I woke up this morning feeling a little more energised than I usually do. The air seemed fresher, and it looks like the day would turn out to be quite a nice and warm one. Looking out my bedroom window I could see that the clouds were beginning to part, making way for the warm rays of the sun. It's going to be a good day! Before today, when I woke up I use to ask myself, Why am I still alive? While other kids were praying for God to bless their family and loved ones, I used to ask God to make it so that I wouldn't wake the next morning. I'll admit, that was pretty screwed up, but now I thank Him for giving me...well, us another chance at life. Life up until this point hadn't exactly been a pleasure cruise for me, but hey, whose is? In fact mine was the exact opposite of that. I know I've heard it before, "Life has its ups and downs," but in my short existence in this world, I've experienced quite a lot of torment.
I had to make my way past unopened boxes to get to my bedroom bathroom, all he while rubbing the sleep from my eyes; causing me to occasionally bump into a box. I start the hot water for a shower. I usually can't stand the sight of myself in the morning but I just had to see how I looked today. Maybe something was different on the outside even if I didn't feel it on the inside. There I was, plain old me, Aiden Simmons, your average 13 year old boy. I have bluish/greenish eyes...which I guess is turquoise, but you never hear people going around saying, "I have turquoise eyes". Because that just sounds stupid. I guess the majority of people say I have green eyes, so I'll just say that from now on. It never concerned me that much...they're just my eyes for goodness sakes! I have light brown hair which isn't exactly long, but not too short either. Sometimes when I'm outside and the sun is shining, it could pass for blonde, but it's light brown. It has a mind of its own most of the time, but nothing a little product can't fix. That or a hairdryer. It's long enough so that if I choose to comb it down and over my forehead, it'd just brush over my eyes; which is how I usually wear it anyway. I used to try and cover up as much of my face as possible and I guess that hasn't changed much. I'm about 5'7", average height and kind of on the skinny side.
I take my shower while unwittingly remembering all the events that constantly haunt me. Events that happened before this very day where my...our, new life begins.
I could never really remember a time when both my parents were genuinely happy together. I mean, I simply don't remember them smiling, laughing, going out to dinner together or anything like that. I'm sure they weren't always miserable, but it sure as heck seemed that way. Of course they were exceptionally nice to each other when they were around other people, putting on a big show for everyone. They smiled, joked, playfully nudged each other, but now I know that it all just a sham. Nobody wants other people to know what really happens in your private life, especially if bad things were transpiring, and my parents were no exception.
Life wasn't fair, and to me it seemed like I was undeserving of it. I hated God like there was no tomorrow. I didn't ask to be born or to be alive. It seems that the first 12 years of my childhood was spent constantly trying to keep my mom happy so I didn't get into trouble. I was always terrified of her. Sometimes she'd shout at me and just rip my heart out of my chest, or sometimes I'd get hit. I used to think that that was just the way it was, that every kid had to endure the same thing from their parents. After all, I was a badly behaved kid wasn't I? I found out that some kids had very loving parents. Parents that doted on their every command, drove them to a friend's house, took them to the park to play ball, or went on family vacations together. I was missing all of that. Instead I had to relentlessly keep my guard up, preparing for whatever hidden attack that lay ahead of me. And it was an arduous thing for a kid to have to do.
What I didn't understand was why my parents were always so irritated with me. I never did anything wrong and everything I did do only seemed to fuel their hatred for me. I tried to be good and stay out of their way but how could I avoid them when I lived with them and saw them whenever I was at home? My teachers at school thought I was an angel! There was nothing I could do to make my parents love me, nothing and I didn't know why.
There were times where I was sick and was unable to go to school and I'd get into trouble for it. My mom would say something like, "You're always pretending to be sick! I'm not calling the school for you Aiden, you can do it yourself!" I'd apologize, and God knows I meant it. I didn't want to be a burden but I was sick and I couldn't help it. In my situation, making my mom angrier with me is the last thing I would want to happen. Then she'd get on the phone and call work to tell them she wouldn't be coming in because of me, making sure that I could hear her. I was sick and she made it out like I did it on purpose, laying the guilt trip on me. It's not like I had a choice, no one chooses to get sick. I had no reason to, I loved school! I shroud myself in school work as it was my only escape from life. I was always at the top of the class, and I always finished my homework and handed it in on time. I loved the attention my teachers gave me. I remember my third grade teacher telling me that I was "the most polite, well mannered little boy there was!" There was also the satisfaction of doing hard work, and getting the praise that you deserve. As my parents never showed me any, I soaked it up from my teachers like a dry sponge.
