Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night--
I awoke to Declan staring at my face. “Declan,” I whispered, “what are you doing up, Sweetie?” I glanced at the digital clock on the wall. “It’s three-oh-five, Sweetie. You should be asleep.”
“I’m hungry.” He whispered back.
“Oh,” I said lamely. I guess I had forgotten to feed him but he was asleep and then Evan and I fell asleep on the couch… Man, I’m gonna make a terrible mom. “Okay, let’s go find some food then.” Carefully removing Evan’s arms around me, I got up and grabbed Declan’s hand before leaving the room to go find a kitchen.
With my phone’s flashlight, I found a staircase and went down it with Declan trailing shortly behind. As we descended the stairs, I could hear music getting louder and louder. How could the party still be going on this late? It was also getting lighter, so I turned my phone flashlight off.
We walked into a loud, bustling with activity living room. Most of the teens were dancing and shouting, all excited and most likely pumped up on alcohol.
“Stay close to me, Declan.” I told him as I gripped his hand a bit tighter so I wouldn’t lose him.
He moved closer, listening to my instructions.
I weaved through the teens and made my way to what I suspected was the kitchen. When I finally found it, I had accidentally bumped into a guy. He glared at me as I said sorry and continued my way. When I entered into the kitchen, there were so many empty red solo cups that it almost felt as if you were in a ball pit filled with red solo cups. I kicked them around, they made plastic, clinking noises, trying to make a path to the cupboards so I could rummage through them, looking for food for Declan. I let go of Declan’s hand so I could rummage better, but that just made him grab my leg. So I had a six year old clutching my leg as I looked through the cupboards.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
I turned and found the guy who had glared at me standing in the kitchen doorway. “I’m looking for food.” I don’t know why I told him, but I wanted him to leave.
“There’s food in the other room.” He said.
“It’s for a friend.” I answered vaguely.
“Like I said, there’s food in the other room.” He ground out.
I glanced back at him. “You’re pretty persistent aren’t you?”
“This is my friend’s house. And you’re some stranger looking through their kitchen for who knows what.”
“I told you,” I ground out, “I’m looking for food for a friend.”
“I bet you’re really looking for drugs. But I can tell you there’s none in here.”
I looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Why am I even having this conversation with this guy…? “Look. I don’t know what your problem is, but I’m just looking for food.” I went back to the cupboards.
I heard the guy come into the kitchen, the empty red solo cups clanging against the floor and each other. “You know, I don’t know who you are, but you can’t just look through some—“ He stopped in his tracks, noticing Declan finally. “What is that?!”
I exasperated a sigh as I looked at him. “Do you not know what a child looks like?”
He thinned his lips, annoyed. “I know what a kid looks like. I was wondering what he’s doing here.”
“Then why didn’t you ask that instead of making it sound like he’s a creature from mars?!”
“Why are you so annoying?” I heard him grumble.
“That’s because I don’t like you and I’m not gonna try to be nice to you because of it.” I answered back. I just opened a cupboard and found a box of mac and cheese. “Jack pot!” I exclaimed.
“What’d you find?” I felt the guy standing right behind me. He saw what I was holding. “Mac and cheese, really? Isn’t that for kids?”
“That’s who I’m trying to feed.” I grumbled as I shut the cupboard door. I moved away from the guy and went back to the cupboard that I saw the pots were in. It was hard to bend over with a six year old strapped to my leg. I had to kick my left leg out like a ballerina so I could grab a pot. When I did that, it came in contact with something and the guy cried out in pain.
I detached Declan from my leg and spun around and found the guy on the floor clutching his groin area. I rushed over to him. “I am so sorry! I didn’t know you were that close! And my old ballet skills just came to me when I bent over when I had to keep my leg straight! I’m such a klutz! I sincerely apologize!”
“Don’t apologize,” He could barely get out. “Just get away from me.”
I moved away and then scooped up Declan into my arms with the mac and cheese and left the kitchen in a rush. When I arrived back in the room, Evan was awake and looking at his phone, a grim expression on his face. I was panting hard, which attracted the attention of Evan.
“Are you okay?” He gave me an inquiring look. “Why do you have a box of mac and cheese?”
