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Leaving Home by Anonymous

artwork by Camila Reyna


Crack. The sound of the fireball shooter echoed through the living room. A familiar sound, but not a comforting one. “Dad! It's nine in the morning.” Between the reggae on the stereo and the strong odor of weed and barbecue ribs, I concluded that he had still been drinking from the night before, with maybe an hour or two of sleep. I had grown used to this. It was nothing new.

I didn’t remember much from the night before. My mom had dropped me off with no worries. I lied and said my dad and I would be going to Omaha for the weekend like the court order said. There my grandpa could supervise and make sure my dad wasn't drinking around me. If he did, he'd lose any type of custody. It had gone from 50/50 to every other weekend in a different state in just under a year. I’d sat through countless lawyers' meetings, talking about my trauma, filtering out what I should and should not say by the pace of my tongue. I wanted the pain to stop, and to see my dad. Two things I knew did not go hand in hand.

I don't remember much from that day. Maybe it's my brain's way of protecting itself. I had grown used to my dad’s drinking and lying to my mom, yet I felt so uneasy. It felt like the anger I had from my dad's alcoholism was slowly outweighing the grief. My stomach knotted as I reminisced. I shut my eyes and pretended to be seven again. There I stood on the soccer field, I received the ball with the inside of my right foot, beat a man using a Maradona spin, shot the ball with my laces, and watched as the ball rolled into the back of the net. I looked into the stands to see the man who taught me everything. No bloodshot eyes, a smaller gut, a happier man, and a far less hungover one. Awoken by the sound of my dad's footsteps, I opened my eyes. He peeked around the corner and mumbled, “Your mom's a skank.” Five minutes later he came in saying “It's all good bro! You want some food?”

Later that night we were in a heated argument. I remember thinking I need to get the f**k out of here. I had heard enough of his projected insecurities and horrific insults. We stood toe to toe. My head boiled. The buildup of anger, grief, and sadness made its way to my right hand. I cocked my fist back and smoked him dead in the jaw, his upper lip cut by his teeth. I bolted out the door before the blood drop could hit his stained t-shirt.

I then started the mile walk to my friend's house. He had offered to let me stay in his family's camper for the night. The whole walk, I thought about what had just happened. Part of me felt relief. I felt proud of myself for standing up to my dad. It was something I had never done. The other part of me felt grief. Grief from the punch, but mainly because of that new feeling. The feeling of losing that relationship with my father.

When I arrived at my friend's house, the sun had set. I climbed into the camper where I found a small bunk bed. Only the bottom bunk had sheets, so I chose that one. As soon as my head hit the pillow, a cloud of anxiety covered me. Between the cold, hunger, and loneliness, my thoughts ran. Why am I here? I could be in my warm house, watching a movie and eating supper with my dad. Why is my life this way? Why is my dad this way?

A teardrop flowed down my left cheek, bringing awareness back to my body. I had escaped physically, but mentally, the threat never left. I started the long walk back to my dad's house, where I found him even drunker. I walked in the door and ran straight to my room. I jumped in bed and closed my eyes, the faster I fall asleep, the sooner I'll be safe with my mom, I thought.

Almost asleep, my eyes shot open at the sound of banging on my door. “Dad leave me the hell alone.” He stood outside my room pounding the door and mumbling. With no other options, I pulled out my phone and called my mom to come pick me up. I couldn't take the noise anymore. The constant feeling of a threat. The confusion as to why my dad couldn't just quit. The grief. The anxiety. The depression. All because of a damn bottle. And when those headlights hit the driveway, I walked out that door and never looked back.

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