My life was supposed to be the American Dream, that is what my parents wanted. Shame is- it simply doesn't exist, not for me anyway.

I stared at the flame as it danced in front of me, staring at it made me feel strangely calm and I knew what I had to do. I slowly reached out my hand and hovered it just slightly over the flame; my palm quickly heated up.

I snatched it back causing a drift for the flame to flicker back and forth very quickly, then after a moment slowed down to it's calming dance.

I reached out again, my middle finger by itself. I pressed down so that it wasn't just hovering it was touching the flame.

It hurt.

It's so hot that it's almost cold, numbness spread over me like waves.

"Hayley, dinner's ready" My mom, Brittany called from downstairs.

"Coming" I shouted down, withdrawing my finger that was stinging but when I touched it it felt rock hard and numb.

"Get your brother" My mom said when I got to the top of the stairs.

I sighed but went upstairs to the loft where Paco, my older brother and only sibling, decided he wanted the loft as his bedroom. I knocked on the door but on receiving no reply I pushed it open. Paco was lying back on his bed, headphones in and writing in a notebook.

I tapped his shoulder.

He turned to me removing the headphones. "What?"

"Dinner's ready"

Paco nodded, getting off the bed.

I turned to go out the door but he put a hand on my arm. "Hayley, cover for me tonight, kay?"

"What is it this time?" I asked him. "You got a fight? Beating up someone because they owe the LB something? Getting high?"

Paco shook his head. "Stay out of matters that don't concern you Hayley"

"If you don't tell me then I'm not covering for you"

Paco glared at me. "Fine, a fight, happy now?"

"Ecstatic" I muttered going down the stairs, hearing Paco's footsteps behind me.

"Hey honey, Paco" My dad Alex said as we walked in the dining room.

"My name I believe is Hayley" I said taking my seat.

Dad scowled at me. "Oh I am so sorry Hayley"

Since he was being sarcastic I thought it best to keep my mouth shut by shovelling my dinner into my mouth.

"So how was your first day back at school?" Mom asked the two of us.

"I got an A* on my project" Paco boasted. "And I was appointed captain"

"Oh that's excellent Paco" Mom smiled at him.

"And what about you?" Dad asked me.

"It was okay"

"Any homework?"


"You sure?" Dad narrowed his eyes at me.


Paco started to talk about meanless shit, the three of them engaging in conversation, as I just sat there not contributing. Just a normal dinner.

"Can I leave?" I asked the second my plate was clean.

My mom nodded.

I placed my plate in the dishwasher and went up the stairs into my room.

I stared at the flame again.