Today they bought her a dog. It was black and white and had one gray eye and one blue one. It was a mixed breed no one could really identify. So while they called it Marley, I called it Mutt.
Mutt was supposed to pacify Andy’s desire for a baby sister. Aunt Carol can’t have anymore children, but Andy doesn’t understand that; she’s only four. I, of course, am not enough. I’m too old–twelve–and I’m a boy. Not to mention I’m only her cousin. Andy doesn’t understand much about family either, but she knows enough to comprehend I’m not her brother. I’m just her playmate.
Keeping her out of Aunt Carol’s hair is my unofficial duty. It is how I earn my keep. A happy Andy keeps me on a soft bed in my own room, food whenever I’m hungry, and an iPhone with a paid bill. I also have a virtual reality viewer, a new laptop and my second pair of Jordans. Aunt Carol buys all my clothes from the mall and cuts my hair twice a month.
When I got kicked out of school for fighting, she hired a nanny to supervise me while I attended online classes. Education is a big deal to her, so she started a college fund for me. Online school is not so bad, but the one Aunt Carol has me in gives me a whole lot of homework that requires a lot of Google searches and reports. My grades got better and Aunt Carol was so pleased she bought me a scooter that can go up to 60mph. I haven’t stretched it out yet because of the speed bumps in the neighborhood, but first chance I get, it’s on.
Summer vacation starts in two weeks. Andy will be staying with her dad for a month when school lets out. Aunt Carol signed me up for basketball camp under the condition I read two non-fiction books every month and submit a one-page report on each one. So school will not be completely out for me.
On the surface, my life looks great. I have a lot to be grateful for. My aunt and her boyfriend took me in when my mom went to prison for killing my dad. Nobody else wanted to take me. Not even my nana on my dad’s side. She was my favorite. I thought I was hers.
My mom will be eligible for parole in about 15 years. I’ll be 27 years old. She probably would’ve forgotten about me by then, but I’ll never forget her. I wish Mama had given me a chance to protect her. I would have killed Dad for her instead of her killing him for me.
I can still hear her crying as she emptied the gun. Her wailing drowned out the blasts from it.
Nobody wanted to believe Dad hurt us. All they saw was the stuff he bought us. He played a starring role as a great father and husband. He was so good he fooled me a bunch of times before I finally caught on.
Dad knew how to hurt us and not leave bruises. He could break bones clean and reset them himself so we never had to go to a hospital. One of his favorite punishments for Mom and me was dislocating our shoulders. We’d howl in pain for hours before he reset it. Mom fainted a few times from the pain, but he’d put salts under her nose to revive her.
We never knew what would set Dad off. He never seemed angry, never shouted. He was always so calm when he broke our bones. So we walked around scared all the time. Dad was a retired SEAL. I think maybe he missed the military and practiced his skills on us.
Anyway, I hate I couldn’t save Mom. She went to prison saving me. On the day she killed him, Dad had gone another level of breaking bones. He broke my nose, then reset it. Then he broke my middle finger and reset it. He was about to dislocate my knee when Mom cocked the gun behind him. I could barely see her past my tears, but I heard her crying. She missed the first time; I heard the wall crack. When he lunged for her, she kept on shooting until Dad hit the floor. The air smelled foul of burnt powder and copper.
It also smelled of relief.
Mom dropped the gun, still smoking, and collapsed atop Dad. She wept until she lost her voice. I sat, still fixed in my chair, pain making me nauseous. It was strange watching Mom, now tainted with Dad’s blood, hold his head in her lap. My mind couldn’t wrap around the idea she still loved him after all he did to us, but it showed looked like she did. If she was faking it, she should get an award too.
I, on the other hand, wiped away my tears and swore no one will ever make me cry again. Dad got buried with full military honors and Mom and I were prohibited from coming. I didn’t want to go anyway, but I think Mom did.
Aunt Carol and her boyfriend, Ben don’t say much to me about Mom. They just give me sympathetic looks sometimes. But I overhear them on occasion. Not even my mom’s own sister believes her. They blame her for not taking her bi-polar medication. They didn’t believe me either. Said I was always a mama’s boy.
I hate living in a home where nobody believes me. I don’t know why Aunt Carol let me in. She didn’t even know me that well. So far she hasn’t said or done anything bad to me. Except not believe me. She’s like the perfect aunt. But then so was Dad.
I can’t help but feel like I’m getting fattened up for the kill. I don’t know what her angle is, but I’ll find out. Things’ll go down a whole lot differently this time.
I’ll be able to take care of myself.
© D.L. Lunsford