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A note from Writing Central

Content Warning: Depiction of a Panic Attack and PTSD

I look over at Izzy as she finishes getting her pants on, watching a moment later as she wipes some sweat from her brow and lets out a sigh of relief.

"Damn, good shit, J. I think I’m gonna need a minute."

She looks over at me, noticing my staring, and pushes her hand in my face.

"Quit staring, asshole; you already got a good enough look!"

I swat her hand away with a chuckle, turning away to appease her and rolling down my window. The cool air from outside rushes into the truck, cooling us as we take a moment to relax.

"So, drinks are on you, right Iz?"

"Fuck you, man... Yeah, they are."

"Then that’ll be my birthday present. Let’s get inside."

We exit the truck and head towards the bar, sticking close in an attempt to keep warm. I glance around the boardwalk, spotting the old arcade that got shut down a couple years back, most of the machines having been left behind when the owners cleared out. Further down, I can see a few people wandering along, seemingly enjoying a stroll in the wintery chill.

Upon reaching the entrance to Joe's, we quickly make our way inside, being hit with a nice wave of warmth once inside. Within the bar is a rather large crowd, mostly consisting of older guys enjoying a drink after work. The bar is decorated with mostly sports memorabilia, alongside some things indicating it’s home on the docks, with a bit of a sailor or pirate theme. Izzy takes my arm and leads me over to the bar, where I can see a drink is already awaiting me.

"Took you long enough to get back. What were you doing out there?" As we sit down, Joe, the titular owner and a somewhat older man of Asian descent, asks as we sit down.

"Don’t worry about it, and pour me another one." Izzy replies quickly, lifting her empty glass, which was sitting beside mine.

Joe shrugs and pours her more of whatever she was drinking, which she hastily gulps down. I take it slow with my drink for now, taking a sip now and then as I glance up at a nearby TV playing the news.

"We just got word of a conflict between the Enclave and who we believe to be the Dragonlings on the east end of the docks. The authorities are cordoning off the area to keep the populace safe, so we ask you to stay away so they can do their job." The heavily made-up newswoman speaks, seeming neutral about the whole thing and simply doing her boring job.

The Dragonlings are a group of villains who cycle through members every few months, serving under an infamous villain named "The Scarlet Dragon." No one’s ever seen them, as they always work through mercenaries, at least according to the news.

I turn my attention away from the TV and back over to Izzy, watching her as she downs a shot and smiles at me.

"So, do you think your dad’s still pissed at you for getting kicked off the team?" Izzy asks, wrapping an arm around me.

"Thea called me earlier; she said it should be fine, so I’ll find out when I go home later."

“Well, good luck. I know he can be an asshole sometimes... most of the time.” She pulls away while patting my back. “Besides, fuckin’ Max started it anyway, talking shit like always.”

"Yeah, thanks for the backup, by the way. Prick had his buddies grab me from behind for some cheap shots."

“I know J, I saw the whole thing.” She chuckles and gently punches my arm as she downs a newly poured shot.

"So, what’d you do after leaving the shop this morning, Iz?"

"I went to the old skate park for a bit, still trying to land that trick I’ve been working on."

"Well did you land it?"

"No, but I’m getting closer."

"Yeah, sure you are."

"Dick."

She punches my arm harder, making my bar stool rock a bit from the force before I balance myself. I rub the now sore spot as she takes yet another shot.

"Fuck I don’t wanna go to school on Monday. Why can’t winter break last forever."

"You say that every year Iz, but at least this’ll be the last year you have to deal with it."

"I know, but it’s also the last winter break we get, and then I’ll be joining the Marines."

"You still wanna do that? Don’t you hate rules and restrictions?"

"Yeah, but my dad was in the Marines. It just feels right, I guess."

"Come on, Izzy, you didn’t even know the guy. He shouldn’t impact your life. My mom doesn’t matter to me."

"Really Jason, the situations are pretty fucking different." She gives me a glare as she speaks.

"How so?"

"Your mom chose to leave you with your dad. My dad didn’t choose to die."

I pause for a moment, realizing that I sound like an ass right now. "Shit Izzy, I’m sorry. I forgot about that."

"Seems like a hard thing to forget about Jason, but I forgive you. But you’re still a dick." She smiles at me and brushes some hair away from her face. "By the way, when I went to see Clay earlier, I saw Azzie too. She’s doing well and is starting to walk, but only when she’s using something to walk alongside."

I feel myself involuntarily tense as she mentions Azura, gripping my glass tighter as I look away from Izzy. Taking a moment to calm myself before looking back at her.

"You know I don’t like to talk about Azura... or Cassidy."

"Come on, Jason, you’re her dad. You should know how she’s doing."

