I feel someone playing with my hair. For a second, I forget where I am and I smile, picturing Bruno perfectly in my mind. "Morning Beautiful." His voice. The smile vanishes, and fear along with anger fills me. I open my eyes, but I don't look at him. I don't want to. He touches my face, and I jerk away from him. I feel dirty and tainted when he touches me. He pulls his hand back. "Lena?" I don't move. I just want him to go away. "Can you please look at me?" He asks. His voice sounds completely different than yesterday. It sounds, like the Brendan I know. Or knew. I turn slowly to look at him. His green eyes are big, and innocent. "What?" I say, coldly. He makes a face. "What's the matter?" He asks, softly as if he's really concerned. I glare at him, not answering. He tries to grab my hand, but I pull it away quickly. "You mad at me?" He asks. I stare at him, in disbelief. Is he serious right now? He wraps his arms around me. "I don't even care if you're mad at me, I'm just glad you decided to come home!" He says, cheerily. "I didn't decide to come home. You beat me and forced me." I tell him bluntly. He furrows his eyebrows. "Lena, I would never put my hands on you in that way. That's not the kinda guy I am." He says. You have got to be kidding me! "So what do you call yesterday? Wait! Let me guess? It wasn't you, it was someone else huh?" I say, sarcastically. "Lena, yesterday you came home. We talked for awhile, got something to eat, and you came upstairs to unpack and fell asleep. Are you okay?" He tries to touch my forehead, but I move my head back. What is he talking about?! "Come on, I made you breakfast. Ahmity's waiting for you." He says. The only reason I get up is cause of my sister. I walk a distance away from him. Her face lights up when she sees me and I can't help but smile. She pats the chair next to her and I sit down. There's a plate of pancakes, eggs and bacon on the table in front of me. My mouth waters, but there's no way in hell I'll eat something he made. Ahmity holds my hand and squeezes. "I--missed you." She says. I manage a smile. "I missed you too." I say, sincerely. "How--was--Brooklyn?" She asks. I stare at her. "Brooklyn?" She nods, smiling. "Ahm--What are you--You know I didn't go to Brooklyn." I say. Her eyes dart over to Brendan. He's looking in the refrigerator for something. Her eyes are big and she looks scared. She shakes her head at me. When Brendan closes the refrigerator, she immediately puts on a big smile like she had before. He smiles at her back and sits down at the table. I eye him for a minute. My sister isn't stupid. But she is disabled. And he's taking full advantage of that. The fuckin asshole. She plays with the eggs on her plate. Her hand is trembling. "Where's Adrian?" I try, just to see how either of them reacts. Ahmity freezes. Brendan stares at his bowl for a minute. "He's at work." He finally says. I stare at Brendan. He gets fidgey. "When does he come home?" I ask. Brendan pounds the table, making me and Ahmity jump. "Lena, shut up with the questions now!" He yells. I glare at him. Ahmity doesn't move a muscle. "Fuck you..." I say to him. I can almost see his eyes turn red. His face changes back to the evil expression from yesterday. He gets up and tries to grab me by my hair, but I slide off the chair and run from him. I can hear he's close behind me. I feel his grasp on my arm and when he turns me around, I start flinging my fists everywhere. There's no way I'm going to let someone put their hands on me without putting up a fight. He struggles for a minute, but of course he wins. He wraps his hand around my neck, and slowly squeezes harder and harder. I can see the disturbing gleam in his eyes and the small smirk creep across his face as my struggle for air escalades. This time he doesn't let go. I see the room get fuzzy, and than black.
* * * *
"Happy Birthday Lena." I look up at Bruno. He runs his fingers through his curls, and his face is a little red. I know it's because of the snickering girls sitting on the couch behind him. "Bruno, I told you not to get me anything." I tell him. He smiles. "Did you really think I was gonna listen to you?" He says. I open the long white box he put in my hands. A silver bracelet stares back at me. It has blue topaz stones and small diamonds in between each one. It takes my breath away, and I don't want to take it. I shake my head. "Take it back." I tell him. He pushes the box away from him. "No..." "Bruno, these are real diamonds." I tell him. For turning 14, even the smallest diamond in the world is a big deal, and I can't accept a bracelet that's full of them. "I know.." He says. He takes it out of the box and puts it on my wrist. I hear the girls giggling. I know I'm not the only one who has a crush on Bruno. He smiles. "Perfect." I touch it softly, afraid that something will happen to it if I don't. "Bruno..." I start to say, but he stops me. "You're my best friend." That says it all, because when I look into his eyes, I can see how much he means it. I stand up and hug him. It's a quick hug, but it seems like it lasts forever, and it feels like it's just me and him in the room.
