This is for those that have to battle with events like this everyday.
A door somewhere downstairs slammed shut, alerting me that I was no longer home alone. Glancing to the upper right hand corner of my computer I saw that it was no where close the time that mom or dad would come home from work. Fear raced through me like a drug.
Ben stood up from his spot on the floor. His hair was instantly raised on his shackles like a true guard dog would do. His deep throaty bark made me jump slightly in my seat and yet gave me some comfort knowing that who ever it was in the house would most likely be petrified if they came face to face with my Doberman Pincer.
"Shannon!" a light voice chimed like small bells. I knew that voice. Manhattan. What is she doing here? Does Amsterdam know?
I jumped up from my seat and ran down the stairs with Ben at my heals the entire way, still barking. Little Manhattan was walking in circles, continually looking over her shoulder towards the dinning room causing her dark locks to swing wildly. She stopped her pacing to look at Ben with wide frightened eyes as he kept barking.
"Ben, quiet!" I yelled grabbing his collar to prevent him from getting any closer to Manhattan. He stopped instantly and looked to me for his next command to obey. I looked up to see little Manhattan walking towards Ben and I only now she was smiling towards the dog.
Footsteps were clearly heard coming form the small kitchen next to us. Ben let out a dark growl towards the unknown person.
"It's alright Ben. It's just me," Amsterdam's husky voice floated unevenly into the living room. Ben quickly stopped. He'll listen to my best friend as if he was his owner. "Manhattan, go downstairs and watch some TV. Take Ben with you. You'll be safe." His voice was hoarse as if he had just done a lot of screaming. His shadow was cast onto the floor, making him look over seven feet tall even with a slouched posture as he leaned against the wall.
"But," she turned her head to her right letting me see the side of her face and arm. On the shoulder of her white collared shirt was a line of crimson as if it had been accidently ended up there by brushing up against something covered in blood. The left side of her shirt was also covered in the front. On the side of her jaw was a slowly growing purple shadow.
"No buts," His shadow straightened up so he was no longer leaning on the wall. "Damn," He muttered. The shadow then moved out of site. There was the soft sliding of a window being shut and then the clicks of the locks being switched into place.
"I…" the seven year old pleaded.
A window was shut and locked only this time in the dinning room. "Please Manhattan. If you get scared we'll be right here. I just need to make sure everything is okay up here and I promise I'll be down there."
"Okay," She said softly and walked past me and down the basement stairs. Ben silently followed her.
I walked to the kitchen and could see Amsterdam through the door way that lead to the dinning room. He stood in front of a window for only a few short seconds, locking it with his left hand letting his right one hang limply at his side. He turned to the next window a few feet away letting me have a full view of his broad back. My breath instantly caught in my throat. His green shirt was stained a bloody red and was cut in many spots. I raced towards him needing to know what happened and when to call an ambulance because he clearly needed medical attention.
"Amsterdam," He slammed the window shut using both hands only to wince and let his right hand fall back to his side. He ignored me and moved to the living room to close the windows and blinds.
"Turn on your alarm system," He ordered. His voice was soft yet still demanding.
"Tell me what's going on first,"
"Just do it. I don't know if he followed us." His voice was less demanding. It sounded more like a plead. His words sank in slowly.
I went to the front door and armed the house. I stood at the door and the base of the stairs with my back to a wall. My eyes were glued to Amsterdam. He wasn't moving as quickly as he had been only moments before. His sandy hair seemed to cling to his head. His chest was expanding and contracting at an alarming speed. He needs help now.
I walked past him to the nearest telephone. I quickly grabbed it from its cradle. He suddenly had a tight grip on my wrist making it impossible for me to not look at him. His long hair was matted with now drying blood. It looked as if he had been laying in it. On the right side of his handsome face was covered in cuts that mingled with the faded scars from his past beatings. His lower lip was busted wide open and letting blood run down his chin. Around his cheek bone on the left side it was swollen and a purplish black. My hazel met his blue ones. His were different though. Normally they were a blazing color as if they could set the world aflame. Now they were dull and life less. His eye lids were slowly sinking down to close over his eyes as his grip simultaneously became inexistent on my wrist.
"Amsterdam," I said sharply. His eyes flew opening as if awakening from a bad dream. "I'm calling nine-one-one," I said turning to the phone in my hand.
"Don't. He'll know that we're here and he'll…" He swayed slightly.
