My dad told me to keep a journal, because you might need it to, quote, ‘provide evidence’ unquote, to a jury or judge. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. I’ve never gone to court, and I never plan to, but my dad has, but he’s never told me why. He’s secretive about some certain stuff. But I still don’t know why he told me to keep a journal, so I’m gonna call it a daily log. I dunno. I’ll think of a better name later. But I’m gonna call my, ‘journal writings’ entry numbers. Dunno why, I guess it has to do with the fact that I don’t like looking at dates. No, not the fruit… or vegetable one, the thing where you write down what day it is. I dunno why. Just another thing that’s wrong with me, I guess. Anyway, today’s the first day of school. Yay. If you actually like school, then there’s something wrong with your brain. Like, seriously. Well, better go. Or I’m gonna be late.
As I signed my name next to the entry, I started regretting ever doing this stupid, ‘Daily Log’. I felt the familiar constricting of my throat, and I forced myself to breathe.
You’ll do fine, the stupid voice said in my head. It’s only the first day, you’ll make tons of mistakes.
I took a deep breath, and thought about how many friends I was going to make. After all, it was my first time going to a real school instead of being home schooled.
“REEVE ANDERSON GET YOUR BUTT DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!”
I jerked upright in my bed and yanked off the blankets. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I slapped my forehead and jumped up from my bed.
Should I bring extra underwear? I thought frantically as I pulled on my only nice red shirt.
As I yanked on my jeans and snapped on a random belt, I thought I could sense something in my voice box that was struggling to break through.
I ignored the feeling-since it happened almost every hour- and grabbed my brand new backpack. I was glad I had pre- packed it the night before.
As my chest started to hurt from keeping the strange thing inside my voice box, I broke into a fit of coughing.
Not now, I thought frantically. This can’t be happening. As I started to hyperventilate, I knew something was wrong.
Please, no. Not now! Not again! I started scratching at my throat on some weird impulse. I forced myself to breathe, but it was like something was lodged inside my throat and air couldn’t get past it.
Just then, I heard a knock at my door. “Hey, Reeve?” a questioning feminine voice spoke. Without waiting to see if she could come in, my twin sister peeked around the door. “Yo, dad’s pretty pissed. You’d better get do-” But she stopped speaking as soon as she saw me kneeling on the floor, clutching at my throat.
“Oh, gods, Reeve!” she raced to my side and put her hand on my back, rubbing in frantic circles. “Reeve!” She shouted right in my face. “Please, c’mon! Breathe for me!”
She put her hand on my chest and she turned white, for some reason. “Dad!” she screamed right next to my ear, although she didn’t do it on purpose. “Dad! Reeve’s doing one of his fits!”
“What?” I heard the frantic call and the thump of footsteps racing up the wooden stairs. My dad burst into the room, carrying a breathing tube connected to an oxygen tank.
“Outta the way!” he snarled at my sister. He positioned the breathing tube right under my nose, and turned a valve on the oxygen tank.
My sister positioned herself right behind me and forced my head down to rest on her lap. My dad’s hand came onto my chest with a thump. As he started pressing down on my chest hard, I sputtered, gasping for breath. My dad’s hand literally shoved the breathing tube right inside my mouth. My vision started going blurry.
“Reeve, c’mon,” I heard the frantic voice of my twin sister say. “Please, breathe. You just gotta breathe.”
“Inhale, kid!” my dad shouted at me, a lot less kinder than my sister had been.
I tried. I really did. I tried so hard to inhale, but my throat just wouldn’t let me. Gods, what is wrong with me?
I was so angry at myself, but my mind didn’t really know why I was angry. My thoughts were muddled, my vision all foggy. I felt as if my head was about to explode. Every part of my body was hot except for my hands. My hands were like icebergs.
Just. Freaking. Inhale already! I felt my throat open wide up, and I gasped and shuddered, my mind screaming at me to suck in every breath I could take, in case if the air disappeared again suddenly. I felt the oxygen streaming from the tube rush into my mouth and my brain.
I panted, and sat up from my sister’s lap. “Easy, kid,” my dad said to me. A steadying hand laid on my chest pushed me back down. “Don’t move until you’re completely sure you won’t pass out.”
My dad then turned to my sister. “Girl,” he commanded. “Go get his meds,” My sister swallowed, clearly not wanting to leave me alone with our father. Then she caught the horrific look on dad’s face, and rushed downstairs.
“And be quick about it, girl!” dad shouted after her. That’s how it was here. Dad never called us by our real names. It was either, “boy!” or “girl!” or “kid!” or “you!” or sometimes, “whatever your name is, c’mere now!”
“Sit on the bed, boy,” my dad ordered. I complied.
Just then, my sister came in with my medicine I’m supposed to take to help me with my voice box. She carried a bottle of meds, another bottle, and another bottle, and a glass of water.
She sat next to me on my bed and handed me the glass of water and the pills. Her eyebrows were drawn down in fear, compassion, and worry.
After I downed all my pills, I signed to her, “I’m okay,” she smiled at me and patted my knee.