I calmed down my breathing before answering him. “I went to look for food for Declan and this is all I could find that a six year old would be willing to eat.” I walked further into the room and sat Declan down before walking over to Evan and sitting down next to him. I placed a hand on his back for comfort. “Is everything alright?”
He sighed somewhat despairingly. “My parents are off on a trip and they took the jet.” He turned his face to mine, a sorry expression on his face. “I’m so sorry, Bella. If I had known, I wouldn’t have taken you all the way back to Michigan so close to home.”
“It’s fine.” I rubbed his back slowly, trying to help calm him. “We can just stay here. I’m pretty sure Nigel won’t find me here. I mean there’s no way. I don’t even know how he found me in Chicago for that matter. But I’m pretty sure we’re safe here.” I reassured him and myself just for good measure. Because I knew Nigel would do anything to have me back. I shivered at the thought.
“What did this guy do anyways, if you don’t mind me asking?” Evan asked, looking at me with earnest in his eyes.
I debated if I should tell him or not, but since he was helping me this much, I might as well let him know how deep he got himself into my life. I removed my hand from my back and fidgeted with my hands as I explained. “After Nigel and I had dated for five months, we had finally kissed. And I was still a little uncomfortable with the situation still. So after that first kiss, I wouldn’t kiss him and he got mad about it and ended up beating me just because I wouldn’t show affection towards him.” I could tell Evan was starting to get mad as I explained. “I know it sounds stupid, and it is, but Nigel is stupid anyways. But I didn’t do anything about it since my parents liked him and were for once acknowledging that I actually existed, that I just told myself it would get better.
“But it didn’t. It got so bad one day during my junior year that the next day I had gone to school looking as if someone had beaten me to a bloody pulp smoothie to be served with a side of finger fries for a vampire. I had to finally tell the teachers and counselors what had been going on in my home life. And how my relationship with Nigel was going. And I told them the truth because I knew I couldn’t stand to live like this anymore. Each day not knowing if Nigel was going to hurt me or act like I was the most precious thing to him. It was driving me insane with the conflict of emotions that were coming from Nigel.
“After I had told them what had been happening for the past three years, basically, they made Nigel leave the school, but I couldn’t bear to press charges against, fearing that my parents would beat me instead. I even pretended with them that Nigel and I were still together, just to make them happy. When they asked why he had stopped coming over so often, I lied to them and told them that he had a new job and was really busy with that. Eventually that lie gave out. Only because Nigel had called the house when I wasn’t home and told my mom that I was ignoring him for no reason. Which just made her mad at me. So when I came home that day, I got a beating again.
“That was my last straw after that. So I left. And then I bumped into you and now, I’m here.” I gestured to the room, Declan, and him. “I couldn’t have guessed that this is where I’d be.”
I turned to look at Evan. “I’ll kill Nigel if I see him.” He seethed angrily.
Calmly laying a hand on his arm and using my other one to bring his face to look at mine. “Please don’t. I know he’s a bad person and all, but I don’t want him to die. I just want him to stay out of my life.”
Evan sighed. “Fine. But if he hurts you, I’m getting a restraining order or something might just ‘accidentally’ happen to him.”
I kissed Evan on the cheek just as the room’s door opened and the guy from earlier was standing in the doorway, the light from the hallway outlining his profile. When he saw Evan, his whole demeanor changed. He crossed his arms in front of his chest, standoffish. “I didn’t think you were home, Porter.”
Evan also stiffened. “I just made a quick stop. I’ll be leaving tomorrow.”
The guy’s eyes slid to mine. “I thought you had to feed someone else, not him.”
“Oh!” I exclaimed. “Declan! I completely forgot!” I grabbed the box of mac and cheese and Declan before leaving the room again in search of the kitchen again. I got out of there as fast as I could, not wanting to be around the two guys since it seemed like they had a tension between them.
“Bella, wait!” Evan called after me and I turned around to his voice.
I looked down at Declan, debating if I should send him back to the room or leave him with me as I talked with Evan. Just as I was about to answer Evan, there was a girly laugh and a male one coming from the end of the hall behind me.
“Kathleen?” Evan asked questionably as he moved past me and to her.
It definitely was Kathleen, I noticed after I also turned around to see her standing next to a very tall guy, holding hands, her face flushed. It made her exceptionally pretty.
