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My Only Escape - 10. Chapter 10

Waking up today was like a surreal experience. I think that I was dreaming about Brody last night, because I was literally smiling before I even opened my eyes. And my whole world seemed to just feel bright and unimaginably.....'good'. I remember rolling over in my bed, and bringing my fingertips to my lips...feeling the invisible spot where Brody had kissed me. Wishing that he'd repeat it again soon. The weekend was still four days away, and 96 hours never seemed so infinite to me as they did at that particular moment.

He likes kissing me. Can you believe that? He actually LIKES kissing me! That's, like...so fucking incredible to me! Why the hell would anyone like kissing ME? Huh? I mean...did I even DO it right? I didn't know what to do with my tongue, or my lips, or my hands, or ANYTHING! Plus I spent a great deal of time just...just...CRYING from the joy of it all! How in the hell can Brody find anything attractive about me? I have sooooo much baggage. So many problems, and hang ups, and flaws. I can be such an undeniable IDIOT some times! And I screw things up, and I get hurt so easily when people tell me I'm not good enough, and I'm SO far from being 'beautiful' that it should make him sick to his stomach. There's NOTHING about me to love! NOTHING, do you hear me? What happens when Brody finally figures that out? What happens when he decides to just 'dump' me and never look back. He'll just forget all about me and never speak to me again. He'll think of me as some stupid, childish, mistake, and I won't mean anything to him at all. Not now, not ever.

Yeah...it's just the way my brain works. But you wanna know something...the more I tried to create some weird foundation of 'common sense' by tearing myself down with possibilities that I KNEW were totally true in ever possible way.....

....Sighhhhh.....

Love wouldn't let the voices win.

It's like...this extremely goofy, 'slippery' feeling in my guts refused to let little things like 'extreme terror', 'extreme doubt', and 'the risk of being completely ripped apart emotionally' by this...just didn't have as much of an influence as it should have had. Instead, it was a soothing whisper to my very spirit. Telling me these horrible LIES like...like...."Brody likes you." And "He obviously wants to be with you." And "If you just let him in...he can love you the way you deserve to be loved." WHY??? Why are these thoughts suddenly so...'accessible' to me? They never were before. Things were easier when they were predictable, and believable, and controlled by some kind of understandable universal law. You know? Having this amazing boy love me and want to be with me i about as credible and logical as aliens landing at the Super bowl during the halftime show. I mean...how are we supposed to 'buy' that as being real? You know?

I got out of bed eventually, made sure to sneak into the bathroom and wash up without crossing paths with my father. It was just one of those mornings that I didn't want to see him, you know? So I was careful to avoid any of the more 'public' places in the houses, with the one exception of the kitchen where I made sure to give my mom a kiss on the cheek and say good morning. I know that seems kinda 'gay'..kissing your mom to say good morning. But you know what? As much as she relieves the pain of everything that I go through in this life...it's a small sacrifice to show my appreciation. Seriously. And every single time, she acts like it's some pleasant surprise, that I would kiss her on the cheek and say thank you, just for being 'Super Mom' 24 hour a day. And I kinda like that. It's kinda like 'paying the piper' for being my only salvation in this house. It costs me nothing, you know? And you'd be surprised how much it means to a mom to just have you occasionally kiss her on the cheek and say, "Thanks. I love you, Mom." It's like..the greatest thing in the world for them. Especially when they're not expecting it. And if that tiny bit of well deserved affection can provide a reflection of the kind of joy and love that she brings to my life on a daily basis...then it's MORE than worth it. And I'm happy to do it for her.

Without her love...I would have been dead a long time ago. I can promise you that.

I ate my breakfast in my room, afraid that my father would wake up and come to the breakfast table. I didn't want to face him, and I made sure that I was well hidden from his frustrated path that morning. I did hear him walking around at one point, but I was safely tucked away in my room at the time, so it didn't matter. It was a good morning. He didn't bother me, he didn't kick my door open to yell at me, and my mom was there, so it's not like he could really go forward with any of his petty little tortures before school either. And I was thankful for little moments like that. To not be yelled at, cursed at, or beaten...it was like a gift from God to me, you know? And life doesn't get any better than that. I never once expected it to get any better than that.

And then, there was Brody. Thoughts of seeing him today flooded my mind, and I giggled to myself happily as I tried to find something in my closet that would make me look cute. Hehehe, I never really felt cute before until I had an inspiring audience to tell me I could be. I wonder what he'll wear today. Omigod, wouldn't it be cool if I wore something, and we totally 'matched'? That would be awesome! Awww...I wish I could call him and ask him what he's wearing. Just so I could coordinate my wardrobe somehow. Would he even like that? Would that be too gay? Um....yeah, that's probably too gay. I'll just go.....hmmmmm....red shirt and blue jeans. Yeah...oh wait, I could wear my black jeans instead. Or should I go with cargo pants? No...cargo pants always give me boners in class. The material is too thin, it makes me horny. Hehehe, Brody makes me horny! Ok...black jeans, red t-shirt. Pullover. Yeah, there we go. I looked in the mirror, and turned to the left and right to see what it looked like. It wasn't too bad. It would be better with somebody else's face and body...sighhh...but I guess it's ok. Right? Ugh! This totally does NOT look the same as it did on the super hot boy model in the Sunday paper who was helping them advertise it. I wish I looked like him. If I was that hot...Brody would really want me. Instead of just...looking past my obvious 'ugliness' so he could settle for a dork like me.

