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Dust

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Every exhale was followed by a cloud of smoke. Jonathan had done drugs before, but today was the first time he actually felt he needed it. His memories of that day would not leave him alone and it too much for him. It was all too much. He just wanted to be happy. Everything was going against him and it killed him inside to think that he couldn’t, but most of all wouldn’t, do anything about it. The memory lingered around like dust.

“You’re gonna be late for school!” his mother screamed from inside the house. She was always oblivious to the things Jonathan was doing and experiencing, partially because she was always high or drunk herself. Ever since Jonathan’s stepfather left them things went downhill. His mother stayed in her room most of the time with a new guest every day. Although he didn’t want to admit it to her face, she was gaining weight. He cared about his mother even though he acted like he didn’t. It wasn’t his fault, though, and he knew it. The fault pertained to his step-father. Anything bad that happened in Jonathan or his mother’s life was because of his father. It was too late to realize it when they finally did.

“I don’t care,” Jonathan shouted back, a little hurt in his voice, but his mother of course didn’t detect it.

“You know, your attitude is really starting to annoy me.” He let out one last cloud of smoke, and threw the cigarette on the floor. He stepped on it, and started walking the mile and a half to school. It usually only took him an hour to walk, but today it would be taking a little bit more time than an hour; he just didn’t know it yet.

As Jonathan walked he saw him. He would recognize him anywhere with the tattoo of a snake down his arm, the piercings all over his face. Why would his mother ever like somebody like that? He didn’t understand. Jonathan slowed down for a second. He held his breath and stopped. This time, he wasn’t going to let the man get the best of him. His vision started to blur and for a slight moment, it didn’t look like him anymore, but he was sure it was him. Or was it? Jonathan closed his eyes tightly and opened them again. It wasn’t him. And Jonathan was hallucinating. He was hallucinating again, like that night when he got beat. This only happened when he was high. Now Jonathan knew for sure he was in trouble, but he couldn’t control it. He couldn’t tell the difference between his realistic hallucinations and his miserable life.

Jonathan finally arrived to school. He opened the big, blue, heavy doors and walked in looking down at the floor. He had undoubtedly already missed first period, but he didn’t care. World History wasn’t going to help him in life; if anything it would just remind him of his past and he was trying so hard to forget it. Jonathan looked up and saw the man. He was sure it was him this time. It looked just like him. He looked down to where his bruises used to be and felt a tingle. A shiver went up his spine, but then all he felt was anger. The anger built up inside of him and he couldn’t think straight anymore. Jonathan approached him and slammed the man against the locker, surprised that he was able to push him.

“What you gone do now, huh?” Jonathan shouted in his face. There was a long silence before the man answered.

“Dude, what’s your problem?” His voice cracked and it sounded nothing like the voice he remembered. It was squeaky, undeveloped. Jonathan closed his eyes, shook his head, and opened his eyes again. It wasn’t the man at all. It was just a freshman boy, being bullied by a sophomore. The people in the hall heard the commotion and started to approach the boys. Jonathan let go of the smaller and weaker freshman and left him against the locker petrified and perplexed. He didn’t even bother to apologize and started walking to his second period class; Science.

Jonathan ended up walking into second period ten minutes late. He notices that the teacher is in the middle of a lesson and already upset. He already knew it was going to be a long period for him.

“Why are you late?”

Jonathan replied with, “That’s none of your business,” and sat down at the back of the class next to the window.

He looked out the window and saw dust on the windowsill.

****

Jonathan smelled liquor in the air and heard a commotion outside. At that moment he wasn’t sure who it was exactly. The stairs started to creak and each step was heavier than the next. That was when he realized it was his stepfather was drunk. The next thing Jonathan knew, he was standing at the door looking him dead in the eye. Usually his stepfather’s eyes shone with enthusiasm, but it was different that day. They were dull; he looked almost upset.

“Is something wrong, Alex?” Jonathan still didn’t call him by anything else other than his name.

“Yeah, I had a bad day at work and it’s entirely your fault.”

“How is that my fault? I haven’t done anything to you.”

“If I didn’t have to provide for you, I would have money in the bank right now. I have no problem providing for your mom, but you… you’re an ungrateful boy who doesn’t deserve this.” His words were slurred and Jonathan could barely understand him. “Because of you I lost my job when I asked them for a raise… and that’s why now you have to pay for it… one way or another.”

“What are you talking about? What are you going to do?” Jonathan was scared, but he didn’t want to let it show, so he kept a straight face, showing no emotion.

Jonathan’s stepfather approached him slowly. His fists were clenched and before anybody knew it, including his step father, there was a huge purple bruise on the side of Jonathan’s face.

****

Now Jonathan couldn’t focus in class. He kept going back to the horrible night where he was beat half to death by his own stepfather. He didn’t dare tell anybody that it was his step father who messed up his face, so he lied and said he got into a fight with a kid. He got a bad reputation and now he was just Jonathan; the Jonathan that beat up a boy and had a bad attitude.

His concentration broke when his teacher called him to answer a question. Jonathan’s grades collapsed after the incident, and of course he wasn’t able to answer the question. His teacher got mad and started calling him out. Jonathan no longer saw his teacher standing at the front of the class. He saw his stepfather, staring him right in the eye, telling him he was useless and worth nothing.

Something snapped inside of him at that moment. He had never been that angry before. The anger was bubbling up inside of him. His skin was crawling. He didn’t realize it until it was too late, but he stood up and was in front of his teacher’s face in no time. His fists raised and reached for his teacher’s face. Punch after punch. She fell to the ground and Jonathan started kicking. After every kick everyone was even more surprised. Jonathan looked so innocent when you first met him. He had never even been in a real fight, but somehow he knew what he was doing.

A student stood up and ran over to the class phone. He dialed 9-1-1 and within minutes you could hear the sirens in the air. Jonathan snapped out of his hallucination and realized what was happening, but it was too late. The damage was already done. His teacher lay on the floor twitching. The police walked in and put Jonathan in handcuffs. Paramedics hurried in and carried the teacher on a stretcher.

****

In retrospect, Jonathan realized how he had gotten there; sitting on the cold ground of a jail cell. His bad choices piled up into a bottomless chasm of regret. He had gotten himself into this situation by himself. A guard walked into his holding cell and said he had a visitor. Jonathan walked into the visiting room he saw his mother pacing back and forth. He was happy to see her, but he didn’t want to let her know that.

“Are you going to bail me out?”

“No.”

There was a long silence. His mother stared at him right in the eyes and Jonathan saw the hurt and despair. He was just like his stepfather. No words were spoken and finally his mother got out the chair and walked to the door. She looked back one more time and left. With that look, Jonathan knew he had just lost the one person he truly cared about.

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Dust