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„Seems like it was yesterday when I saw your face
You told me how proud you were, but I walked away
If only I knew what I know today

I would hold you in my arms
I would take the pain away
Thank you for all you've done.”

Hailey POV

Uncertainly, I looked at the building in front of me and put my hands in my pockets. It was hard enough not to take drugs today, but I didn't want my brother, or my dad, to see me like that - I couldn't do that to them. However, anxiety and nervousness grew bigger from minute to minute.

I hated the fear that determined my life, that controlled my body and my actions, and took almost every joy in my life. But I was determined to be strong, for my family, for Jesse and for myself - even if it was only today. But a day without fear and drugs ? Would be great, but unimaginable.

Slowly, I walked into the big building and asked at the reception for my brother. The older woman still recognized me, which is why she let me see him without problems. Two years ago I was here for the last time, probably he didn't know me anymore - and if he still knew me, I was sure that he would hate me. I had left him and Dad, why should he be happy to see me ?

The thoughts in my head were getting louder and the desire to leave bigger. Maybe they are happy without me and I just come back and ruin everything again. They were certainly better off without me. But I promised Jesse not to come home without money.

After another deep breath, I went outside to the large garden where some children were playing. Many had a physical disability, some a mental one - my brother was one of the children with physical limitations, and I hoped that he now had better life chances. The medicine was getting better, there had to be something that would help him.

Slowly I let my eyes wander over the property and after a few seconds I found my brother and my dad sitting on a bench. Neither of them had seen me so far, I still had a chance to leave. Pull yourself together, Hailey!, I thought to myself.

Every muscle in my body tensed, screaming to walk in the other direction, but I mustered up my courage and went to the bench where my family was sitting. After much deliberation, I tapped Dad on the shoulder and waited until he turned around - and as he did, he stared at me as if he had seen a ghost. And I didn't even dare to say hello.

„Hailey! I missed you”, said my little brother full of joy and wrapped his arms around my waist since he couldn't get up alone. Without hesitation, I wrapped my arms tightly around him, just hugging him. „I've missed you too, buddy, believe me”, I murmured softly, surprised that he was so enthusiastically.

„We'll be right back”, Dad said, grabbing my arm and dragging me away from my brother, who was watching us nervously. I was so ashamed that I couldn't even look my own dad in the eye, instead I stared at the ground and didn't say a word.

„Where have you been ? You have any idea scared I was ?! I didn't know where you were, you left your phone at home. I didn't even know if you were still alive, dammit!” Dad was always calm, always knew what to say to settle an argument, but right now he was just upset, sounding angry, desperate and disappointed.

When I still didn't a word, he grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him, which made some people look at us - but no one said anything. Tears formed in my eyes as I could see in his eyes how much the whole situation tormented him. And that's how my guilty conscience tormented me even more.

„I'm sorry, Dad, I never wanted to disappoint you or Lucius, I didn't want you to worry about me”, I whispered, quickly wiping the tears from my cheeks. „I know that I was an extra burden on you, you already had enough problems and fears about Lucius and I..wanted you to have one less problem. I was a problem.”

Confused and angry, even kinda sad, he looked at me, then shook his head and grabbed my arms. „You weren't a problem, Hailey. You really think I felt better after you left ? I almost died of fear, kid”, never had my dad ever raised his voice, but right now everyone could hear him, even Lucius who was still watching us from afar. It was really a stupid idea to come here.

A few seconds later I found myself in the arms of my father again and didn't know what to do first, I was like petrified when he pressed me tightly against him. It felt good to feel that someone was missing you, to feel that you were important someone - I had missed that for so many years. Sobbing, I buried my face against his chest and wrapped my arms around his waist.

„You could never be a burden to me, you understand me ? You're my child, it doesn't matter how hard it is..you should know that I would do anything for you and your brother”, he said firmly, holding me still in his arms, and I didn't want him to let go.

„I really thought that your life would be easier without me, without my anxiety and panic attacks.bI didn't want to hurt you, Dad”, I mumbled against his chest and sniffed, but then raised my head slightly so I could look at him. „Please don't hate me for that..please”, I begged him, sobbing again.

„How could I ?” There was something vulnerable in his voice and for the first time in ages I saw tears in his eyes, but he held them back and swallowed hard. There were not many things that touched him emotionally.

„I-I, I need your help”, I said quietly, bowing my head. It felt so wrong to ask for his help. Especially I didn't want to lie to him, but what choice did I have ? I would only hurt him more with the truth. It sucks enough that Lucius' and my mom was a junkie back then, now I was one too, just like she was.

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