Shit...ok...stop it Zack. Lift your head up, look your reflection in the eye....and just try to think 'beautiful'. I mean...Brody said I wasn't ugly. I remember him saying that. So...I'm not ugly. BELIEVE it, Zach! You're not ugly. You're NOT ugly! You're...you're not....

Sighhh...was that really supposed to work? Whatever. Screw it. I should just hurry up and leave for school before I find a humiliating reason for me to stay at home and wallow in self hatred.

I said goodbye to my mom as I raced through the kitchen. My father was sitting at the kitchen table, and barely caught more than a blur of me as I tried to rush past him without altercation. I didn't even speak to him, just kept my head down and hurried out of that door, closing it behind me before he had the chance to tear me down. To be honest, I was really surprised that a strategy actually worked today. I swear...just being in love has given me, like...super powers or something these days. That NEVER would have worked before! Hehehe, GOD...Brody is making me a total mutant, you know that?

I waved to Mr. Schultz briefly on my way to Adam's house across the alley. He was sitting in his backyard, tending to the mini tomatoes in his garden, and looked like he wanted to talk a bit more...but I was kinda in a hurry. Not that I didn't like talking to Mr. Schultz, because he really was a nice old guy. I just...I had Brody on my mind, you know? He was gonna be there soon, and I wanted to go up to Adam's room, and play a few games, and sorta..settle myself into the 'scene' comfortably before Brody got there. Ooh, I hope Adam's mom calls him downstairs again today! I'm gonna kiss Brody so HARD! Hehehe, like, the SECOND he leaves the room this time! So our tongues can slide against each other for longer than yesterday!

Sorry...can't help it. Kissing Brody is like...it's like...the most 'WOW' thing I've ever done in my life! And I can't get enough of it! This 'love' thing is my new toy, and it's better than anything else I've ever played with! Hehehe! How corny is that?

Adam seemed to be extra happy today when he opened the door. Not only was he grinning from ear to ear, highly unlikely for a school day...but he was wearing a Cubs hat on his head and a jersey. "DUDE! What's up?" He grinned and practically pulled me into the house. Adam had a whole new sparkle to him this morning, and I was forced to ask him what the heck was going on I saw his baseball glove sitting on the living room coffee table, along with one of those big 'foam finger' thingies. He said, "Guess what?"

"What?" Like I couldn't guess.

"My DAD is here! He's visiting town for a couple of days, and he TOTALLY wants to take me to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field today!!! Like...I get to miss school and EVERYTHING!!!" He said, almost jumping up and down "He already called me in! Isn't that awesome?"

"Oh...really? That's...yeah...that is awesome." I smiled, right? At least...I think I smiled. I can't really remember, to tell you the truth. But I know that, deep down, I didn't really mean what I said. I had met Adam's dad a bunch of times since we've been best friends, and...well, he's always been nice to me. He smiles at me, and rubs my head, and asks me how I'm doing whenever he sees me. Adam's dad was strong, and handsome, and friendly, and funny...and could easily maintain the kind of 'cool' that most parents try to 'fake' but never really achieve, you know? To be honest, I was always kind of jealous when Adam's dad came back into town to spend time with him. I think we all were. Just a little bit.

Not to mention...that if Adam wasn't walking with me to school...does that mean....no Brody? Nah, maybe Brody will still come over, and we'll walk over together by ourselves. That would be cool....

"Oh yeah, Brody called, and said he'd meet you at school. Something about trying to buy his uncle a birthday card at the last minute and taking it to the post office before school." What??? Adam shrugged his shoulders, and he was just like, "I don't know WHAT that was all about. But, you know, whatever. I can't walk with you guys anyway." Adam's video game system was already fired up and he was already grabbing the first controller with a grin, but just hearing that my special dose of personified sunshine wasn't going to be there with us that morning...I have to admit that I was kinda disappointed. Not that it took much to twist my heart up into a knot...but doing without Brody's presence when I was really 'expecting' him to brighten my day...it was...a tough blow to take.

"So, we're gonna take the train to Wrigley Field, because the parking is so bad, and the traffic is just unbearable...not to mention the freaking drunks, man! And I'm gonna get the biggest Chicago style ballpark hot dog in the whole damn park! It's gonna be MAJOR!" Adam giggled, and then...as soon as he turned the TV volume up for us to play...I set the game controller down next to me, and just kinda stared at the floor for a second. "What gives? I thought we were gonna play?"

"Yeah...you know what? I think...I mean...I forgot...that I had some homework that I've gotta finish before third period today. I left my notes in my locker like an idiot. I've gotta leave a bit early." I told him. But I think Adam could see the look on my face.

"Dude, c'mon. You know I was just kidding ya, right? It's just a ball game. If I thought you guys could come with us..."

