Holding On: Chapter 20
Before you read Chapter 20, catch up on Chapter 19 of willwriteforhearts' awesome story right here!
What am I supposed to do? Barge in and nicely ask Thomas, her dad, to leave Sam alone? Right.
The pain in my side grows sharper when I start to make my hesitant way back to the house, just another part of me that begs me to run for my life and call the cops later. That seems logical, doesn’t it?
There’s a shriek from inside the house and I’m suddenly aware of the fact that the cops might come too late. I might come too late if I don’t do something to stop them right now.
The door of the house creaks and I snap to attention, paranoia telling me that Thomas is coming out to get me.
No, just the wind...They left the door open...
I walk up the porch steps of their house as quietly as possible, mind racing in an effort to create some sort of plan. I stop, flinching when Sam shrieks again, this time followed by a sobbing, “Stop it! You promised you’d stop! Please...”
I feel sick; it takes me a minute to gather myself and look in through the door. I catch a glimpse of Sam cowering on the living room’s floor, hands over head, shoulders shaking slightly. “Just stop...” she whimpers, “Please...”
Thomas laughs, forced; the door isn’t open wide enough for me to see him but I can see his dim shadow hanging over her, cast by a lamp that seems to be the only source of light in the room. His voice drops, disgusted, “I told you to stay here.”
Sam nods weakly, shaking.
“Why did you leave?”
A minute passes before Sam forces herself to look up at him and shakes her head.
I cover my eyes and a resounding slap is heard across the room. I have to do something... I try desperately to come up with some kind of plan but my mind is completely dead. I don’t know what would be worse: running out there and failing to stop him or trying to endure this for much longer. If only I had my phone...
I try to look through the space of open door, not daring to push it open any further, and scan the room for a telephone.
Please, I think, please let there be something...
I look to the left of the living room, far enough to see a glimpse of Thomas. He looks terrible now that I see him in the light, cheeks sucked in gauntly, shadows hanging heavily over his eyes. He sighs, disgusted, angry. “Running away like your mom, huh, Sammy?”
She lets her hands come down from her head slightly, flinching when he moves. Her eyes scan the room. Her face is numb.
“I’m sorry, Dad... I won’t do it again. I promise.” She swallows hard, forcing back tears and sinking lower. She hasn’t cried at all.
It’s at that moment that I see the cell phone slip from her pocket, slowly, quiet. Sam gets up after that, sighing deeply.
It’s at that same moment that I realize she’s seen me.
“This isn’t over.” Thomas is somewhere in the room adjacent the living room but I can’t look far enough to the left to see him. “Get over here right now, Sam.”
She’s shaking, nodding, but it takes her a second to move.
“I said now!”
She flinches, nodding quicker and walking out of my line of sight, glancing back at the cell phone meaningfully.
You can do this.
I slip through the door, thankful for once that I’m not so “well-endowed”, and step into the living room. Lamp light shines over me mercilessly; I wish to turn off the lights but that’s definitely too risky.
I take another step, leaning forward to see if they’re gone.
I breathe out, relieved; there’s a door separating me from the room they’d gone into and thankfully, it’s almost fully shut. It creaks open slightly, as if it’s purposefully trying to make me panic more then I am already. Not that I’m sure that’s possible.
“What do you want, Dad?” Sam’s voice is shaking and muffled as I hear it through the half opened door. “Just tell me what you want.”
I step forward towards the cell phone, cringing at every word she speaks and hoping it doesn’t bring them back to this room.
“Just tell you?” His voice rises again; a chair screeches. “Don’t order me around. I don’t need another whining—”
“Dad, I didn’t mean—”
Another slap is heard and Sam whimpers. Thomas curses loudly; I can see his face looking over her, angry, and I hope he doesn’t hit her again.
Just get the cell phone, Alice!
I hear him swearing again and Sam cries out; my fingers wrap around the phone with lightning speed.
The door opens and Thomas stares at me.
My heart stops. I can’t look up. My stare is locked on the phone’s buttons but I can’t move to press them. I can’t breathe.
I can’t move. I can’t do anything.
Mom instructs me as we drive; I ask her to repeat things often because she mumbles into her lap and cries every so often, cheeks ashy from dripping makeup. She sniffs, staring out the window and wiping her fingers on her jeans, slowly. I try to talk with her so she doesn’t overthink things and change her mind.
Half of me still likes to believe that she wouldn’t, but the wiser half knows that she will.
Tim looks down at his lap. The neighbors whisper to each other every so often. I hear sniffling from the back so I look in the rearview mirror; the neighbor boy has started to cry.
The girl scowls, looking out the window. “Oh, get a hold of yourself.”
“I can’t!” He sniffs loudly and wipes his nose on his shirt. “I’m sorry...”
I look back to the road when the girl does. “Nick?” She sounds worried.
“Are we almost there?”
Mom nods beside me and I copy her, speaking when I remember the girl can’t see me. “Yeah.”
You know, in the movies, these kinds of scenes are usually filmed with intense music and equally intense conversation. Everyone’s crying or giving inspirational speeches or taking out machine guns and shooting the bad guys in the car behind them but we’ve got nothing to pass the time but thinking. Thinking.
And to tell you the truth, that’s the last thing I want to be doing right about now; I don’t want to, can’t allow myself to overthink this because I know if I do I’m going to be just like Mom and give in to my fear.
I remember when Mom was pregnant with that third kid before the accident; she’d get really sick to her stomach and Dad would talk to her on the back porch when he came back from work. The trees in the backyard were ripe, then, and we used to have picnics and wonder if the baby would get Dad’s nose or Mom’s hair. It was safe and I didn’t have to worry about anything. We were safe. I didn’t have to do things like this.
Alice needs you. Wheelchair snaps me out of my thinking. Your dad can’t be here anymore.
Yeah. I know. I just have to keep reminding myself.
“It’s right there...” Mom points meekly to a house, voice wobbling like a top on its last spin. “I can’t go in.”
Didn’t think so. I nod, silent. What am I supposed to do now?
Someone screams from inside the house. My blood is like ice.
It didn’t sound like Alice...
Tim opens the car door first, taking only a second to look at the four of us still inside the car. “I’m going to do something.”
The car door slams and he goes into the house; the front door is open, for some reason, and this realization somehow terrifies me further.
I see Mom cradling her head next to me and this makes me move. “You two,” I say, turning around in my chair, “Pass me my wheelchair. We have to get out.”
The neighbors are frozen, holding hands, eyes wide.
The girl lets go of the boy’s hand, opening the car door and shooting into the house after Tim. The boy moves slower, going to the trunk.
I want to run inside the house too, I want to stop depending on someone else to get me out but I have to wait. And I hate waiting.
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