Chapter 8: A Trip Back to Childhood

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Winston:

Shoving the key violently into the keyhole of the front door, his hand grasped the knob, hesitating. Please, please, don't let her be in there. Not now. Not when I'm coming home. Inhaling a shaky breath, he twisted the door open, and his heart immediately dropped as he heard feminine laughter coming from the kitchen.

Dammit.

Closing the door behind him, he walked in on tip-toes, as quietly as possible, hoping to pass the opening of the kitchen and down the hallway into his bedroom, where she couldn't bother him and both of them could peacefully pretend he didn't exist.

Not the most efficient plan, but it was something. A bit of hope. As soon as he tip-toed down the hall, trying to get pass the opened door of the kitchen, four familiar eyes shot in his direction: one pair green and gentle, the other brown and laughing, until she caught sight of him. That smile wiped off so quick, Winston wanted to laugh at the transition.

Yeah, great to see you too, Mom.

Austin and his mother were seated comfortably at the coffee table, talking lightly before they noticed his entrance. His mother glared at him for the briefest moment, before her gaze quickly went away and landed on the wooden table. Austin forced an awkward smile on his face and waved him towards the table, "Hey, Winston. Back from school?"

"School ended hours ago."

Austin hummed a response, before his gaze went to his mother, to his younger brother, then back at his mother, "So, um... We were just talking. Do you have homework?"

"Hell yeah, I do."

"Yeah, you should probably get to that. Even though it's Friday. Doing it all today gives you more freedom over the weekend." Austin smiled, although his eyes did not reflect the same ease as his lips.

Ha. Poor Austin. He didn't know Winston tended to neglect his homework, unless it was worth a lot of points. In that case, he usually did it in the periods before the aforementioned class. But Winston appreciated his brother's attempt at breaking the tension. That was the most effort he'd ever seen his brother put in to help him. Apathy was a disease that many kids couldn't escape, even perfect little Austin, who used to a blind eye to the cruelties of their mother. The apathetic behavior decreased for Austin with age, but increased for Winston and his mother as time went by. Thank God for that. He'd rather being ignored and neglected than humiliated and scorned.

Winston wheeled around, backpack dangling from his shoulders, before heading towards the door.

"Winston, wait!"

He turned back around, eyes widening slightly at the desperation in Austin's voice.

"You aren't hungry, are you?" He asked.

Winston frowned, "No. Why would I be?"

"It's just... When I was younger, Mom would make me..." He paused, looking down in shame, as if sorry he had brought up the subject in the first place.

His mother finally turned to Winston, eyes glaring with such hatred and disgust, like someone looking at the murderer of their loved one, rather than their own child. Winston nearly laughed. Or cried. No, not cried. He was done crying. He had no tears left to cry after all those years.

She finally snapped, "Food's in the refrigerator. As always."

He nodded, overwhelmed by her paying even the smallest attention to him. He understood the message. Of course the food was always in the fridge. For when he came home at midnight to avoid her, or when he starved in his bedroom and needed something to help him survive through his isolation. He bit his lip, and turned away from her, fearing to show vulnerability, just as he'd shown Ravenna the previous day.

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