"No, I get it. That's really cool, seriously. I just...I think I've gotta run." I got up, and grabbed my backpack. Adam gave me a look, and it was almost like he felt 'guilty' for making such a big deal out of it all. Sighhh...I didn't mean to make him feel bad I just...I wasn't in the mood to be around 'happy' at the moment, I guess. God, I can be such a worthless friend some mornings.

"You know what? Maybe next time...you can ask your dad ahead of time, and then we can go together. It'll be a blast." Heh...MY dad...right.

"Sure. Maybe." I said, and I smiled at him for a second before taking off. I still think Adam was regretting saying anything, but why should he? He had an awesome home life. His dad traveled a lot, but when he was home, he brought him gifts, and took him to ball games and the movies and out for chili dogs and milkshakes over at Angelo's. He taught Adam how to throw a spiral football bomb, and how to tie a necktie, and how to fix up his bike. And when it really counted, he was there, you know. Just...'there'.

You never know what you're really missing out on in a father...until you see someone else who has it so much better.

But hey...it's not Adam's fault that my dad's a bastard.

I started walking to school on my own. If nothing else, it gave me enough peace and quiet to think about stuff. I doubt I'd be able to depress myself this much if I was drooling over Brody the whole way to school. I have to admit, with all this silence around me, the idea of maybe postponing our quiet time together this weekend had crossed my mind once or twice. My mind went into a weird conflict, where that nasty little voice tried to talk me out of going at all. Trying to get me to believe that I could only be a disappointment at best if I were to even TRY to get a sweet boy like Brody to spend time alone with me. But...then there was another part of me that was simply too curious, too anxious, to not want to go. A part of me that CRAVED Brody's kiss sooooo desperately that the motion would swell and almost cause me to choke from the excitement of it. It made me remember touching him, and licking his tongue, and feeling his breath on my cheek, and seeing that look in his eyes when he gave me that bashful smile of his. It feels like I'm losing my mind, but I don't think I've ever been so crystal clear. Like..EVER! Hehehe, and even when I get down on myself these days...memories of his touch bring the giggles right back to me in force. And the world can be anything less than sunshine.

'Come early' is what he said to me after school yesterday. Hehehe, can you believe that? 'Come early'. Sighhhh...shit, I've gotta find a way to clean out that lock up in a hurry, take a long hot shower, and then get over to Brody's for a day of more making out. GOD, I hope I don't start bawling like last time. Ugh!

I guess...maybe if I get up really really early...like 5 AM or something, then I can try to sneak down into the basement and start it then. That way, I can finish by about 8 o'clock, and then shower myself good and wash my hair...and maybe sleep for another hour before going to Brody's house. Then again...I don't wanna fall asleep on him. I wanna be awake. I'd like to think that I could my dad to wait until AFTER I go to Brody's..but that's not even a possibility, so why bother even trying. I'm pretty sure that his whole reason for making me do this in the first place is because I'm happier than he thinks I should be. If I even bothered to 'ask' him, he'd probably tell me I couldn't go out at all, whether I finished cleaning or not.

I could...I could try sneaking out before he wakes up...

No. No...I can't. He'll beat me within an inch of my life if I just 'didn't do it'. I got really LUCKY last time with just a dislocated shoulder! Next time, I'm almost certain he'd break something. And I'm running out of excuses to tell my mom. I don't fight THAT much at school.

Dammit...what the hell am I supposed to do? I just wanna be with Brody. I don't CARE about anything else any more. I just...I wanna be with Brody. He's one of the very few parts of my life that doesn't 'hurt'. And that makes him a desperately needed angel in my book.

"ZACK! Hey, wait up!" I turned to see Sam running like a bat out of hell, always in a rush to catch up as though I was actually going to take off and ditch him in an alley somewhere. When he was next to me, he put a hand on my shoulder, almost doubled over while trying to catch his breath.

"Hey, Sam." I said softly.

"I was...'huff'...late eating breakfast today...'cough'...My mom said I had to. And I thought...'huff huff'...I missed you guys."

"Nah. Not at all."

"Say...where is everybody? How come you're walking by yourself?"

"Adam's dad is in town. So he's taking him to the Cubs today." I mumbled.

"What? Awww, that's SO not fair! Why couldn't MY dad be cool like that? He'd NEVER take me to a Cubs game unless it was on the weekend, or a night game or something." He pouted. Sighhh...he had no idea. "So where's Brody? I want my piggy back ride."

"He had to do something before school, so..." I shrugged my shoulders and just kept walking while Sam trotted along beside me. He gave me a weird look.

"Dude, what's up? You look kinda down today."

"It's nothing. Just a lot on my mind, I guess..." But before I could even finish my sentence, Sam grabbed a hold of my shirt.

"SHIT! HIDE!!!" He shouted.

"What?"

"HIDE!!!" Then I saw him practically dive behind Mrs. Rosenbaum's bushes and lie flat on his stomach.

I, of course, had no intention of hiding unless there was an armed gunman on the roof across the street, and since that was highly unlikely, I looked back to see Sam's mom driving down the street behind us. Probably to drop his baby sister off at pre-school. She hardly even looked in my direction, and went on about her business as normal. When she turned the corner, I told Sam, "You can 'get up' now, Commando Joe, she's gone."

"Gee, could you be any SLOWER, Zack? I said 'hide'...not stand there and look around."

