Yesterday was amazing. She and the girls had played board games, drinking games and Stephanie's chauffeur brought everyone safe home. Simply seeing her friends in real life again was like taking a nice breath from being suffocated for so long.
Like now. Her dad had come home that night. She had just shut her bedroom door when she heard his car pull up. Looking at him through her bedroom window, she felt herself shrinking. Becoming a quiet and timid person. At school, around her friends, or basically with anyone else, she could be herself; confident and not giving a f*ck about anyone else. But with her dad, it was horrible. He had this dominating aura surrounding him. And now, he wanted to have a nice Sunday brunch with his family.
So here they were; at the dinner table, together with her mom and dad, surrounded by food. He ordered the chefs to make him a homecoming lunch and they had prepared the finest and most delicious meals. However, Morrow felt sick to the point she wanted to throw up. Stuck in her chair at a big table, she cut some bread. It was still a bit warm.
Her father sat on one side of the head of the table her mother on the other side and Morrow was seated in the middle. The atmosphere was suffocating.
'So, Morrow.' Her dad started. The knots in her stomach immediately pulled tighter. 'You went with mom to your new school, right?'
She nodded and felt her throat close. She saw her mom in the corner of her eye staring at her.
'What do you think?'
'It looks like a good school. I think I can learn a lot.' Keep it vague, but good enough so he has nothing to say back.
'Good, good.' He put a piece of fresh salmon in his mouth. 'I hope you stay there, for once. I don't want to put you in a different school again. The paperwork, it's such a hassle.'
Morrow clenched her hands around her knife and fork. Don't show him this gets to you, she thought. 'I have good hope that I will finish my school here.' She kept her voice low, non-threatening. Her mother looked at her worryingly.
'I hope you do.' Her father stated. The air was thick with tension.
They sat in silence for a while. The waiters her father had hired, served the next course. It looked amazing but Morrow couldn't eat anymore.
'Is something the matter, sweetheart?' Her mom said. 'Are you full?'
Morrow's father looked up, slightly annoyed but didn't say anything.
'A bit. I'm not feeling that well.'
He scoffed. 'That surprises no one, dear. After last night's stunt.'
Both her mom and she looked at him. 'What do you mean?'
'Oh, please. Do you think I don't know? You sneak out of the house and back in again at three in the morning, anyone would feel awful after such a short night of sleep. Also,' he continued. 'After that stunt, you pulled all those years ago I'm not really fond of what you're doing out at that time. Who knows what kind of... friends you're hanging out with.'
'Don't insult my friends, dad. They are very nice.' She said, her voice still low but she was getting more and more agitated. The fact that apparently, he knew she was out that late bothered her to no end, and also insulting her friends was something she really didn't like. She hated the way this conversation was going.
'But I'm glad I'm keeping an eye on the family at least.' A sneer to her mom, who just sat there and didn't say anything.
Her mom just smiled reassuringly.
'So, no more stunts like last night. Also, I want you to stop seeing your friends.'
Morrow frowned her eyebrows. 'Why? They are good people.'
His plate was empty and he continued taking some bread from the basket in front of him. He continued. 'Whatever you were doing in that girl's house, I'm sure you've been drinking.'
'Harold...' Her mom's voice was soft.
'Oh, come on Miriam. You know how I hate alcohol. It's bad for her and her brain development. She's going to need her brain since she doesn't have the looks. I'm only looking out for her.'
Their conversation continued, but Morrow closed herself off. Her coping mechanism was working, how unhealthy it may be. She silently stood up from her chair. A calm had come over her. No emotion, no feeling, just emptiness.
'Where are you going? We haven't finished this meal, yet.' Her father said, his voice getting louder.
'Out. I'm going outside for a minute.' Her voice was monotonous that she stunned her father, and he didn't follow her outside.
Once outside, she didn't know what to do or where to go. She left her phone at the table so she couldn't call her friends. Not that she wanted to anyway, she didn't even tell them what happened all those years ago. They didn't need to know.
Morrow kept on walking and eventually ended up in a park. It was still in the middle of the day and the playground was full of kids. Parents were seated at the benches around to keep an eye on them. Coming from a richer family, meant her parents were always at work. (How else could they be rich?) She didn't get to enjoy simple things like this. Some parent was asking who wanted pizza and Morrow almost wanted to answer. Anything better than the healthy bread and salads at home. She didn't though and tilted her head back to enjoy some more sunlight.
The day started quietly. Felix woke up around seven, his usual time on weekdays. Stretching, he heard soft breathing right next to him. He chuckled softly and looked to his side, right into Ethan's sleeping face.
He can be so young sometimes. So much like a baby still. In the daytime, he is much more tough-looking and tries to appear more confident, but it's at times like this that Felix realizes, Ethan is only seven. He must've gotten a nightmare and crawled into bed.
