Life hadn’t always been so hard.
As Christopher Laws leaned against the Collex rubbish rid, eating the discarded, day-old half of a Big Mac, his mind began to wander. Now nineteen years old, he tried to remember where it had all started.
Home had always been a place of safety, a place of healing, a place of comfort. Christopher remembered the details of some of the cuts that had been bandaged, some of the days when he had run home after the attempted attacks of the neighbourhood bully; he remembered the warmth of his mother’s arms when he had simply felt upset, without needing a reason. She had always cared for and loved him. He wished now that he could feel those arms around him once more. A tear slid down his cheek, and Christopher shifted his position to be better hidden from the sight of anyone who passed by. To cry on the streets was to be seen as weak, and to be seen as weak was to die.
Somewhere through the years, it had all changed, though; no longer was home a place of peace, comfort, rest and safety. As he grew older, the house became like a war zone. Christopher found himself avoiding the place he had felt safe in simply so he could have time to himself, where he would not have to put up with his mother’s prying, his father’s commands, his brother’s snooping and his sister’s stupidity. Never did he consider the fact that his mother only cared; that his father was attempting to grow and discipline his son into a man; that his brother only wanted to be like him or that his sister was five years younger than him, and therefore more immature. Christopher sighed, seven years later; his brother would be sixteen now, his sister fourteen. He had missed over half his sister’s life.
His brother had been the one who had started it all. Johnathan had wanted to play cricket with his friends, but with a hard ball, to be more like his big brother. He had opened the door to Christopher’s room, a door even his parents opened with caution now, but Christopher was not home, so he could not ask. Besides, it was only a cricket ball; at least, that was what he had thought.
The top drawer of the bedside chest was partially open, Christopher had finally found complete privacy in his room – or so he thought – and thus had less reason to ensure everything was hidden. A large poster of ‘The Crow’ stared down at Johnathan as a flash of color drew his attention to the open drawer. He reached in and pulled out the magazine. Johnathan was stunned! The pages were filled with naked women! This was what older boys like Christopher read! Johnathan flicked through the pages before looking back to the drawer. He was going to put it back, until a carton of Peter Jackson cigarettes caught his eye also. Johnathan looked at them curiously; ten-year-old fingers could not help but reach out and touch them.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Johnathan froze. When that tone was in Christopher’s voice, it was time to be scared. To hide himself away in his room until Christopher went to his after the argument with mum and dad. There was no way to his room this time, though, and no argument with mum and dad. The anger was directed at him.
“You deaf, too, Johnathan? What are you doing in my room?”
“I…I…I…” Johnathan stammered.
“Get out. Now!”
Johnathan nodded, and tried to leave, but Christopher refused to move from the doorway.
“Get out I said!” Christopher growled.
Johnathan tried to move past him, but Christopher pushed him back. Johnathan stumbled and fell backwards; he looked up to see a cruel smile on his brother’s face. He attempted to scamper backwards as his brother stalked him like a cat stalking a trapped mouse.
“I said. Get. Fucking. Out!” Christopher yelled, not caring if his parents heard now. He reached down and pulled Johnathan up by his collar. One hand released him, only to pull back, Johnathan was crying now, and as the fist connected with his jaw, he screamed in pain. Christopher watched in delight as a trickle of blood came from his brother’s mouth. Both hands were once more gripping his trembling brother’s collar as the sounds of footsteps echoed on the stairs. Christopher swung, and launched his brother through the door. Johnathan’s head hit the doorframe, and he collapsed just outside Christopher’s room, unconscious. A cry came from his mother’s lips.
Christopher’s eyes met those of his father. Anger blazed in the man’s gaze.
“Call an ambulance, Wendy.” His father said quietly.
Christopher closed his eyes, remembering the pain from his father’s right hook. The argument that had followed the next day had been their worst.
“I hate you!” Christopher had screamed. “I hate you and I hope you both fucking rot in hell!”
His parent’s had frozen in shock at his words, giving Christopher time to take the packet of cigarettes from the table between them and run out the door.
That was the last time he had seen them.