"Can you explain to me again why I should be hiding from YOUR parents?" I said, grinning a bit as I saw the little blond imp brushing dirt and leaves off of the front of him.

"Come on, dude, you know how they are. They think you guys are gonna get me into trouble or something. I keep telling them, you're ONLY one year older than me, it's not like I'm joining the Hell's Angels." He slung his bag over his shoulder, and forced his way through Mrs. Rosenbaum's bushes to get back on the sidewalk. I'm sure she's just gonna LOVE that when she sees it. "They just don't understand, that's all."

Now Sam's parents were a bit strict, but they were hardly iron fisted tyrants. Not by a long shot. I'm sure Sam was exaggerating a bit. They just wanted him to have friends his own age, I guess. In high school, sometimes one year can make a difference. "You know...if it's gonna mean 'trouble', Sam...I mean, we don't want that any more than you do. We love walking to school with you, but if it gets to the point where you have to resort to secret military black op evasive maneuvers just to be around us...maybe it's not worth it."

Sam got the most sour look on his baby face. "SCREW them! I LIKE you guys! I know who I wanna hang out with. Why do they even care?"

"It's just...don't you kinda have to do what they tell you to?"

"Hell no! If I did that I'd be a TOTAL dork and not have any fun at all!" He said, bring a surprise giggle to me.

"Hehehe, so you just ignore them all the way, huh?" I asked.

"Nope. Better." He grinned. "I listen to every word...and then I look for a loophole. Piece of cake!"

"And what if there's no loophole?"

"Psh! Please! They're just PARENTS, dude. There's ALWAYS a loophole." He smiled wickedly, and I couldn't help but wrap an arm around his neck and pull him close for a second or two. Leave it to Sam to help me feel better when my mind is running wild.

Sam was a real chatterbox all the way to school, jumping from one topic to the next and going back again. It takes a certain level of 'skill' to actually keep up with him sometimes, and even then you need to stay well practiced in 'Sam-speak'. Still, it was highly entertaining, and kept my mind off of....

"BRODY!" Sam cried out as he saw him locking up his bike outside the school's side door. He ran up and promptly proceeded to climb up on his back while Brody looked back and grinned at his enthusiasm.

They goofed around for a bit, and then I walked up and gave him a bashful smile. "Hi, Brody."

He looked back at me, and signaled for Sam to climb down as he flashed me a sheepish grin of his own. "Hey." His hazel eyes were soooo beautiful. They sparkled when they landed on me, and the only thing that was bright enough to distract you from their mind-blowing radiance was the kissably sweet splendor of his smile. "I'm sorry I had to step out on you guys this morning. I wouldn't have been able to get there in time." He said, is fingers lightly brushing some of his dark brown curls off of his forehead. They were still damp from a recent shower that you could smell from a distance. That candied fragrance of soap, and shampoo, and just...'beauty'. It made me blush. I could feel it.

"It's ok. Don't worry about it." I replied under my breath.

Sam was still standing there, smiling, and chattering away, but Brody's eyes and mine kept glancing at each other, and we were both obviously connected in a way that Sam even noticed after a minute or two. His forehead wrinkled for a second, but he didn't seem all that bothered by it. He just figured us for being weird. "Well...I'm gonna go. WAIT for me after school, k? Don't leave without me!" He told us, hehehe, as if we EVER leave without him. And he skipped off to enjoy his typical freshman day. Leaving me and my...um...sweetheart, alone to talk.

"So...I know this might seem kinda stupid for me to ask..." He said, distracting his eyes with his bike lock for a few seconds. "...But...things didn't, like, suddenly...change from yesterday, did they?" It almost looked like he was bracing himself for my answer, and I feel like shit for putting him on edge because of my stupidity and overall weirdness.

It was kinda scary to say it, but I told him the truth. "Nope. I...I wanna come over." It seemed to relieve him, and when he smiled, it was like my soul had dropped down into my shoes, and I started giggling a bit to myself as I tried to force my blush to tone itself down a bit.

"Cool. Me too." He said. "You wanna walk in together?"

It was a tiny little gesture, but to me...it might as well have been a wedding proposal. I nodded, feeling that awful weight lifting itself from my chest, and we turned to walk side by side in through the side door. I can't describe the feeling. The nervousness, the joy, the fear, the inner wiggles...driving me crazy! But whatever this strange emotion was pumping through my system at such an alarming rate...it was highly addictive. And I never wanted to live another day without it.

The school day was spent in a dreamy haze that kept my poor brain too occupied to concern myself with anything even remotely academic. It was seriously hard to think about him and not smile. Sighhhh....and it was even harder to keep still when thoughts of his lips against mine swept through me. His lips are soooo soft, and he's a really gentle kisser. It's like...'tender'. There's real emotion in it. And he tried not to breathe really hard, but I can hear him breathing hard anyway. And sometimes, when I touch his side, he sighhhs out loud...and sometimes he moans a little bit. JUST a little. Oh God, it's so cute! And when he whimpers....omigod...when he whimpers, I almost cream myself! That's something *I* should be doing, not Brody! I'M the one being blessed with the most gorgeous boy on the planet. I'M the one who's lucky that he'd even get close enough to spit on me, much less kiss me. I can't see what would be so pleasurable about the experience for him. But...if he's willing to fake it just for my benefit...then it's more than anybody else has ever done. And that makes me feel good inside.