One day while I was in fourth grade I had a sore throat. I told my teacher Mr. Nick, that I was feeling unwell, so he called my mom up to tell her the situation, which scared me to death! All I wanted him to do was to give me an aspirin or something! A sore throat was all it was but my mom was already on her way to the school to pick me up. I sat at my desk trying to come up with a reasonable story that my mom might find remotely believable. I must have looked worried because Mr. Nick came to me and asked if I felt okay. My mom showed up and my teacher told her again that I wasn't feeling well and thought it best if I went home. "Of course," she replied with a smile and thanked him. She must have been in one of her better moods and I was so relieved to see that she wasn't angry. As soon as we exited the building she grabbed my arm and turned to me hissing, "Aiden, I'm sick of you always trying to get out of school!" She said some other horrible stuff about me getting in the way of what she had planned for the day and I tried to apologize, but she quickly slapped me on the face...she didn't want to hear it.
I was never allowed to have friends over and I never understood why that was. There were times when I'd invite a friend over and all hell would break loose when they had left. I'm not to invite friends over without my mom's knowledge, I had to ask. But the thing was whenever I asked, she'd say no anyway. After the first time I did it, I didn't think it was worth the trouble. Mom was never impressed with my marks from school. I'd think she'd be proud of me and love me when I came home with something I did very well on like a painting, or an essay, but it was never good enough. There was one particular phrase I remember, "How come other people get such smart children, and I get an idiot like you?!" And ...it hurt ...it always hurt so much that my eyes would burn with tears. It felt like someone had shoved their hand through my chest, through the flesh and bones, and grabbed my heart with a rough squeeze. I loved my mom so much, but why did she have to say such things? I always had to stand there and take whatever she dished out, telling me things like how stupid I am. She always compared me to her girlfriends' son, who is a genius in her eyes. I hated being compared to other people. She'd say that if I was such an idiot-child that she wouldn't want me and it hurts so much when someone you love so much says something like that to you. After my eyes well up with tears I'd sniffle and start to sob softly. Then she'd have something to say about my crying, calling me a baby. "You see, that's why all your cousins call you a cry-baby!" And that wasn't the reason anyway. I only cried when they teased me because I was one the youngest among them. My mom's comments hurt nonetheless.
You might have thought my mom was trying to toughen me up or something, but I was just a little kid for heaven's sake! And where was my father? He was hardly ever home. He'd say he was at work, but in truth, as I found out later, he was gallivanting around with another woman. My mom's harsh words cut into me, and it broke me down completely. I never had time for friends outside of school – impossible as it may sound but true. My mom had enrolled me in a math and English program which was held twice a week after school. The there were swimming lessons, piano lessons, and even flute lessons! I had absolutely no time for anything and I found it unfair. The best years of my life were wasting away. I had a friend who lived across the street from me, and he'd come over to ask if I could go over to his house to play. My mom would tell him that I have a lot of work to do and I felt so bad turning my friends down all the time...and soon enough, I had none. And I was truly alone.
At the start of this year, I was in 7th grade. I met a boy named Jeremy, and we became friends on the first day of school. We went over to each other's houses, which my mom had decided to permit on a case by case basis, and it appeared like we would become best friends. One day he got called up to the school counsellor and when I asked him about it later during that day, he told me it was because his grades had gone declined. My mom always spoke in high regards of Jeremy, and I'll admit he was smart. Mom made note to rub it in at every opportunity to me feel inadequate. I don't matter to her. She asked about him one day, and I proudly told her that he had been called up and talked to because his marks had degraded. My mom came back to me later that day in an argument, and said that the only reason he was getting bad marks was because he was hanging around me too much.
I cried myself to sleep that night because it hurt so much. I couldn't deal with it and it just hurt me to no end. And I began to hate my mom. But I began to believe everything she had told me over the years. I was a loser, a stupid worthless little cry baby.