My eyes fly open. The room is blurry and I realize I'm crying. The memory felt so real. I feel someone on the bed. "Mama's?" I turn quickly to see Ahmity next to me. I sit up and wrap my arms around her. I breathe in her flowery scent. She squeezes me and I hear her start to cry. Her whole body trembles. "Mama's...Talk to me." I say to her. I wait until she catches her breath. I wipe her tears. She lifts her shirt, and there are huge, black and purple bruises on her ribs and back. My blood boils and my eyes start to tear up out of anger. I clench my fists. She covers my mouth before I start to scream something. "He---he'll----he-he" She struggles to get the words out. She closes her eyes tight and spits out "He'll kill you." My eyes widen and now I start to shake. She points to her neck, and I see thin lines of dried blood. Inside I go crazy. I run to the door but when I try and open it, it doesn't budge. It's locked. I start kicking and punching it, screaming at the top of my lungs. "If you wanna kill me,THAN KILL ME YOU FUCKING BASTARD!!" I scream until my throat gets hoarse. I feel Ahmity's hands turn me around and she hugs me, the both of us crying. "Why?" Is all I'm able to get out. "He---he's-crazy. He made--Adrian-leave and---he stopped-taking--his medi--cation." She stutters. "What medication?" I ask her. "For--his bi-polar--anger-and ----depression." She manages to get out. The conversation me and Phred had comes back to me. "It took awhile, but after medication and therapists, he started living his life again." "Why didn't you or Adrian tell me?! I woud've come home and--" "And--what?" She says. I stare at her. "He--didn't-tell--you, to-protect--you." She stammers. "So he beat you instead!?" I yell. She shakes her head. "He--thought I---was---you." She says. I cover my mouth. My stomach turns, and my mouth waters. I can't run to the bathroom, so I run to the small trash can by the dresser and puke my guts out. Ahmity baby steps her way over to me, and slowly kneels down. She rubs my back. "I have to get out here Ahm..WE have to get out of here." I say. She remains quiet. I hear the doorknob, and she huddles closer to me. I feel like we’re in a horror movie that came to life. He walks into the room. "What are you guys doing?" He asks, cheerfully. He pulls Ahmity carefully up by the arm. She smiles at him, but her eyes are full of fear. He extends his hand towards me, but I push it away. He looks hurt. "Lena, what's the matter?" I can't do this! I can't deal with this back and forth, one minute he's crazy and the next he's back to the 'old Brendan'. I stand up. He pulls me towards him, and tries to kiss me. I turn my head, with a disgusted look on my face. He clenches his jaw. Ahmity's eyes are big. "You hate me..." He says, stating the obvious. I glare at him, not saying a word. He reaches for my hand, and I see tears in his eyes. "Lena, I love you.." He says, almost pleading. "I hate you.." I say quietly. He falls to his knees and hugs my waist. "I'll do anything Lena! Please, just say you love me!" I will never say I love him as long as there's air in my lungs. He gets up. "Okay! Fine!" He yells. He pulls out a switchblade from his pocket. He holds it to his neck. "I'll fuckin kill myself right now Lena! I'll fuckin do it!" I watch him, calmly. "Is that supposed to scare me?" I say. "Kill yourself you fuckin bitch! I dare you!" I scream at him. He starts breathing heavy and he pressed the knife deeper. Ahmity lets out a scream and has her face covered. He drops the knife and storms out of the room. I run and grab it and put it in my pocket. I go over to Ahmity and try to calm her down. She's crying hysterically. "Mama's! It's okay! Stop crying, breathe" She listens to me and takes deep breaths. I try the door, but it's locked again. I don't have a plan, but someway somehow, I'm going to get us out of here.