I saw him again at lunch, and we walked to class together. It was a struggle, keeping our friendly interactions normal while being filled with such a limitless amount of energy. As much as I fought it at first, I was now willing to give him EVERYTHING! Every piece of me! You would think that being this vulnerable in front of someone who could hurt you worse than you've ever been hurt before...would be BEYOND terrifying! But it wasn't. For the first time, I was able to find faith and trust in something that was bigger than both of us. And it felt like it would catch me, even if I fell. I have GOT to find a way to clean that basement up early enough to spend the whole damn DAY with him! I've got to! I know he said that we'd go slow...but I don't even think I have any control over how fast I fall for him anymore. He just invades so much of my mind state, and he brings me so much life. I never felt appreciated before he came along. I found some truly satisfying 'substitutes' for happiness and security...but even my very BEST friends couldn't do for me what he could. I just wished that I could hug him close enough to inhale that unique 'Brody-scent' from the nape of his smooth neck. Oh what a thrill it would be to nuzzle my nose in that spot, and kiss it lovingly while he held me tight. It nearly brought an army of uncontrollable tears back to my eyes, and I had to look away from him just to keep his beauty from overwhelming me all at once.

The second we were apart, I missed him. I thought that it was just plain stupid for me to be SO unimaginably sweet on this boy...but my ability to prevent it, contain it, or deny it, went out the window with the first kiss. And I haven't been able to get back to my life since. The mask, the secrets, the pain, the fear, the doubt...it was like I had to dig extra deep to find them any more. And after a few moments of doing that...I began to wonder why I would be digging for those things anyway. Why did I need them? Why did I cling to them so desperately? They only caused me pain and anguish, and Brody gave me something so much more...'productive', you know? So much more fulfilling. God...is love supposed to make you 'babble' like this in your head all day long?

It wasn't until it was almost time to go home for the day, that I reminded myself to wait for Sam by my locker so he didn't think that I left him behind. And it was then, that something came to me. Sam said..there's always a loophole. Always. Something about that crossed my mind...and suddenly, everything became so clear to me. My dad never said that I had to clean out the basement ON Saturday morning. He just said that he wanted it clean. So...what if I started today, and just cleaned a little bit at the time, every night, until Saturday morning. I could easily finish it in time. I had FOUR DAYS if I started tonight! I could finish it in that amount of time! Easily! I didn't want him to see me doing it, or he'd close up that little loophole real quick. But if I did it in secret...and then on Saturday just told him that it was all done and left the house before he could come up with another excuse to keep me there for the whole day, then I'd be home free. Sure, he'd be mad about it and probably beat me up good afterwards...but I'd still get to spend the day with Brody. And somehow, he was more than worth the risk. I've taken a million beatings for little to no reason at all over the years. What's one more? At least this one would be for something good. Something that I could remember forever.

I guess you never take more chances, or bigger risks, than you do with....'love'.

God...you have NO idea how cool it is to say that! Even to myself!

So I went home that afternoon, did my homework, avoided my dad as much as possible...despite his little petty instigations...and I waited until night time to come up with a plan. Lucky for me, my dad wasn't much of a night person. If he stayed up past 11:30, it was only because he absolutely HAD to. So I waited for him to go to sleep, and my mom went shortly after. I was a bit nervous about the whole thing, but kept myself together. I made sure to buy a few Mountain Dew's from the corner store so I could drink them around 11 PM and keep myself from falling asleep. I waited until I heard snoring, and then waited a half hour more. I figured I might as well wait until they were in the deepest sleep possible, right?

Then...I put on my socks, shoes, some sweatpants, and an old ratty t-shirt, and took the broom and some cleaning supplies downstairs into the basement. The hardest part was opening the back door. That stupid lock was all clunky and loud. I literally jumped at the amount of noise that it took just to unlock it and lock it back. Geez! Thank God my parents are deep sleepers and their room is far enough away to not really have that echoing 'racket' rip them out of their unconsciousness. I seriously need to find a quieter way to sneak out of here.

I went down the back steps of our apartment, and opened the basement door. It was pitch black until I turned on the dim light over the washing machines. Jesus...the place was a mess. It was dark, and damp, and dingy as hell. It was almost disheartening to look at at...but I couldn't let that deter me from getting it done. I had four nights to make this place look like a honeymoon suite...and I'll be damned if I don't get it done!

So I tried to figure out where to start while standing in the center of this disaster...and went to work. I started by sweeping the giant clouds of dust and dirt up from the floor. I had brought down garbage bags from the kitchen, and just did all that I could to make the floor as clean as possible. Ugh...I think I must have inhaled about a pound of dirt into my lungs, and it was all over my face from me wiping my forehead whenever sweat was about to get in my eye. But I kept pushing myself to get it done. I cleaned the floor, and I picked up all the garbage I could. I even took a sponge and some scrub powder to the sink between the washing machines. It was hard work, and I kept scrubbing, sweeping, cleaning, and grinding, until I was simply too damn tired to go on. My clothes didn't even fit me the same. My arms were sore, my knees hurt from kneeling down on them for so long, my face was raw and red from me constantly wiping the sweat away from my face...but when I was finished for the night, and I looked back down at that basement floor...I couldn't help but be proud of what I had done. It was soooo much cleaner than it was when I started! And if this was just the first night, I could SURELY finish this before Saturday!