My parents had been fighting on a regular basis for the past two years, and it all came out in the open shortly after the incident with Jeremy. I found out during one of my parents' fights that my dad had been having an affair for years now and my mom had known for quite some time. They argued night after night, shouting at the top of their lungs, and it always ended with my dad leaving the house in a fit of rage...and my mom crying. I'd be in my room while all this was happening and I couldn't help but cry silently as I listened to everything. These weren't things that I wished to know. I had enough to deal with in my own life without listening to the burden of my parents'. Sometimes I'd sit on the floor beside my bed in the dark hugging my knees to my chest, hoping that all the bad stuff would just go away. And even thought I hated God, I kept asking him to please take me away and keep me safe. I don't know why, but I was always scared that their argument would somehow make its way back to me. I didn't want to hear my name in their argument and thankfully it never came up. I didn't want to hear them say that I was the cause of all their troubles, because if I did here them say that, that would be enough for me to just kill myself.
"How could you?! You have a goddamn family for Christ sakes!!" mom would shout. My dad would retaliate with some cheap shot along the lines of, "You think it's MY fault!? Hey! You're the one who drove me away! OKAY?! YOU!" And as he'd leave, the sound of the slamming door would make me jump.
I walked barefoot down the stairs trying not to make a sound as I headed towards the crying sounds coming from my mom. She was in the den lying on a couch with a pillow held over her face. I stood watching timidly, not knowing exactly what to do with myself. It suddenly got quiet and it was too late for me to sneak back to my room. I checked my surroundings and in a voice no louder than a whisper I called, "Mom?"
She took the pillow away from her face and turned her head to look at me, her eyes red and filled with tears. "A...are you...okay?" I must've looked really worried and scared, because she gave me a look that spoke volumes to me. It was a look of regret and love – a look that said sorry. "Oh baby...I'm so sorry....I'm so sorry!" she cried. She sat up, held her arms open and without even thinking, I ran to her and I hugged her just as tightly as she hugged me. It felt so good to be hugged! So warm...so loving! I cried openly in her arms. After what seemed like an eternity, she pulled us apart and put her hands on my shoulders.
"Aiden, listen to me. Your father...he's been seeing another woman..."
"I know mom...I...I heard everything," I stuttered. I haven't had a conversation with my mom in a long time.
"And...I've been under a lot of pressure these past few years...and that's why I've...treated y..." the words didn't come out. "I know that's NO excuse...and...I'm so sorry baby, I'm sorry," she whispered, "can you ever forgive me?" I looked into her eyes and she looked into mine.
"Yes mom, I love you."
"We're going to leave okay? Just you and me. We'll start over again," she smiled at me hopefully.
"You mean leave dad?" I asked, already knowing the answer. "And everything'll be okay?"
"Honey, I promise you things will get better...I have to get out of this place...this marriage. But not without you...I love you Aiden. You're my son, and I WON'T lose sight of that again," she said as tears began to form at her eyes again.
I could only nod my head, "Okay..."
Sadly, things didn't turn out the way we had planned. Dad refused to sign the divorce papers as he was too proud to do it. If anyone were to walk out on this marriage, it would be HIS decision, not my mom's. My mom didn't really know what to do and so they stayed together for about half a year more. My mom suggested marriage counselling in a last ditch effort to save what was left, but instead insisted that everything would work out. My mom took it as a good sign and I knew she secretly hoped that everything would work out. She was afraid to leave. I think the idea of raising a child on her own scared her to no end.
My mom became a real mom to me. She was being as normal as I could imagine, although I couldn't really wrap my mind around the fact that she had changed. I was still wary of her, always thinking that she might change back to her former self. But it hasn't happened, not yet anyway. In many ways, she tried to make up for lost times. But it was enough for me that she was alright. She had focused all the problems in her marriage onto me. I guess probably because I was the product of this marriage gone horribly wrong. I am the son of the man who had cheated on her.
Dad on the other hand grew very bitter towards me. I thought it was just a transition he was going through having to clean up the mess he made, but I found out it was so much more. He didn't like the fact that his secret affair was now in the open, especially when I knew it too. He's one of those people who thinks that men should be in charge, and now that his credibility had been tainted, he felt that he was no longer the man of the house. He had lost all respect, and we would never be able to really trust him or look at him in the same light again. So he did what he thought was the only thing he could do to make himself feel like he was in control; he'd beat me. He found reasons in everything I did, and used them as an excuse to hit me, so it seemed like there was a disciplinary problem or something if I were to tell someone. Sometimes I was hurt so badly I couldn't go to school because my body was so sore from the physical abuse.
The first such incident happened only a month after my parents had reconciled. Mom had gone on a dinner date with some of her clients from work, while my dad and I had just finished our dinner. I was washing the dishes as I'm always expected to do, when I noticed in the window reflection that my dad was behind. I could hear him breathing, and he looked over to one of the dishes drying on the rack.
