The Boy Next Door
I shut the front door to my house quietly, desperately trying not to wake my psychotic, abusive father and hurried across the dew-covered lawn, heading to school.
I glanced sideways and noticed, with slight surprise, a movers van parked outside our neighbor's house, and slowed mid-step. I hadn't even known our neighbors were selling their house, let alone that someone else was moving in already.
Nice of them to say goodbye, I thought bitterly. I sighed and shook my head. They never really acknowledged our existence anyways.
I heard a door slam and my eyes darted to a middle-aged man that was walking from the house and to the van. He pulled out a box from the back and started heading back up the driveway, when he looked my way.
My breath hitched as he stopped and stared at me for a second, before giving a curt but friendly wave. I froze, my body unmoving. I tried to bring my hand up and return the friendly gesture, but I couldn't seem to do it. Instead, I practically ran down the street, passing his house and not even looking his way as I did so.
My school was only a couple of miles from my house, which wasn't actually that bad, but still kinda far if you thought about it.
My thoughts travelled back to my new neighbor. Hopefully he would keep to himself and not try to come to the house and stuff. And if I was really lucky, maybe he wouldn't hear my screams that were always caused by my Cal, my father—or I should say foster father, as I was abandoned at birth (so I was told), and never really knew my real parents. I did, however, have a picture of my mother that was given to me years ago by a distant relative, who later passed away. She was so beautiful and I sometimes wonder what life might have been like with her. Would she beat me mercilessly like Cal? Would she love me like normal parents should? I shook my head and slowed my pace to a walk, panting slightly. Thinking about it is pointless.
A little while later, as I approached my high school, it started to rain—more like downpour—and I pulled my thin sweater over my small body, hugging myself slightly. It was going to be a long day.
When I got out of class, the rain was pouring even harder, and I stared at it sadly, dreading having to run through it. After I stuffed my books in my locker though, I merely took a deep breath and left, not even bothering to say goodbye to my friends, because I didn't really have any. I tended to be shy and timid, keeping to myself most of the time, so I never really made a lot of friends.
By the time I had reached my street, my clothes were soaked and I was shaking like a leaf. I kept running though and was almost at my home when I slipped on the slick concrete and fell. My side took the brunt of it and I grunted in pain, lying on the hard sidewalk. I blinked up at the rain and took a deep breath; I had just started to get up when a hand was suddenly on my shoulder. I jumped and yelped, eyes wide. It was our new neighbor, and I suddenly realized that I had fallen right outside his house.
"Are you okay?" he asked, a concerned looked etched across his face. He looked to be about in his late thirties, maybe early forties, and had dark brown hair to match his eyes. "Kid?" he said, louder, after I realized I hadn't said anything.
"Y-yeah, I'm okay…t-thanks."
"Are you sure? That was a pretty nasty fall." He held out his hand to help me up but I glanced at it hesitatingly and got up painfully on my own.
"Yeah," I repeated in a quiet voice, looking down and backing away slightly. It was still raining, but had let up a little bit.
He nodded and then his face lightened a little in recognition, "Hey, aren't you the kid that lives next door? I remember you from earlier."
I just looked away, fiddling with my hands nervously. I certainly hoped Cal hasn't seen me talking with him, otherwise I would be in for it. He never likes it when I talk to anybody really, probably too afraid I'll tell someone what he does to me.
"I-I have to go," I mumbled. I turned from him quickly and limped the rest of the way to my house, not glancing back at him once.
Once I was inside, I leaned my head against the door and breathed a small sigh of relief. A second later, I turned around and found Cal a few inches away from me. I flinched and tried to back up, but found my back against the door.
"Who were you talking to, boy?" he growled, and I could smell the foul stench of alcohol on his breath.
I didn't answer, just stared at him fearfully.
"Well? You know I don't like you talking to strangers!"
I shook my head, "I-I wasn't…I-I f-fell and—"
Before I could finish my sentence, I was being dragged from the room by my hair and into our poorly furnished living room. I finally cried out when he tossed me on the hard floor. I whimpered in fear and dread when I heard him start to unbuckle his belt, and flinched when I heard him whip it out.
I turned to look slightly as he gripped it by the end, so the actual metal buckle would hit me, and I grimaced, covering my head with my arms.
When the first blow came, my back stung as if it were on fire. He hit everywhere he could, the sharp buckle tearing into me and cutting open my skin. Tears trickled down my cheeks as I screamed and begged for him to stop.
"Please!" I screamed, but he didn't listen. He never did.
He must have whipped me thirty times before he finally put it away.
"That's for disobeying me. If I catch you talking to someone without my knowledge again, it'll be worse." He sneered, giving me a sharp kick in the ribs for good measure.
I fought back a sob and just lay there on the floor, shaking. I heard him leave the room, but continued to laid there, in too much pain to move.