I made sure to rinse out all of the sponges, cloths, and rags, that I used to clean with...grabbed the broom, and wiped the fatigue out of my eyes as I marched back up the back steps. I didn't even know what time it was...which is why it shocked the hell out of me to see that it was almost 5 AM when I looked at the clock in the kitchen! JESUS!!! I tried to 'quietly' hurry up and put everything back in its proper place, and then stripped out of my clothes to try to get some sleep before school. Sure, I was absolutely filthy...to the point where I could almost feel an inch of scummy film on the surface of my skin...but I couldn't shower now. They'd wake up and wonder what I was up to. I'll just have to wash it off in the morning. Um...well...later in the morning. I just have to make sure that I work faster tomorrow night, that's all.

A few more nights of this...and me and Brody will get to be together! FINALLY! Sighhhh.....just a few more nights.

I passed out as soon as I got my shoes off and my head hit the pillow. That hard labor had completely worn me out. I actually think that I woke up with one of my socks still on. Weird.

I couldn't WAIT to hit the shower! Ugh! I felt so dirty! Hehehe, I hope my mom didn't peek in on me this morning. I still had dirt on my face. As if my morning drool and caked up eyes weren't enoughof a disgusting vision of how ugly I truly am. Wow...the warm water never felt so good. I was yawning off and on, but it felt good to know that I got so much done last night. Because it was definitely a move in the right direction. At this point, I might finish a whole day early, and then I'd get to sleep on Friday night before going to Brody's...and be wide awake for our day together! Ahhhhh! How sweet is that??? Hehehe!

Unfortunately, only sleeping for two and a half hours...definitely has its side effects. And not only was I nodding off in half of my classes, but I damn near fell asleep during lunch. Hehehe! Which caused Brody to poke fun at me, but at least it spared me from hearing all about Adam's day with his dad. You would have thought they went to the moon together, or something. Still, having him around made it easier to be next to Brody without that invisible pressure suffocating me every second. Don't get me wrong, it was fun...I just...I was hardly able to concentrate enough to come up with something 'cool' to say to him. And I want to impress him. I always want to impress him. Always.

I pretty much fell asleep, face down in my text book when I came home from school. My dad didn't seem to care enough to even yell at me for anything today, so I suppose it was a good day. I felt my mom slide the book from under my head when she came home, and she asked me if I was feeling alright. "I'm ok. It was just a long day, that's all" I told her, and she kissed the top of my head and said it would be alright to take a little nap if I needed to, just so long as I was able to go back to sleep later on tonight. I swear...my bed never felt so comfortable.

Getting up about an hour later, I jumped right back into my homework, and waited for my parents to go to sleep again. Then it was back to 'work' down in the basement. I made sure to be a little bit more quiet this time, and when I turned on the light, what I saw was still a bit of a mess. I knew that I had to get enough of the lock up finished tonight to be able to finish everything up tomorrow night for SURE. So I didn't take too much time making a particular game plan this time. I just filled up a bucket with soap and water, rolled up my sleeves, and started scrubbing.

I had a lot of useless junk to move around. Christmas decorations, Halloween decorations, our holiday luggage, old lawn chairs and folding tables, some boxes of miscellaneous junk, curtain rods, a barbecue grill, old toys of mine from when I was, like, SIX...the amount of 'stuff' compacted in that little tiny space seemed to be endless. I moved everything out, trying hard to keep an eye out in case I had a sudden collapse and found myself buried under a ton of rubble until the next morning. I swept out all of the cobwebs, fought off some VERY big spiders, and took a sponge to the walls to make them look clean.

God...my arms felt like they were going to fall off. They were still sore from last night's cleaning, and my recently 're-located' shoulder was paining me greatly. But despite the fatigue and the soreness, I just yawned a few times, wiped the exhaustion out of my eyes, and guzzled down my last few Mountain Dew's...and kept working.

I had to carefully put everything back in the lock up a little better than where I found it, before finishing up for the night. I kept looking around, making sure that what I had left to do could be finished up on my last night of sneaking around. I pushed myself to stay awake a bit later, trying to finish up just a LITTLE bit more. I HAVE to finish. I HAVE to get to Brody's early. Just....just ONE more hour...and then I'll go to bed. I swear. He's depending on me to not screw this up.

I finally gathered my stuff, and went up the back steps again. This time, I was TWICE as dirty as last time. And had to actually go into the bathroom, peel my sweaty shirt off of me, and take a warm wet washcloth to my face and chest just to get some of the 'grime' off of me. Yuck...I felt like shit. I washed under my arms, and attempted to get some of the dirt off...but I was soooo tired that I couldn't think of anything else other than slamming my face deep into that pillow and going back to sleep. So I made sure to take my washcloth with me, as it was way too dirty to just put back up on the towel rack. They' know I was up to something with my rag being that dirty. Then I used my fingers to shake some of the dust out of my hair, and washed it down the drain. Sighhhh...just one more night of this. If I can just make it ONE more night...I'll be alright. I can do this. I just have to stay awake.