"This one's still dirty..." he said while pointing to it.
"Yeah, I'll fix it up after I finish with these," I replied, not thinking much of the remark.
"No...no, do it now. Just wash it again now," he said a little impatiently. His reflection in the window in front of me stood there as he rubbed his forehead from side to side. I shrugged my shoulders and rolled my eyes before picking up the dirty plate, and washing it again. "What? Why are you rolling your eyes at me boy?!" he said above the normal speaking volume. Boy?!
"What?" I asked, unable to comprehend the situation.
"Why did you roll your eyes at me? You think you're better than me or something?!" he said jabbing a finger into the back of my head. I was getting scared and I felt my heart beating faster and faster. What's going on?
I was about to answer when he grabbed my right shoulder and spun me around to face him, making me drop the plate in the sink. The movement was so fast that I almost lost my footing. I knew we had a rocky relationship but we had never had an argument that turned physical. I don't believe we had ever had an argument let alone talk! He looked me straight in the eyes, like he was looking for the right words to say, or he was waiting for my explanation. "You little shit!"
"What did I..." SLAP!! His right hand was a blur to me and it hit me on the face hard making my neck spin with it! Any harder and my neck would've snapped, I'm sure of it. The strange thing is I didn't feel anything at first, only a slight tingle of pain. Then I felt it hurt like a red hot stinging poker had been thrust onto my face. I cupped my left cheek as tears streamed down my face, as if that would help to make it better. My mind wanted to shout out in pain, but I was too shocked, and my voice box felt like it had been locked with the key thrown away. I looked at my dad and for a split second he looked shocked by what he did. But then his facial expression slowly changed, it contorted into an expression that I couldn't quite read for a moment. Then it hit me...he liked it. It made him feel strong, powerful...like a man. "Finish the goddamn dishes and go to your room," he said as he turned and walked away calmly as if nothing had happened. I waited until I couldn't hear him anymore and when I was sure that he was gone, I finished the rest of those dishes as quickly as I could. I locked myself in my room unsure of what to make of this whole situation. Do I tell mom? Was it a one time thing? What the heck is happening?!
I looked at the mirror positioned on the back of my door to inspect myself. The left side of my face was all red and I could feel it throbbing with pain. What had happened? Why did he hit me? I didn't do anything wrong did I? I was confused this time, but there was no mistake when his attacks became more and more aggressive. And all the while I couldn't tell my mom for some reason. This was the happiest she had been in well...ever! I don't want to have to be the one to ruin it all for her. Not again. And I didn't want to ruin what we had together. And I never told anyone what happened, because I didn't want to be made a freak. I wanted everyone to think that I was a normal kid, with a normal life. Normal.
The last time an incident like this occurred about a month ago on a Friday afternoon. I had had a good day at school and was at home getting ready to unwind for the weekend. I was going to go out with a couple of friends later tonight as we were going to go see a movie. My dad had lost his job about a month earlier and I didn't expect him to be at home. He was supposed to be out helping a friend with some office stuff. I changed my clothes and decided to take an hour nap. I usually did this because having to wake up early in the morning usually tired me out by the time afternoon came around. It was a habit I had developed. Suddenly my bedroom door opened scaring the hell out of me. It was him and I didn't' lock the door because I didn't think anyone was at home. What was he doing here?!
"Dad?" I said aloud caught completely off guard.
"You should be doing your homework...what are you doing?" he asked, his angry eyes glaring at me.
"I...I felt a little tired...so I was...going to lie down for a while," I stammered. Idiot! I mentally kicked myself for saying something so stupid.
"So what? You got the whole weekend to rest, get your homework done," he said.
"But I'm going out to a movie tonight with some friends," I started before I realised I made a big mistake, "...but I'll do my homework on the weekend, I promise."
He came over to me and grabbed my throat and literally lifted me to my feet choking the air out of me. As I gasped for air, I could smell the scent alcohol in his breath and saw that his eyes were bloodshot. He truly looked like an agent of evil. "Ple...sto..." I was all I could manage to get out. "You show me some FUCKING respect!" he shouted. And he threw me back into a wall, hitting my head hard. I fell to the ground clutching my head with both hands from the immense pain. Everything felt like it was moving in slow motion until I heard my dad's voice.
