AloneI shoved my hands into my pockets in frustration, glaring at an empty beer can I saw lying on the sidewalk nearby. My hot breath blew out into the air, white puffs spiraling upwards like reverse snow into the dark sky and above the street of apartment buildings. The more I looked at the can of cheap beer, the more my annoyance rose, eventually exploding outward and causing me to kick the can with the force of all the emotions roiling inside me. It flew in a strong arc across the street, bouncing off of a car and rolling into the middle of the dark road. My fists were tightly clenched from within my warm pockets as I stared at the ground, taking a few breaths to calm down. After a few moments I felt more collected, and quickened my pace onwards, sneakered feet carrying me who-knows-where.
My father had kicked me out of the apartment for yet another time this month, and I was sick and tired of his indifference and harsh words to me. I did everything around the house, from cooking meals to cleaning up Father’s mess, yet he did nothing but drink, and drink, and drink, and continue to drink whenever he was home. This time I wasn't going to turn tail and return to such a place. Not for forgiveness (since I’d done nothing wrong), not for my belongings (I didn’t own anything that wasn’t replaceable), not for any reason ever again. I caught my reflection in a dark store window as I passed it, what the streetlight illuminated in my features bringing me to a halt. I gazed at my mirror image, scanning my reflection in the cold glass.
My usually lightly colored eyes were sharply contrasted by the dark circles under them, and the left one was surrounded by a slowly yellowing black eye. The scrape on my cheek from Monday was covered with one of those large, square band-aids, grimy from where I had skidded on the dirty pavement earlier this morning after being pushed around too roughly by my “peers.” Nothing of my appearance affected me so much as the sight of my hair, however. Tears started to sting my eyes in the bitterly cold night air and I choked up a bit, the revelation of how truly short my black locks had been cut and how dirty they were from being thrown around all day getting to me. It had been so pretty at one point, long and luscious and wavy. My pride and joy before it became a target for bullies to grab recently, and I’d had to chop it all off to save myself.
Something in me crumbled like a poorly built shack at that point, and I jerked my vision away from the shameful picture that the storefront glass portrayed me as, the previous anger replaced with an icy feeling in my chest. I started walking again, but my shoulders were hunched against the cold biting into my bones, my fast pace and rage no longer keeping me warm. My eyes were stuck fast to the slate-gray sidewalk, and I trudged along like a prisoner on the long walk to the gallows until I reached wherever my feet were subconsciously trying to bring me.
As they ground to a halt I looked up at the sky spotted with stars, some misty clouds creeping in from the edges of the city. I took a deep, shaking breath to fill my lungs as I tried to recognize where I was. The middle of a park. Stepping closer to the structures I could barely see in front of my own nose in this darkness. I realized I was in the playground of the park our family would go to when I was much younger, before Mom left. Sighing heavily to myself, I dropped onto one of the swings, just sitting there as I wiped my eyes with the sleeve of my dirty school uniform jacket. The bright yellow color it had originally been had reduced to the color of a pale sponge, from the amount of times I had had to bleach it of stains since I had received it. The student body was quite cruel and none of the teachers liked me for my dirty and slothly appearance, calling me a delinquent, so I had no one to go to.
Not that I actually cared especially much, for a while at least. It had only started recently, but the more serious attackers had gotten physical, the simple pranks and stolen books escalating to being hit with eggs and beaten up in back alleyways after the school day had ended. The other day I had lost yet another of the friends I had attained as a first year, the second hand treatment they received from being associated with me being too much for them to handle. Tears slipped down my cheeks, trails of heat in the icy night air.
“Why is it always me?” Me, me, me. I don’t deserve this, I don’t! I sobbed, my throat closing up and causing me to choke on my own mutterings. I tried desperately to wipe the salty droplets away, to get rid of the evidence of my own tangled feelings.