By Paige Bowker
When I walked up to the house, I saw Dad’s car in the driveway. I didn’t like it. I thought about maybe sneaking in from my window, like I had done a million times before, but pushed that thought away when the front door swung open. Dad stumbled out.
“Sierraaaa! You’re home,” he slurred, tripping on his own feet. I rolled my eyes with a sigh. It was going to be a long day. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and he was already drunk.
“Come on, Dad. Let’s get you inside,” I said, helping him to the couch. I shut the door behind me as he tripped into the banister by the door. I sighed heavily. I really didn’t feel like dealing with him already. It was too early in the day. I just never got a minute to relax.
I sat him on the couch, and he sank into it.
“I love you, Sierra. I really do.” he trailed off as he fell asleep.
“I love you, too, Dad,” I said quietly, sitting on the coffee table in front of the couch, watching him sleep. I picked up the mostly-drank bottle of whiskey and took a small swig. I cringed at the taste. I walked into the kitchen and took another swig before pouring it down the drain. I knew it wouldn’t really stop him but I was sure as hell going to try. For now though, I was going to do my homework. I went back into the living room, grabbed my school bag, and went upstairs. I closed and locked my door and took my laptop out of my bag, beginning to write an English paper.
After working for about 45 minutes, I closed my laptop and plugged it in, putting it under my bed. My phone dinged and I picked it up, seeing that Zach texted me. It read, “Hey gorgeous. Look out your window.” So, I did and low and behold, there he was, leaning on his red Mustang convertible. He was looking up at me, he smiled. I smiled back. I shot him a text telling him I would be out in a minute. I freshened myself up, went downstairs and wrote a note to Dad, telling him I’d left. I walked out the door, putting my phone in my pocket. I walked up to Zach and he kissed me, first thing. I wrapped my arms around his waist, his on my face, and kind of sunk into him. He was my sunshine in the hurricane that was my life.
“Hi, beautiful,” he said, running his fingers through my hair. I smiled.
“Hi,” I said softly, being completely content in this moment. Mind you, we were still leaning against his car in front of my house.
“I just want to drive around for a little bit, okay?” he asked, kissing my head.
“Take me anywhere, as long as it’s not here,” I said, my mood almost being trumped by my drunk of a father. But not quite, I wouldn’t let him. We pulled apart and he walked me over to the passenger side, opening and closing the door for me. When he got in, he made sure to hold my hand. I laid my head on the seat and just felt the wind.
He put his hand on my knee, just leaving it there. I looked at it and smiled, then turning back to the window, closing my eyes. I started dozing off. I was in the state of sleep where you’re kind of asleep and dreaming but it doesn’t make sense and you’re still kind of awake. I’d been in and out of sleep for about 15-20 minutes when my phone started ringing. I jumped, the sudden noise startling me. I squinted and picked up my phone. I put it to my ear without seeing who it was.
“Sierra, where are you?” It was Dad. I rolled my eyes.
“I went out. I left a note,” I said, sighing. I heard him groan and mutter something about his head hurting. Well, that’s what happens when you get drunk in the middle of the day.
“Go take some Tylenol. I’ll be home within the next hour.” I said, then hanging up the phone. “God, sometimes I despise him.”
“He’s sick, just try to remember that,” Zach said, a soft look on his face. I looked at him, a sad smile on my face.
“I’m sorry. I know. I didn’t mean to bring it up,” I said, looking back out the window, my face not really holding any emotion.
“You don’t have to walk on eggshells about it, babe. It was so long ago. You’re allowed to talk to me about your dad,” he said. He gave my knee a reassuring squeeze. I looked back to him.
“Okay.” I paused. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. Forever and always,” he said. I took his hand in mine again and kissed it. I loved him to no end.
Later that day, I came home, seeing Dad’s car in the driveway. As I walked up to the door, I could hear a lot of people talking inside. As I opened the door, I saw a crowd of drunk old people laughing and talking in my living room. The house smelled like pot and spilled booze. I stormed past the people, up the stairs. As I made my way to my room, I saw that my door was open. I walked up to it, seeing everything was a complete hell hole. It was a mess.
My clothes were thrown out of my drawers, everything on my dresser was knocked over, and my jewelry box was on the floor, broken. I bent down and picked it up, seeing that a picture of my mom and the jewelry box itself, was ruined. All the good jewelry that my mom left me was gone, stolen I was sure. Tears pricked my eyes as anger struck me. I ran downstairs, going to the closet next to the front door, and grabbed the baseball bat. I walked outside and up to Dad’s car. I watched as Zach’s car pulled up and I thought about stopping what I was about to do, but went against it. I swung the bat behind me and smashed it into the windshield. I heard Zach yell my name, telling me to stop, but his voice was muffled. I heard Dad yelling at me in slurs from the front door but I was so angry to the point where my ears were ringing.
I smashed the driver side window, I smashed both headlights, and one of the back windows before Zach’s arms were pulling me away from the car. As he pulled me away, my hearing started to come back and my breathing became shallow, and I couldn’t breathe. I was sobbing and screaming. My father took every ounce of happiness out of me. He took everything I had away. He took the one thing I had of my mother away from me. It was his fault. Everything bad that happened in my life was his fault.
A drunken woman came over to me, screaming in my face, telling me I was crazy for doing that. Dad ran over to us, yelling at the woman not to yell at me. I heard sirens as Zach tried to comfort me and calm me down. Everyone started to quickly leave my house and soon Dad, Zach and I were the only ones standing outside, listening to the arriving police officers.
Dad blinked at me a few times, shocked.
