I'm hoping that this will help with the writers block I have on all of my current stories. It's something new. It's in first person and the first chapter is pretty long. I'm not sure if the person telling the story is going to switch every chapter. Let me know what you think,
How It All Ended: The True Story Of Love Lost and Found Again.
Chapter 1: St. Vincent's and Leaving
"Brenna!" I turn to look for the voice that is calling my name.
The voice is soon accompanied by a body. At 6'2 Tessa Brooks can clearly be seen. Her chocolate brown eyes are dancing and her brown her is pulled into a tight ponytail. Based on her sweats I can tell she just came from basketball practice.
Her skin is shining in the light and I can see red spots on her otherwise white legs that are probably floor burn.
She slides up next to me in the cafeteria her tray piled high with food. She is one of those people who can just eat and eat and never gain an ounce. She is also one of my newest friends. "What are your plans for break?"
I put down my ham and cheese bagel and grin at her.
"I'm going home to see the family, of course."
The rest of the table – there are five of us sitting there – groan.
My family has been described as oddly perfect.
That description alone makes me laugh, but to some of my friends I guess I am normal. Only my closest friend – Amber, knows the whole story.
And she only knows because she lived through part of it.
Take Tessa's family for example. She grew up in a broken home and over the course of her twenty one years has had eleven different step parents. Her mother has had seven husbands, her father four wives. She has multiple half siblings whose ages who vary greatly. Her parents never speak to each other and she can count on two hands the times the cops have had to be called by the neighbors because of the knock down drag out fights that have happened on her front lawn.
Compared to her family mine is normal.
Everything in my family happens over the summer.
I don't know if that's on purpose – because I don't have school, or if that is just the way the world works. My birthday is in the summer – the 4th of July to be exact - and my parents were born in the summer. Their wedding was in the summer. The day our life spiraled out of control was the second day of summer.
Summer it just seems is our time to screw up.
We screw up all the time. In my family, in the whole world.
Every day you do at least one thing that you will regret for at least a moment. Whether it's cheating on a test or eating a chocolate bar, you feel bad.
One day I will tell Tessa the whole story. That underneath smiles my family has its battle scars. She has not met my father or my mother. She hasn't seen the picture of the three of us I keep next to my bed. She doesn't know that my father is fifteen years older then my mother. That he walks with a cane and is brilliant. That my mother is his equal in brains and that her niceness makes up for his cruel remarks.
That the scar I have on the bottom of my right foot is from broken glass – but not because someone dropped it and I accidentally walked on it before they could clean it up.
But because I was running barefoot back into the house and ran over the glass. Why I was running there is what makes the lies important. It took twenty three stitches to sew up while I buried my face in my mothers chest and sobbed.
But until then I am content to let one of my newest friends think that I am just a girl from New Jersey.
When I was eleven, I ran away. Now all of you are probably going well, yeah, who hasn't?
Well, my story is different.
I got farther then the street and farther then the bus stop.
I got all the way to Australia if you really want to know.
Across from New Jersey to California and then took a plane to Australia.
I was not alone though.
Is it still considered running away if your mother is running with you?
My father almost died a few months before he married my mother.
He's an alcoholic.
In AA he learned that once you are an alcoholic you are always an alcoholic. So right now he is a recovered alcoholic.
The definition of alcoholism varies. I have done a lot of research on the subject, because it has always interested me. Not howsomeone becomes an alcoholic, but why. What makes them who they are?
The drinking almost destroyed his liver. It changed his attitude to. He became an angry person. My father has always been an angry person, but there was a difference between who he was when he was sober and when he was drunk.
According to my Uncle Robert there were days that my mother would leave his house (and later on) his hospital room in tears, days when he would spend an hour screaming at her only to beg seconds later for some alcohol.
He was a sorry state.
My father has a permanent limp after an infraction in his leg that caused him to loose thigh muscle.
The Vicodin that he takes plus his constant drinking – not a good combination.
The Vicodin alone is bad enough for a person. There are so many side effects that to me the end doesn't outweigh the means. To him it has, and to this day still does. But he has cut down on the drug intake dramatically.
He had gone into work one day still drunk and had passed out. The jaundice and vomiting blood had begun when he came to.
The ultrasound of his abdomen had shown what my aunt and uncle had feared.
My aunt – who is also the Dean of Medicine – gave him an ultimatum.
Either he got help for the drinking and his Vicodin addiction or that was the end of his job.
My father was an addict. Addicts are dangerous when separated from their crutch. He ignored both of them, so they called in the big guns.
A brief background on my family – my mother loved my father, my father claimed not to share the same feelings. They did a dance for only about a gazillion years - and my mom ended up dating my now Uncle Robert. (Not blood related, because that'd be weird.) Three years later her contract ran out and she as well as Robert and the third person in the fellowship (Eric) left. My mom moved to Arizona with Robert and they tried to work it out. Two months later they realized it wasn't going to happen.
When Jimmy and Lisa called my mom she was available. She flew out to see him, and after weeks of arguing and threatening convinced him to go to AA.