"Amsterdam!" He fell crashing to the carpeted floor. I didn't think as my fingers flew over the buttons on the phone.
"Nine-one-one, what is your emergency…"
X X X
Manhattan sat on my lap with her head resting up against my chest. She had started complaining of a headache soon after we reached the emergency room. A large welt had formed on the right side of her head. My mom sat to my right watching Manhattan closely. She had dropped everything at work after I texted her as I talked to the emergency operator and came straight home making it just before the ambulance came to get Amsterdam.
No one would tell us what as going on with him because we weren't family and they certainly weren't telling his seven year old sister. My family was the closest thing that Amsterdam and Manhattan had after their mother died from ovarian cancer five years ago. That's when their father hit the bottle the first time. Soon after that he began to hit other things.
I sighed and pulled Manhattan closer to me, wrapping my arms around her tightly. Never once did Manhattan receive any blows from her father except for today. Amsterdam always took the hits for his sister. He would never let anything ever happen to her. Normally it was only a few punches and kicks. He always came out walking away with maybe a bloody scratch or two but never anything like today.
"I want to see Amsterdam," Manhattan's soft voice was even softer then normal. She was fading.
"I know. I do too. Are you sleepy?" I asked her. That wouldn't be a good thing if she was. She seems to have a concussion and sleeping with one is not a good idea especially before a doctor even gets to see her.
"Yeah," she let out a yawn. I turned to look at my mom. Her brown hair was pulled tightly back exposing her worried dusty blue eyes.
"I'll be right back," She said as she got up out of her seat. I nodded and watched her as she walked in the direction that everyone had gone when they had been called up to be seen by a doctor.
Moments later my mother was back in view and was waving us towards her. I lifted Manhattan up into my arms. She settled herself up against me so I couldn't put her down. I followed my mom into a room to see two beds. The closer one was empty while the far bed held Amsterdam.
His skin was sickly pale. He looked like he could be dead. The only reason you could tell he wasn't was the slow and steady beeping of the heart monitor next to him. His skin was now a dark blue and purple around his left eye and the right side of his face was covered in a mess of different size bandages. The blanket was pulled up to the middle of his chest. His right arm was placed on top in a brace. Even with all of the imperfections on his face he had never looked so handsome to me. Amsterdam has always handsome with his soft features and glowing eyes but he never seemed to be this beautiful before. He seemed to just glow.
I put Manhattan down on the empty bed and ran over to Amsterdam. His breathing was shallow and uneven. He winced slightly. I carefully pushed his now clean hair out of his face avoiding all of the cuts. What if he doesn't get through this?
"I…I'm sorry," He wheezed out letting his eyes open. My stomach sank. He shouldn't be sorry. He has no reason to be. It's not his fault that his dad is such an asshole. I won't be sorry when he goes to jail. I hope that Amsterdam won't have to move though. Who am I kidding though. He will have to move. He'll go live with some distant relative and I won't ever see him again. I can't dwell on that right now. I need him to get better.
"Don't be sorry. You did nothing wrong." I rested my forearms on the edge of the bed so I could be closer to him but without hurting him. I placed my hand lightly on the left side of his neck. He turned his head slightly to look at me. His blue eyes were so soft and yet warm.
"What's wrong with me? It hurts just to breathe."
"I'm so sorry," I looked over my shoulder towards the door to see if there was any doctor or nurses coming to help. I noticed the blue curtain between the beds was pulled closed. When did that happen?
"It's 'kay. You didn't do it. Will you help take care of me?" He asked softly. I could feel heat rise to my cheeks. He attempted to smile only to have it look more like a grimace.
"You don't need to ask if I will. I'll be there every step of the way. Who closed the curtain?"
He lifted his left arm out from under the blanket slowly. His forearm was wrapped up in gauze. "I don't know. I was looking at you." I smiled down at him.
Amsterdam broke the eye contact between us as he looked in the direction of the end of his bed. A young man with a white lab coat and clipboard was in his hand. He looked at us curiously.
"Amsterdam," The doctor said in a low voice. He took a few steps towards him.
"Hey doc. So what's wrong with me?" Amsterdam asked in a light voice.
"Well you sure are cheery for someone has five fractured ribs, a fractured arm, and too many stitches to count."
"I'm trying not to think about it right now. That is too painful."
