Beauty Fades

The End of the World as I Know It
"We can't just take off now!" ! screamed at Ricky. "My dad has just been shot. If we go, the cops'll think we're guilty."
Ricky grabbed my shaking hands. "I can't stay here. I need to get away."
I looked up at him through my tears. I loved him, and would do anything for him, but I had to stay.
"He's my dad," I insisted. "I have to be here for the funeral, I have to be here for my mother."
"I can't go home." Ricky was trying to keep his voice strong. "I've got nowhere else to go. I need to get away."
"Stay, please." I wrapped my arms around his waist. "For me. You could sleep here."
"I'll stay," he whispered into her hair. "However long you need."

We met Angela at the bottom of the stairs.
"What happened?" She asked. I noticed a slight puffiness around her eyes. "I heard a gunshot."
Ricky told her about my dad. Angela's eyes grew rounder than dishes and her mouth fell open.
"I can't believe it," she murmured and turned to me. "Come here."
I collapsed into her arms and started crying. We just held each other. Just then, we heard someone crying upstairs. Letting go of Angela, I bounded up the stairs into the room where the noise was coming from.
"Mom! "When did you get home?"
My mother grabbed me and pulled me into a tight embrace.
"Your father..." She began, before bursting into another fit of tears.
"It's okay," I reassured her. "I'll need to go call the police."

Two hours later, police were swarming around the house. My dad's body had already been taken away, but his presence still lingered. I could feel it when I went to the garage, where he spent the last few months of his life working out and smoking pot. I realised that he had gone through some really weird mid-life crisis, but when it happened it was unexplainable. All my father had wanted was a life, or even an escape from life. I had been too involved with myself to notice.
Walking back into the sitting room, my mother was in one of the expensive chairs. The doctor was trying to calm her down, but his attempts were futile. In the end, he suggested she take a sedative. Nodding her head, My mother let him lead her to her room, where he administered the sedative and left her to sleep.
I looked around for Ricky, but he was nowhere to be found. Panic hit me like cold water, and I ran around the house looking for him. Not finding him, I sank onto a chair and started sobbing.
"Janey, what's wrong?" A voice behind me asked.
"Dad?" I spun around to where the voice came from. My dad had always called me Janey.
Ricky was standing there, rain dripping off his clothes and hair.
"Where the hell have you been?" I yelled. "I've been going frantic worrying about you."
"Calm down. I sneaked over to my house and picked up a few things." He sat down. "Videos, Cds and some clothes. Sorry, I didn't know you would be so worried."
I noticed Angela wasn't there. I assumed she had gone home.
"Excuse me, Miss Burnham." A police officer was towering above them. "We need to ask you a few questions down at the station."
"Does she have to?" Ricky asked. "She's pretty beat. Can't it wait?"
"Sorry, we need to get it over with. It won't take too long."

The next morning, I woke up completely drained. The police had questioned us for hours and even when we got home, we didn't really get much sleep. I decided to make breakfast for my mother and Ricky. Looking around the kitchen, I was flooded with memories: my father eating breakfast, making protein shakes and occasionally trying to make an emotional attachment to me. My only regret was I never responded.
"Morning honey." Mom sat at the table. "What's for breakfast?"
It seemed that overnight, my mother had aged by about 10 years. Her face was drawn, her hair lifeless and her eyes soulless.
I sat a plate in front of her and said, "there's something I need to tell you."
"Okay," my mom mumbled through a mouthful of syrupy pancakes.
I explained why Ricky was staying here, and how after the funeral we would be leaving. My mother sat in a motionless silence. I actually wondered if she had quietly slipped into a coma.
"Oh." My mother didn't seem to know what to say. "So, you and Ricky are serious."
I couldn't read her expression. I reassured her that we would be fine and we had enough money to get set up in New York.
"Morning Mrs Burnham," Ricky sat at the table. "How are you feeling?"
"Still a little woozy from those drugs the doctor gave me. Jane was telling me about your plans to leave. Are you sure you don't need money?"
I watched my boyfriend try to convince my mother that he had plenty money, without telling her he got the money from drug dealing. Watching the two of them, I felt at peace. My father was gone, but I still had two wonderful people in my life who wanted to take care of me.
As I stood thinking, I remembered the video of the bag Ricky had showed me. It sickened me. While he saw it as some beautiful thing symbolising a hidden power, to me it showed how that power controlled everything. The bag never stopped dancing until the power let it. It was the same as my dad. An underlying power had decided when he would stop.
The more I thought about it, the less beautiful it was. Soon all the beauty had faded and all I was left with was ugly. My world had changed, the rose-coloured glasses ripped off. From this day on, the world would never hold any beauty, only an ugliness. I prayed I could take it.

