Chapter Forty-Eight

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I stare up at the obnoxious fairy lights surrounding the black door to my father's townhouse, unsure of how I got here in the first place. I'm not drunk or high. I did contemplate bringing in a flask into the baseball stadium and getting higher than I ever could be before attending that stupid game, but I never followed through. One: because Lily was watching my every move as I got ready and wouldn't stop giving me assuring looks the whole way here. And two: because I wanted to prove to myself that I could get through a sports game with my prick father sober. Now, I'm very aware of the stinging sensation in my bandaged fists and the million thoughts zooming through my head. And how much I do not want to be here.

Half an hour ago I was questioning my relationship with my family. I never have before; I always accepted I didn't like any of them and I never would, and I didn't care. I grew up apart from my family. Everything you were warned about in high school, I was doing it all. My brother and father scolded me when I was arrested for petty reasons and lectured me about my dim-looking future, but that was it. I took their words with a grain of salt and did the worst of the worst over and over again, and they barely paid any attention. They were too busy going on debate club trips and golfing with clients to notice I'd burned my curtain in my room when I smoked out of the window, or how I broke a collection of china plates after coming home from a fight. No one cared, and so neither did I.

But sitting on the edge of the bathtub with Lily in between my legs cleaning my father's blood off my busted knuckles and seeing the disappointment in her eyes... I couldn't take it anymore. The loathing and constant state of annoyance and fire of rage that's been simmering within me for almost thirteen years since my mom died. That and I couldn't handle the forced little smiles and words of encouragement from Lily as she cleaned my wounds. And, without even knowing it, she drove me to the point of considering hearing my dad out after thirteen years after her wise words about forgiveness. So, after I was all patched up, I told her I wanted to try to fix things with my dad, and she cried. She guilt-tripped me without even trying to. After getting her to stop bawling her eyes out and telling me how proud of me she was, we left and came here without calling. I didn't want to say I was coming but end up turning around and heading home before I got there, giving off the impression that I cared when it ran out.

"It's okay, I'm right by your side," Lily says and reality crashes all around me. I wouldn't be here if she wasn't with me. I wouldn't be here at all if it weren't for her. In another sad, hopeless world, I'm suffering a hangover from partying the night before. That world was mine a few months ago, unfortunately enough. But now I have Lily, a beautiful girl from the inside out, who encourages me to be less of an asshole.

"Here goes nothing..." I push the doorbell and rock on my heels, trying to come up with what to say once I see my father again. The last time I was with him, I'd tackled him onto the floor and started punching him like crazy. Maybe I should start with an apology... or not; he can earn that later, we can't get ahead of ourselves.

When the door swings open to reveal my father, my eyes instantly find the map of bruises on his face. A deep purple bruise sits under his right and a bundle of them are on both cheeks. He has a black eye, and his bottom lip is split open.

His eyes go wide with disbelief. "Blue... what are you doing here?" He doesn't sound like he's going to tackle me into the snow and wail on me like I did with him, but he doesn't sound cheery as usual either.

I look over to Lily for assurance, and she gives me an encouraging smile. "I came here to talk."

"Talk?" he squawks.

"Yes, I just fucking said that. Are you deaf?" I snap, but Lily's small hand squeezing mine calms me. "Yeah... I wanted to talk about some things. Is that okay, or should we just go?" I'm willing to pretend I didn't come all the way here as long as he doesn't talk about this embarrassing moment ever again.

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