By now I’m so groggy that the police sirens flooding the air sound like a roaring in my ears. Then I hear banging on the front door and men shouting. For all I know, they could be angels who’ve come to rescue me. As Jet raises his fist to pummelme again, Dina rushes out from the kitchen and sprints to the door like a mouse scurrying to snatch her cheese. As the police break through, she screams, “Help! Please! He’s going to kill him!”
The officers wrestle Jet to the floor. One of them knocks out his front tooth. I collapse at the foot of the stairs. Searing pain is radiating through my body. Mel finally comes running from her room sobbing as the police handcuff Jet and drag him out to one of the patrol cars. They tell us that he’ll be booked and held until he’s arraigned and can make bail.
I see Dina’s shoulders sag in relief, as if a burden’s been suddenly lifted from her. It’s a feeling I can relate well to. If Jet’s out of the house, that’ll give us at least a few days of peace, without the constant reminder of how miserable our lives are. And I’ll have some time to figure out what I’m going to do.
Meanwhile, the paramedics, who charged in right behind the police and rushed to check me out, tell me I should be monitored for a possible concussion.
“No, I’m fine,” I keep insisting. “Just let me go to my room.”
They leave shaking their heads, but I’m stuck downstairs for almost an hour while the police take statements from all three of us. Their report includes a lot of history about the violence in our “home”.
After the police finally leave, Dina comes over and puts her hand on my shoulder. She’s been crying pretty much nonstop, and her eyes are red and swollen. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I should have done this a long time ago… Are you doing okay?”
Every rib on my left side is pulsing with fire, but I tell her, “I’m fine. Thank you.”
I hug her as best I can, but I can’t help grunting from the pain. I look over at Mel, who’s huddled on the couch, and I can read everything she wants to tell me from the expression on her face. I see that she’s really sorry. She gives me a quick glance, then immediately drops her gaze to the floor as if she’s embarrassed. But I have no real idea why she should feel embarrassed when it was Jet who attacked me. Maybe it’s finally dawned on her that her lies fueled the entire thing. Again.
I start to make my way up the stairs to my room, but I have to hold on to the railing instead of bouncing up two steps at a time the way I usually do. When I reach the top, I stop and turn back to look down at Dina.
“You should be proud,” I say, followed by a grunt of pain. “You’ve set yourself free.”
* * *
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Genre – Young Adult Science Fiction
Rating – PG
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