Chapter 1: Who to turn to
Tyler Connell and Valerie Lanier were walking down the halls of Kingsport High School deep in conversation when suddenly Catie Roth, Jamie Waite, and Hank Beechem lunged from behind a corner and nearly knocked the couple down with fright.
"My goodness, why did you do that? You scared me half to death," said Val all frantic.
"Don't worry, we were just playing", said Jamie.
"Well, at least warn us when you're going to do it again. You knocked Tyler over," said Val as she bent over to assist him.
"Oh no, where is this world coming to?" asked Catie all in a jiffy.
The moment Val came in contact with Tyler's wrist, fireballs short through his arm and he let out a cry of pain. "You know what Val? It's ok, I got it," said Tyler not wanting her to not only hurt him more, but not to find out his secret. As soon as he got his composure Jamie asked, "Man, you ok?"
'Yes, I'm fine," said Tyler faking a smile.
"O.k. Well, I'll see you then. I'm off this way to French with Monsieur LeBon," said Hank with a roll of his eyes.
"Ok, well, I'll meet you guys at lunch," said Tyler limping as he was walking away.
At lunchtime, the group of friends did not see a glimpse of Aaron anywhere. "I think I'm going to look for him," said Hank getting up to which Jamie followed suit.
When they got to the men's washroom they could hear someone sick but couldn't make out who it was so they just casually leaned against the wall and waited.
As soon as the person came out, Jamie and Hank knew exactly who it was but didn't say anything. They just continued to lean there and watch.
After Tyler washed himself up, he turned to go but quickly spotted his friends against the wall looking at him.
"Are you ok," said Jamie with concern.
"Yeah, why?" asked Tyler not understanding.
"Why? Because you've been in there for about 5 minutes puking. Now, I may be weird but whenever someone is throwing up their stomach, usually they're not fine," said Hank.
"I'm fine. I'm just feeling a little under the weather. I will see you guys at work," said Tyler, and with that walked out of the washroom leaving his friends standing there worried and confused.
After school, the EMT station was silent except for a young, blonde haired, blue eyed boy sitting in the back room folding and unfolding a piece of paper incessantly. In unison, three people burst into the station all looking at their watches and had identical looks of stress on their faces. They didn't even notice him, until he coughed loudly. "Oh hey man, I did not see you there," said Hank slapping him on the shoulder, which caused Tyler to yelp in pain and startle the group. "I'm sorry about that," said Hank cowering back.
"It's ok," said Tyler gingerly rubbing the spot where Hank touched him.
Just as Jamie was about to comment on something, the group got a call.
About midnight, they were free to leave, except for Tyler because it was his turn to close and lock up.
"I will lock up. You can take the night off," said Jamie.
"Are you sure? I'm here, and I have time if you have to go do something else," said Tyler relieved that he had Jamie to back him up, but being courteous all the same.
"It's ok, I got it under control. You go home. You're not feeling well and I think you just need some rest. Go," said Jamie shooing Tyler away.
"Ok, but first I have to go back and change," said Tyler heading back into the back room. A few minutes later, Tyler emerged and headed out the door.
Tyler stepped out into the cool night and pondered on what Jamie told him. Home, which, to most people is the place of comfort, security and love, but for him, it was a place of hell. Each step was slow and painful, because with each step, he knew he was inching closer to the terrible nightmare that awaited him. He was getting closer to the dreaded beast waiting for him just behind the closed door of the place ready to pounce on him. Every move inside the place that he made, he knew he was silently being watched.
When he got to the house, he slowing opened the door, and stepped inside not knowing what to expect. Immediately, the smells of alcohol mixed with cigarette smoke wafted into the entry hall he was standing in, and he fell to the ground coughing. When he got his composure, he looked up only to find the face of his father looming over him like a black shadow in the night.
With one swift move Danny Connell had him on the ground flat on his back.
"Where have you been? It is nearly 1:00," said Danny slapping Tyler relentlessly wherever he could.
"I'm sorry. Tonight was my night to lock up," said Tyler cringing at every punch Danny delivered to him.
"Shut up, boy. Just wait until I can really get my hands on you. Then there will be trouble," said Danny getting up to Tyler's face menacingly
"And when will that be?" asked Tyler. Wrong question.
Danny, upon hearing that remark, literally picked Tyler up and threw him up the staircase onto the landing above. When Tyler woke up from what seemed like a sleep he turned around and saw Danny heading toward him. Tyler crawled as fast as he could to his bedroom. Only when he was in the safe confines of his bedroom, did he relax and let the tears fall.
When Tyler took his shirt and pants off to get ready for bed, he observed himself in the mirror. What he saw, he did not like. Bruises covered everywhere on his body, all of them he did not deserve. When he got his pajamas on, he got into bed slowly for fear his back would cause him to scream in agony and make his father come running.
When Tyler got himself situated, he looked about his room for any sign of comfort. And finally he saw it. The one person that really loved and cared for him and that he could find strength and comfort in. One single picture of his mother whom passed away when Tyler was eight. It was a small picture, yes, but full of meaning and love. On restless nights, he would hold the picture close to him, so that he might feel closer to her. Tonight he did just that. He grabbed the picture off the nightstand and stared at it for the longest time before speaking.
"Hey mom, how are you doing tonight? I'm not doing so well. I need to feel your loving arms around me and feel your soft touch. You're the only person who I could run to, and you would never push me away. You always had time for me, no matter if you were busy or not. You taught me to keep on fighting even if I was not willing. I never got the chance to tell you how much I loved you, and how much I appreciated everything you did for me. You made me who I am today, and I wouldn't ever have gotten this far if it were not for your encouraging voice that kept me going. I have thanked God every day for giving me a wonderful loving mother and I'll never forget you. You will be in my heart forever," said Tyler before falling to sleep, letting the picture lay on his chest.