They both stopped in their tracks. “Evan? What are you doing home so soon?” Kathleen asked, a bit shocked to see her brother standing in the hallway.
Before I could hear Evan’s reply, I scooped up Declan in my arms and made my way to the kitchen as fast as I could. I finally found the pot I was looking for earlier and filled it with some water before setting it on the stove for it to start to boil so I could finally make mac and cheese for Declan. I sighed as I kicked some of the red solo cups away from where I was at. They went flying and made plastic clanging noises as they hit the floor and the other red solo cups.
“Mommy,” Declan called me for the first time.
“Yes, Sweetie?” I crouched down to his level.
“Are you and Daddy fighting?” He asked.
Hearing that sentence shocked me quite a bit. Mainly because Declan thought that Evan and I were married and would be his parents forever. I mean, I knew I would always be there, but with Evan…anything was possible. Sure, we really liked each other right now, but what if he soon finds me boring and inadequate with his standards and leaves me. My heart clenched at the thought of Evan leaving me. Right now, I could hardly bear it. I had just gotten out of a bad relationship barely even a year ago. I just left my abusive and oblivious-to-my-life parents. I had just taken on the responsibility of taking care of someone else other than myself when I agreed to look after Declan. And I had basically given my heart to Evan—again, actually—that if he decided to break it right now, I don’t know what would happen. The possibilities were endless.
I took Declan into my arms and hugged him. “No, Sweetie, we’re not fighting. Evan just has some stuff he needs to take care of without me being there.”
Declan hugged me back. “Okay, Mommy.”
I let go of Declan and stood back up, as I pushed my hair out of my face, I sighed again, tired. These past few days have been really long for me and the irregular sleep schedule is not helping one bit. I closed my eyes for a few moments of relief.
Declan was silent and it was nice only hearing the distant roar of the party and the gas stove going on. It was quite peaceful really. Until I heard the red solo cups clanging against each other. I opened my eyes, preparing to let the person have it, when I turned and looked. Nigel was standing in the doorway, a smug look on his face.
“Hi, Mimi. I found you.”
Nigel clamped his hands over his ears. “Will you shut up?!” He yelled at me.
I clamped my mouth shut and brandished the closest weapon I could find. Which ironically was a frying pan. I pushed Declan behind me and held the frying pan towards Nigel.
He uncovered his ears, smiling that creepy grin on his face. Shivers went down my spine. “Now there’s my good girl.” Another bout of shivers hit me.
“How did you find me?” My voice warbled a bit, nervous and afraid.
“A little birdie told me.” Was all he said as he took a step closer.
“Stay back!” I exclaimed. “I will use this!” I shook the frying pan, showing him that I would not be a coward even though I really wanted to run away.
Nigel just laughed. It grated on my ears and I winced. “You couldn’t hurt a fly if you really wanted to. Isn’t that right, my Little Mimi?”
“Don’t call me that!” I shouted at him.
I could feel Declan cowering behind me. I glanced at him, checking to see if he was alright, but all I saw was fear in his dark brown eyes.
Doing that was a bad idea because when I looked back, Nigel was close enough to me and he grabbed my wrist, taking the pan away from me and throwing it across the room in rage. It made a clanging noise as it hit the wall and then the floor. He dragged me out of the room, into the fray of partygoers, leaving Declan alone and afraid in the kitchen. I struggled against him as he dragged me out of the house.
“Let go of me!” I cried as I struggled against him.
Everybody was so into themselves that nobody bothered to ask if anything was wrong. That is also another reason why people are lame in my eyes because they couldn’t bother to look at their surroundings and find things that shouldn’t be that way.
After Nigel dragged me out of the house, he threw me down into the ground. I could feel my face and body get scraped by the gravel driveway. I tried to get back up, but Nigel straddled me and placed my arms up by my head so I wouldn’t be able to punch or scratch him. It was his usual tactic in subduing me before he turned me into a bloody pulp smoothie.
My body turned tense as we stared at each other. His grey eyes looking into my brown ones. His eyes were still the same; devoid of all emotion. I had noticed that after we had seriously started dating. But he hides it well when he has to show his first impression on people.