"Get up...you're so fucking weak! You're like a girl..." and he grabbed me by the arms, as I refused to let go of my aching head. He tossed me like a rag doll towards my desk and I hit my ribs on the corner of it. I cried out in pain, and my dad took that as a sign that he had done enough damage for now. "Now...what are you going to do? Hmmm? Homework?" And I paused. I couldn't help but screw up my face from the pain as I clutched my side. This is what it must feel like to be shot, I thought to myself. But the question still stood there waiting and he wanted an answer. No! I had plans, and he wasn't going to ruin it. The damage had been done, so he might as well let me go out now right?
"I...I'm going out with friends..." I managed to breathe the words out. My dad looked really surprised. Call it a case of teenage rebellion.
"You know...you're right!" He grabbed me by my left arm and dragged me down the stairs to the front door. I kept my right hand over my side and it hurt even more as my dad lifted me. It felt like a knife was being inserted very slowly into my side. My back had to stay hunched so that it wouldn't hurt. "You want to go out...go," he said smiling deviously. Was this some sort of trick? A game maybe? He was letting me go so I took one step forward toward the door. I reached out my hand and turned the doorknob.
"You go...and you'll have no place to go home to..." he said bitterly. Big deal! Anywhere was better than here anyway. And once mom finds out that I'm gone, everything will come into the open. Then she'll know. Then we'll leave, and I won't ever have to see you again.
I turned the doorknob and opened the door. Without looking back I took my first step out the door expecting a hand to grab me by my collar and yank me back in.
"Do it...leave. Your mother doesn't want you here," he said sure of himself.
"You're lying!" I shot back quickly as I turned to face him.
"Am I? The truth is we were much happier before you came along. Why do you think she treated you like shit for so many years? We never wanted you...you were an...accident. And look at you...you're like a faggot. You've never done anything we could be proud of. So why don't you just leave?" What scared me so much was that he wasn't talking out of anger or hate. He was telling me something...the truth.
"Fine," and I left.
We come back to the present where I've finished my shower and have dried myself off thoroughly with a towel. The heating lights in my bathroom ceiling keep me nice and warm as I wrap the towel around my waist and brush my teeth, getting rid of that awful morning breath. The mirror in front of me is fogged up from the steam, but that's fine with me. There's nothing I want to see in the mirror right now. I don't like seeing things that remind me of my past; images that constantly take my mind back to a place where I don't want to be. A place where I'm nothing but a punching bag, a rag doll being thrown around...someone's who's alive, but not living.
"Honey, are you up yet? You don't want to be late," I hear my mom saying from outside my bedroom door after knocking softly.
"Yeah mom, I'm up. I'll be down in a few," I reply, my voice a little croaky. Morning voice, I like to call it.
"Okay," I hear her answer in a cheerful voice, as she headed back downstairs.
She's such a strong person. Enduring all those years of what other's perceived as a normal marriage when it was all really a nightmare. Despite my dad's conniving activities she stuck by him, probably hoping that it would all pass like it was a bad dream. But it didn't. Even when she was confronted with the truth of it all, she still stuck by him believing that there was still hope. I think it took more guts to stick by him and his word that things would get better, than it would have been to run away at the first sight of trouble. Even though I think she did the right thing, the fact is that some people don't change, or they just can't change their ways. They're too stuck in their own bullshit to care about what's happening around them, people's feelings, or how what they're doing would affect them. My mom trusted dad, but she also knew when to stop trusting him.
So there I was in only a t-shirt and pants, knowing that the nice warm air was going to get colder very soon. The sun had started to set as it was 5:30pm, and there was a magnificent array of colours in the setting sky – purples, oranges, light blues, all running between lines of white fluffy clouds. Some things were so beautiful. It's sad how we can spend our lives hearing about things such as sunrises and sunsets, but never ever really taking notice of it, never taking in its splendour. People are always looking for miracles and magic when it's been in front of them all along.
The pain at the back of my head was now a dull ache, and as I raised my hand to touch it, there was a sudden alarm of pain going off. "Ouch!" I exclaimed aloud, expressing my displeasure in a scowl. There'll be a bump there soon. I swallowed and my throat hurt too from where my dad had tried to strangle me. Boy, that sounded strange, "My dad strangled me". I was completely lost as to what to do. I had no money and I didn't have my wallet which had my bus pass in it. Not that I would have known where to go even if I had it. Still, riding around all night in a heated bus was better than staying outside in the cold for God knows how long.
