With a father who hates him and an uncle who loves him too much, Alex Shay is trudging through life the best he can, hiding his secrets and suppressing his emotions. The world seems to have turned its back on him, until a kind counselor comes to his rescue. But his suffering is far from over as he struggles to overcome the trauma he's endured and learn that he deserves to be truly loved.
Warnings: Severe child abuse (physical, mental, emotional, and sexual), Rape of a minor (M/M), Graphic sexual content, Drug and alcohol use, and Harsh language.
"I love you, Mama!" Said the small little boy sitting on his knees at the kitchen table, watching his mother mix up dough for chocolate chip cookies. They were his favorite.
"I love you too, sweetheart!" She smiled brightly at the tousled brown hair and big green eyes peeking over the edge of the wooden table. He was her pride and joy, her whole life revolved around loving and caring for her sweet boy.
"Will you love me forever, Mama?" He asked softly in his timid voice, his bow lips pursed in seriousness.
"Forever and ever, baby," she replied, reaching over and cupping his cheek.
He leaned in to her touch, her soft hand seeming to fit perfectly over his face, like they were puzzle pieces meant to be paired. She suddenly frowned.
"Get the fuck up, now!" She screamed, her face contorting in rage. "Now!"
Thump! I'm suddenly falling and land on the floor, my head smacks the hard wood and my shoulder screams in pain. Fuck!
"I said get up, you little piece of shit! Don't make me say it again! Get your fuckin' ass in that kitchen and start cleanin'!"
I instinctively cover my head with my arms, and curl my knees up to my chest quickly, waiting for the blows that I expect to come, but his footsteps stomp out of my room and down the hall to his cave, the door slamming hard enough to shake the walls. Shit. I must have over slept.
I uncurl slowly and push myself up on my elbows to look up at the alarm clock on my bedside table. 4:17am. I hadn't over slept, I was just getting an early wakeup call this morning; two hours and thirteen minutes early to be exact. Dammit. I just went to sleep less than two hours ago; they were being so freaking loud.
I groan and sit up all the way, rubbing my sore shoulder, my brain groggy from sleep and the nice dream I was having. Mama. God, I miss her. I push the painful ache in my chest down deep, knowing I'm probably going to explode one day from all of those pent up emotions, but I don't know what else I'm supposed to do with them.
I pull myself up to my feet, wincing from little aches and pains in various places on my body, my shoulder being the newest. My head reels for a moment, the blow to my skull making it hard to see and think for a second. What did he say he wanted me to do? Shit. Oh yes, the kitchen. He must have just been going to bed.
I sigh and walk out of my room, down the hallway, through the living room, and towards the stupid kitchen. I ignore the feet in dirty socks propped up on the arm of the couch and the loud snoring from the person who owns said feet, tip-toeing through the room so I won't wake him. No need to cause myself more problems than I already have this morning and besides, I had enough of him last night.
For a brief moment when I enter the kitchen, I see Mama, mixing chocolate chip cookie dough at the table, but her image fades and is replaced by reality. Beer cans and bottles, leaking across the linoleum; pizza crusts, toppings, and boxes strewn everywhere; chips and salsa, crushed and splattered on the floor and walls; cigarette butts and ash everywhere; and barf. Gross. I ignore the nausea caused by the smell and push down the anger; there I go bottling it all up again. I wonder if there's ever been a twelve year old who's had a heart attack from stress?
I start by shoving all the trash into garbage bags, trying my best not to gag too loud; I don't need dearest daddy coming in here and making my morning even worse than he already has. Setting the three full bags outside on the porch, I remind myself over and over to remember to take them to the garbage bin before I leave for school. The rest of my time is filled with sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing the disgusting floors, walls, counters, and table. I finish by 6:45, fifteen minutes after I would usually be waking up, leaving me little time to shower quickly and leave, like almost every weekday morning.
I glance around the kitchen one last time, making sure I didn't miss anything; I've done that too many times and I've been "rewarded" too many times with beatings when I get home from school to risk even a speck of dirt. Satisfied I did a good job, I turn around and run right into a hard, firm body standing in the kitchen doorway. Shit.
"Mornin', babe." His voice sends chills down my spine.
I thought he was passed out on the couch? I don't say anything, I just glance up at the towering form and try to skirt past him quickly; I don't have time for his crap.
"Awe, you can't even say mornin''' to ole Uncle Eddie?" His hands are on my shoulders, moving me back in front of him.
He kneels down, coming face to face with me and smiles his charismatic smile. I'm so freaking short. His light brown hair is messy from sleep and his pale green eyes are blood shot and crazy looking from whatever he was shooting up last night, but he still looks charming like always; his good looks is one of the reasons he has so many friends- everyone likes Uncle Eddie. I hide my grimace the best I can and look down at my bare feet.
"Good morning," I murmur, praying he'll leave me alone if I just comply with his stupid demand, but I can already tell he's in a particularly affectionate mood by the way his thumbs are rubbing little circles over my bony shoulders, which sort of feels good, to my disgust. He chuckles softly and pulls me into his chest for a hug, his strong arms pinning my thin arms to my sides; he smells like beer and pot, with a hint of mint, and of course his cologne.
"Kitchen looks good. Dad make you get up or did you decide to do it just to be sweet?" He asks, pulling me off of him just enough for him to look down at me.
"What do you think?" I mutter. He chuckles again.
"Someone's in a pissy mood this morning. How about a kiss to make everything better?" God I hate him sometimes!
"I have to get ready for school, Uncle Eddie," I mumble, sounding whiney, and trying to pull out of his grasp, but he's not going to let me go just yet, I already know this.
