A simpletwenty minutes of sprinting at maximum speed, even if you're in great condition, will sap your strength to the size of a pinhead. Now add another person to carry on top of that. Trust me, it's not pleasant.
The streets of Washington D.C.are alive and buzzing with pedestrians, merchants, and businessmen. As I dart past muttering half-hearted apologies, I feel their confused stares drive into my back.
On the bright side, Autumn can't weigh more thana fifth grader. Thank God I'm not a wimp. I think as I round the corner to my apartment buildings. My bumps and bruises hurt like hell, especially after being worked overtime to get me home as quick as humanly possible, but my main priority was getting Autumn help.
I burst through the front door, using my shoulder to barge in.
"Dad!" I screech. My arms feel like lead beams, barely supporting the bird-boned girl.
Colonel Sevon is sitting on the couch in his Army uniform. He bolts up fasterthanI can say "Mississippi".Surprisingly, next to him is a 35 year old red headed man that I know as Uncle Patrick Machaon. Had the circumstances been different, I would have been absolutely thrilled to see Dad's ole war buddy and my favorite family friend. The complete irony of Uncle Patrick being here is the fact that he is a certified Army Medical Personnel.
My knees wobble, and I stagger to the living room to set Autumn, who is still knocked out cold,down.
"Shayne Annabelle Sevon, what in the hell happened?!"Dad demands.
I'm breathing deep and heavy, stress and running a half-marathon hindering my lungs. "She... I... skateboarding... She... was sobbing...passedout,so I... Ran here."
Dad looks me over, scrutinizing every cut. Then, his grey eyes flash to Autumn. I swear I can practically see the gears turning in his mind, trying to make accurate split-second decisions.Activating his military persona, he orders, "Shayne, sit down and get cleaned up. Stay out of the way.Patrick, buddy, help me out here."
I glance at Autumn at my feet. Following Dad's command seems impossible, I can't leave her. Granted, I don't know her, but for some odd reason I don't want to leave her side at all. Uncle Patrick is already checking her pulse and eye dialations. Dad is glowering at my hesitation.
Please, help me! Her voice is clear and hysterical in my mind.
Eventually, I take several baby steps back to finda chair and some disinfectant. The best way to help her, I realize, is to let Dad and Uncle Patrick take care of her, though my heart is screaming to stay.
She'll be ok. I try to convince myself. Til then, I'll be here for her.
"I really think you're going to love it in Chicago, sweetheart." Wyatt Robinson declared to me with a polite smile. He placed his hand on my thigh in a sort of controlling, I'm-your-boyfriend-and-I-am-allowed-to-do-this-no-matter-what-you-say type ofway. His sickly green eyes held the unmistakable glint of lust.
Resisting the urge to be sick all over the dining table, I plastered on the perfect contenetment face. "Oh, certainly! I simply can't wait."
Aunt Grace, more than pleased to see her niece with a "dashing" young man straight out of Harvard, offered Wyatt more tea. I glanced at her eyes that were gleaming with joy. Her little Autumn McCaldwell was on her way to a "fabulous" life in Chicago, far away from the McCaldwell family once and for all. Happy, happyday.
"Please excuse me," I removed myself from the table of tea, biscuits, and disgusting lies and fled straight for the restroom, the only room I was granted peace.
My reflection was one of a small, blonde haired 16 year old swathed in a lacey sundress. Tawny eyes alighted with anger and desperation. Perfect features of pale beauty. However, the invisible side of me, that noone knew, held a more hideous picture wrought with pain.
"I hate it here. I hate stupid 22 year old Wyatt. I hate Grace McCaldwell. I hate these dumb dresses and tea sessions. I hate all the money and lies." I chanted repeatedly. Seconds ticked away and I savored every sinlge one.
I knew this precious time alone wouldn't mean anything. I would still have to go back and finish tea with Wyatt and Aunt Grace, I would still have to fly away to Wyatt's house with him after getting married in three days, I would still be trapped.
Walking back to the lavish dining table and the two people I despised most, I made a silent vow deep in my heart.
I would escape this cage, and nothing would stand in my way.