As I begin to wake, I still see parts of my dream from last night. Seeing Jason leaning over me… with his body pressed against mine as he leans down to kiss me-
I’m pulled straight from my groggy state at the sound of my step-father yelling. Once I manage to pull myself out of bed, I grab a hoodie off the dresser nearby and hastily put it on as I exit my room.
"She needs to get her own place. She’s almost an adult and doesn’t do shit to help me!"
I see Seth yelling at my mom, standing inches away from her as she has her back to the wall of our trailer. My step-dad stands at about average height, his graying blond hair slicked to his head due to a lack of washing it. His stained tank top fits tightly around his beer belly, which jiggles a bit with his violent gestures. I watch as my mother’s eyes flicker at me, but Seth doesn’t seem to notice as he lifts a fist up, likely angry at mom’s silence.
Before he can bring the fist down onto mom’s face, I grab a nearby frying pan from the rack and crack it against the back of Seth’s head. It sends the piece of shit to his knees, crumpling to the ground where he goes still.
"Izobel!" My mother yells at me as she kneels down next to her abuser, holding his head.
"He was about to hit you," I breathed out, turning and putting the now slightly dented pan back before glancing down at mom. "Again."
She looks up at me with her pale blue eyes, a dull purple bruise currently healing around one of them. Her shortish blonde hair is messy and tangled as she attempts to run her hand through it to calm herself.
"He’s just going to be angrier when he wakes up."
"He’s shitfaced, mom. I doubt he’ll even remember yelling at you." I kneel down and reach into his pocket, feeling around for his wallet before grabbing it and pulling out some cash.
"Izzy, put that back!"
"Did he pay Clay yet?"
She opens her mouth before turning her head away, her eyes focusing on Seth again.
"That’s what I thought. He doesn’t have enough anyway, but I’ll cover the rest." I pocket the cash and step over Seth to exit the trailer.
The light from outside momentarily blinds me as I walk out into the trailer park I call home. Sixty trailers are set up here, spaced a decent distance apart and arranged in six rows of ten. At the end of the lot is Clay’s old cabin. It’s a lot like the ones you’d see in movies with the old hermit guy living alone in the woods.
Near the trailers is an old skatepark that barely anyone goes to anymore. I usually hang out around there when Seth is being a pain in the ass. There’s also the warehouse that Clay used for storage before Jason came around, which Cass made him empty out for them... and sometimes me. We used it to hang out away from the watch of our parents.
I walk around to the backside of our trailer, spotting the loose sheet of metal along the wall. Once I reach it, I carefully grab the edge and pull, reaching inside with the other hand and pulling out the glass jar full of cash inside. I pulled out the remainder needed to pay for rent and stuffed it in my pocket with what I took from Seth.
As I begin to make my way over to Clay’s cabin, I spot Rachel, a girl in the grade below me with some wild anger issues. Most people avoid her at school because they’re terrified of her, but I don’t think she’s that scary. She’s shorter than me and built like a twig; it’s just her anti-social and emo personality that keeps me away from her.
Once reaching Clay’s cabin, I knock on the door. A moment later, Clay opens the door and smiles at me. He’s a few inches shorter than Jason, with an athletic build. His graying brown hair usually reaches his shoulders, but it’s currently tied into a low bun. His beard looked freshly trimmed compared to the last time I saw him.
"Izzy, it’s good to see you." He says as he steps back to let me in.
I walk into the cabin, looking around the familiar living room. A fireplace is set up at the far end of the room, and a lever-action rifle is hung above it alongside a taxidermied deer head. Next to the fireplace is Clay’s desk, which he uses when doing paperwork or stuff like that. On the other side of the fireplace is the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Finally, there is the kitchen past the hallway, plus the couch and armchair in the center of the living room, with a coffee table between them.
I take a seat on the couch, sinking into the comfortable cushions. It feels much better than the chairs we have in the trailer. Maybe even the bed I sleep on.
After a moment, I see Echo, Cass's Husky, walk out of the hallway and into the living room. She looks over towards me and wags her tail, making her way over and sniffing my leg once she reaches me. I pet her back as she lies down on the floor beside the couch.