To this day I still don't know what she said to convince him to admit that he had a problem and go to rehab. But I have an idea.
He's been clean for ten years.
Yes, ten years.
That means that I was eleven the last time he had a drink.
And that is why we ran away.
Because of drinking.
And because of my father and his stupid pride.
Because of his inabliilty to admit that he screwed up. That yes, he made a mistake.
Drinking almost destroyed our family.
It is better to lose your pride with someone you love rather than to lose that someone you love with your useless pride.
My dad didn't get that memo.
My parents are both doctors, so I was always used to hectic schedules. I hated the busy lives they had.
I could stand the sight of blood, I had watched countless surgeries with a fascination that had surprised the interns, I could rattle off complicated names of drugs and diseases and knew how to insert an IV and draw blood. I was allowed to write on the white board. Being a Doctor is interesting as hell.
But the hours sucked.
It was to neither of my parents surprise when I went to school to become a marine biologist.
Science and animals – especially water animals are two of my biggest passions.
I've known what I've wanted to do since that fateful trip when I was eleven.
But anyway, back to the story. As well as crappy hours my parents also travel from time to time to conferences to give speeches and listen to them and mingle.
The rule in my family is this: one, you can't be gone for more then two weeks on any sort of work crap unless you get two weeks off to spend with me in the summer. The second rule is that only one parent can be gone at a time.
My mother was in Colorado, and I was at home with my dad.
I have never been that much of a daddy's girl. Parents talk about just looking at their child and having a connection. With my father and me there was no magical connection until later. For a while the two of us shared very few things.
They consisted of our eye color, our hate for stupid people, our love for monster trucks, cars and motorcycles, the fact that we both love to play the piano and the fascination we had with blood and gore.
I get my niceness from my mother. I have her hair, her body shape, her attitude. Everything that I didn't list above I got from her. We are two peas in a pod, closer then any other mother/daughter duo.
To this day I can still finish her sentences.
Anyway, my dad promised me that the next morning we could get up and make pancakes together. (My mother was at a two week long conference, which meant that we couldn't just live off of take-out like we normally did.)
I woke up that morning and went to their room to wake him up.
He wasn't there, but that wasn't unusual. Some nights he fell asleep in his study.
I went down and opened his study door.
My father is a heavy sleeper. A heavy, heavy sleeper.
I pranced over and shook him. He didn't respond, only moaned. I shook him again and his eyes cracked open.
"You said that we could make pancakes." I reminded him.
He shook his head and before he could answer he threw up.
I jumped back and just narrowly avoided getting hit.
"Are you okay?"
He didn't answer and I disappeared to get a cool cloth like my mom did when I was sick.
I rubbed it over his face and helped him lay down on the pull-out couch we had in the study.
He was pale and sweaty and his forehead was on fire.
I knew about his alcohol problem. At eleven I wasn't stupid, and had been eavesdropping on 'private' conversations since I was about six.
If you want to have a 'private' conversations don't do it at my house or the hospital. I will find you.
I went to wring out the cloth and tripped. The bottle of St. Vincent's Rum rolled on it's side and spilled all over the carpet.
To this day I cannot drink any kind of rum.
I called Lisa before I called anyone else.
Who else could I call?
Lisa was mom's best friend, and as much as I love Jimmy he has again and again let my father get away with murder.
She answered right away and sobbing I told her that daddy was sick.
Lisa didn't come because he was sick. I had stayed with my father when he was sick before. We watched Grave Digger on TV and mom brought Chinese for dinner.
There was something behind my words that scared her. I sounded vulnerable. And I never sound vulnerable.
She told me she would be there in ten minutes.
She was there in six.
I let her into the house and the first thing that she did was hug me and make sure that I was still breathing.
"He threw up." I told her. "He has a fever and the shakes." I paused and then added, really quietly. "There was a half empty bottle of rum on the floor."
Let me tell you what I know about St Vincent's rum.
It is 169 proof. Proof is out of two hundred, meaning that the rum is almost 85 pure alcohol. Beer is usually 5 or 6 percent.
My father wasn't doing light drinking. Nope. He was drinking to get drunk. He knew exactly what he was doing.
He just didn't think that I was going to catch him.
Lisa paused and pursed her lips. It was clear that she didn't care that my father had a hangover from hell.
He wasn't getting any sympathy.
"Brenna, call your mom and tell her that your dad is sick - he'll be fine – but you want her to come home. She already spoke so she can leave without that much of a problem. Tell her I said it was okay."
"Okay." I went to get the one from dad's office but she grabbed my shoulders.
"Use the one in your room please."
That meant that it was going to be interesting. I went upstairs and disappeared. She watched me walk into my room, but as soon as she turned her back I bolted. I took the backstairs halfway down so I could hear her.
The kitchen is almost right next to the study, and the backstairs are in between them. There is a curve though, so if you sit a certain way the people can't see you, but you can see into the study and some of the kitchen.
Lisa was filling a popcorn bowl with something from the freeze and seconds before she disappeared I realize it was ice.