I turned off the light, and was getting ready to go back to my room, when I heard my father's voice in the hallway. "What are you doing?" I INSTANTLY froze up! He was standing there in the dark, only his blackened silhouette was visible, and it frightened me to the point where I think my HEART actually stopped for a couple of beats. "Are you going to answer me?"

"N-N-Nothing...I just...I had to go to the bathroom. That's all." I said, trying hard to keep my timid voice from trembling

He stood there in silence for a moment, and it terrified me. Because if he found out that I was lying to him...he'd make me hurt again. He'd REALLY make me hurt. His silence was killing me. It nearly broke me down into a fit of shivers and my eyes almost began to water as I contemplated just telling him the truth so he'd let me take my beating and get it over with. Maybe he'd go easy on me if I told him the truth. Maybe he wouldn't hurt me so bad. I should tell him. He's gonna hit me anyway. I KNOW he is! I should just...soften the blow a little bit. Just to say that I tried. Go on..tell him, Zack. Say it. Hurry! Don't make him ASK! Because if he has to ask me if I'm lying...he's gonna make it worse. He's gonna make it SO much worse!

I was quaking before him, so small in comparison to his intimidating size...and I opened my mouth slowly...taking a deep breath so I could just come clean and brace myself to take whatever he gives me. And that's when he said, "Go to bed. It's late. And DON'T make any more noise tonight, you hear me?" He kind bumped me with his shoulder as he walked past me and went into the bathroom himself. I let out a loud sigh as all of the breath I had came rushing out of my lungs all at once. I fell back against the wall as my body nearly collapsed from the sudden loss of tension in my muscles, and I tried to get my breathing under control again. I hurried into my room, and stripped out of my clothes to jump in the bed and turn the lights out before he came out of that bathroom and started asking any questions.

I heard the toilet flush, and the bathroom door open..a few quiet footsteps coming back down the hallway. But...they stopped in front of my bedroom door for a second, and my breath got caught in my throat. What did I do??? Did I forget to clean something? Did I leave something dirty in there? Does he know? Could he tell I was lying? Aww, please go away! PLEASE! Just...just go away. Go away! Please....just go away..please?

He stood there for a few seconds as the terrifying sensation of being found out traveled through me like a bolt of lightning. And then he just...walked away. I didn't even know that I had been holding my breath until I let it go I didn't even know that there were tears in my eyes, until I blinked again...and they rolled down my cheeks. And when he closed his bedroom door back, I nearly started to weep over my own survival. And I wished, for the billionth time probably...that I didn't have to live like this. I could pray...but what good would it do? I just have to be strong. And even more than that, I have to be careful. If I just keep navigating the waters like I have been, I'll make it out of this alive. I've just gotta stop being so fucking STUPID all the time! That's all. Just..stop being so stupid....

The next morning came WAY too quick for me. But once I jumped in the shower and ate some breakfast, I felt a little bit better. My whole body felt kinda 'numb', especially my face. It hurt to keep my eyes open, but it burned when I closed them. I went to Adam's house, laid back on his bed, and caught about 15 minutes of sleep while him and Brody played games. And I caught about 20 minutes of sleep in my study hall. God, I'm glad that I didn't have any homework to do. I slept some more during a video that we had in History class...but that was kind of an 'accident'. Still, it felt good. And when I got home, I didn't even bother opening up my books for homework. I just slid onto my bed sheets and basically passed out. My dad woke me up an hour later by splashing hot water out of the kitchen sink on my face, and told me to 'get the fuck up and make dinner'. Which sucked....but once I was finished making a frozen chicken and vegetable stir fry out of the freezer...he left me alone. So I just peeled the wet bed sheets off of my bed and slept on the mattress for a while longer. I didn't even eat dinner until almost 10 o'clock. And that was just enough fuel to go back down and finish up in the basement.

I was working my as off down there, and even made sure to do the landlord's spot too. Just in case my dad tried to use that as an excuse. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of dirt and dust on my clothes and face, and even MORE sleep lost..but dammit...I finished it. I finished it ALL! I even rearranged the junk in the lock up to make it fit better, and give us some more room. Um...for MORE junk, I suppose.

I couldn't help but look back and marvel at my own work. And I finished pretty early this time too. It was only 2:30 in the morning, which means that I can get plenty of sleep before getting up to go see Brody later. That alone, brought a smile to my face. And as exhausted as I was, the memory of his arms around me energized my very spirit. And I needed that.

See? If I just keep pushing myself, and pushing, and pushing, and pushing...I can DO it. I can do anything! You know, my dad might actually even appreciate all of the hard work I put in the last few nights. I mean...it wasn't easy, but after nearly KILLING myself to get it done...he can't help but be just a little bit impressed, right? Let's hope so.

