By Erin Norris
Chapter One: Escape
"Cassie!" I winced away from the sink at the sound of my name spoken so harshly and began to walk towards the door now swung right open by, none other than, my father.
Nikkei and Eric, my younger siblings, winced and watched as I walked towards the doorway. Eric, his dirty blond hair hanging down in his eyes, smiled at me sadly, the light from the lamp glimmering off of his perfectly white teeth. I smiled back, afraid of what our father wanted, but not daring to show my fear to the twins. Nikkei just bent over her plate of spaghetti, her hand resting on her stomach, and ignored everything around her…like usual.
"Good evening father." I said quietly as I took his bag and went to put it in the den.
"Good evening my ass Cassandra!" he yelled; I could tell that he was drunk...again. "Where the hell are those damn twins Cassie?"
I sighed as the twins Nikkei and Eric came out with their eyes downcast and scared. Our father, aka Howard Mayson, sarcastically faked quiet patience before his hand came across Nikkei's face. Nikkei, the fair-skinned sixteen year old girl, cried out in surprise as she went flying towards the wall. Eric and I leaped to her defense; never before had father taken to hitting us so quickly after he returned home.
Father brushed us aside as he advanced on Nikkei, only pausing to grab Eric by the collar of his shirt and drag him with him. Forcing Eric to stand beside his sister, he flew into one of his alcohol-driven speeches; there was nothing that I could do. A thought passed through my mind before I retreated from the room, never daring to turn my back on my father and siblings. Eric turned his gaze away from father and glared at me with anger; he thought that I was leaving them to fend for themselves. He opened his mouth to call me back into the room, but I put two fingers up to my mouth to tell him to shut-up.
Eric squinted his eyes tighter, but nodded, and I winced backwards when our father brought the back of his hand across his face. Father, or I shall call him Howard, turned to me, pointing at Nikkei and Eric with his crooked, nasty fingers. His lips moved, but I couldn't understand a word he spoke: he was drowned out by the choking tears of Nikkei as Eric stood up shakily.
Being the eldest at seventeen years old, I had been forced to live this nightmare since I was three...since our mother died from cancer. Ever since Mother died, Howard had blamed Nikkei and Eric for everything. I was still punished brutally, yes, but nowhere near as badly as the twins. My heart went out to them and their restraint.
Howard turned back around when Eric finally managed to stand and I caught the first part of what he was saying before Nikkei was crying once more:
"Your mother would be so ashamed...no she probably is ashamed of you! How--" I was horror-struck as he hit Nikkei once, twice, three times across the face with the back of his hand.
I hissed through my teeth and spun around before my Father could see me. I rushed to the key-rack where I knew the twins kept the car key to their shaggy-looking truck parked a few blocks up the road. I moved the rack to one side and saw the hollow scraped into the wall. Eric was a mastermind behind hideaways. I silently thanked him and Nikkei for buying the truck against my wishes, which would be their escape.
I shoved the keys into my pocket and bolted up the stairs to my bedroom. Flinging my door wide open, I rushed to my closet where, I knew, Howard would never think to look for anything besides dirty clothing and my school supplies. But, thanks to Eric once more, he wouldn't see, even if he did decide to go through my things and trash my closet for no reason, the small piece of rug pulled up in the right far corner.
I tugged the rug up and pulled out the plank of loose wood that lay beneath it. The wood was easy to pull up, seeing as it was never fastened to the ground properly in the first place, and I threw it aside carelessly. Reaching into the now-empty space, I dug around to pull up what I was searching for. My hand brushed against old photos, two cans of food that I was saving up for an emergency, and several other things that hid down there. My fingers closed around a roll of something compact and soft, held together by a metal clip, and I hissed happily.
Yes! That was it! I pulled my hand up and stared happily at the roll of bills I had saved up since I was sixteen. The twins will be able to use this to leave! I thought happily as I stuffed it into my jacket pocket. Rushing back down the stairs, I was met with an angry Howard shoving Nikkei towards the door. Swallowing my ferocious anger that was swelling inside of me, I darted under Howard's outstretched arm to stand between him and the twins. I shoved my hands into my pockets and tossed Eric the money and keys from over my shoulder.
"Run!" I yelled at the twins. I hoped my terrified voice reached them, because, the next thing I knew, I was face-down on the rug with Howard standing over me.