I walked down to the local shopping square which had some useful little shops with all sorts of things like hairdressers, small restaurants, Safeway super-market, and a McDonald's right at the front. It took me about 30 minutes to walk there, but time really doesn't mean anything when you don't have a watch, and you know where you're going. But as soon as I got there, the sudden scent of fried food reminded me that I had not eaten anything since lunch time at school, and it was now around 6:00pm. Usually when I got home from school, I'd have a sandwich or something simple to tie me over until dinner. All my thoughts suddenly evolved around my stomach and it almost made me double over in hunger pains. Here I am starving from not eating in 5 or 6 hours...and there are people in other countries that don't eat for days! Because I'm not as strong as them...I'm weak...
I was tempted to ask someone for some money, telling them that I had to catch a bus home but I had lost my wallet. I wanted so badly to do that, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. The hunger alone was enough to make me, but it just wasn't right lying like that. The people around here wouldn't have given me the money anyway. Maybe some kind old lady would, but where at this time was I going to find a kind old lady? They'd be in their nice warm nursing homes settling down for dinner right about now. Some nice hot soup to begin with...*GRUMBLE* my stomach called out to me.
"Excuse me...sir...could I have..." the man I had talked to didn't even look my way or acknowledge my presence, and I suddenly felt very foolish for even trying such a stupid stunt. Instead the man walked right past me and headed to a little Indian restaurant on the opposite side of the court. I ran my left hand through my hair feeling the pain in my ribs suddenly flare up making me squint in pain. I decided to walk around for a little bit hoping to take my mind off my empty stomach but it didn't work. It wanted food and there was nothing I could do to change its mind. The only other thing I felt besides hunger was the freezing air. I kept my hands in the pockets of my school pants, but that did very little.
It was dark and I was tired, cold and hungry. I wish I were indoors. I thought about going back home and apologising to my dad, and maybe he'd let me back in without more than a slap on the face. I can't live like this on the streets, I don't know what to do...I simply wouldn't survive. It's only been a couple of hours and I'm already cold and tired...and oh so hungry too. I see a fish and chip shop and I turn my head away from the shop as I pass, but the aroma had already burrowed its way into my nose. My stomach groaned fiercely. I found a bench nearby which stood outside a men's barbershop which had already closed for the night. The lights were dark, and I decided to just sit there for a while and try to gather my thoughts.
The next thing I knew, everything went black...
The darkness seemed to last an eternity as I had the most horrible nightmares and horrific images in my head. It was dark...complete blackness. The darkness, though I could not see it, was pulling me by my arms and legs dragging me with it, to become part of it. I tried to struggle, tried to run from it, but it had its grip on me so tightly that there was no escape. I was becoming nothingness. I can't move! I'm nothing, so I can't move! It's so dark! I'm not alive anymore...I only exist. I try to shout in protest, but I have no voice anymore. Again...again! I try AGAIN!
"Mmm..." I hear a voice...mine?
"Aiden?" another voice. Mom's. MOM! HELP ME! "Aiden, wake up honey. You're alright..."
Suddenly, the entire black universe that I existed in started to collapse on itself, sucking everything into oblivion taking me with it. Almost like being on a rollercoaster coming to a brutal stop, I was jolted back into a different world...reality. I opened my eyes, seeing nothing but a blur of lights which hurt my eyes. They felt like they had weights on the tops of them, wanting me to keep my eyes closed. But I couldn't, for fear that I might return to that place of nothingness, a place where I don't want to ever go back to. Never.
The blurriness stayed that way for a couple of seconds and I feared that my sight wouldn't return to normal. I had to close my eyes again, but I made the extra effort to stay conscious.
"Mom?" I said in a whisper, my throat hurting as I tried to swallow.
"Honey...I'm here..." I heard her sweet voice as she stroked my forehead and face. She also sounded sad, but had managed to cover it up really well. I open my eyes and find myself in a dimly lit room.
"Mom? What...where?" I started to panic and get up when my mom gently put her right hand on my chest to put me back down, without much effort. I was tired and weak.
"Shhh...it's okay honey. You're alright. You're fine now..." she told me soothingly, and it comforted me to know that she was here with me. I needed her so badly; I'd die without her with me. She had a chair on the right side of my hospital bed, her long blonde hair tied back, and her eyes a little moist with tears. But none flowed down her cheeks. Dressed in a white woollen sweater and with the lights shining softly on her delicate facial features, she looked like an angel, and she had the heart to match. She was beautiful, and how anyone could do anything to hurt this woman was beyond me.
