4ooo Breaths

"The Best of You"

By The Foo Fighters

I've got another confession to make:

I'm your fool.

Everyone's got their chains to break,

Holding you.

Were you born to resist?

Or be abused?

Is someone getting the best, the best,

The best, the best of you?

(Or are you gone

And on to someone new?)

I needed somewhere to hang my head

Without your noose—

You gave me something that I didn't have…

But had no use.

I was too weak to give in…

Too strong to lose.

My heart is under arrest again,

But I'll break loose.

My head is giving me life, or death,

But I can't choose….

I swear I'll never give in,

I refuse.

Is someone getting the best, the best,

The best, the best of you?

Has someone taken your faith?

It's real—

The pain you feel—

The life—the love—

You'd die to heal….

The hope that starts—

The broken hearts—

You trust—

You must confess:

Is someone getting the best, the best,

The best, the best of you?

I've got another confession, my friend:

I'm no fool.

I'm getting tired of starting again

Somewhere new.

Were you born to resist,

Or be abused?

I swear I'll never give in,

I refuse.

Is someone getting the best, the best,

The best, the best of you?

Has someone taken your faith?

It's real—

The pain you feel—

You trust—

You must confess:

Is someone getting the best, the best,

The best, the best of you?

4000 B R E A T H S

Day 378

Evan knows he isn't supposed to cry, but he's scared, and he doesn't understand the chaos raging in his house. He's hiding outside, in his tree house, watching the living room windows through the thick blinds. He can see movement and flickering lights behind them, and he can hear yelling and crashing, but he doesn't know what's going on.

"Not supposed to cry, r'member," he mutters to himself, absently raising and lowering the arm of his Spiderman action figure. Thanks to his dad, it's missing a leg. He's not sure why Dad broke it—maybe he thought it was Superman and would fly if he threw it, which is silly, but it happens; or maybe he thought it would be okay without a leg, for some reason. If Dad thinks so, he's okay with it, but Spiderman doesn't seem too happy.

"Mom's going to be really mad," Evan sighs, reaching up to the ceiling and poking his fingers through the slats. Some snow crumbles into the tree house. Now he can see the sky, or a little bit of it, between the pine trees.

He stuffs his hands into his pockets to warm them up: his gloves don't fit anymore, but he's too scared to ask for new ones. After a moment's thought, he takes them out again, pressing them together, glancing up at the sky again.

"Dear Mom," he says, then hesitates, feeling too awkward with all the formality. He drops his gaze to his tennis shoes, badly tied, both them and his socks soaked through. "'Um, Dear Mommy. Um. John, at school, he's um, he's being really mean. He said I smell bad and, and that—and I look funny. And he won't be friends with me anymore, 'cause Dad says we can't play or anything. And some other kids were being mean 'cause. 'Cause Dad—I mean. 'Cause I got hurted. And I tripped and it bled and it was scary. And the nurse put stuff on it and it hurt. And—"

Another crash from inside. Evan winces, peeking out at the living room windows again. Something moves inside; he hears someone climbing the stairs.

A door slams. Then it's quiet.

What was he doing? Oh yes—" Um…please help with—um—it's really cold. So. So please ask God to make it warm soon. And—and to help, um—I lost my boots. Um. Sorry. Daddy—I mean—Dad doesn't know where they are either. He's really mad today. 'Cause…um…."

He thinks it over, sitting on the floor of the treehouse and wiping his nose with his sleeve. Then he folds his hands again and looks up at the sky. "Dunno why. 'Cause, he, he was, he said, um, lots of bad words, really bad ones, and um, um, he, he was—he broke lots of stuff. And threw stuff. The mirrors broked. And he hurted his hand, it got cut, but I said I'd help and he got mad at me and…um. He said go away. 'S why I'm outside, 'cause he said. And he. Um. He—" Evan whispers the next two words behind his hand—"Hit me—and he said don't tell, but you said tell you everthing. So. Um. Don't tell him I told—told you. But it hurts. And he had a gun, Mommy, but I wanted to see it, but he was being scary, so I didn't ask.

"And he. Um." Evan makes a face and looks away, ashamed. "He said mean stuff. He didn't mean it, did he, Mommy? I mean he…he's tired I think. And mad, but please make him stop getting mad. Please please please please. And. Um. And he. I mean. You're not really gone forever, right?" he asks all in a rush, gazing imploringly upward. "You said—you said people go to heaven—and be angels. You said. But Dad—Dad said you lied. He said you were in a box and they buried you underground and it was tiny and bugs were eatin' you and you're a skeleton now and I don't think he was telling the truth, Mommy. But—but you're—I mean, it was—scary—"

He stops, sniffles a little, and scrubs at his eyes with his fist. He sniffs again, defiantly. "I'm not crying. Daddy said don't. But don't tell, 'kay, Mommy…."

He sniffles again, thoughtfully this time. He wonders whether or not to tell his mother about the dream he had last night, or about his grades—Mom would be proud of his good ones, and not mad at the bad ones, like Dad—but it's too cold for that. He wants to go back inside, but he's not sure if he's supposed to….

"What's wrong?" says a voice.

