I sat on the kitchen counter, watching my
mom make pasta bake; she was panicking
slightly and kept glancing at the clock every
couple of minutes. I knew why she did this,
my dad was due home in exactly sixteen
minutes and he liked dinner to be on the
table as soon as he got in.
Jake wandered in, playing with his Spider-Man
figures. “Mom, can I go play at Liam’s?” he asked, giving
her the puppy dog look.
She glanced at the clock again and shook her head
quickly. “Not right now, Jakey. Dinner won’t be long and we
need to eat as a family.” She flinched slightly as she spoke.
Jake’s face fell, but he nodded and came to sit next
to me. I immediately snatched the little man out of his hands
and laughed as he gasped and snatched it back, smiling
and rolling his eyes at me. He was a cute kid, with blond
hair and grey eyes with brown flecks in them. He was my
big brother, and as big brothers went, he was the best. He
always looked after me at home and at school, made sure
no one picked on me. The only one allowed to pick on me,
as far as he was concerned, was him, and to a lesser
extent his best friend Liam, who happened to live next door.
“So, Ambs, you need help with your homework?” he
asked, nudging his shoulder into mine. Jake was ten, and
was two years older than me, so he always helped with my
“Nope. I didn’t get any.” I smiled, swinging my legs
as they dangled off of the counter.
“OK, kids, go set the table for me. You know how.
Exactly right, OK?” Mom asked, sprinkling cheese on the
pasta and putting it into the oven. Jake and I jumped down
from the counter and grabbed the stuff, heading to the
My dad was very particular about everything, if
everything wasn’t exactly right, he got angry and no one
ever wanted that. My mom always said that my dad had a
stressful job. He always got easily annoyed if we did
anything wrong. If you had heard of that saying ‘Children
should be seen and not heard’, well, my dad took that to
another extreme. Instead, he liked ‘Children shouldn’t be
seen or heard’. At five thirty everyday he would come home,
we would eat dinner straight away, and then Jake and I
would be sent to our bedrooms, where we played quietly
until seven thirty when we would have to go to bed.
I hated this time every day. Everything was fine until
he came home, and then we all changed. Jake always went
quiet and didn’t smile. My mom got this look on her face,
like fear or worry, and she would start rushing around
plumping up the cushions on the sofa. I always just stood
there and silently wished I could hide in my room and never
Jake and I set the table quietly, and then sat down in
silence, waiting for the click of the door to signal that he
was home. I could feel my stomach fluttering, my hands
starting to sweat as I prayed in my head that he’d had a
good day and he would be normal tonight.
Sometimes, he would be in a really good mood and
would hug and kiss me. Telling me what a special little girl I
was, and how much he loved me. That was usually on a
Sunday. My mom and Jake would go to hockey practice
and I would be left home with my father. Those Sundays
were the worst, but I didn’t ever tell anyone about those
times, or how he touched me and told me how pretty I was. I
hated those days, and wished the weekends would never
come. I would much rather it be a school day when we
would only see him for dinnertime. I definitely preferred it
when he looked at me with the angry eyes, than when he
looks at me with the soft eyes. I don’t like that at all, it made
me feel uncomfortable, it always made my hands shake.
Thankfully though, today was only Monday so I had almost a
week before I would have to worry about that again.
A couple of minutes later he walked in. Jake shot
me a look that told me to behave and he held my hand
under the table. My father had blond hair, the same colour
as Jake’s. He had brown eyes, and was always frowning.
“Hello, kids,” he said in his loud deep voice. A
shudder tickled down my spine as he spoke. He set his
briefcase on the side and took his seat at the head of the
table. I tried not to show any reaction to him; actually, I tried
not to move at all. It always seemed to be me that got
everyone in trouble or that did something wrong. It always
seemed to be me that made things worse for everyone. It
never used to be like this, I used to be daddy’s little girl, but
since he started his job, three years ago, he changed. Our
relationship with him changed completely. He still favoured
me over Jake, but when he came home from work, it was
like he wanted to pretend like Jake and I weren’t there. The
way he looked at Jake sometimes was like he was wishing
he didn’t exist, it made my stomach hurt to see him look at
my brother like that.
“Hello, Dad,” we both replied at the same time. Just
then my mom came in carrying the pasta and a plate of
“This looks nice, Margaret,” he said, giving her a
smile. We all started eating in silence and I tried not to shift
on my seat uncomfortably. “So, how was school, Jake?” he
asked my brother.
Jake looked up nervously. “It was good, thank you. I
tried out for the ice hockey team and Liam and I were,” he
started, but my father nodded, not listening.
“That’s great, son,” he interjected. “What about you,
Amber?” he asked, turning his gaze on me.
