Chapter Three

   Maddisyn opened the fridge door and scanned each shelf then grabbed an apple. She smiled. “Thank you, Mom.” After grabbing a paper towel and placing it under the water and squeezing it she wiped the apple off and noticed there were clear containers with cooked veggies inside. Her mouth watered.

   “Mom must have prepared them for me.”

   She opened the first one and saw the pea rice with chunks of chicken. Something she always ate. The other separate containers had Italian cauliflower, broccoli stir-fry, corn, and chicken chowder.

   “Wow, Mom cooked a lot.”

   She closed the fridge door, took another bite from the apple, then walked into the living room. The blanket chest beside the tv stand had a blanket hanging over the edge that dad use to sleep with when he was sick. The memories traced her mind then faded. She sat on the couch and reached for the remote. It wasn’t on the nightstand like always, it had to be inside it. She opened the drawer and moved batteries and pens out of the way.

   Once she found it she closed the drawer and pressed the power button then flipped through the channels.

  Where’re all the channels that were on here? Mom must have got rid of them when I left for rehab six weeks ago?

   Maddisyn sighed and flipped the channel to a volleyball game. It reminded her of the times she played in fifth grade. Dad was always in the crowd. And of course, Kegan was playing his stupid video game. As the year went on, dad wasn’t in the crowd as much. When she finished fifth grade and started sixth grade, that’s when the cancer took over his body and he wasn’t there to cheer her on anymore. Not even Kegan’s soccer or football games.

   On the shelf above the fireplace were trophies and pictures of all the games. A photo of her and dad holding the big trophy was the last game he showed up to. Next to it, was of Kegan standing in the soccer field next to dad with a trophy. Good old times.

   The next channel had a woman running down a dark alleyway. A man with a mask had a knife in his hand. Only street lights gave her away through the darkness.

   The front door slammed open against the wall, startling Maddisyn. Her heart skipped a beat.

   Kegan came to a stop with a pale look on his face, drenched in sweat. His eyes darted around the room, then hurried passed the couch and up the staircase.

  What’s his problem?

   She never saw him like that before.

   “Kegan, what’s wrong?”

   He didn’t look back or speak. He hurried up the staircase.

   A door slammed shut and it grew quiet… creepily quiet.

   The sound of nails against wood caught her attention then the doorbell rang.

   She flinched, placed a hand on her chest No more scary movies. At least not at night time. She set the remote down, walked over to the door and opened it. No one was there. Just the street lights and dogs barking a few houses down. A black cat with white spots ran across the street and jumped behind a bush by a mailbox. She opened the screen door and stepped out, holding it open.

   Looking for any movements or sounds of voices and feet, something black slithered across the deck and over the door frame. When she looked, it was gone. Her mind must be playing tricks. It was late, but first, she needed to see why Kegan was so freaked out and scared.

   After closing the door she walked to the top of the stairs and turned the corner.

   Sometimes when Kegan was scared or having a nightmare he can get violent and hurt someone accidentally. “Kegan, are you okay?” She waited for an answer and stopped by the door. For a moment it was quiet. Too quiet. He was never quiet. That wasn’t him. She leaned close and heard Kegan whispering. It sounded like he said to stay away. He repeated himself over.

   “Kegan,” she said.

   He screamed.

   She grabbed the door handle and pushed it open.

   Darkness consumed the room. Heavy thick blankets covered both his windows.

   Kegan rushed over to the far corner and made himself look small.

   “What are you doing?” She just remembered Kegan had slammed the door and examined it “Stop slamming this door; it will fall off the hinges. Mom already fixed it I don’t know how many times.”

   She reached for the light switch and turned it on.

   It smelled like open beer cans and cigarette smoke. The evidence laid everywhere.

   Maddisyn shook her head in disapproval.

   Crumbled clothes littered the floor. His bed wasn’t made, his desk full of textbooks and papers looked messy. A soccer ball and a basketball sat in the corner of the room. Those were his first that his dad gave him. A shelf above his desk had other medals and trophy’s including pictures of him when he was much younger when he first started playing for soccer and basketball.

   “Oh no, Kegan. Your room. Mom just cleaned it a few days ago. She shouldn’t have to come in here and clean it for you. You’re seventeen years old. You need to clean it up. Not Mom. She works too hard as it is.”

   The smell was unbearable. She walked over to the window and pulled the blinds back then unlocked the window and lifted it.

   “NO!” Kegan screamed.

   Maddisyn flinched, almost losing hold of the frame.

   He grabbed her wrist and squeezed tight.

   “Let go of my wrist Kegan, you’re hurting me.”

   It brought back a memory of Jarred, her ex who always use to grab her by the wrist and not let go.

   “Kegan, let me go!” she screamed.

   He pushed her to the bed, then slammed the window shut and locked it.

   “What is your problem? It smells in here, Kegan. How can you even breathe?”

   He pulled the blinds down and ran back over to sit in the corner. Both knees to his chest.

   She stared down at her wrist and saw the red finger marks. Great, now that’s going to be red and sore. She shook her head and looked at Kegan. “Are you happy now?” she pointed to the mark. “Now what am I suppose tell Mom?”

   A crawling sound came from the closet. The door popped open.

   Kegan screamed and jumped onto the bed. He covered his head with both hands.

   Maddisyn stared at the closet door then looked back at Kegan. “What is it?” She walked over to the door and reached for the handle.

   “NO!” he screamed.

   She turned and looked at him. “Would you stop screaming, what is the matter with you?”

   He shook his head as he removed his hands from his head.

   “What, Kegan?”

   “Don’t .. don’t open… the door.”

   “Why not?”

   He just stared at her with desperation.

   They both made eye contact as the cold door handle pressed against her palm and slowly let it open. After pulling the chain and looking in nothing was there to be afraid of. “See. . . .” She stepped out of the way to let him see. “Nothing there.” She pulled the chain and shut the door.

   “What is wrong, why are you acting like this?”

   Kegan just stared at her with no words.

   “How much beer have you had?” She stood there and waited for an answer.

   He didn’t speak.

   “I asked you a question. How much beer have you had tonight? 3, 4, 5. Mom’s going to ask you when she gets home.”

   No words came out of his mouth. It was like he was too scared to talk or even make a small move.

   “Please clean up your room and get your homework done. Please. If you need help just ask.”

   Maddisyn closed the door and walked down the hallway to her room. She stopped and looked at the shelf attached to the desk that had pictures of her and Dad at the games. Her first volleyball, her dad gave to her was up there as well. Next to it was her first bat when she played softball in the sixth grade. She only went out for softball because her mom did in middle school.

   Maddisyn clutched the pillow close and curled up in a ball, under the covers, wanting to fall asleep. It was always better with dad there.

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