Staying With Beth

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: The Imaginarium
A short story inspired by the Imaginarium Picture Prompt 10.

Submitted: June 07, 2017

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Submitted: June 07, 2017



Staying With Beth.


I couldn’t stay there. Not once I’d made that call. It wouldn’t take the police long to arrive, I knew that, and I was going to make sure I was well away from the house when they did. They would hate me for what I’d done, I knew that. Not only that but neither of them were likely to forgive me any time soon.


My sister had taken me in, given me a roof over my head. She fed me, listened to me, and gave me a bed to sleep in. I knew I’d have to go home eventually, face the consequences of my running away. But Beth gave me time, space, didn’t push me to leave at all. Strange really, as we’d never been at all close. That she was eight years older than me kind of made that inevitable, I guess.


Why had I run? Maybe that was wrong on my part but at fourteen I thought I should be able to pick my own friends. When a couple of them got drunk and went stealing my parents thought differently. I’d not turn my back on my mates though. That was not what they were really like and everyone should be able to make mistakes, right? Not according to my parents, especially my Dad. Things got heated. Things got physical. And I ran. I’d been sick of listening to them going on about what a disappointment to them me and Beth were turning out to be, anyway.


But I’d not realized what I’d stepped in to. Beth lived with this guy, Baz – a living arrangement that wasn’t ‘acceptable’. Neither Mom nor Dad had ever visited her, even though she only lived an hour’s walk away. Baz had a reasonable job and Beth was doing management training at the local superstore. The house they rented was a three bedroom one so they had a bit of space to spare.


Beth had bruises. I think she covered them up whenever she went out but at home she relaxed a bit, and hey, I notice things. I’d not said anything about them and neither had she, but I heard the raised voices at night and I might not have been one of the cleverest but I could put two and two together.


I tried to talk to Beth. Several times. No go! She’d tell me to leave it, it was nothing. Baz was just under a bit of pressure at work and wasn’t quite himself. I spent a lot of time out with my mates and when I was in the house I was mainly in my room. Baz and I would nod at each other in passing, but rarely exchanged a word.


And then it happened. Last night happened! I’d been out and was just stretched out on my bed, tuned in to YouTube, when the shouting started. But this time it went on and on; there was the sound of something being thrown, something knocked over. How I just wanted to stay shut in my room but when Beth cried out I had to go.


I was half way down the stairs when Baz slammed his way out of the house. It couldn’t be too bad, I told myself. He’d not have left her really hurt. Even so, I was scared of what I might find in the kitchen. The table and chairs had been upended and there were bits of broken glass on the floor. I couldn’t see Beth. Maybe Baz had just been taking his temper out on the furniture? The I saw her, huddled up in the corner, sobbing and shaking.


It’s okay, Sis, he’s gone,” I said. I didn’t know what to do so stood up the table, arranged the chairs, gave Beth a moment to compose herself. She still didn’t move, so I went over and took her arm, helped her to one of the chairs.


Her face was a mess of blood and bruises, red angry welts were already forming on her arms. I got a cloth, cold water, but she wouldn’t let me clean her up, insisted on doing it herself. Perhaps because she realized I was there, Beth stopped crying.


Shall I call you an ambulance?” I asked. I suspected her jaw and her nose were broken, and I could see that she had been hit or kicked on the forehead. “You really should see a doctor.”


What? No!” Beth was quite definite. “It’ll look much better when I’ve cleaned myself up. Don’t’s nothing unusual.”


Why do you stay? You should report this, Beth. It’s assault!”


Baz doesn’t mean it, you know. He loves me’s just that sometimes his temper runs away with him.”


We could go home, Sis. You and me.”


Beth just shook her head.


Time passed and we both drifted off to our beds. I could hear Beth’s sobs for a while and I heard Baz mounting the stairs sometime during the night. I knew what I had to do and I knew she would never forgive me.


So that’s why I’m sitting here, hidden from view. The police will arrive and Beth will have her chance to tell it like it is or to lie like she does to her boss. I’ll make out I know nothing about it, but if Baz stays I’ll go. Back to my parents or run a bit further – I don’t know. Right now it doesn’t seem to matter much which.


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