Oh God! OK, be polite, don’t ramble. “Good, thank
you,” I replied quietly.
“Speak up child!” he shouted.
I flinched at his tone, wondering if he was going to hit
me, or maybe send me to bed with no dinner. “It was good,
thank you,” I repeated a little louder.
He frowned at me and then turned to my mom who
was nervously wringing her hands together. “So, Margaret,
what have you been doing today?” he asked, eating his
“Well, I went to the supermarket and I got that
shampoo that you like, and then I did some ironing,” my
mom answered quickly. It sounded like a prepared answer,
she always did that, had her answers ready so that she
wouldn’t say anything inappropriate to make him mad.
I reached out my hand for my drink, but I wasn’t
watching properly and knocked it over, spilling the contents
over the table. Everyone’s eyes snapped to my father, who
jumped up from his chair. “Shit! Amber, you stupid little
bitch!” he growled, grabbing the top of my arm and pulling
me roughly from the table. Suddenly my back hit the wall,
pain shot down my back and I bit my lip to stop from crying.
Crying made it worse, he hated crying, he said only weak
people cried. I saw him draw back his hand; he was going
to hit me. I held my breath waiting for the blow, knowing that
there was nothing I could do but take it, the same as
My brother jumped from his chair and threw himself
at me, wrapping his arms around me tightly, covering me.
His was back to our father as he protected me. “Get the hell
off of her, Jake! She needs to learn to be more careful!” my
father shouted, grabbing hold of Jake by his clothes and
throwing him to the floor. He slapped me across the face,
sending me to the floor, then he turned to Jake and kicked
him in the leg, making him moan. “You don’t ever get in my
way again, you little shit!” he shouted at Jake, while he was
curled into a ball on the floor.
Silent tears were flowing down my face. I couldn’t
stand to see him hurt my brother; he was only trying to
protect me. Jake always did that. Whenever I got into
trouble, he would provoke my father so that he would take it
out on him instead.
My father picked up his plate and drink and stormed
into the lounge to finish his food, muttering something about
us being ‘the worst kids in the world’ and ‘how the hell did
he get stuck with this life’.
I crawled over to my brother and wrapped my arms
around him tightly, clinging to him as if my life depended on
it. He groaned and pushed himself up to sitting, hugging me
back, rubbing his hand across my stinging cheek, hissing
through his teeth.
“I’m so sorry, Jake. I’m so sorry,” I mumbled quietly,
crying onto his shoulder.
He shook his head. “It’s alright, Ambs. It’s not your
fault,” he croaked, giving me a small smile and trying to get
to his feet, groaning. I jumped to my feet and helped him up.
I could hear movement so I glanced up to see that my
mother was frantically clearing the table.
“Take your dinner to your rooms and eat, OK?” she
instructed, kissing us both on the cheek. She needed to go
to my father and do damage control, he would be in a
temper in there from my mistake and she needed to calm
him down before anything else happened. “I’ll see you
tomorrow morning. I love you both. Please be quiet, and
whatever happens, stay in your rooms,” she ordered,
quickly kissing us again and handing us our half eaten
dinners, before pushing us towards the back hallway.
We had a nice house, four bedrooms and it was all
on one level. My father earned good money so we lived in a
nice area, but I would rather the house was smaller so he
wouldn’t have to work in his job. Maybe then he would be
like the old dad, taking us to the park and buying me toys
and candy. Jake came to my room and we ate in silence,
sitting on the floor near my bed. He held my hand tightly
when we heard my father shouting at my mother from the
lounge, something smashed, and I winced. This was
entirely my fault.
I started to sob so Jake wrapped his arm around my
shoulder, squeezing gently. He always seemed so much
older than me; he was so much more mature than I was.
“It’s OK. Everything’s OK, Ambs. Don’t worry,” he cooed,
stroking my hair. Once I had calmed down, and the shouting
had stopped, we played snap cards for a little while.
When we were in the middle of the game, we heard
stomping coming up the hallway, Jake stiffened as the
footsteps went past my door. They didn’t stop though, thank
God. I let out the breath I didn’t realise I was holding and
looked at Jake, who smiled a small smile. “I’d better go to
my room, it’s after seven,” he said looking at my alarm
clock. “Lock your door. I’ll see you in the morning,” he said
with a wink. He left the room and I watched him creep
across the hall to his room, he turned back to me. “Lock
your door, Ambs,” he whispered, waiting there, watching
I shut my door and locked it quickly as he told me to.
Putting my ear to the wood, I listened to make sure that
Jake did the same to his. I ran back over to my bed and
threw myself on it, crying silently. I couldn’t stop, I was
sobbing and sobbing. I had been stupid tonight and I got
my brother hurt again! And probably my mother too, by the
sound of the noises from the lounge.
