I closed the cabinet drawer, tucked the Cheez-Its under my shirt, and tip-toed out of the kitchen towards my room. I always get such a rush when I’m sneaking through the house, even though I could just go ask Mom for a snack. There’s something about being in hiding that has always made my blood flow.
“Here,” I said as I tossed the box at Gabby, hitting her in the shoulder.
“Ouch,” she mumbled, picking the box up off the ground. I swear that girl couldn’t catch a football with glue on her hands. I sat down on the bottom bunk beside her.
“So did you decide who your hero is yet?” I asked her. She stopped chewing and looked at me, raising an eyebrow.
“I thought you didn’t care about my schoolwork,” she slowly snaps. I could tell she was trying to keep an edge out of her tone.
I’m not always a great sister. That sounds bad to admit. But I’ve been by Gabby’s side my entire life, and I don’t ever see that changing. I love her, but I don’t always tell her- It’s one of those kinds of relationships.
Gabby has long, straight brown hair and dark brown eyes to match. She has long legs- much longer than mine. Sometimes I think her legs couldn’t possibly grow anymore, but that wouldn’t make sense because she’s only eight years old. She is small, but has a huge heart. Whenever I’m mean to her, I always think about how much she loves everything about me. If I tie my shirt up with a hair tie, she’ll be doing the same thing within a matter of minutes, whether it’s ridiculously hideous or not.
“I don’t,” I lied.
Of course I care about her schoolwork. I pretty much raise the girl. I walk her to and from school every morning, and make sure she has her homework done before dinner every night. Going to school is our only escape from this hell we are forced to live in.
A loud crash interrupted us before Gabby could call my bluff.
I turned to Gabby and grabbed her by the shoulders. “Stay right where you are and don’t move.”
I walked to the doorway and peered around the corner into the living room. My mom and her boyfriend, Squint, were facing one another. My mom bent down to pick up what looked to be parts of a broken lamp. “That shit wasn’t necessary!” she screamed. “That was my grandmother’s lamp!” I could hear the break in her voice as she said it.
“I don’t give a fuck whose lamp it is, I want this shit OUT of my apartment!” Squint stammered back.
Before I knew it, I was helping her pick up the pieces. “It’s okay, Ma,” I told her, looking at her face. She was crying.
I didn’t have the chance to process the fact that my mom was crying before Squint grabbed her up off the ground by her arm. She swung her arm in a circle to escape his grip, but he squeezed harder. I felt my face go warm with anxiety. Squint grabbed my mother by the cheeks and leaned in close to her face. I could see her eyes frantically searching his face. Squint lowered his voice to barely a whisper.
“Get all of this shit and those fucking kids out of my house now,” he murmured. He pushed my mom’s face away from his, causing her to stumble onto the ground. I was frozen, so I couldn’t even reach to help her up. She picked herself up off the floor and walked to the bathroom without saying a word.
I turned towards Squint and looked up at him. He had his fingers on his temples, but I could still see the wrinkles and crow’s feet that covered his face. He looked tired. If he wasn’t such a bully, I may have even felt sorry for him.
I snapped back to reality and started to turn towards the bedroom, but Gabby was already standing beside me. I pushed her towards the bedroom. “You shouldn’t be in here,” I whispered.
Squint stopped us before we could make it to the bedroom. “Girls,” he grinned slyly. I hated that sarcastic, evil grin. “Tell your mom to get her shit out of my house before I kill every single one of you.”