These are the facts:
I am in my room
I am crying
I am trying not to listen
These are the myths:
My father loves me
My father doesn't hit my mom
My father is perfect
This is the truth:
He isn't a real father
He is a monster
He hates us
My little brother comes in my room. He is crying. I gesture for him to come over. I hug him and ask him what happened. He tells me that Dad hit Mom again. She is bleeding. I hear Mom screaming and Dad is calling her names.
Shut up! I want to scream but know that then he'll just come after me. I hear Dad coming upstairs and I try to stop Stephen from sobbing so hard. He tells Stephen to get into the bath. When he sees that my brother is crying, he says, "Don't worry about Mom. Only her nose is bleeding."
"Yeah, because you hit her!" I yell at him, still hugging Stephen to my chest. He is still sobbing. He is scared for me and I am, too.
"No. It's just her cold."
I roll my eyes and blast my music again. Stephen and my Dad leave my room and I hear the tub water running. My iPod suddenly starts playing a new song. I recognize it immediately and turn up the volume so to make sure that Dad will hear it. After a little while, he yells at me to turn it down. He doesn't even pay any attention to the message I was trying to get through to him. I turn it down slightly but keep Confessions of a Broken Heart playing. Maybe eventually it'll get through to him. Putting the song on repeat, I turn my attention to my homework.
Not long after my brothers are in bed, they're fighting again. I sigh and bury my ears under my pillow so I don't have to listen to it. A half hour later, I hear a gun shot. My blood goes cold and I sit there, wondering if that's what I really heard. Anyway, since when did we own a gun? I take the pillow off my head and then another shot rings through my ears. I cover my mouth with my hand, knowing I was about to scream or cry. Possibly both.
I reach for my phone with shaky hands. I can't control them with how scared I am so I miss the buttons several times but then finally get it. I hold it up to my ear.
"Nine-one-one. What it your emergency?"
"Help me," I whisper, not wanting to be too loud. I can't have Dad hear me and catch me in the act. Who knows if he'd shoot me, too. But why would he shoot Mom in the first place? He's never done anything like that and I didn't know we had a gun. Why now? Why was he acting like such a maniac?
"Miss! What is your location?"
I tell her my address and she asks me a bunch of questions. I answer them robotically. My brain shut down and I felt frozen to the core. Why did this happen? She tells me that an ambulance and the police force will be right over. I hang up and bury myself under my covers. Dad comes in my room and I try to control my breathing. I pretend to be sleeping. He leans down and kisses my forehead. Then he leaves and I hear his door shut to his room.
I suddenly jump out of bed and leave the house to go sit on the front porch. It's freezing out so I wrap my arms around my legs and rock myself back and forth. About five minutes later, an ambulance and two police cruisers pull up. Four men jump out of the first car and two come out of the other. A policeman from the first car, the driver apparently, sits down next to me while the others rush around him. Two men in white carry a stretcher. I start shaking all over again.
Wake up, wake up, I chant to myself. After all, this had to be a dream, right? Something like this couldn't really have happened. Not to my family. We were Christians. My father never could have done anything like this and Mom didn't deserve it.
"Ma'am," the policeman says cautiously. "Are you all right?"
I shake my head and the sobs finally come through as I realize this is all real. I look up at the police officer is really a girl. Her blonde hair was tucked under her cap but a thin strand fell loose. She had bright blue eyes and thick, long lashes.
"Can you tell me exactly what happened here?"
Once again, I shake my head. I can't talk now. My voice will break too much and I know I won't be able control all the emotions building up inside of me. I struggle to stop the sobbing and I swipe at the tears before placing my arms around my knees again.
"What's your name?" she says this time, starting with a simpler question.
"Jacee Lynn Mitchell," I whisper and just as I feared, my voice cracks. I squeeze my eyes shut and hide my face in my lap. My long bangs fall over my eyes but for once, I don't brush them away. They soak up the tears and the wetness slowly falls down my face. Will Mom be okay? Is she dead? What will happen to this family? The questions run through my minds, over and over again.
Between my arm and leg, I see the officer take out a clipboard and write down my name. I notice that she spells my first name wrong but I don't say anything. I will only answer when asked questions. Just not questions that are too hard.
"Would you mind coming down to the station and answering some-" She cuts off as someone talks through her radio. I watch her face carefully and her mouth suddenly drops into a frown. She says something back so low, that even I can't hear her although I am sitting right next to her. She looks back at me sadly. "Questions," she says, obviously finishing her last sentence. But this time, her voice is flat, a monotone. "Jacee." Oh, so now we're on a first name basis. I glance at her badge. Officer Kelly Miles. "I am so sorry but your mother-"
This time, I cut her off. "Is dead."
She nods sadly. "You're father had shot her through the front of the head and that killed her yet he decided to shoot her through the heart anyway. When we got to the scene, she was dead on the floor, your father was asleep in bed.
I look away from her. I don't want her fake sadness; her fake regret. More questions bomb in my head. How could Dad go to sleep peacefully after he had killed someone. What kind of monster was he? At that very moment, I made a vow to never become like him.
"Do you have any siblings?"
I nod silently.
"Where are they?"
"In the room across from my parents."
She pats my back and stands up. After telling me to stay here, she heads into the house. I do anything but. I go into the backyard, tromping through the snow with my bare feet and sit down on the small swing. I just swing back and forth until a different officer, a male one, comes out. I can see Officer Kelly Miles through my parents window and she is handcuffing Dad. I can't see Mom but I guess that's a good thing. I suddenly hear Stephen start screaming and there's a huge bang. I guess that he threw something like he always does when he's mad.
