"What about this, Dad?" I asked, throwing both arms in and out in a gattling-like barrage. "No body can touch me when I do this!"
Dad had been acting strange for a while. I didn’t know what it was, only that it was weird. After Suri was born, he became quieter, and definitely not as energetic as before. He was the one that wanted me to learn to fight, but now he seemed like he didn’t care at all. Mom was really upset with him for a whole week for teaching me, but she got over it. Mom could never stay mad at Dad for long. She couldn't stay mad at anyone.
The rusty porch chair squeaked as Dad decided to join me on the dry patch of grass that was the lawn. I tried to keep my angry face on - I thought it would make my punching barrage look more intense. All my attack was doing was making me really tired, but hearing my dad's footsteps crunch the dead shrivels of grass nearby made me start swinging faster than before.
A long breath came out, and just when I thought he was going to say something, he didn't. Instead, he grabbed both my fists in midair, lifted me off my feet by the arms, and stared at me. His eyes weren’t the same pretty brown color as Mom’s. They were darker. Almost black.
Kicking my legs out to be set free, he turned me around so my back was to him while crossing my arms across my chest. My back was against his chest before I even knew what happened. The kicks were hitting nothing, because he was behind me, so I gave up.
“Not fair!” I yelled, mad about how quickly he’d beaten me. As he set me down, I whipped my head around to yell at him some more. “You’re much bigger than I am. And older. I’m only six!”
Arms crossed and standing so tall that his head blocked the sun, I couldn’t get a clear view of his face. All I knew was that he was looking down at me. It wasn’t just that he’d been acting strange after Suri was born, he also seemed unhappy all the time. Sometimes when I watched him at dinner or when he’d sit with everyone, he seemed like he was thinking about something else. Something that made him sad.
Usually, when I argued about him beating me, he would joke about it and then teach me a new move that was even cooler than the last. Lately though, he was quieter, and let me yell at him. I didn’t like it. “…Dad? Are you-”
“Lunch time!” Caden announced, running into the yard excitedly. Even though he wasn’t even half my age, his voice was super loud. Being only two and a half, Caden was very proud of himself for learning new words and phrases. The latest one was “lunch time,” which he picked up from reading with Mom. Unlike me, he liked reading.
I lifted my fists into the air as Caden came closer. “Get out of here, squirt. Dad’s teaching me how to fight.” I glanced up at Dad again, but his head was turned away. There was nothing to look at, but he was still distracted. He was right next to me, but it felt like he was far away.
“Me too!” Caden charged at me, his flip-flopped feet stomping all the way. Jokingly, I grabbed Caden and turned him around just like Dad had done to me seconds before. Already whimpering from being held in place for so long, I let my brother go.
“Go tell Mom we’re coming, okay Caden?” I whispered, squeezing his shoulder with one hand and fluffing his blonde hair with the other. Since Caden never really followed directions, making it seem like a game was the only way to get him to listen. I think he just liked having a goal to reach at the end. “Ready?” I asked as a gap-toothed smile spread across his plump face. “Go!”
Just as quickly as he’d come outside, Caden ran back into the house. This time, Dad was watching, too. We both walked toward the house quietly at first, but then he decided to talk to me for the first time that day.
“Nole.” His voice was low, but calm. I’d always liked that about my Dad’s voice. “Why did you do that to Caden?” He didn’t sound like he was mad, but I could tell he didn’t like it.
“What? You did it to me,” I pouted, trying to make myself innocent. Dad always told me to never do any of the moves he taught me unless I absolutely had to, but that wasn’t even a real attack. “Besides, I didn’t hurt him. He was smiling at the end.”
Another sigh came out, and I actually wish he’d scold me instead of being quiet for so long. I could tell that when my dad was quiet, he wasn’t happy. “Nole,” he said, the crunching of his shoes ending. “I don’t want you to have to fight.” I turned around, ready for him to punish me, but he wasn’t wearing his usual mad face. It wasn’t his happy face either, but kind of like a mix between the two.
“You’re teaching me. And I want to be like you.”
“Nole, sometimes it’s good to know these things just in case.” His hand came toward me and rested on my shoulder like I’d done with Caden. With his black eyes staring into my brown ones, he added, “And please, don’t be like me.”
This was worse than any punishment. I didn’t like the feeling his words gave me. My eyes drifted away from his. I didn’t know how to answer, and I couldn’t look at his disappointed face anymore. He kneeled in front of me so that I could see his face completely. “Hey,” he got my attention again, “you did good with that move.”
When he smiled a little, I felt a huge relief. “Really?” I grinned at him.
“Yeah,” he replied, getting back on his feet. “You always learn quick.”
“Thanks! And I won’t do that to anyone else unless I have to. Promise!”
“Only if there’s no other option,” he added, putting his big hand on my back as we headed inside.
So what do you guys think of the young David Henrie picture in the multimedia? Took me a while to find, but so worth it, right? Feel free to comment with your thoughts and suggest whose backstory you'd like to see next!
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[Check out BOUNTY HUNTERS, the sequel to Errand Runners] Unlike the other criminals in Nova City, Nole Vale has a curfew. While most civilians just want to survive in their crime-ridden, gang-infested city, this sixteen-year old is determined to co...