Felix rolled over, stroking Ethan's blond hair, slowly waking him up. It would be anytime now anyways that he would wake up.
'Hey, little man.'
'Nggh...' Ethan murmured.
'You awake yet?'
Felix chuckled softly again. 'Alright, sleep in a little.' Little kisses on his cheeks and forehead kisses, were only allowed at times like this. Ethan secretly liked them but when the sun was fully out, it was not allowed. Under any circumstance. Unless he had fallen and injured himself. But under other conditions, it was forbidden. Now, he could still appreciate it.
'Hmm?' He stopped giving kisses for a moment. 'You are waking up?'
'I had a nightmare last night...' He suddenly was serious, almost like he had been fully awake for hours. Felix still needed to ask him how he did that. How to be awake after minutes of waking up.
Ethan nodded. He crawled deeper into Felix's embrace, hiding from the big, bad world. 'It was really scary...'
'I bet it was. Wanna tell me what it was about?'
For a second, Ethan hesitated. 'It was really, really scary...'
Felix didn't say anything but started rubbing Ethan's back, reassuring him it was alright. After a minute or two, after complete silence, Ethan finally spoke.
'It was about you and mom and me. We were all at home and it was really good. Then you were disappearing and then mom died. It was really scary...'
Felix held him closer. 'I'm so sorry buddy... It was just a nightmare, alright? I'm not going anywhere, and mom is not going to die.'
'But she will one day, right?'
The question stunned him for a second. About a month ago, a parent from one of his friends had died due to cancer and since then, Ethan had discovered death. He didn't quite get it, but he knew that the parent wasn't coming back.
'Yes, she will one day. But not anytime soon, I promise you.'
He cuddled in closer if that was even possible.
'Do you wanna wake mommy up? Maybe we can cook some nice breakfast? Or get freshly baked bread?'
With this, he pulled his face out of Felix's chest and started smiling. 'Yes! Mommy loves freshly baked bread! Because she is worried all the time, it can help her to calm down.'
Felix smiled at Ethan. 'Alright, you wake mom up, I get dressed and I help you pick out clothes after, alright?'
Ethan did as he was told, and Felix got out of bed. The worried mom topic came up about two weeks ago. His mother had come home, clearly smelling of alcohol and Ethan had woken up from the noise she was making. When Ethan later asked Felix why their mom didn't smell like other moms, he explained that their mom was worrying a lot. Quickly adding it wasn't Ethan's or Felix's fault, but her work.
He opted for their mother to just quit and find a job she liked. It seemed like a good solution and after a little more explaining Ethan had been put at ease, but apparently, the topic still lingered in his mind.
The rest of the day went better. No talks about death or worried moms. It was Sunday and they played board games, went outside, walked, and talked for a bit, and just enjoyed each other's company. Normally he had to work, but because of the incident yesterday, his manager granted him a day off.
'Did you come home late yesterday?' Felix asked his mom, while Ethan was playing with some other kids at the playground.
'Not that late, why?' She answered.
Felix raised his shoulders. 'You look a bit tired.'
His mother turned her attention to him and smiled motherly. 'Felix...' She put her hand against his cheek. 'It was later than usual, but don't worry alright?'
'I know, but Ethan had a nightmare and crawled into my bed, instead of yours.' He looked at her knowingly. The worried mom topic was also discussed between mother and eldest son. Ethan knew when their mom had been drinking and he didn't like the smell.
His mom took her hand away from his cheek and grabbed his hand. 'I'm sorry. I wasn't drunk if that's what you're thinking. I was tipsy, I admit, but I'm fine now. The tired look is just because of the little sleep I've gotten. Not because I'm hungover.' She paused and squeezed his hand. 'I promise.'
Felix looked down at their joined hands. 'I know, I'm just worried. That's all.'
'Oh, my sweet boy...' She hugged him and Felix put his chin on her shoulder. 'I love you so much.'
'Love you too.' Felix murmured. They smiled at each other, and the topic was dealt with.
'Now, who is hungry for pizza?' She said a little louder, so Ethan would hear as well. Ethan came running to them, hearing the word of his favorite food. As Felix was standing up he saw a flash of pink, but when he wanted to look what it was, Ethan was already dragging him along.
'Come on lazy butt! I'm hungry!' Felix laughed and let him be dragged along.
'Fine, fine! The one who is home the latest can't have pizza!' And he took off. Of course, he didn't run at full speed (he's not a mean person, you know).
Later that night, his mom tugged Ethan into bed and read him a bedtime story. Felix was happy with the way things were now. When his dad went away, for a little while his mother wasn't in a good place. Felix was home alone a lot with Ethan to look after. He was glad his mom was working on getting better, although she wasn't there yet. He sighed and put on the tv, drawing out his mom's voice.