Evan winces a little, looking around in surprise. But then he relaxes: the owner of the voice is a kid, like him. No danger there—even if she's a girl.

"Huh?" he asks her.

The girl blinks at him, only her eyes visible over the wooden fence. Then she grabs the top of the fence and pulls herself up, perching there as if she is proud of herself, though Evan thought it looked really easy for her. He is jealous; he's always been too scared to try climbing the fence himself. What if he fell and no one was there to catch him?

The girl looks strange—she's wearing odd clothing that doesn't look warm enough for the snow and is sewn all over with little beads, and her skin is a weird color, and he's never seen someone with hair so dark and coarse and straight. But this too only makes him feel envious, and curious, not threatened.

As he watches her, a little intimidated, her triumphant expression falters.

"You—are h-hurt," she exclaims in a strange accent, looking worried.

"Nuh-uh," he protests, covering the cut on his face shyly with his hand.

Her head falls to one side; she seems concerned, for some reason. "You—who are—um." She frowns, looking frustrated. "Are talking. To. Um. With…."

"Oh," he mumbles, once he understands. He looks away, scraping his heel against the wooden floor. "Um. My—um. No one." He doesn't feel like explaining about his mother—it always makes other children ask too many questions, and makes adults treat him different.

"Ohh." The girl struggles for a minute, then, choosing her words carefully, asks him, "You are…are sad?"

He shakes his head. The girl looks confused, and waits for him to say something, but he doesn't. He can't tell her about Dad. He promised he wouldn't tell anyone, except Mom.

A gust of wind shakes the tree branches; the girl shivers, stammers something he can't understand, then plants her feet on the top of the fence and jumps. Evan yelps with surprise as she lands neatly on all fours in his tree house, making the tree sway just like the fence.

She grins at him, and after a moment of stunned silence, he smiles back. "Wooow," he tells her, wide-eyed. "That's so cool!"

She giggles, sitting cross-legged on the floor next to him. Then their eyes meet, and her smile fades; she tugs nervously at her shirt, picking at the beads as she asks him, "Can…we…can will be friends?"

He wonders about her voice. He's never heard anyone speak like her before—saying the words wrong, and in the wrong order, and uncertain even of the ones she gets right.

"With—with me?" he asks her warily. "Really?"

"Yes!" It sounds like she's glad he understood her. She gives him a big, happy smile. "Please?"

He shrugs. "Okay," he tells her, smiling back. He holds out his hand. "I'm Evan."

"Ev-an?" she repeats slowly, giving his hand a strange look.

"Yeah," he tells her. "Evan. What's your name?"

"Oh…my name is Immokaleah." Her name is the one word she's been able to say with confidence.

"Emma-what?" Evan laughs at her strange-sounding name.

"Immokaleah," she repeats, giggling with him. "It means 'waterfall'!"

"Waterfall? Really?"

"Mm-hmm."

"Oh." He wrinkles his nose; it sounds very…girly, to him. "That's too long," he complains. "Can I call you something else? Like Callie?" She kind of reminds him of a cat. He had a cat once. He's still not sure what happened to it.

"Kylie?" she says, frowning. But after a moment's thought, she smiles again. "I like that!"

"Okay. Kylie," he agrees, shrugging. If she likes it, it's fine with him.

"Yes," she says cheerfully. "Um—what—what did—your name mean?"

Evan shrugs. "You talk funny," he points out. He isn't trying to be rude; he is just curious.

But Kylie looks embarrassed. "I do…not…English is…is hard," she stammers, twisting her hair around her fingers. "I am…I am learning…but…."

"Oh," he says again. How is English hard? He's never met anyone who had any trouble with it. But he tells her anyway, "I'll help you if you want! It's not that hard."

"Really?" she asks him, delighted. "Okay!"

"'Kay! Um. Why do you look like Pocahontas?" he wants to know. And she really does, at least a little bit—she's dressed in a long shirt and skirt, but it looks like the dress from the movie.

As soon as he says it, he regrets it; he bites his lip, embarrassed. He used to watch all the Disney movies with his mother, but Pocahontas is one of the girl ones, isn't it?

However, Kylie just gives him a blank stare. "Who is—is that?"

Oh. Well that's okay, then. "It's from a movie—she's an Indian, and she—"

"Native American?"

"Oh—yeah. Um. Yeah, she—"

"Cherokee?" Kylie demands, leaning toward him, her eyes shining.

He finds himself blushing, though he doesn't know why. "Um. I think so."

"That's what I am!" she says excitedly, and darts forward to hug him. Evan stiffens, confused by how soft she is, breathing in her strange, spicy smell.

Before he can react, she lets go, but immediately reaches for his hand and holds it tightly. A strange feeling quakes inside his stomach, but she's smiling brightly at him, and he can't help but smile back at her.

"Tell me," she says.

So he does.

A/N: Hello, new readers! My name is Cat, and I write a lot of stories, but this one's not just for fun: I'm going to get it published and use it to raise money and awareness for child abuse (ending it, not starting it). That's why it needs to be super good! I'm really serious about it; I want it to be the best it can be. So please review, and please be harsh--everything helps.

Read on, and I hope you like it!

~Cat