Suddenly, there was a scratching, tapping noise on
my window. I snapped my eyes up to see Liam outside,
looking at me sadly. I got up and ran to the window
unlocked it and slid it up quietly wondering what on earth he
was doing here. Shouldn’t he be at home?
“Liam, what are you doing here? You need to go,
now!” I whisper yelled at him, shaking my head fiercely. But
the stupid boy just climbed into my room through the
window, closing it silently behind him.
I held my breath, looking at my door with wide eyes.
If my father caught him here he would go crazy, he didn’t
like Liam to come over and play at our house, he always
said he was too noisy. “Liam, get out!” I whispered,
desperately trying to push him back towards the window. I
winced, wondering what my dad would do if he had heard
my window open and knew that Liam was here. Liam didn’t
budge; he just wrapped his arms around me tightly, and
pulled me against his chest. I tried to push him away but he
just held me tighter.
“It’s OK,” he whispered, stroking my hair. I started to
cry again into his chest; thoughts of Jake being hurt earlier
flooded my brain.
Liam was tall for his age; he was ten, the same as
Jake. They were best friends, and had been since we
moved in four years ago. He had chocolate brown hair,
which he usually spiked up with too much gel, and light blue
eyes that were like windows to his soul. When Liam looked
at you it made you feel like you could fly. He was very cute;
all my friends had crushes on him for some reason. Liam
and I didn’t get on at all though. He teased me all the time,
he trips me, pulls my hair, and he has this annoying habit of
calling me Angel for some reason, he’s called me it since
the moment he met me and it really makes me mad.
What on earth was he doing here now? And why
was he hugging me? Maybe he thought this was Jake’s
room, maybe he went to the wrong window – but that
couldn’t be right, because Jake’s room was on the other
side of the hallway, his window faced onto the backyard.
I pulled back to look at him. For some reason he
looked so sad; he had tears in his eyes as he just
continued to hold me. He knew about my father, Jake had
been covered in bruises once and had blurted out the truth
to him. Jake and I had both begged him not to say anything
though, and he never has.
“What are you doing here, Liam?” I whispered,
wiping my face, but the tears continued to fall.
He pulled me onto the bed, rocking me gently, just
like Jake always did when I cried. I looked at his chest and
realised he was in Power Rangers shorts and t-shirt. I
frowned, a little confused as to why he would be wearing
that, it was freezing outside. Then it dawned on me that he
was wearing his pyjamas. I looked at the clock to see it was
almost half past eight. I’d been crying for over an hour.
“I saw you through the window. I just wanted to come
and make sure you were alright,” he whispered back, still
hugging me tightly.
I looked back at the window. Liam’s room was
directly opposite mine and I could see into his room, which
meant that he could see into mine. I bit my lip, oh God he’d
seen me crying, I must look so weak to him. The only
people I ever cried in front of were my mother and Jake.
“I’m OK. You need to go,” I whispered, pushing him
again, trying to get him off of my bed.
He just shook his head. “I’m not leaving until you stop
crying,” he stated, pulling me down so that we were now
laying on my bed, facing each other. He had his arms
wrapped around me so tightly that I couldn’t even squirm
away. I felt safe and warm. I scooted even closer to him,
pressing my whole body into his and sobbed on his chest.
I woke in the morning, still tightly wrapped in
his arms; I gasped and looked at the clock
6:20 a.m. “Liam!” I whispered, shaking him.
“Ahh, what, Mom?” he asked with his eyes shut.
“Shhhh!” I hissed, quickly covering his mouth before
he spoke again. I can’t believe we fell asleep, this is so
His eyes snapped open and he looked at me,
shocked, then looked around my room. “Oh no, did I fall
asleep?” he whispered, sitting up and rubbing his hand
through his hair, which was sticking up everywhere but
actually looked better than when he has all that yucky gel in
“You need to go home, Liam. Quick!” I hissed,
pushing him towards the window. He opened it and started
to climb out but I grabbed his hand making him stop. He
looked up at me a confused expression on his face.
“Thanks,” I whispered, smiling gratefully at him. I really
needed that hug last night, that was probably the nicest
thing Liam had ever done for me.
He smiled back. “You’re welcome, Angel,” he
replied, smiling and climbing out.
I watched as he went through the hole in the fence
and climbed back into his own window. He closed it and
waved at me, I waved back and then went to go get
dressed. The thought of Liam sneaking over here and
being in the house when he wasn’t allowed, made my
stomach hurt. We were so lucky not to have gotten caught. I
dreaded to think what would have happened if his parents
had gone into his room in the night and saw his bed empty,
or what would have happened if I hadn’t have woken up
early. I shuddered at the thought of what my father would do
if he had walked in here to find Liam in the house at nighttime.