"Mom...I'm sorry..." I whispered. My mouth and lips felt dry. My hand hurt too. I looked to my left hand and saw that it was attached to an intravenous drip. There was a dull pain in my left hand, but something that I could easily ignore.
"For what?" she asked curiously concerned. I stopped for a second not knowing how to answer the question, nor the reason I apologized.
"Fo...for being born...I know you didn't want me..." I said looking away from her, turning my gaze to the intravenous drip before tears started rolling down my face. There was a very uncomfortable silence that followed, and just when I heard my mom take a breath, thinking she was going to say something, there was still silence. When I couldn't stand it anymore, I turned to face her again to see what would happen. She had a troubled look on her, and she stared intently back into my eyes. She looked more shocked than anything and I turn away again.
"I...I'm going to go get a doctor...just wait here for a second..." she told me as she got up and left the room for a second. I watched her as she crossed the hall to the front desk and talk to the people behind it, whom I couldn't see. I fidgeted a little with my right hand, not daring to move my left one. The drip was connected to my veins and covered with a clear piece of tape. It looked disgusting as I could see a silver needle disappearing inside me. I also noticed that I was wearing one of those patient gowns and wondered who changed me. But I was quite warm and snug under these sheets, and I found that I now appreciated a nice warm bed.
Looking around I found a television situated below the ceiling at the end of the room. There were curtains covering the windows to my right, and I saw on a clock situated above the door my mom had just exited that it was 3am in the morning. Wow...I can't even remember the last time I was awake at this time of the morning...not since I stopped wetting the bed in the middle of the night! A moment later my mom came back with a female doctor.
"Hi Aiden!" she said cheerfully but not too loudly as there were other in the hospital sleeping at this hour. "I'm Dr. Lolas, how are you feeling?" She looked to be in her fifties, with grey hair and a pair of large framed glasses which magnified her eyes a little. Then she had the standard doctor uniform, long white coat with a name tag, and a stethoscope around he neck.
"Um...good, I guess," I answered a little unsure myself.
"You must be hungry?" she asked as she took out a little flashlight and checked both my pupils. As her hand gently touched the back of my head to steady me I winced in pain from the bump. "Ooh sorry!" She gently touched the back of my head again before saying, "You nave a nasty bump on the head..." I had to wait until she had finished before I could answer, and I was seeing spots.
"Yeah...I am pretty hungry..." I tried to avoid the other remark.
"Do you think you can eat? You're throat looks a little bruised..." she said squinting her eyes over the tops of her eye glasses.
"Um...yeah...I think I could," but the truth was I didn't know if I could. But I was still hungry and I my stomach needed to be satisfied.
"Is he okay?" my mom asked obviously concerned for my well-being.
"He's fine now. Aiden, as I explained to your mom when you came in, you were unconscious. You had passed out and we suspected that you hadn't had anything to eat for some time so we put you on a drip. But you're okay now." She explained to me looking at me with a friendly face. It didn't help much, I knew where the questions would lead; What was I doing on a bench in only a t-shirt? Why wasn't I at home? Why were there bruises on my body?
"Thank God," mom exclaimed.
"Aiden, we'll get you some dinner and a drink okay? Mrs. Simmons, would you come with me for a second?" she gestured for my mom to follow her. Mom looked at me not wanting to leave me alone, but eventually turned and followed Dr. Lolas outside. All I could hear was very soft talking outside my room, but nothing I could make out. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on hearing, when another nurse came in with a tray of food.
"Hi!" she whispered in cheery smile. "I brought you some chow!" She was a little overweight but she sure had character.
"Thanks ma'am," I replied trying to muster up a smile myself.
"You got the works here! Baked potatoes, peas and carrots, jelly and ice-cream for dessert, and some apple juice!" she pulled out a rolling tray from the corner of the room and placed the tray she was carrying on top of it. As I sat up she rolled it over my bed and said, "Enjoy cutie!" and left the room. Food!
I devoured the food very quickly not really tasting it either. My hunger had returned with vengeance as soon as I had smelt those baked potatoes. I even ate the peas which was one of my most hated vegetables. I can't stand peas; they made me want to puke when I put them in my mouth. I was halfway through demolishing my jelly and ice-cream when my mom came back in, her expression showed worry and trouble. I had done wrong again.
"Easy there tiger, it's not going anywhere," she said facetiously referring to my food.