I heard the groan from my father as the ice hit his body.
"Bren, what the-?"
And then there was a pause as the moment of realization hit my father.
I had called Lisa.
His secret was out.
had no idea.
My mother arrived home five hours later to find me curled in a ball on my bed and Lisa standing guard over my father.
She was beyond pissed.
Lisa had searched the house and came up with two bottles of tequila in a chandelier that only my father can reach and another three bottles of rum hidden in some shoe boxes in his closet. My mother doesn't keep alcohol in the house, and usually only has some wine when we go out to dinner or sometimes at weddings.
"Lise?" I heard the thump as she put down her suitcase. "I thought Brenna said that Greg was sick."
"Eleven year olds aren't trained to recognize hang-overs."
There was a pause.
I waited for the explosion that was going to come from my mother. I tensed my body, waiting for tears or a scream or swear words to be thrown at my father.
"Could you do me a favor Lisa? Could you file paperwork with the hospital? I'm taking a leave of absence starting today."
I hugged my pillow to my body. I heard Lisa saying good-bye to my mother and for her to call if she needed anything.
This was a family matter now. Just the three of us.
The slap of my mothers bare feet on hard wood alerted me to her presence.
"Mom." I threw myself into her arms and my shoulders began to shake as tears hit me full force.
"It'll be okay. I promise." She soothed me, whispering words of comfort in my ears. "I need you to do me a favor kiddo." She murmured when I was finally calm.
"I need you to pack a bag for a few days. Then I want you to go into my room. In the snowman socks you got me there's a key. Get the key and open the drawer in my desk. Our passports are in there, and there's money too. Take that and put it in your purse. Then go get in the car. I'll be out soon."
She disappeared down the hallway and I scurried to do her bidding.
I packed mostly shorts and t-shirts, but also my favorite blue dress, a few bathing suits and some jeans. I added sweatshirts and socks and gym shoes. There were other odds and ends – books, my Ipod, my game boy, CD's, gift cards and my own money. My mother had taught me how to pack and I could fit many things in a small space. I went into their room and got the key and then the papers.
I could hear yelling downstairs but blocked it out by humming The Who'sThe Kids Are Alright as loud as I could.
I dragged a backpack from my mom's closet and added some of her clothes too. I wasn't sure why, but I had a feeling she wasn't carting me off to someone else while she dealt with my dad's drinking.
After that I grabbed the money and passports and put everything in the car.
By then the yelling was getting to loud to block out. I went and sat on the stairs by the front door. Everything was in the car, including mom's suitcase that she had brought back from Colorado.
Mom and dad were now making their way to the foyer as they fought and I nestled down closer to the stairs.
"It was one drink Allison! One drink."
"So what are the bottles of rum and tequila for? Decoration?"
"God Damnit Allison! I wasn't going to drink them."
"I don't believe you."
"You have to."
"What about Brenna, Greg? Your eleven year old daughter just found you hung over. She called Lisa because she knew what was wrong." There was a pause. "I don't want her to grow up like I did Greg. You're not supposed to be scared of your own father."
I paused. Grandma Cameron was my favorite grandparent. She was currently off in some other country exploring the world by herself. Grandma never needed anyone by her side.
My Grandma isn't married. My Grandpa we see on the rare occasions where he happens to be at one of my Uncle's houses and we go for Christmas. He is always leaving and dad always tightens his grip on his cane when he sees him.
One time he had stopped and said 'so this is my granddaughter' real soft and his eyes had some tears in them. Mom didn't answer right away and Dad steered both of us into the house. As we were passing him my mother said to him, real clear you don't have a granddaughter, dad. You don't even have a daughter.
What had grandpa done to Mom?
No one had ever told me and I hadn't been able to find out by eavesdropping on people.
"She's not scared of me."
I was. I was scared of being a disappointment to him. Scared of him not loving me enough. But no one knew that but Amber.
"Maybe not yet. But what happens when one drink becomes two, or three, or four? Or when you're staggering home from a bar at midnight? Or when you're at the hospital and your liver is failing again?"
"I'll stop. I can start and stop anytime I want."
"I want you to start going to AA meetings again."
"Greg, if you don't get help we're not staying here."
"You wouldn't do that to Brenna.
"I don't want her growing up in an environment like this."
"I'll stop. It was one fucking drink. But I'm not getting help. I don't need help."
She turned around and dad grabbed her shoulders.
"You're not leaving."
"NO!" He was shaking my mother by her shoulders now, using her as balance instead of his cane which lay useless on the floor.
"Let me go Greg."
His grip tightened and I could tell that he was starting to hurt her by the way her lips tightened.
I bounded down the stairs and shoved him.
"Let her go daddy." I didn't care as he stumbled back, eyes wide with surprise.
I was sobbing and mom picked me up, cradling my body to hers.
"It's okay baby, shhh… calm down. He didn't hurt me, I'm okay."
She sent one last look back and then carried me to the car.
Once I was safely seat belted into the backseat she pulled out of the driveway.
I can still see my father standing there in the driveway, a look of shock written across his face.