1 | Hometowns

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One more time, Allyson

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One more time, Allyson. You know you'll feel better. Come on, it's almost out.

The toilet seat was no longer pristine; its whiteness splattered with flecks of vomit that hadn't made it to their destination. My fingers grasped onto the cold plastic seat because it was my only support during those overwhelming moments of self-pity. The gut-wrenching smell of acid and decomposed food should've been enough to bring the last of that home-cooked breakfast from my stomach, but I was distracted by my pale blue, chipped fingernail polish.

I sat back and picked at the peeling polish with a heavy sigh. Somehow, my mother hadn't noticed it this morning, and that was nothing short of a blessing because I couldn't handle any more of her micromanaging.

I glanced at my blue dress laying in a pile, shoved into the corner of the small bathroom where it would remain until I could hide it away in the bottom of a cardboard box. I refused to wear it after my mother called me a fat cow during breakfast with the Jones family. She insisted her words were because of the few extra pounds I'd gained over the summer, but the truth was I'd never be able to look good enough in it for her—no matter how hard I tried.

Desperate to escape the guilt before someone came looking for me, I slid my fingers back down my throat and gagged at the burn, but it did the trick. Tears brimmed at the edge of my lashes and threatened to spill over from the sickness.

"A-Allyson, are you in there?"

"Yeah, Caleb." As calmly as possible, I slid over to the sink, splashing my face with water and trying to ease the shakiness in my hands. "Did you need something?"

There was no response.

When I opened the door, he stood scrunching his face and fumbling with the small buttons on a new green plaid shirt. The trademark family freckles seemed darker on his flushed skin and our matching dark curls hung down over his eyes which flustered him further. He stomped his boot against the wooden floor.

"I h-ha.. dislike this shirt!" His stammer only fueled the fire seeming to burn within him. Unfortunately, he didn't have the ability to put it out on his own.

I reached for him because it was my job as his sister to help him, to be there for him, but I knew better than to touch Caleb unless he initiated it.

Caleb yanked at the front of the shirt and sent a few buttons rattling to the floor. "I h-hate this shirt, Allyson! Why does she m-make me wear this? This isn't my b-blu... favorite one!" He stomped further down the hall and proceeded to shout at the top of his lungs.

His tantrum evolved when he slammed his fists against the wall and shook the neatly framed pictures. I watched one of the family photos rock back-and-forth like it was trying to decide if it wanted to make my day worse by crashing to the floor.

Even after thirteen years of raising Caleb, our mother still didn't understand why Caleb couldn't control himself, or maybe she did understand, but chose not to care. She was always looking for reasons to punish him and breaking an expensive frame would be like a gold mine to her.

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