“Right, enough o’ that,” my dad growled. “Girl, go fix the breakfast.”
My sister, Charlotte, although I called her Charlie, glanced back at me before she went off to do our father’s bidding.
As she exited my bedroom, my dad sighed and ran a hand over his face. “Kid,” he said quietly. “We can’t keep doing this. You can’t go today. Not now, not ever. What if something happened like this there, huh? What would happen? You’d be gone before you could blink. And I can’t afford a tombstone.”
I stared down at my feet. I didn’t want to answer that question. I knew it was a huge possibility.
My dad jerked my chin up to look into his deep green eyes. “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” he shouted right in my face.
I flinched and pulled back from my father’s touch.
My dad groaned and rubbed a hand through his black hair. “Kid, you can’t go to school, and that’s final.”
My face flushed with anger. I had wanted to go to school when I was just four years old. But my mother had home schooled me instead. I knew for a fact that my dad couldn’t home school me forever, so I had decided that I would start school at the beginning of tenth grade with my sister, Charlie.
My dad had immediately protested, but my sister and I had persisted relentlessly. He eventually gave in, but was still very on edge about the whole idea.
My father started to leave my bedroom, but I stuttered something under my breath that made him freeze in his tracks.
“M-mom w-woulda let- let m-me go.”
My father was back to my bed in an instant, his face inches away from mine, his hands balled into fists.
“Say that again, boy.” my father’s voice was low and menacing, a deep growl mixed with a snarl.
His fist smashed into my left eye, and I cried out, falling back on my bed.
“Say it again!” he roared, his other fist crushing into my stomach.
I rolled off the other side of the bed, tears blurring my vision. My eye throbbed, and I could already feel it starting to swell up. I tried to steady my breathing, but my throat wouldn’t allow that. My heartbeat was loud in my ears.
Dad had been abusive before, and I was used to it. Sometimes he threw beer cans, or glass bottles that shattered against our skin. Sometimes he got out the belt and made us take our shirts off and he’d whip us with the metal end. Or, he just sometimes gave us massive bruises, or tied us down and carved off our flesh on our arms and legs with a kitchen knife. He sometimes threw kitchen chairs at us that struck our heads and we were knocked unconscious. On rare occasions, he’d give us food poisoning in our lunches or dinners. Or simply, he wouldn’t give us food for a whole day. Sometimes even two. But the worst punishment was being isolated from my sister. He’d lock us in separate rooms so we couldn’t see each other for about two or three days. If he was really mad, sometimes even four or five.
Me and my sister knew what my father was doing was child abuse, but we couldn’t call the cops on him. He had never given us a phone, and his phone was always in his pocket. We had no friends, or neighbors to tell.
My sister had once tried to go to the police station to report our father, but I swear on my life my dad has a tracking device on her somehow. He was there in his black truck before she could make it halfway down the block.
I came back to my senses and rolled under my bed before my father could catch me.
“GET OUT HERE YOU STUTTERING RETARD!” my dad screamed, his voice cracking with the effort.
His words stung, but I was used to it by now. He had called me much worse before.
I half hoped that my sister, Charlie, would come running into the bedroom and come to my aid, but another part of me wanted her to run away from our father and never come back.
My dad started walking toward the other side of the bed, and that’s when I made my move.
I rolled out from under the bed and leapt to my feet. I sprinted to the door, grabbing my backpack on the way. I threw the door open and dashed down the stairs. I heard thumping footsteps close behind me.
I ran into the kitchen, where I found Charlie frying eggs. She was in the middle of flipping one with her spatula when I grabbed her arm and yanked her out of the kitchen.
“Whoa, Reeve, what’s going on?” she yelled in protest, dropping the spatula and the egg. She caught one look of my bruised eye, and her slim brows came together in anger.
I didn’t have time to explain, so I just kept on tugging at her until we ran side by side, making our way to the door. I grabbed my sister’s backpack on the way out.
As we stepped out onto the front porch, I heard my dad shout at us from inside the house.
“Expect a beating with the belt when you both get home!”
I flinched, but held Charlie’s hand as we booked it down the block. The belt was even worse than the knife or chair.
It stung so much when the buckle of the belt made contact with your bare back. It always drew blood.
When dad had made about fifteen cuts on your back, he took the leather part and whipped you until you were screaming and sobbing, and not even then did he stop. He stopped when he wanted to stop. The beating took about two hours, maybe even three if he was really pissed.
If Charlie was being beaten, he’d lock me up in a separate room so I couldn’t get to her. He’d do the same for her if I was being beaten. But when it was both of us, he tortured us and tied either of us up and put us in a corner and make us watch while he beat either of us, making us sob even louder.
We screamed so loud, it was a wonder that any neighbors didn’t hear us. If there were any neighbors to speak of. I swear, on what’s left of my life that our dad picked a desolate spot to move to on purpose after mom died to do this to us, so no one would hear us scream and sob and get suspicious.
Dad wasn’t always like this. He used to play football with me in the park. He took Charlie on walks when she was younger. He used to take us to the movie theater on Saturdays. He didn’t beat us. But everything had changed when mom died.