The Point of No Return
I tried to explain to Jane that I couldn't stay. My father had disowned me. I needed to leave. I could see in her eyes that she wasn't ready to go.
"He's my dad," she wailed. "I have to be here for the funeral. I have to be here for my mother."
"I can't stay here." A lump was forming in my throat, cutting off my oxygen supply. "I've got no where else to go. I need to get away."
Jane used the only tactic she knew would work: affection. She wrapped her arms around my waist and offered for me to stay with her.
I had a decision to make. I could stay, and run the risk of another confrontation with my dad, or go and possibly lose the love of my life. I wasn't scared off my father, I just wanted to sever all my ties with him.
"I'll stay. However long you need."

Angela was standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking like a deer in headlights. She asked what had happened.
"Lester's dead." I explained. "He was shot."
I watched as Angela comforted Jane. As they were cuddling, someone upstairs let out an uncontrollable sob. Jane ran upstairs into the master bedroom.
"How are you doing?" Angela asked me. "You look okay."
"Look, no offence," I started, not really caring if I offended her. "You should go home. The police will be here and you'll just be in the way."
Angela sighed. "You're right. Tell Jane I'm really sorry and if she needs anything, just phone me."
Jane still hadn't come back downstairs. I realised she and her mother probably needed some time to themselves and I needed more things from my house. Luckily, I still had the key for the front door.

I tried not to make a sound as I entered my parents' house. Every noise I heard made the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I made it to my room and locked the door behind me. Working quickly and quietly, I packed some videotapes and Cds, clothes and my drug supply into a duffle bag. As I looked around the room, I felt a painful sadness, but at the same time liberation. I was free from my abusive, pathetic father and his mind games.
Quietly, I slipped out the front door, into the rain. I was cool on my hair and cheeks. I stared for a long time at Jane's front door. It was almost the same colour as Lester's blood. Images of his dead body and his brains splattered on the wall swam past my eyes.

Back in Jane's house, I head someone crying in the sitting room.
"Janey, what's wrong?"
Jane whirled around thinking I was her father. She screamed at me, asking where I had been.
A police officer interrupted us. He wanted us to go to the station to answer some questions. Even though we were both exhausted, he reassured us it wouldn't take long.
By the time I woke up the next morning, Jane had got dressed and gone downstairs. I lay there for a while, just thinking. About my dad, Jane, Lester, Carolyn and what would happen next. In 24 hours, my life had gone pear-shaped. I had lost my family, and my girlfriend's father had been shot, by someone unknown. I don't know why, but in the back of my mind I knew my father had something to do with it.
I dressed quickly and trudged downstairs. I heard Carolyn and Jane talking about us leaving. I walked into the kitchen and sat across from the older woman, not really knowing what she would say.
We made small talk for a while, before she asked us if we needed money.
"Mrs Burnham," I began. "Please don't worry. I have a lot of money and I have friends in New York."
"Where did you get the money?"
"Inheritance." I hated lying to her, but I didn't think she would be overjoyed to find out I was a drug dealer. "It's okay."
As Carolyn returned to her breakfast I caught Jane staring at me. I couldn't read the expression on her face. It wasn't quite anger, but it wasn't sadness either. It was kind of a look of disgust, mixed with anger I think. I did know she was thinking about the dancing bag. It helped me get through things. It reminded me of all the beauty in the world. The mystical undertone reassured me that everything would be okay. Though one life had ended (and that was a tragedy), two lives were just beginning, although I could tell Jane still wasn't sure about leaving. It was the next few days that would determine whether Jane would stay here or go with me to New York. I only hoped she would make the right decision.