The doctor swallowed hard. "No more time for joking. I have to ask you what happened now. It isn't normal to have both have a brother and sister here with the types of injuries that you both have."
"My dad did it. It's not the first time either. I'll testify or whatever I have to do to get him in jail. I could deal with him just wailing on me. I could even handle if he practically kill me. I can't deal with him hurting Manhattan though."
"He did practically kill you. If you hadn't gotten here when you did you would have died." My stomach flipped as if I was going to be sick. The truth that I had come so close to loosing him was almost too much.
"All doctors say that," Amsterdam said stubbornly.
The doctor turned to me. "Is your boyfriend always like this?" My boyfriend? He's not my boyfriend. I wish we could be more then just friends. Right now is just not the best time to tell him that I want our relationship to change.
Amsterdam turned to look at me. "She's just as stubborn as I am if not more. She wouldn't be my girlfriend if she wasn't." What? Did he just say that I was his girlfriend? Why did he just say that? That doesn't make any sense at all. Am I just over thinking this when I should be thinking that he meant it as something else completely? That must be it. He would never lie like that even if it were to a stranger. What does he have to loose by lying to a stranger anyway? Nothing. So what would the point be? I tried to ignore the odd feeling that ran through me that he would even think about calling me his girlfriend.
"I guess you have to go call someone about my dad now right?" Amsterdam asked the doctor.
"Yes I do. I'll be back once the call is made."
"Alright. See ya later doc." Amsterdam said lightly. The doctor left with a wave of his hand.
I turned to Amsterdam to ask him what he exactly meant when he told the doctor that I was his girlfriend. The curtain behind me brushed against my back as it opened. I glanced over my right shoulder to see Manhattan laying on the bed now in a hospital gown and paler then ever. Her blue eyes were bright and searching.
"Am?" She asked softly. Amsterdam let out a struggled breath. "The nurse is gonna stick me with a needle and keep it in my arm. I don't want her to."
"It's alright. It doesn't hurt really. I've got one too." He said with a reassuring tone.
I glanced over to Manhattan to see that my mom was sitting on the bed with her. The little girl was holding tightly to her hand as the nurse came to the right side of the bed too hook up her IV. Manhattan's face crinkled up like an unwanted paper for a moment then relaxed.
"That was great! You didn't even make a sound." Amsterdam praised. "I'm giving you an air hug right now. Can you feel it?" He asked. I smiled at him. He is just too sweet for his own good sometimes.
"Mhmm," The little girl said letting her eyes close.
Amsterdam had a soft look to his face as he watched his sister just lay still on the bed far to large for her curled up figure. His lips were raised slightly in the corners of his mouth. His expression slowly melted so his puffy lips were pulled down into a frown.
"You're fantastic with her," My mom said suddenly. Her voice was soft and smooth. It seemed to float over every other sound around us. "I always forget how great you are with her."
"Well a person would have to learn how if their dad was a drunk like ours," He let out a shaky breath and looked away for a moment. "He got laid off today so he was home when we got there. Manhattan spilt some juice on the table and he just went crazy. He hit her. I had to protect her. I couldn't even do that. What kind of brother am I if I can't protect my sister?" He closed his eyes tightly. His lips were pressed in a thin line. I let my fingers run across his skin in hopes that it would comfort him.
"You did protect her. You protected her every time. You even did today only it was a little different. You got her out of the house. You were protecting her by bringing her to my house."
"I brought her there 'cause I was scared. I didn't know what to do." He spat. His jaw clenched out of habit as he tried to take a deep breath through his nose. He whined and let out an odd noise that was some where between a cry and squeal. "I just wanted someone to take care of me for once," He said softly. His bright blue eyes looked glassy. My heart turned into a puddle in my chest. I leaned down to hug him. He touched my back so briefly then let out a scream. I reflexively jumped away from him. A nurse quickly came in seconds later. Amsterdam was looking at me with wide eyes that looked as if they were going to come out of his head. His heart rate was erratic and his breathing almost inexistent.
"Damn it!" He muttered hoarsely. "I can't even hug you! I just wanted to show you that you that I love you and I can't even fuckin' do that!" He lifted his hands up in frustration and slammed them down on the bed only to scream out in pain again. His face was now wet with tears but from exactly what I don't know. I looked at him shocked. He just said he loved me. "It hurts so much to just talk never mind breathe. I can't do this anymore."