That moment of nothing was soon over and Nigel slapped me in the face. I felt blood pool in my mouth and I turned my head to spit it out. The taste of copper was now the only thing in my mouth.
“Why couldn’t you have stayed as a good girl, Mimi?” He slapped me again, the other side this time. Blood filled my mouth again. I spit it out.
This is how it usually went. Nigel would ask me a certain question over and over again as he slapped me in the face. Soon the slapping would change into punching. And then when he knew I was too beaten in my head, he’d get off me and then start kicking me. I’m surprised I’m still alive after doing about seven months of this beating almost three times a week. Plus the beatings from my parents. It’s only by God’s good graces that I’m alive, really.
As I child, I hadn’t grown up in a loving family environment like Cass had or Vivian. Sure, their families had their ups and downs, but they never had to deal with two abusive parents. I don’t see how my mom could’ve become one because Aunt Clarisse was so nice and loving. I sometimes wondered if Mom was a wild child and they just let her do whatever she wanted. And then after she married Dad and had me, it was probably better to side with him then be on the side of the beatings.
The first punch was a bit jarring since I had forgotten what it felt like after not having beatings for almost a year.
Nigel kept repeating the question that I couldn’t answer since my mouth was now swollen and I couldn’t open it.
I was preparing myself for the next punch when something or someone came and tackled Nigel off of me. I didn’t even bother lifting my head up to see who it was. All I could do was turn my head and spit-cough all the blood out of my mouth. I knew I had swallowed some of my blood and it made me feel gross on the inside.
I finally turned my head to see who had come to my rescue, but all I saw were two black silhouettes fighting each other. I heard someone run up beside me. I turned my head to them instead, even if it pained me to move.
“Mira, are you okay?” Kathleen asked as she peered at me in the dark, trying to see if I was harmed or not.
As I was reaching out for her, we heard a gun go off and the sound of a man groaning was ensued. Kathleen snapped her head toward the sound of the groaning man. “Evan?” She said quietly, afraid. She left me. “Evan!” She screamed now.
My heart constricted. No, not Evan. Anything but Evan. I pleaded with God as I lied there on the ground unable to move since it felt as if my head was swollen and too heavy for the rest of my body to lift.
“Somebody call nine-one-one!” Kathleen screamed. “Jared, call nine-one-one!” She screamed at someone past me.
Everything started to fade. All I could hear was the rushing of blood in my ears and soon my vision started going black. I let myself finish fading away.
When I woke up, I smelt the familiar chemicals of disinfectant and heard the distinct sounds of a heart monitor beeping. I opened my eyes and found Cass, her brother John, her sister Connie, and Jake all in my hospital room. I slowly sat up. “W-why are you here?” I croaked out, my throat sore.
“Mimi!” Cass exclaimed and I winced at how loud it was for a hospital room. She came over to me and grabbed my hand. “Thank goodness you’re alright!”
“John, will you go get the doctor?” Cass asked as she looked at me and held my hand.
“Sure,” John said before getting up from the hospital chair and going to find the doctor.
“W-where’s Aunt Cl-Clarisse and Uncle R-rob?” I croaked again, wishing I had something to make my voice sound less like a frog.
Cass ignored my question. “Do you want some water?” I nodded my head. She left and got me some.
Connie answered my question. “Mom and Dad are working. They said they would’ve come if they weren’t so busy with their companies.” She was flipping through a magazine as she answered.
Cass came back with my glass of water.
After gulping it down, my throat felt much better.
“Cassie,” Jake said for the first time since being in the room.
“Yeah?” She looked over at him.
He made a come hither motion with his hands. She went over to him. “Should we tell her?” I heard him whisper to her.
“Would that be the best thing right now?” She whispered back.
“You guys,” Connie called out. “She can hear you.”
Cass and Jake spun around, facing me, clearly embarrassed that they had been caught hiding something from me.
“What’s wrong? I can handle it. I’m fine. Completely fine.” I lied. My whole face still hurt. And I could feel a huge headache coming on.
Cass fidgeted with her hands as she approached me. “It’s about Evan.” Was all she said.
“What about Evan?” I prompted her.
“He—he was shot. In the chest.”
I felt my face pale and my heartbeat slowed down, causing the machine to go berserk. A nurse soon rushed in with the doctor shortly after and she checked my vitals to make sure I was alright before making the blasted machine stop beeping.