"No. I’m not her dad, and she’s better off for that. She shouldn’t be around me."

"But-"

"Shut the fuck up!" I slam my fist down on the bar, knocking over my glass and spilling the beer inside it. "Just shut up."

Izzy reaches over to grab my shoulder, but I swat her hand away, quickly getting up and making my way over to the bathroom. Immediately, I lock the door once inside the washroom, leaning back against it and sliding down until I reach the floor. I close my eyes and try to focus on my breathing, attempting to push the thoughts of Cassidy out of my head... but I can’t.

I blink and see the floor of the bathroom fade to snow, the white powder coated in red, coated in blood. I look just ahead of me; Cassidy is lying in the snow, lying in her own pool of blood. It soaks into her hair, her shirt, it’s just red on red. I scramble over to her, the pain in my side searing as I move. Taking her into my arms upon reaching her and holding her close.

"Fuck, no no no." I look her over, trying to find where she’s bleeding from, but I can’t find any wound.

Suddenly, her hand grabs my wrist, squeezing it painfully tight. I look at her face, her skin pale and her expression one of hate, hate towards me.

"You did this; it’s your fault!" She screams at me, the words echoing through my mind as tears well in my eyes.

A loud knock from behind me makes me jump, the bathroom returning just as quickly as it faded only moments ago. I scramble to my feet as another, gentler knock comes from the door.

"Jason, I’m sorry for talking about them. Please just come back out and let’s enjoy your birthday." Izzy speaks from the other side of the door. I can hear her voice slightly quivering with her words.

I hesitate for a moment before wiping away the welling tears and opening the door. "I’m fine Izzy, I just needed to take a piss." I pat her shoulder while brandishing a smirk. "Now let’s get shitfaced."

She looks at me with concern for a moment before nodding and guiding me back to the bar. We take our seats again, and Joe pours us a couple more drinks. I grab mine and begin to gulp it down faster than Izzy was earlier, desperate to clear my mind with something.

🜂🜂🜂

Over the next couple of hours, Izzy and I drank heavily, shooting the shit as Joe served us. Our minds are clear of the bullshit that is life and we just enjoy each other’s company over drinks while we can.

"Man, fuck your dad, J. Total fucking tool." Izzy slurs her words out as she leans into me, drunkenly laughing to herself as her head rests on my shoulder. “We should- we should fuck with him somehow.”

I chuckle and gently push her off of me, finishing off my current glass of whatever Joe had been serving me. "And what do you propose for that?"

Izzy looks up at me, blinking a couple times as she seems to be trying to put her thoughts together before speaking. “Did you just try to propose to me?”

I hear Joe chuckle from behind the bar as he wipes a glass clean. “And I think that’s gonna be enough for you two kids. Get on home before I gotta do something about you two.”

"Ah really, Jo-Joey? Just a bit more." Izzy begs Joe, who simply gives her a stern look. She takes a moment to process before slamming her head down onto the bar with a low groan.

"I’ll handle her, Joe. Just hand me her skateboard."

He nods and kneels down, grabbing her skateboard from behind its usual spot in the bar and passing it towards me. I tuck it under my arm before gently grabbing Izzy and pulling her away from the bar.

"No..." Izzy quietly complains as I have to practically drag her out of the building.

"Let's get to the car, Iz. It’s warm in there."

"Mmm… warm." Her weak struggling stops, just becoming limp in my arms as I continue towards my truck.

"Hold it there, boy!" But fate seems to have other plans as I hear a man call out behind me. I glance back to see three guys behind us exiting the bar, all looking pretty similar, all of them being white with dark short hair. "We live at the trailer park where she’s from; we can take her."

"I don’t think so. I can get her home."

"And how are we supposed to know that you know her? We know her dad, Seth. He’s our drinking buddy, but he had to skip out tonight due to a nasty headache." The men begin to approach, looking angrily at me, likely due to my defiance.

I feel my skin begin to tingle, sweat beginning to wet my skin as I gently set Izzy down against a nearby wall. “Listen, I’m gonna get her home. Just back the fuck off.”

The men continue to approach, their demeanor shifting to become more aggressive as I feel my hand beginning to shake. "No, because when Seth complained about his headache, his wife admitted to Izzy attacking him. So we’re here to make sure she gets properly punished for that."

I feel my breath catch in my throat as the last words leave his mouth. "Now how about you just leave, kid? You’re not a part of thi-"

I cut off the last word as my fist connects with his jaw, making him stumble back into the others who let him fall to the ground and rush me.

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Writing Central

Bio: Hello, I am someone who has been creating stories in my head since Middle School and have finally decided to write it out somewhere. If you enjoy my stories please support me on Ko-fi

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