"Do you want some hot chocolate?" Clay asks as I get comfortable.
He walks past me into the kitchen as my mind wanders back to my dream. Thoughts of Jason, lying with his head on my lap as I gently run my hands through his hair-
I'm jolted out of my fantasy when I hear something smash in the kitchen. I get up and walk over to see what happened. Finding Clay holding his gloved right hand, which is shaking, and a smashed mug on the floor.
"You okay, Clay?"
"Yeah, my hand’s just acting up again. I’ll get it checked out sometime this week."
Before I can respond, Azura begins crying down the hall.
"Crap, the mug must’ve woken her." Clay begins to try and walk past me, but I stop him.
"I can handle her, you just get my drink ready."
He nods with a smile and pats my shoulder.
"Thank you, Izzy."
I make my way down the hallway into Cass’ room, taking a moment to look around as I approach the crib. Her bed is still neatly made, with posters from old horror movies she liked on the walls above it. A guitar leaned against the wall in the corner, covered in a visible layer of dust.
I let it sink in for another moment before turning to the crib, Azura crying softer now that she sees me, reaching out to be picked up. Her long red hair covers her face a bit, which I move to see her bright blue eyes staring at me. I lift her up and feel her immediately grip me tightly.
"You wanna go see Grandpa? C'mon Azzie."
I take her out to the living room, where Clay is now writing at his desk. Once sitting down on the couch, I spotted my hot cocoa on the coffee table. I slide Azzie off of me and onto the couch beside me, grabbing my cocoa after and taking a sip of it.
"Thanks for the drink, Clay, and I’ve got our rent too." I fished out the cash and put it on the table.
Clay looks over at me and nods, getting up and sitting in the armchair with a glass of what’s likely bourbon in his hand.
"Thanks, I hope it wasn’t too much of a hassle to get it from Seth."
"It wasn’t too hard to take money from someone who’s knocked out."
As I take another sip of the cocoa, Azura begins to climb down from the couch. Clumsily walking over to Clay while using the table for balance. As the toddler walks past, Echo gets up and sniffs Azura. She pats the dog on the head, somewhat gently, with some happy babbling to go along with it before continuing towards Clay. He picks her up as she reaches him, holding her with one arm.
"I still can’t believe she’ll be thirteen months old tomorrow." I say as I smile at the pair, happy to see the daughter of my two best friends growing up happy.
"Me neither... ah crap, what’s today?"
"Right, the boy’s birthday…" He reaches forward and pulls out fifty bucks from the rent money on the table, handing it to me. "Get him something, I know you’re tight on money."
"You want me to say it’s from yo-"
"Are you sure?"
He takes in a deep breath before nodding. "Yeah, I don’t think either of us wants to do that to him."
I pocket the money and watch as Azura reaches up towards Clay, pulling on his beard, which he ignores completely.
"Doesn't that hurt? Some military training you've got."
Azura babbles as she pulls harder, pushing her face against his and almost kissing his cheek in a way.
"Well, I did have Cass, and she was almost the same way." He chuckles and gently pulls her hands off his beard.
"I can imagine so. I’m probably about to head out. Gonna meet Jason before he's gotta work."
"Okay, have some fun and spend that money responsibly."
"Nope." I stick my tongue out at him playfully as I get up, giving Azura a gentle pinch on her cheek.
"See ya, Clay, bye-bye Azzie." I bend down and scratch Echo’s head. “Bye Echo.”
I exit the cabin and head back to the trailer to grab my board. When I walk in, Seth is awake and sitting in his chair, drinking a bottle of gin while mom prepares him some food.
"Hi honey, do you want some breakfast?"
"No, I’m going to go meet up with Jason."
"You shouldn’t see that boy; he’s a bad influence on you!" Seth yells from his seat, but I ignore him.
I quickly make my way into my room, grabbing my skateboard. On the way out of the trailer, I give Mom a quick hug and a glare towards Seth, who returns it with his own look of disdain.
Once out of the trailer, I hop onto my board and skate my way to Nyx’s shop to meet up with Jason.