* * * *
It's been a week. My life consists of these four walls. I'm allowed out to use the bathroom, but than he locks me back in. I haven't seen Ahmity in 4 days. He took her from me. Now I have to talk to myself to keep from going insane. I lay on the bed, going over my escape plan. I've learned the hard way that breaking the window is out of the question. I thought shatter proof glass didn't exist. Everyday, I sit at the door, with his damn switchblade, turning the screws. They barely move because the knife always slips when I turn it, but I've managed to get 2 of them off. 4 more to go. I hear him coming up the stairs and I run back to the bed. I curl in a ball, with the blanket covering my face. The door unlocks, and I feel his digusting presence. He pulls the blanket down. "Here you go babe!" He says, with a smile. He hands me a plate. Everyday it's something different. Today, it's waffles with strawberries and whip cream, hashbrowns, and sausage. I take it, and start eating. My stomach turns and I want to throw it up, but if I do, he'll just beat me unitl I pass out. I smile at him. He looks satisfied and leaves the room, locking the door. I spit out the waffle and dump the food in a bag in the back of the closet, where I dump everything he gives me to eat. I feel myself a lot skinnier than I already was. I sit at the door again, slowly turning the screws. I don't know how much time goes by, but it feels like hours. I lean my head agains the wall, and let the tears flow like a river. The pain I have inside, hurts more than the physical pain I endure everyday. I can't remember what Bruno's voice sounds like. I try so hard to remember, but my mind is blank. All I remember is that it's beautiful. I close my eyes, and think back to that day. "I love you. When I get home, we'll talk more
." The last words he said to me. Everyday, I go over scenarios in my head. What did he do when he got home? How did he react? Was he mad? Sad? Did he look for me? Did he call anyone? I tell myself to stop, otherwise I'm gonna lose it, but my mind always wanders back to the same questions. I hear footsteps outside the door. I curl my knees up. "Lena--" Ahmity! "Mama's!" I say, my mouth pressed up against the door. "Are-you--okay?" She asks. "I'm fine. Are you okay?" I ask her. Her feet shuffle away before she has time to answer. I hear her whimper. I back away from the door, into the corner. He comes in and picks me up off of the floor. "It's okay Lena." He says, holding me in his arms. I stare at the door, that he left open. I could run out right now, but what about Ahmity? I shut my eyes tight in dismay. I don't want to be in his arms. I don't want him touching me. He kisses my neck, and my lip curls in disgust. "Remember the first night you stayed here?" He asks, more to himself than me. My heart skips a beat. I stare at the floor, remembering. His smile, his eyes, the way he talked to me, was so different. "I knew after that first kiss, that you were the only one for me." He says. "I fell in love with you that night." He says. "2 weeks ago, I woulda believed that." I tell him. "But now, those words might as well be coming out of your ass." He stares at me, like I slapped him in the face. "I will never love you..." I say. His jaw clenches. "I hate you, you worthless piece of shit." His nostrils flare and he's breathing heavy. He grabs his hair and screams like someone's killing him. He falls to his knees, and as soon as he does, I run as fast as I can out in the hallway. I fly down the stairs and out of the front door. The sun blinds me, and I'm running down the sidewalk not being able to see. My vision comes back after a couple seconds, and I pump my legs as fast as they can go. I run into the first familiar place. The restaurant where I work. I see Preeti, waiting on a table. "Preeti!" I run up to her, almost knocking her down. "Whoa! Chica, when did you get back?" She asks. I pull her to the back, in the walk in pantry we have. I lock it once we’re inside. If he comes here, at least he won't be able to get in. My mind is racing and I don't know what to say first. Her eyes are huge. "What happened to you Lena?" She asks. She touches my face and I wince a little in pain. Her eyes wander down to my arms, that are covered in bruises. "You need to help me get my sister!" I say, out of breath. "Wh--" "Brendan is the one that did this to me, I got away but my sister is still in the house, and if I don't get her out---" I don't want to say the next words. "I need your help!" I say, pleading. She looks scared, and I'm almost certain she's going to say no. But, she regains herself, and answers me the way Preeti would answer. "That bitch is going to hell!" I smile and throw my arms around her. She looks at me, with pain in her eyes. "Brendan?" She asks, not wanting to believe it. I nod. She clenches her fists. "When I get my hands on---" She shakes. As much as I don't want to go back to that house, nothing will keep me from my sister. It needs to happen quick. There's no telling what he'll do to her. Time is crucial....