His mouth comes down on mine, hard and rough, and his hand is on the back of my head to keep me close. I stay still and shut my eyes tight, trying to ignore his smell, but it's hard to when I can only breathe through my nose. The kiss turns gentle after a moment and his tongue slides across my lips. I let him in. He explores my mouth with his hot, wet tongue for a few minutes, and I kiss him back, before he finally pulls away. I always feel dizzy after his kisses. I hate him.
He makes a "mmm" sound and is smiling at me when I open my eyes a peek. For a second he stares at me, with that weird look that he always gets in his eyes, then he straightens and ruffles my hair.
"Go get ready for school, Kiddo," he says with another attractive smile and pats me on the bottom as he walks past me to the fridge.
I don't hesitate and quickly escape, praying he won't follow me like he does sometimes. The bathroom's almost as gross as the kitchen, cigarette ash, piss, and vomit on the floor around the toilet and even in the tub. Great. I start cleaning, knowing he'll just be pissed if he finds it messy later when he finally wakes up. It takes longer than I thought it would and I'm already late by the time I'm done with my shower and dressed. I snatch my book bag up and rush out of the apartment, passing Uncle Eddie, who's back on the couch, snoring. Why couldn't he have stayed like that? Asshole.
The garbage bags greet me as I shut the door as quietly as possible. Shit! I almost forgot! Somehow I make it down the stairs with all three bags and haul them to the bin, tossing each one in with some difficulty because of my stupid, sore shoulder. Then I rush to school, late as usual.
"Mr. Shay, how many times do I have to tell you: three tardies equals one day of detention, three detentions equals one day of suspension, and five suspensions equals expulsion. How many times?" The principal looks at me over her pointy glasses, glaring. I shrug with my good shoulder.
"Sorry ma'am," I mutter quietly, staring down at my hands in my lap, picking at my already too short nails, making them bleed; a "disgusting habit" as she calls it. She sighs a long sigh and taps her fingers on the desk, staring at me, then asks the question I was hoping she wouldn't.
"Where did you get that bruise under your eye? Did you get hit by a baseball again?" I nod, pushing away the hurt from her sneering tone. Agreeing is easier than making something else up, but I know she doesn't believe me. She sighs again.
"Alexander, I'm trying to help you, but I can't if you won't let me. What really happened to your eye? Tell me the truth."
The truth? That my dad just likes to use me as a punching bag when he's pissed off at the stupid football game? Why would I tell you, meany? You'd probably just laugh at me.
"I got hit by a baseball," I repeat the words I've been told to say when I'm questioned about my bruises and I keep my face blank; I'm good at that. Hiding my emotions is something I learned to do a long time ago, it saves me from a lot of bruises and welts. She sighs even louder.
"Fine. Be more careful. Now, I should suspend you another day. That would be five suspensions. Do you understand what that would mean, Alexander?" I wish she wouldn't talk to me like I'm stupid, I'm really not. She continues. "That would mean I would have to expel you if you were tardy again. Do you want that to happen?"
Not going to school and spending all day with them? Of course not.
"No, ma'am," I whisper. She sighs again.
"Obviously contacting your parents is not working. And my punishments do not seem to have any effect on you, Mr. Shay. So I'm going to switch my methods up to deal with you." I glance up at her. She treats me like a disease not responding to a doctor's medicinal approaches. "I'm going to be generous and not suspend you this time. Instead, you're going to see Mr. Smith, the 5th grade counselor, three times a week for the next month during your usual P.E. time. I think it will benefit everyone, especially since you seem to have so many sporting accidents anyways."
Her sarcasm hurts, again, but I ignore it and nod; she probably thinks I don't understand her personal little joke. I'm just a stupid, clumsy, unappreciative, little brat. My list of names seems to grow all the time.
"Get to class and I expect to hear that you visited Mr. Smith today, I will personally ask him myself at the end of the school day. If you haven't, then I will reconsider my offer and suspend you. Do you understand?" Her glare is like piercing knives.
"Good, now, you're dismissed." She snaps my manila file folder shut and slides it to the side of her desk where it usually sits. It's slightly bigger than the other students' in the school, the documentation of all my failures, fights, and fuck-ups.
I stand carefully, all of the aches and pains making my body scream, and I pick up my back pack, easing it onto my sore shoulder. For a split second I wonder what Mrs. Michaels would say if she could see all of the bruises, cuts, and scars I hide under my old jacket and holey shirt and ripped pants, but I push the thought away. She would probably say I deserved it all; she hates me.
I walk to class and suffer through another lecture from my teacher, Ms. Reed, her shrill voice making my head hurt, but this time it's in front of an audience.
"-no homework, of course."
Her words are all meaningless to me. I try the best I can, I really do. I can't help that I have no time to do homework at home; my father and uncle think it's more important to make my life a living hell by boozing it up and getting high with their friends than to make the house a "normal" place for a child to be raised in. They would rather see me cook them food and clean up their messes than to see me make good grades and succeed; not to mention all of the other crap they do to me. But instead of screaming this information at my teacher, I simply stare at my worn tennis shoes and nod.
It's just like at home, except replace "ma'am" with "sir". I'm good at saying all of that; at least that's something. She tells me to go sit down with a frustrated wave of her hand, then goes back to being nice to all of the other kids, who are all staring, snickering, and laughing at me.
"He's such a loser."
"He thinks he's so cool for acting bad."
"He's just going to fail again, who cares."
I guess they think I'm dumb and deaf. Who cares. I think that a lot. Who does care about me? No one anymore. No one.