All I could do was stare at Cass. “Is he—is he alright?” I asked. I had to know. I just had to.
“From what I’ve learned from Kathleen, he’s in intensive care because of where he was shot at. He’s also been in a coma for the past few days. Same as you.”
The doctor glanced at Cass. “You shouldn’t have told her about Mr. Porter, Ms. Whitacre. I specifically told you not to until a few days after she woke up. Not minutes.” The doctor reprimanded her.
Cass glared at him. “She’s my cousin. Practically my sister. I’m not gonna be the one to keep something that important about the one she loves from her. That’s plain cruel. And I didn’t want her to hear it from the other doctors or nurses talking about his condition. She needed to hear it from someone who actually cares about her and just doesn’t want money from her.” She crossed her arms across her chest defiantly, her dark green eyes burning with rage. “Now check to make sure she’s okay to be discharged so we can leave this awful place and only come back to see Evan.”
All the doctor could do was gawk at her at first before he checked all my vitals and made sure to give me a prescription for some painkillers for my headaches and pains. Cass took the prescription from him and then thanked him curtly. She blew air out of her nose angrily.
“Finally, that pest is gone.” She was glaring at the door still. “Connie, can you help Mira?”
“Sure,” Connie put her magazine down and then came over to help me out of the hospital bed while Cass ushered John and Jake out of my room before shutting the door.
Cass brought over a bag that had a pair of flats in it and a simple blue dress that wouldn’t be too hard to put on.
“I don’t remember having these,” I told Cass and Connie as they helped me into the dress.
“Cass just recently bought them for you,” Connie explained. “She worried that it would be a bit too hard for you to put on jeans and a t-shirt with some tennis shoes as we were leaving the hospital.” Connie moved her head closer to mine to whisper, “Also, she hates hospitals and wants to leave as fast as possible.”
“Makes sense,” I whispered back. Since I too, also hated hospitals.
I held onto Connie as we left the room. “Cass,”
“Yeah?” She turned toward me.
“Can—can I go see him?” I could feel tears starting to brim in the corners of my already puffy eyes. Cass hesitated, almost as if she was going to say no. I reached out for her arm and held onto it like letting go would mean the end of the world for me. “I have to see him, Cass. It’s my fault he even fought with Nigel.”
We both stared at each other for a while. Her dark green eyes looking back and forth between my brown ones. She sighed. “Fine. But just to see how he’s doing. You can come back and visit all you want in the next few days.”
I gave her a side hug. “Thanks, Cass. You’re the best!”
She chuckled. “I know.”
I entered Evan’s room alone, feeling strong enough by the time we made it up to the ICU floor. Kathleen and Evan’s parents were in the room. They all turned to look at me as I entered. “Hi,” I smiled shyly, even though it hurt, so it turned into a wince shortly after.
“Mira,” Kathleen got up from the chair she was in and grabbed my hand, leading me into the room over to her parents. “Mom, Dad, this is Mirabella Worth.”
I held out my hand to shake theirs. “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”
They shook my hand, but said nothing as they stared at my face. I knew it probably looked awful even though it had been a few days since…“the accident”.
“Your son is the reason why my face doesn’t look worse than this.” I told them.
They finally understood. His mom put a hand to her mouth, shocked, then glanced at her son. Silent tears started to flow from her eyes. The dad just sat there, stoically, not showing any emotion.
“I’m also really sorry that I put him into a situation where…” I trailed off. The tears started to sting my eyes again. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.” My voice sounded strained. I knew I was about to cry.
Evan’s mom came over to me and gave me a hug and I couldn’t keep back the tears. Kathleen also joined in on the hug. I felt so much love between the two of them that it made me cry even harder because I never had the pleasure of having any love from a motherly figure besides Aunt Clarisse. But she was never around often enough, since they lived in New York and I was in Michigan.
There was a knock on the door and Cass stuck her head in. “I’m sorry, Mimi, but it’s time to go.”
I detangled myself from Kathleen and Evan’s mother. Then I wiped my eyes. “You raised a really good young man.” I told his mom before I left with Cass, my heart shattering, leaving chunks of it on the hospital floor.