American Horror Story plays before me, the freak show full of realistically plastic smiles, all sorts of grotesqueism and gore, and curiously unusual bodies. I can't smell freshly rolled cigarette smoke or day old beer from the kitchen, so Mom and her newish boyfriend, Mark, must be drinking outside in the crisp, late autumn air. The family room slowly darkens as the dying sunset falls below the open windows behind me. My distraction from life's recent problems seems to be working for now, even if it is unfortunately temporary.

Tonight's a surprisingly normal night, and I, at least subconsciously, expect it to stay this way until I eventually go to bed when tomorrow hits.

"Open the door!" a thunderous, deep, masculine voice calls out. His heavy fist crashes against my back door with a power strong enough to make me fear whether or not he's going to kick my door down if I don't exit the house calmly and peacefully.

My mother's panicked shriek cuts through the still air like a fractured, crystal knife. "KARIE! Come outside!"

My pitbull starts barking furiously at the intrusion the guy outside made in our normalcy. The echos of the pounding fist rings around my dizzy head. I'll be surprised if I can stand up without falling over. My eyes burn, and my chest feels like a fat man wearing stilettos is sporadically tap-dancing on my breastbone. I haven't been this uncomfortable since my last major anxiety attack.

I hate to go outside, for my mother's sake.

I randomly start hoping it's not our ex-neighbor, having snapped completely. If they came back in a heroin blurred craze, attacking my mother for doing nothing but helping them as they screwed her over and over again, I'm going to push through my rising terror and kick some junkie ass.

I leave my terrified dog inside as I stumble outside with my hands raised, holding in my salty, boiling tears as best as I can. No one notices as one trickles its way down my flushed cheek. Twenty men who look exactly like what I assume S.W.A.T. Team people would look like run up the side of my house and into my kitchen through the back door. A cop grabs my hands, pulling me close to him, and-

"Don't handcuff my daughter! She's only sixteen!" my mother begs, pleading desperately as a cop zip-ties her wrists together in front of her. Her eyes look wild, like an angry mama bear's might appear like if a hunter was threatening her only cub out of three that actually made it out alive. She looks more panicked on the outside than I feel on the inside, and I'm literally convinced that I'm dying.

Why can't I can't see her boyfriend anywhere?

"Is there anyone else in the house?" the cops who was supposed to zip-tie me asks.

"We have a dog inside," my mom starts before the cop rudely cuts her off. If I were actually here, I'd snap at him for treating my mother like that.

"Is he violent?"

"God, no!" I burst out, biting my tongue as all eyes in a ten foot perimeter fall to my trembling and shivering form. Now everyone can witness as I break down because of the influx of conflict surrounding us in a swarm like angry bees.


"Can she hold the dog?" my mom asks the cop. After a hesitant glance to a detective behind him, he nods. I rush inside, harness my squirmy pitbull, and stumble back outside where I collapse into a cold folding chair near the ashy firepit in the middle of the yard.

I can't wait until whatever the hell is going on is finally over.

My mom is insistently asking one of the detectives question after annoyingly pointless question. My dog is frantically pulling at his leash that's tourniquetting my arm, trying to figure out what the hell's going on like my energy packed and nosey mother. I can feel my body tensing, blood freezing, slowing creeping towards shock.

It doesn't help that I can't find my mother's goddamn boyfriend anywhere. Where could he possibly be? He's a pretty big guy, so it's kind of hard to loose him. I pray to God that he didn't' leave my mother and I like this, stuck here trying to figure out how badly he messed everything up this time.

The background begins to wash in and out like flustered ocean waves.

"... sold a gun… his daughter… think…"

"... rifle in the… not there… checked the boat…"

"... underground cop… seriously, Adams… felony…"

I can't breathe as a cop- or is he a detective?- hands me one of my mother's coats from the downstairs closet and tells me that Julie- my mother- wanted me to be warm. I don't think I'll ever be warm again.

My father never would have done something this stupid. He may have lost all of his fucking marbles before he killed himself a little over a week ago, but this is a whole new level of idiocy that only a day-drunk like Mark could have done. I kind of hope that he ran for the hills. At least then my mother and I will never have to look into his guilty blue eyes and ask him, "Why did you have to bring us into this?"

I don't know how long it is before my mother comes back over to me and sits on a folding chair that a cop set up for her. When she leans her tired head on my shoulder, I know what I have to do for her sake, for my sake, for the sake of our two person family to stay sane for at least a few more hours.

"It's okay, Mom. It's all gonna be okay. I promise."