I smiled bashfully, slowing down a little. The hunger pains had gone away and my stomach felt a satisfaction that I can never explain. My mom sat back down on her chair next to my bed and I finished eating. She was silent as she watched me as a mother does with loving eyes. I felt so safe then. It's kind of like when a shepherd looks over his sheep; a protector. I opened the pack of apple juice and drank it greedily taking in the flavour, the coolness, the texture. It was as if I had been in a desert and hadn't had water in days.
"They want to keep you overnight for observation, but they said that you're basically fine. You should be able to go home tomorrow." She stopped and looked over to her left looking as if she was trying to find the right words to say. Her mouth hung open for a second before she spoke, "Aiden? Dr. Lolas told me that when you got here they found some bruises on your body...some old...some very recent. And why were you alone at Kitland's Square in only a t-shirt when it's only 13 degrees outside?" she asked concernedly, but wanting answers more than anything else. She paused for me to answer, but I didn't know how to answer. My face felt hot, and I stared at the tray which had nothing left anymore. "And why did you apologize for...for being born?"
"Dad..." I started but found that the words were unable to come out. Dad what? Dad told me you didn't want me? Dad gave me those bruises and has been doing so for the past 6 months. It's all dad's fault.
"What did he tell you?" she asked looking me dead in the eye, telling me that she didn't want any bullshit.
"He said that...that I was," I swallowed the lump in my throat, "...an accident. That you didn't want me."
She suddenly took my hand in hers and gripped it tightly. She had tears streaming down her face, but still had a very intent look about her face. "Listen to me Aiden, because I'm only going to tell you this once. You were not an accident. We were the ones who weren't prepared for a child. But when I found out that I was pregnant that was the happiest day of my life and I wouldn't have changed it for the world. I never wished that I wasn't. I never thought anything except how wonderful it would be to be a mother. I LOVE you! And I always will love you. I'm going to take you away from that son of a bitch!" she said, suddenly turning angry. I felt so stupid at that moment for believing everything my dad had told me.
Tears started flowing freely from my eyes and I didn't know what to say. "I love you too mom," I said seeing through blurry tears, "I always have." I have always loved her, even when she was angry with me I was always looking to her for approval. To be accepted. I never stopped loving her. I clenched my jaw shut as I sniffed and swallowed what seemed like gallons of mucus.
"Did...did he hit you?" she paused for a second, her eyes still staring at me with a serious expression, waiting for me to answer. But before I could she rephrased it, "Does he hit you?"
I nodded my head and suddenly I broke down in tears sobbing loudly, crying like never before. It was all in the open, and both the relief of my mom knowing what had been happening and being so ashamed of it was more than my 13 year old mind could handle. My mom quickly embraced me tightly, wrapping her arms around as I cried my soul out into her woollen sweater without restraint. I'm sure the nurses at the outside desk could hear me, but they probably knew what was happening in this section of the children's ward of the hospital. They'd seen it all before. I was in a jumble of emotions but my mom held me tight and I could hear her sobbing quietly too as she rocked me back and forth.
"Hey there!" my mom greets me as I come down the stairs dressed in my new school uniform. It's just grey pants, black shoes, white shirt, and a blue school spray-jacket with the logo on the left (when you're wearing it) hand side. It was just neat and tidy if anything. Plain...yet comfortable. "Looking good, tiger!" she says with a smile on her face.
"Mom!" I nagged. She had given me the pet name `Tiger' and I loved it. I don't know why I felt the need to pretend that I didn't. It's just what teenagers do I guess.
"Do you want some breakfast?" she asked as she sipped her cup of coffee.
"Nah...I'm good. Don't really feel like eating...nervous and all...y'know," I told her as I inspected my blue school bag, making sure that I had everything I needed.
"Ok...but don't think you can skip breakfast every morning," she paused with a smile on her face and I knew what she was going to say next. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day," I said with her in unison. I roll my eyes.
"Come on smart-aleck. I'll drop you off at school. Here put my mug in the kitchen while I go reverse the car from the garage," she said handing me the mug before heading out the door.
While I put the mug in the kitchen sink I felt something that I had never felt before in my life, not to this extent. I felt new found hope. This was our chance to a start new life, start with a clean slate. We could change the paths of our lives, which before now would have led us down a miserable future. We could now make it what we wanted it to be and there was nothing that could stop us or hold us back, except for ourselves. Things were going to be different, exciting and hopefully good. I made my way to the front door looking back at our new house. This is it. When I step out of this door, my new life will officially start.
Okay...this is it. This is where it begins. And I close the front door behind me.
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