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By:LL Collins

Beau ~ Age 5

I ZOOMED MY cars down the long hallway, loving the way the tires sounded on the wood floor. I glanced back to see where my mom was; she didn’t like it when I pushed too hard. I didn’t hear her in the kitchen or see her in the living room, so I was safe. “You’ll put scratches in the wood, Beau Oliver. Be gentle or don’t play,” she’d always say to me.

I used all my strength to see how fast I could get my favorite car to go. It was a red Camaro. I knew that because my daddy taught me all about cars, just like he’d taught me all about drums. I loved playing drums with him. Mommy said he was very talented and I was a lot like him. That made me feel proud because my daddy was awesome. When he was happy, he was so much fun. But right now, he was sick. To Natalie and me, sick meant that Daddy had to be left alone. He didn’t get sick like we did with a fever or a tummy ache. He got the kind of sick that meant he sometimes went away for a few days, or he had to stay in his bed. Sometimes we heard him crying, other times we heard him yelling. Our mom would always have red rings around her eyes like she’d been crying, but she’d never admit to it. She would say she was tired from taking care of Daddy. I didn’t get it, but then again, most things adults talked about I didn’t get. Like my teacher, Ms. Hamilton, trying to teach me how to read. So confusing. Who could understand that all of those letters together made words? Kindergarten was hard work.

My favorite car hit my parents’ bedroom door just a little too hard, and I gasped at the loud sound. My insides felt like ice as I waited for someone to yell at me. Where was Natalie? She was always mothering me, too, even though she was only two years older than me. She always let me sleep with her when I was scared, though, so I couldn’t be too mad.

The car had pushed the door open a little bit. It must not have been shut all the way. I reached my hand through the small crack and yanked the car back into the hallway. My hand hit the door and pushed it open farther. I held my breath, waiting. The room was dark, and I didn’t hear anything. Maybe Daddy wasn’t in here anymore. Mommy had told us that Daddy was resting and to leave him alone.

I stood, my heart thumping so loud in my chest I swore it was going to explode. I had just reached out for the door handle to shut it so I wouldn’t get in trouble when I saw Daddy. He seemed like he was swinging on a homemade swing. Except it was around his neck. He was hanging from the closet door. His eyes didn’t see me. His arms didn’t reach out to me. His mouth didn’t move. His feet dangled in the air. A piece of paper with a lot of letters laid at his feet. I knew all my letters, but I knew I’d never be able to read what it said. Daddy had bad handwriting.

My hand was frozen on the door handle. My mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out. I needed Natalie. Or Mommy. Or both. Daddy was stuck and needed help. He was too still, though. Someone needed to help him down so he could smile at me again.

And that was when I started to scream at the top of my lungs, my head understanding what my heart wouldn’t accept.

Beau ~ Age 12

I fought as the guys in white held me down. My head thrashed and my legs kicked, but nothing kept them from injecting me with the needle they’d been holding. My vision blurred as the drugs coursed through my veins. I couldn’t remember what had gotten me here, but I knew I didn’t belong here.

“Let me fucking GO! There’s nothing wrong with me!” I slurred, hating that it now seemed like the two of them had turned into four. I lifted my hand to try to get away, but it was too heavy to budge.

You’re a fucking monster, just like him, the voices screamed in my head. You deserve this. To be locked up like the animal you are. What did you think, that you were going to have a psycho’s blood running through you and not become just like him? You deserve to die. I hate you. I can’t even stand looking at you.

I bit my lip so hard I tasted blood, fighting against the black hole that threatened to suck me down into its abyss.

A blurry face appeared before me. It was my mother. Her beady eyes narrowed. I tried to fight against the restraints, but it was futile. I couldn’t move. Maybe she could finish the job and put me out of my misery. I hated my life, anyway.

“You should’ve died with him. You’re a monster, Beau. You’re a piece of shit, just like your father. You’re dead to me. You and your worthless sister can have a nice life. If you aren’t too fucking crazy, that is.” Her voice was just low enough for me to hear, because I knew she wouldn’t let anyone else hear the words she spoke. Not even Natalie knew how vicious she was to me.