CHAPTER TWELVE

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    I opened the door cautiously, not seeing my dad's truck parked in the driveway but that didn't mean he wasn't home necessarily. As soon as the door closed, my mom was in front of me, almost as if she was just waiting for me to walk through the door. She tapped her foot furiously at me. I swallowed nervously, waiting for her to speak.

    "Your teacher called today." I looked down, not meeting my mom's eyes. In my head, I cursed my teacher. She had no idea what she'd done, what a night she had promised me with that one phone call. "You've been spreading lies about your parents, huh?" Her voice treads with fury.

    I had told my teacher that my parents didn't love me. She clearly took it upon herself to tell my mom what I had said. I hadn't spoken lies but I'm sure that my mom was sickeningly sweet of the phone with Mrs. Wilson. And of course, she had fallen for my mom's tricks. They always did.

    I met my mom's eye with my nervous ones. Her eyes were ablaze with a fire, a fury that made me tremble and made me look away from her gaze. "I'm sorry," is all I'm able to mutter out. But I wasn't actually sorry. And she knew that.

    She moaned angrily and reached up, grabbing me by my ear. She pulled me to her room where she had a belt laying across her bed, presumably where she had put it while she waited on me. She gestured to my shirt and for some reason, when she asked me to take off my shirt, that stung worse than the physical pain she was about to put me through. She not only took the skin off my back, literally, but she also had to take every inch of my dignity with it. At times, she would make me strip naked, even. But I guess she was being generous this time.

    As I dropped to my knees, the first slash came. It stung hard and left a burning sensation where the metal of the belt buckle had struck my skin. I closed me eyes, preparing as I knew it would only get worse when Dad got home and found out what I had done. Or tried to do at least.

    "Ian," I hear, though the voice sounds distant, yet familiar. My mom makes another slash, making me yelp out in pain.

    "Ian!" I heard again, this time louder and clearer.

    "Ian!" Amanda's voice pounds in my head as she shakes me awake. Out of panic, I sat up quickly and looked around. We were still in the hotel room and it was still dark outside, indicating that it was the middle of the night. My breathing was slow and steady though, different than when I usually wake up from my nightmares. "Are you okay?" I meet Mandy's worried and frantic eyes as she studies me.

    I can't even bring myself to answer right away. My head is pounding so I close my eyes, pulling my knees up to rest my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands. I feel Mandy's warm hand rest on my upper arm, her usual gesture of comfort.

    After a few moments for composure, I look up and meet her eyes. The worry in them was evident but so was the tiredness and just then, I began to feel bad. I had waken her up in the middle of the night because I couldn't even get a minute of shuteye without having a nightmare. I was a pathetic, fucked up, mess.

    She gulped as we held eye contact for long moments. She breaks it, looking down with her hand still on my arm. "I get nightmares, too," she speaks softly. "Not as often as you do but I do." I rose an eyebrow but didn't say anything. She seemed like she had more to say on the matter so I let her. "You're in them sometimes." My heart warms at this. Not only at her words but the look of content on her face, as if me being in her dreams soothed her. "You're in the good parts. Then, in the bad parts, you're gone."

    When she said this, I started to wonder. Did she actually not remember anything from us being together? Or did she vaguely have some foggy memories? Her voice interrupts my thoughts and her words take me by surprise.

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