Author: Samarium PM
Julius Carpenter has lived his life in a box, from which few people emerge and almost no one enters. His brother is the only person he trusts and his strive to be better than everyone he challenges is what keeps him going. His inferiority complex rules his life, and eventually, it rules everyone else's lives, too.Rated: Fiction T - English - Suspense/Family - Chapters: 54 - Words: 155,424 - Reviews: 62 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 04-15-13 - Published: 10-15-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3065888
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Christmases were always an event to behold in our house when we were young. Our dad, a hardcore atheist, refused to celebrate even the most commercialized version of the holiday.
Luckily, Mikey's grandparents always invited us over for the day and gave us a few presents. Our dad never seemed to notice, because, of all the days in the year, he was the worst on Christmas Day. We'd always wondered why that was, but never questioned it. Or rather, we never got the chance to do, as Dad was usually so drunk he was throwing up by noon on this particular day of the year.
But we didn't care, because if our father was sick, he wouldn't punish us for going to church with the Lincolns like he normally would. In fact, most Christmases were spent without exchanging a single word between us, which neither Des nor I seemed to mind.
Church on Christmas was especially boring and long. Desmond, usually rather keen on listening to long-winded fairy tales about Jesus, even showed signs of wishing we weren't there. We sang a lot of hymns and did the "eating a piece of Christ" thing before we finally headed back home.
Mikey's grandmother had knitted us scarves for Christmas. Mine was green and yellow, Desmond's blue and white. She'd also gotten us some Hot Wheel cars, which we played with all afternoon. We also played with Mikey's presents, a few action figures and boxes of Lego.
We ate dinner, an enormous turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. We did some more praying at Madison's insistence before we went home, surprised to find our father passed out on the kitchen floor in a pool of his own vomit.
"What happened?" Desmond said. I looked up, noticing that our entire house seemed to be trashed. Furniture overturned, curtains ripped down, paper on the floor and, as Desmond pointed out in heartbreak, the piano smashed, missing a few keys and the wood broken on one side as though our dad had put a fist through it.
I looked back down to him, anger and anxiety and fear gushing through me, unable to pick one and stick with it. I thought about what to do. Surely we should call Madison.
"Julius," Desmond said, tugging on my shirt as he kneeled down next to Dad, "he's not breathing..."
I think what scared me more than that was the fact that neither of us was scared about this. I looked around for the phone and (finding it under the kitchen table) called 9-1-1. Desmond stared at our father's lifeless form in growing discomfort.
The phone rang and I answered the dispatcher's questions as if on autopilot. Some of the questions were hard and the dispatcher spoke condescendingly and angrily when I didn't know some of the answers. I didn't know how old my own father was? I didn't know the nearest intersection? I didn't know basic CPR? I think she thought I was older than I actually was, but I couldn't say anything more than what was required.
After a few minutes, I hung up abruptly, surprised at myself for a moment. I turned back to Desmond, who was still staring at Dad in shock. I turned him over and tried to remember if I'd even been told how to fix someone who wasn't breathing. For once in my life, I didn't know how to do something. And it made me feel completely powerless.
When we saw the ambulance bolt down the street, I grabbed Desmond and made him hide in the basement with me. When he asked why, I didn't answer because I didn't know.
We were quiet for a long time, waiting impatiently for the paramedics to retrieve our father. We heard them, one man and one woman, talking anxiously as they presumably gave him CPR and then put him on a stretcher. I worried that it might be a challenge to get Desmond to keep quiet, but he didn't make a sound the entire time.
I held my breath in fear when the man said, "Where's the kid that called?" and his footsteps moved across the house. He called out to us, but gave up after searching the main floor and the second floor. Thankfully, he didn't bother checking the basement.
We waited for a few minutes after they'd left and driven away before going back upstairs.
"The piano's wrecked," Desmond said forlornly, going over to it and sitting in front of it. He played a quick scale.
I tried to reassure him that it sounded fine, though we both knew it was out of tune. I wondered if it would ever sound right again with how beat-up it now was. I picked up some of the broken things on the floor and swept up shards of glass from a mirror our dad had broken. Des and I combined our limited strength to right our dad's chair, which was on its side.
We sat down and looked around us. The house was still a mess and Desmond, I could tell, was still rather shaken up about seeing Dad nearly dead without being able to help him.
"He'll be okay, right?" Desmond said.
"Yeah, the paramedics got him breathing."
Desmond nodded, looking a bit calmed down. "We should tell Madison what happened," he said, staring at the floor.
I considered this. "You're probably right, but let's wait 'till tomorrow. Maybe he'll be back by then and he'll be fine."
Desmond agreed and we went off to bed, our usually cheerful Christmas now tainted.
My heart sank when we woke up, finding our father still missing, mostly because I knew we'd have to tell Mikey's grandmother. Desmond immediately jumped on me to tell them what had happened, but I was still reluctant, and I wasn't sure why.
But a few hours later, a social worker – not ours, a different one – showed up at the door and told us that we were to come with her.
We spent a few hours in the social worker's office where we saw Jen, but she didn't have time to talk to us, she was too busy. After making some phone calls, the other woman had Mikey's grandfather come and pick us up, all without telling us a thing about what was happening or if our dad was even okay. It struck me as rather off when I noticed that I didn't, in all honesty, care if he was okay. I didn't want him to die, but I felt indifferent.
As we got into the car with a distraught-looking Daniel Lincoln, he told us in a soft voice that our dad would, in fact, be okay, but that he had alcohol poisoning and wouldn't be home for a few days. A part of me was relieved, and a part of me was sickeningly disappointed. A look at Desmond's face told me that he felt the same.
Daniel brought us home to get some clothes and our toothbrushes so we could stay with the Lincolns for a few days. We packed our things into our backpacks and got ready to go. As I retrieved my favourite sweater from under my bed, I heard Desmond enter our father's bedroom.
"What are you looking for?" I asked, following him.
He shook his head and just stared at the fresh circle of hell that was our dad's room. The distinct smell of hard liquor hit our nostrils at full force and we stood in shock at the sheer number of bottles on the floor next to the bed. There was a puddle of booze on the floor.
"C'mon," I said to Desmond, who was unable to look away from the mess. "Let's just go."
Des stared for another few seconds and eventually nodded, following me back into the hallway. I held his hand as he tried hard not to cry, and we went back downstairs.