He’s in my room. I know because I can smell his cigarette breath. I pull my leg under the covers and pretend that I’m asleep. Whenever I do that, I always make sure I move around a little. My brother Bob taught me that. He says sleeping people roll around, fakers don’t. I always listen to Bob. He’s my big brother.
I hear the whir and click of my fan as it moves from side to side on my nightstand. Every time it passes by, it pushes my father’s air at me. I can feel him on my skin. I’m glad my windows are open.
I open my eyes just a tiny bit. I peek out. I see him. He’s standing really close to my bed. A streetlamp shines behind him, through my window. The light flares around his dark form like a halo. He’s got his gun in his hand.
I can’t stand that gun.
I realize that I haven’t moved in a while, so I make a little moaning noise and drop my arm over the edge of the mattress. My brother will be impressed when I tell him what I’ve done.
While I lie there and wait till it’s time to move again, I try to imagine I’m surrounded by a powerful force field. If I do it right, it will keep bad things from getting to me. It’s hard for me to do, though. I’m not as good at it as Bob is. Anytime I tell him that, he says, “Keep working on it.”
Lately I’ve had lots of chances to practice.
I’m pretty sure I’ve waited long enough. I think it’s safe to move again. I stretch my arm down over the side of my bed and tuck my hand between the mattress and the box spring. I curl my fingers around the short metal rod I hid there. I found it with my brothers’ car stuff. It was the perfect size, so I cleaned it up and put it there, just in case.
Maybe I’m moving too much. I decide that I can’t move again for at least five minutes. I press my face into the mattress. I lie really still.
My father starts making little hiccup sounds with his throat.
I’ve never heard him cry before.
The gun thing I’m used to. He does that for attention. But the crying has me worried.
I wish I could see his face, but it hasn’t been five minutes yet. I wonder, When it comes to armed and crying fathers, what’s better, steel rods or force fields? I go with the force field, the kind that sends bullets back where they came from. The harder I try, the louder my heart thumps. The sound fills my ears. I feel like I’m at the bottom of a really deep pool. My ears hurt, but I don’t stop. I’m not a quitter.
I look out from under my hair.
My father’s gone.
I roll over and stare up at the ceiling. I can’t do this anymore. I have to get away. I just need to figure out how.
© 2010 Kelle James