Las Vegas 1986

April was hiding again, under the porch, one of the only two places she felt relatively safe. He was shouting at her again. She heard the slam of the screen door as he came out onto the porch.

"Where did you go, you worthless, good for nothing baby?" he asked angrily and she held her breath, even though she knew that he could not find her under the porch. All she could see of him was his feet as he stood there at the bottom of the steps.

"When I find you, you little brat…"she heard him mutter under his breath and then he turned and walked back into the house, the screen door slamming shut behind him. April darned not move or even breathe until she heard the TV turn on. Then and only then did she darn move, slowly sliding out from under the porch. Knowing that it was unsafe to enter the house she turned and ran down the street. As she ran she passed many people, some she recognized and some she didn't. She had long ago gotten used to the fact that no one on this street cared that when he got angry and drunk, he hit her. It didn't bother her anymore.

Finally she arrived at the place she was headed. Out of breath and still shaking she made her way to the back of the empty, broken down house and climbed in through the broken window. She then slid down the wall and sat there as she caught her breath and waited for the shaking to stop.

Eventually she calmed down and stopped shaking, but she continued to sit there and think, wondering how it had gotten this bad. She clutched at the cross on her neck and reached for the picture resting on the floor next to a half eaten bag of chips, two unopened bottles of water, a sketchpad and a dull pencil. She just stared at the picture, at the four faces smiling at her, mocking her. They had been so happy back then, before the crash. When her mother used to tuck her and Tommy into bed at night she would check the closet for 'monsters' and then she would tell them that it was okay, that they were safe, the monsters weren't going to hurt them. Now it was a different monster that she is afraid of, one that neither her mother, nor Tommy can protect her from.

After the crash, at first everything was fine, or as fine as things can be after something like that, but then he started drinking. Then everything went downhill. He lost his job and the house, the only place she had ever called home. They had moved here and it seemed that he was drunk all the time. He took his anger out on her and no one noticed or if they did, they didn't care. She wished that her mother and Tommy would come back and save her, but they couldn't and she was stuck with him for the rest of her life.

Finally as it started to get dark she put the picture back where it had been and stood up. She climbed back out the window and walked slowly back to the house.

The TV was still illuminating the man sleeping on the couch and the bottles scattered around him. She walked to her room at the end of the hall, careful to be quiet even though he probably wouldn't wake if a bomb went off. She changed into a pair of pajamas that were too small for and kneeled at the foot of her bed and just like Tommy had taught her she prayed, telling God to tell her mother and Tommy that she loves them. When she finished her prayer she climbed into bed and pulled the covers up over her head, careful of the bruises all over her body, and closed her eyes.

Within minuets the young eight year old girl fell into a fitful sleep filled with dreams of monsters and smiling faces.