I slammed the wooden door and ran to the window. I threw open the double-glass escape route. I flung my leg out, catching it on the groove in the wall outside. I sidled out, grabbing the rough rock wall for dear life. The ivy growing up the wall tickled my bare feet. I slid down the side of my two-story house as fast as I was able, and I took off into the woods.

I ran and ran, my feet pounding the rocky, bumpy dirt. My toes snagged sticks and long grass as I galloped into my safe haven. I ran about a mile and a half. Once I got to my tree, I gripped its sides with my calloused hands and pulled myself off the ground. I climbed most of the way up the tree. I swung my long legs over my branch, panting heavily. I put my hand over my heart and allowed myself a moment of rest. I knew I wasn't being followed. I didn't hear his clumsy footfalls behind me during my quick exit. I put my head on my skinned knees and cried.

My dad, he was a major alcoholic. He gets home every day from his part-time mechanic job at Sully's and he pops open a cold one. Weekends are worse. During those, he wakes up from his Friday hangover and he uses more alcohol to try to get over it. He starts with some wine coolers. The fruity taste wakes him up, so he can move on to harder, stronger things. He's pretty well adapted to hard liquor. From there, I don't know what he does. That's usually where situations like the one I'm in now start.

When I woke up, this morning, I did my daily chores. I have them taped up in my room so I don't forget. My room is more of a closet, in all honesty, but I make do. I swept and dusted, I washed and put away the dishes, and I had the laundry done. Dad hadn't woken up yet. I got out my homework and began working on it, when my dad woke up. He stumbled out of his mess of tangled sheets, his work clothes still on, and he fell into his doorway for support. He started yelling as soon as he was able to stand up on his own. He threw my breakfast plate at me and I ducked. He didn't notice that though. He came over and saw that I wasn't dressed. I'm supposed to be dressed and ready for the day by 7:30am on weekends. He slapped me only once for that, a surprisingly gentle punishment. Then he found out that I had forgotten to make his drink. This is when he swung with a closed fist. I bolted up to my room and out the window, and here I am.

He's been this way since my mom died eight years ago. I was only six, but I learned how to take care of myself really well. I've been doing it ever since. I haven't told anyone except my best friend, but I get along alright. I have friends at school, but they have no idea what I do on my weekends. It's a good thing they aren't really big on going out on weekends. I wouldn't have the money anyway. I would know, since I balance the checkbooks.

I pulled my long black hair out of my grey eyes with a pony tail. My flannel, purple pajama pants had gotten holes in them during my escape. I rubbed my chilled, naked arms, trying to get the goose bumps covering my crawling, pale skin. My tank top wasn't much protection from the piercing fall winds of late November. I traced the light pink scars all over my arms. They covered both of them. I had too many to count. It's just a bad habit I have. I'm working on it, though.

All of a sudden, a new kind of whispering wind blew across my neck. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end and all of my senses went on red alert. I didn't dare move. I knew this feeling. I just wasn't sure who it was. I slowly turned my neck, feeling it practically creak as I moved as slow as possible.

I transparent hand covered my eyes. I jumped, practically falling out of the tree.

"Argh!" I screamed out. I wrapped myself around the limb I was sitting on and held tight. I heard a boy laughing and I opened my eyes. "That's not funny Matthew Collins!"

Matt swung his legs over my branch and straddled it in front of me. "I thought it was", he said smugly.

I gave him a dirty look and said "You could have killed me!"

He yawned and said "What an unfortunate event that would be".

I smirked a little and climbed down the tree. He followed me down and we started walking. "What happened this time?" he asked putting his hands in his dirty, khaki shorts' pockets.

"He was drunk-"

"Well I could have told you that". I shot him a look and continued.

"And I got dressed late. And forgot to clean my plate after I ate".

"He actually let you eat! Wow! Go Jessie!"

Boy, he really knew how to get dirty looks out of me. I stopped and sat on the forest floor, playing with the grass growing out of the worn trail. He sat down next to me, looking worried. He put his extremely cold arm around me. It felt like I was being held by wind or something. We'd been friends since my mom died, so a move like this really didn't make me think Matt was into me. He'd been there for me forever, so we just did things like this all the time. He'd kissed me on the cheek once, but I must not have given the proper reaction, because he never did it again. "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to wait until he falls asleep to go back. He won't remember it by tomorrow anyway. And I don't have school, so I can be out all day. I didn't get much done before I left, but I'll do it while he's sleeping so I don't get punished tomorrow."

Matt didn't go to my school, so he didn't get to see me much on week days unless he snuck in. However, he knew a lot about my school, since I tell him everything. Like, for example, he knows about my secret crush on Jake. He was a foot ball player. He wasn't like a big star or anything, but he wasn't bad. I would watch him play, if I ever went to a game.

"Yay, so you get to spend the whole day with me!" he said. He smiled at me with his mouth and his light, playful blue eyes. He ruffled up his shaggy brown hair and stood up. "So, what are we gonna do?"

"Well, I don't have anything important to do. Let's go fishing."

"Okay, do you have the pole?"

"I hid it in the tree, remember?"

"Now I do."

We walked down to this little creek deep in the forest. I grabbed my pole out of a nearby empty tree. I fished for around two hours and then we gathered berries and I ate lunch. Matt wasn't big on fishing. Or eating. He's a bit of a thrill seeker, though. He likes to jump out of trees to see how high he can jump from without hurting himself. He's jumped from some pretty high places. We climbed trees and sat around. We talked about nothing and everything, and I think I fell asleep at one point, because I jumped when he rubbed my shoulder to get my attention.

"It's getting dark", he said in a whispered voice. "Maybe you should get heading home."

I frowned at him and vigorously shook my head. He laughed a little and helped me out of the tree. He walked me home and watched as I crawled back up the rocky wall into my bedroom window. I got in and shut the window, latching it. He waved and me and jogged back into the forest. I waved back and went to shower. I got about halfway down the hallway, before I came across a huge problem.