She ran away to save herself, but left him behind to live with it all. They used to sit, alone in their room at night, curled up in their little beds. Listening to the fights that shook the walls, crying softly, trying to dream themselves away to some place happy. He was her baby brother thirteen years old, alone and awkward. She protected him from their parent's drunken fights, but lay in bed afterward, crying, trying to hide the evidence of their father's rage.
On her sixteenth birthday she left, went to school and never came home. Their father beat him that night told him it was his fault she had left and now he would do all the chores and cooking and everything she had done since their mother had left. For the next three years he waited for her, remembered her promise to come back for him. For him the next three years was a lifetime of hate, hurt, and ebbing hope. For her it was three long years of worry, work and saving.
The day he turned sixteen they both made a decision, hers was long awaited, his was a grave mistake. He woke up that morning to the faithful sight of his father drinking himself back to sleep. He quickly dressed and hurried to school. At school there was no one to wish him happy birthday, there was no one who even knew. He didn't have friends to talk to or hang out with; he was too ashamed of his father to let anyone in his life. He had a reputation as a loner, a nobody, just another kid the jocks beat up.
That day was the same as any other, go to school get pushed around, come home and get pushed around some more, wait for his dad to leave and finally relax. That evening his sister watched from her car as their already drunk father stumbled out the door and across the street to the nearest bar. As soon as he was out of sight, she leapt out of her car and ran into the apartment complex and up the stairs.
She could hear her brother crying all the way down the hall. She ran toward the apartment door, as she got there she heard a sound that would haunt her forever. She heard a single gun shot and then all was quiet. She collapsed against the door and began to cry because she knew; she knew that it was over, she had failed him and he had ended it.