I sat down on the edge of the bed and kept my eyes on him. His head was turned to the right so he wasn't facing me. He kept his eyes tightly shut as tears ran down his face. I could feel my mother's eyes on me as I reached out to Amsterdam to brush away his tears on his face carefully. I didn't care what she was going to say about what he had just said to me. All that mattered was that he was hurting and needed help.
"It's okay," I said softly to him. He turned his head towards me slightly. His eyes were full of fire.
"This is not okay. I just turned my dad in without hesitation. Where are Manhattan and I going to live now? We've got nothing." He paused to ketch his breath. "God I just want to hold you right now. Being able to just really feel you makes everything so much better." A few fresh tears ran down his face. I could feel tears forming in my eyes.
Why does he have to be in so much pain right now? Not only the physical pain that his monster of a father caused him but mental pain from it as well. I wish I could just take this all away from him. He doesn't need any of this. He's such a caring person.
I moved from my spot next to him on the bed so I was now standing next to his head. He didn't even look at me as I moved. His eyes were fixed on the wall in front of him. I reached across him with my right arm and let my weight fall onto my hand as I pressed it into the bed. I suddenly felt his arm slip around my waist and pull me so my thighs were pressed against the bed. That has to hurt him. I looked down as he turned his head towards me.
"I can use this arm without too much trouble. It's the other side that really hurts. It makes sense that it does. Dad pulled an aluminum bat out. I don't know how many times he hit me with it." He took a deep breath to only end up having his beautiful face to contort in pain. "I couldn't think. I ended up falling backwards. I remember that because I heard the table shatter and felt it give way. It didn't hurt, at first. Nothing really hurt till I got to your house. I even carried Manhattan over." He carried her? Is he somehow a superhero and didn't inform me about it?
"It was selfish of me to do that. I should have just kept dealing with him. I shouldn't have run to you to save me," I opened my mouth to tell him that I wouldn't have ever been able to save him.
"Shit," He said suddenly. I could see my mom's disapproving look from the corner of my eye. "I called you my girlfriend and said that I loved you and you didn't even blink an eye. All of this freakin' drama makes me say things that I shouldn't have. I'm sorry if I upset you."
I tried to choke back the sob that was threatening to come out. He didn't mean any of it. "It's okay. You didn't up set me." You made me ecstatic. "I'll let you have a take back this time." I said in a light tone trying to make a joke. He didn't look very amused. I waited a minute for him to say that he was going to take it back but he didn't. Hope swelled in me. Maybe he did mean it after all. I couldn't let that happen though. "So you gonna take it back?" I asked apprehensively.
He just looked at me for a minute as I towered over him. It was as if he couldn't look away from my eyes. His gaze was intense like he was trying to say something but couldn't trust it to come out from his mouth. He just kept looking at me.
"What?" I finally asked.
"Don't make me say it," Say what? He must have seen the question in my expression because he continued. "I know just as well as you do that I love you. I know you love me too." I swallowed the lump that had suddenly appeared in my throat. He shouldn't have realized that I did. "I hate this stupid just friendship crap. We both need more then that from each other." I looked at him stunned by his bluntness. He's never like that. Normally when he talks I have to break the code behind the words to find out the true meaning. "I'm not going to pull all of the lame crap and ask you to be my girlfriend. We're just going to keep things the same only add in the couplely stuff okay?"
I let out a soft laugh. That's very much like Amsterdam to avoid awkward conversations at all costs.
I pulled myself as tight as I thought Amsterdam could handle it, which wasn't very tight. My left arm went behind his neck. He leaned his head against my chest as I pressed my lips into his hair.
"I don't think I've ever heard you talk this much," I said to him. He really isn't ever one to talk. Things mostly go unsaid. He's not very eloquent.
"I don't think I would have ever grown the balls to tell you how I felt if my dad hadn't done this. It made me think. I was actually kinda terrified at the thought that I may never see you again. I still am. I needed to have you. I need you around." I smiled and ran my fingers through his hair softly to help him relax. "I'm so happy that you're here," He said.
"I need to be here with you,"
"No you don't."
"Yes I do. I need to make sure that you're okay for my own wellbeing. It has nothing to do with you." I said lightly as I pulled my head off of his to look at his face.
He smiled lightly and pressed his face into my stomach. "I love you," He said like a five year old.
My heart hammered erratically in my chest. "I love you too,"