The new officer takes the swing next to me. I glance over at him out of the corner of my eye and he is staring off into the distance. We just swing in silence for a few minutes.
"How old are you, Jacee?"
"Fifteen," I say automatically, like a robot trained to do housework or a teenager's homework..
"A young'in." He nods to himself and we fall back into the same comfortable silence. But the way that it was comfortable and natural made it feel awkward. I look down at the ground. Under the swing set isn't covered with snow because Dad shovels it a lot so my brothers are able to swing on it. I smile, remember when I helped him shovel and then through a snowball in his face. That was when my Dad was in one of his good moods.
You see, Dad had Asbergers Syndrome. I don't really know how to explain it but I think he told me that it was when you forgot little things a lot and your mood changed a lot. And he's almost constantly in a bad mood. I sigh, knowing that my brothers and I weren't getting any more memories like that. We were probably going to go to the orphanage or something shitty like that since we don't have any relatives. All our grandparents are dead and we don't know anything about our uncles or aunts. Or even if we have cousins.
The officer looks at me again. "My name's Robert Dye. I'm an FBI agent and I want to know exactly what happened."
I shake my head. "I can't."
"Jacee, you have to. We have to serve justice for your mothers death and get your father behind bars."
"Maybe I don't want him behind bars! Maybe I want some part of my family left!"
"Too damn bad!"
I look at his completely serious face and realize that he's no one to mess with. But I still can't tell him. Not about everything that Dad does. Because I know that once he gets behind bars Stephen, Will and I are all going to go to some dumb foster home. Yet I also know that we're going to get split up. But they need me. They're too young to be without some older figure that they know in their life. Especially Will. Nobody's going to take him because they're not going to want to deal with his Muscular Dystrophy.
"Jacee," he says softer now. "It will be so much easier for us and you if you'd just cooperate. We need-"
He breaks off mid sentence as the garage door opens. Two officers come out with a hold on Dad. His arms are behind his back. He looks at me with the strangest expression that I can't decipher but I can say that it made me feel guilty. He eyes pierced right through me and I knew at that moment that he thought I'd betrayed him.
Next comes a long stretcher. They have a white sheet over the body but I know who's on it. I try to look away but I can't. I can't because I know that's my mother under there and she's dead and nothing I can do about it will bring her back.
Kelly Miles starts walking towards us slowly. Robert Dye stands up from the swing and meets her midway. They start talking and he turns around slightly to point at me with his hands. He's obviously one of those people who talk with their hands. Miles nods and veers around Dye. She heads towards me while he follows the people with the stretcher. I look back down at the ground.
Kelly's shoes suddenly come into my view but I don't look up. Only after she'd been standing there a few minutes do I realize that she's not going to talk until I look up so I do. She has a look of disappointment on her face.
"Why couldn't you get along with Officer Dye? Don't you want to avenge your Mom's murder?"
What kind of stupid question is that? I think. Of course I do but I also don't want to lose everybody in my life.
I hadn't noticed that I had spoken aloud until Kelly sat down next to me and started answering what it is I had said.
"Jacee, I know this is hard for you but we're not going to rest until your father is in jail. With or without your help."
"Then I guess it's going to have to be without my help," I mutter and go back into the house. I slam the door shut behind me. I pass a few officers on the way up to my room but they don't say anything, just let me go by and I have to admit, that surprised me but I didn't let them see. In my room, there was nobody. I sighed in relief. I don't want a whole bunch of strangers going through all of my crap. But that's when become conscious of my computer no longer on my bed. My mouth gapes open. They're going to find freaking evidence on my laptop? What kind of shit-hole are they running here? They already know that he did it! What more evidence do they need?
I groan and sit down on my bed. Running my fingers through my hair, I look around my room. Nothing else seems to be missing. Thank God. Then I look to my right and my phone is gone. I roll my eyes. Whatever. It's not like they're going to give it back to me anyway.
I look up and see Kelly standing in the doorway. Why can't she just leave me alone? I just want to be alone! I reach over and turn on my radio. I lean my head against the backboard on my bed and close my eyes, letting the music soak in like it always does when I'm upset. 100 Years by Five For Fighting-great song.
I feel the bed sink in at the foot but I keep my eyes closed.
"You can't stay here forever. You're a minor. You have to go to a foster home."
"Gee, you sure know how to make a person feel better!"
What's wrong with me? I never talk back to a stranger or any adult like this before. I guess all this bullshit was getting to me. I open my eyes and see Kelly looking out the window, obviously lost in thought. I do as well, not wanting this silent peace to go away. She takes off her cap and her long, blonde hair falls loose down her back. She looks back over at me.
"You're a tough little bitch, aren't you?"
I shrug and look out the window. The snow is falling down and I remember that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Great timing, Dad, I think sarcastically. "Where are my brothers?"
"We brought them down to the station. We have to find some parents for them. Particularly before Christmas hits. It's highly unlikely but it's possible. You, on the other hand, might not if you don't come to the station with me. Me and two other officers can't leave until you come with us."
I stand up, defeated. "What about my stuff?"
"We're going to take care of all that. Don't worry, Jacee. This is our job; we know what we're doing. Now come on."
We leave the house and I lock the door behind us. As we're going down the driveway, I stop at the den window and look in. My bookshelf, Dad's elliptical, my brothers' train set. All the stuff that Dad got us. And in that closet is Mom's wedding dress. Kelly touches my shoulder lightly and I climb into the police cruiser.
It's the end of my old life and the start of a new, shitty one.