“Go. You don’t need to get into trouble for this. It’s my fault.” He looked to Zach. “Take her to your house. Let her stay there for a few nights.” Zach nodded and lead me to his car. He helped me in and got in as a cop pulled up to the house and got out, going towards Dad. We drove away.
Everything was kind of going on like a movie. I felt disconnected from my body, yet it was so heavy. It was hard to hold myself up.
We drove to Zach’s house and he led me to his room, past his worried dad and brother. He sat me on his bed and shut the door. He sat next to me.
“Do you want to lay down?” he asked, putting his hand on my leg. I looked up from my lap to him and completely broke down in tears. I was muttering “I can’t,” in between sobs. I was a complete and utter mess.
He wrapped himself around me, letting me fall into him. He was hushing me in a small, quiet voice. But nothing was going to help. I was feeling so many different variations of pain.
“I just don’t understand,” I hiccuped.“ How can you neglect your child for alcohol?” I pushed myself away from him and stood up, pacing the room.
“He, he steals everything from me. He’s the reason she left and he’s the, the reason she’s dead!”
I fell to my knees in a fit of more sobs. I felt Zach’s arms around me once more. He was running his fingers through my hair and hushing me.
“I know, babe. I know. I’m so sorry.”
My eyes were getting too heavy to keep open anymore, so I didn’t. I fell asleep in his arms, on the floor, sobbing over my dead mother and deadbeat father.
I woke up before sunrise. Zach and I’s bodies were tied up together, his warmth radiating onto me. I looked at the bright red alarm clock on his dresser. 3:47. Just my luck. He was still fast asleep. I untangled myself from him and opened the door, about to walk out.
“Sierra?” his tired voice said.
“Yeah?” I asked, turning. My voice was strained and shaky.
“Where are you going? Are you okay?” he asked, sitting up a bit more.
“Yeah. I just have to pee.” With that, I closed the door and walked down the hall to the bathroom. I ran into his brother on the way there.
“Hey, Sierra. You doing okay? You didn’t look so good last night,” he said. I shrugged.
“I’m holding on, I guess,” I said, averting his eyes.
“I’m here if you wanna talk. Ya know, to someone other than my brother.” He cracked a smile, I gave a small one.
“Thanks, Ian. I’m good for right now, though,” I said, and started walking past him again.
“Goodnight, Sierra,” he said as I closed the bathroom door. I sat on the edge of the bathtub, playing with my fingers, letting some stray tears fall. There was a knock on the door. I jumped up. I opened it to reveal Ian.
He grabbed my face and kissed me. It happened so fast, I didn’t even realize it was happening at first. When I did though, I pushed him away quickly.
“What the hell are you doing?” I whisper-yelled, wiping my mouth. He looked hurt.
“I love you, Sierra. I always have. But then Zach--e took you away from me.” He sounded like a crazy person.
“What are you even saying? I was never yours to take and he didn’t take me away from anybody. All he’s ever done is make me happy. Don’t you ever do that again,” I said through gritted teeth. I stormed past him, back to Zach’s room. As I walked in, I saw that he was asleep again. Good, he didn’t hear that then.
I climbed back into bed and cuddled up to him. He stirred, his eyes opening, and him looking at me.
“I love you,” he said. I stared at him for a second, then just kissed him. He kissed me back, of course. It was filled with love, passion, lust, hunger. It gave me butterflies. He ran his hands through my hair and our bodies were tangled in each other once again. With that, one thing led to another.
“Don’t worry about your Dad, okay? Remember, he’s--”
“He’s sick, I know,” I said, putting my shoes on and standing up.
“Babe, that sickness killed my mom. Don’t lose hope for him. That was my mistake, and look where we’re at now,” he said. My face softened. I went up to him and kissed him, my hands on his neck, his on my waist.
“I’m sorry,” I said, hugging him.
“It’s okay. Just please, don’t give up on him yet,” he said. We pulled away and I nodded. We walked out of his room and downstairs. By now it was 10 o’clock, and Ian and his dad were sitting on the couch.
“We’re gonna run out, we’ll see you guys later,” he said. His dad said okay and Ian just stared me down. We walked out the door and I just shook it off. I planned to tell Zach soon.
We got in the car, he put his hand on my leg, as per usual, and as we were about halfway to my house, I spoke up.
“Ian kissed me last night,” I said, a matter of fact, just staring ahead. He looked at me for a split second, I think to see if I was joking or not. I could feel him tense up.
“Did you kiss him back?” he asked.
“No, of course not. I would never. I just thought you needed to know. Just please, don’t be too mad at him. We don’t need that on top of everything else to worry about right now,” I said. I could see the hurt in his face, and I could tell it was more from Ian than me, but I still hated it. “I’m sorry.” I paused. “I love you.”
“Okay. And I love you, too. Don’t worry.” He parked the car in front of my house. “I could never stop.” He took my hand and kissed it, I smiled slightly and we got out of the car. I stared at Dad’s smashed car as we walked up to the house. I opened the door and was surprised to find Dad awake.The house was clean. He was sitting on the couch, going through a photo album from when I was little, a football game playing on the TV in the background. That’s a Dad I hadn’t seen in a while. He looked up when he heard the door open. Neither of us said anything yet. We walked in and shut the door.
“I’m gonna go make some coffee, okay?” Zach said, kissing my temple, then going into the kitchen.
I sat down on the couch, next to Dad, but still keeping my distance.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
“I know,” I said.
“I want to fix things, I want to be better,” he said. I grabbed his hand.
“Okay,” I said, my voice and face soft. I was really hoping he was serious. Because I was. This hurricane needed to turn into at least a light rain.