamie!” Miranda’s piercing scream rings out. I can tell she’s still crying.
I sling the bag over my shoulder and make my way out to the tiny living room loaded with oversized, worn out furniture. She’s sprawled out on the ripped couch, a round black and blue mark surfacing under her right eye. With black mascara running down her cheeks, she looks up when I come through the door.
She spies my bag and apologizes, “Jamie, I am so sorry.”
I cut her off, “Miranda, you need to get away from Joe. He’s going to kill you one day.”
That’s all I have to offer as words of wisdom. A light knock echoes through the small room before she can respond. I reach for the handle and watch as Michelle’s face turns from resolute like she’s going to let me have it, to shock when the door creaks open. She pushes me to the side aiming for Miranda.
“How could you let this happen? He’s a minor Miranda. I‘m going to make sure there are charges pressed.”
Miranda sits up as if suddenly posing for a picture and wipes her cheeks. She explains slowly, “Mrs. Ames, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She shifts her eyes to me glaring and then back to Michelle and calmly explains, “Jamie attacked my Joe. I want him out so he doesn’t hurt Joe again.”
Michelle seems as if she’s trying to control herself, as if she wants to go and scratch Miranda’s eyes out. Through clenched teeth she utters, “Is that so Mrs. Stone? Will your husband be pressing charges then?”
None of this should surprise me but each time, I’m still amazed at how low people will stoop to save their own ass or get what they think they deserve. I angle toward the door, tired of hearing Miranda’s lies. I helped her so she didn’t get her ass kicked and this is what I get.
She stutters, “I think, I think, you’ll have to ask Joe about that.”
Michelle nods, her fists still clenched. As she turns she mumbles, “Count this as your last chance at fostering anyone.”
I follow her out, bracing myself for whatever she’s going to bestow upon me. I like Michelle and I don’t blame her for anything. She is pretty fair and understanding but she doesn’t get
. None of them really do. She is my fourth case worker. The rest of them moved on to bigger and better things when the time came. Each and every time, they talk like they get it and their sympathy oozes. In the end though, they go home to a family with kids and parents that love one another and matter. I only matter to those who can get paid for providing a place for me to sleep.