When I opened my eyes that morning, and saw sunlight streaming in through my window...the biggest smile imaginable spread out to both sides of my face! I rolled over onto my back, and literally giggled to myself as I tried to contain the tingly vibrations rising up in the center of my chest and spreading out to every part of me and beyond. Hehehe, it's SATURDAY!!! It's really SATURDAY!!! I wasn't even TIRED anymore! I just jumped out of bed, grabbed my bathrobe and ran to take an especially 'thorough' shower. Omigod, what if he wants to kiss again? What if that's ALL he wants to do for the whole DAY??? Sighhhh.....what if he wants to do...more?

I had to hide a HUGE boner as I raced for the bathroom, and jumped in the shower. I was soooooo hard that I thought it was literally trying to grow another three inches or something. But I refused to stroke it though. Nope. I'm 'saving' it. Hehehe...well, I DON'T KNOW! Maybe Brody might wanna....'see' me squirt or something. I don't want it to be some lame dribble-fest. UGH! What am I even SAYING??? Hahaha! That's just weird! But I LIKE being weird right now! Because right now...there's NO pain! NONE! Not anywhere! And I'm gonna be away from it for a whole AFTERNOON!

It was only 10:30 in the morning, but I called Brody anyway, and sure enough, he was up and waiting for me to come over already. I told him, "I'm coming! I'm coming! I just gotta get something to eat, k?"

And he said, "Alright. Cool. I'll be waiting."

Ahhhhh!!! He's waiting! Is that awesome or what?

I was hoping to get out of that house before my father woke up and ruined my breakfast, but he seemed to be an early riser today. Probably eager to fuck up my day with that stupid little 'pet project' of his. He saw me at the breakfast table, all dressed up and ready to go, hair fixed, smelling good, and TOTALLY unable to keep from smiling as I ate my mom's hash browns Instantly, from the second he sat down at that table, he looked at me with a sinister grin. He raised an eyebrow for a moment, and I just...I didn't care. I don't think he understood that. That I just didn't give a FUCK about him and his games today! I did everything he asked me to do, and now I was going to be with somebody who actually loves me for me. Who never hits me, or curses at me, or calls me names. Who's HAPPY to see me happy. And who cares for me when I'm not happy. So...for the first time, I looked him right back in his stupid fucking FACE...and I kept smiling! Smiling cheerfully while shoveling hash browns into my mouth one forkful at a time.

"You got awfully dressed up to clean up the basement, pretty boy. You sure you don't want to put on something else?" He said with a smartass grin on his lips. "I certainly hope you didn't forget Because you're not going 'anywhere' until it's clean. And that could take a loooong time."

"It's clean already." I said, and ate some more hash browns with a smile.

His face dropped immediately, and he said, "That basement is NOT clean. It's a mess. And you're gonna clean it up."

"I already cleaned it up." I said, and ate some more.

This time he sneered at me, and my mom looked back at me from the stove. "You cleaned it up, Zack?"

"Yep. A little bit each day, until it was all done. I even rearranged the boxes to make them fit better." I said, and looked back at my father, who was NOT liking this at all.

"I didn't tell you to rearrange anything. And it's NOT just our storage space down there. The landlord's space has to be done too..."

"I did it. I finished it yesterday."

"That SINK down there is filthy. It needs a good scrubbing..."

"Already did it." I grinned. "And swept all the dust and stuff from behind the washing machines and dryers. I even swept the cobwebs out of the corners."

He was stuck! He was actually STUCK! There wasn't SHIT that he could say to me! And that kept me grinning from ear to ear while I finished off my breakfast! My mom smiled in surprise and said, "Well, aren't you the little patriot, today?"

My mom and I shared a smile from across the room, and I said, "Well, I wanted to go over to a friend's house today. So I figured I'd get my chores out of the way and just go."

"That's the way to do it, kiddo." She said.

But my father wouldn't have it. "No, no, no...that's not what I told you to do."

And I said, "Yes, it is. You said clean out the whole basement, and the landlord's lock up too. So I did." Sam's right...there IS always a loophole!

"No...you were supposed to do it TODAY! Not sneaking around and doing it throughout the week"

"But it's done already."

"I don't CARE if it's done already! You find yourself something ELSE to clean then! Clean up your room!"

"My room's already clean..."

"Then clean the FUCKING driveway!!!" He snapped, and my mother snapped her head back to see what the hell his problem was.

"Geez! What is WRONG with you? Don't talk to him like that!" She said in shock.

"He's playing some little GAME with me, and I'm not going to STAND for it! You're not going anywhere, and that's final! You can stay right here and do your homework for Monday."

"My homework's done for the weekend already. I don't have any left." I was taking a risk, but I was too happy to stop myself from wiggling my eyebrows at him and eat my last bite of hash brown with a smile. "Can I go now?"

"NO!!!" He snarled, but my mother stood up for me.

"Why can't he go and have fun with his friends on a Saturday? He finished his homework, and he did all of his chores...let him go."

"I told him to stay HERE this weekend! Not go out running the streets with his little friends!"

"Well, he deserves to have some fun! He's not a SLAVE! He's a CHILD!" They went back and forth a bit more, their voices escalating into what sounded like it was going to be a fight. And at that moment...an ice cold chill ran down my spine. What if he hits her? What if he starts to treat my mom the way he treats me? I couldn't bear that. I couldn't bear it.

"It's..." I started softly, wishing sooooo badly that I didn't have to say it! But...if it meant saving my mom from the kind of pain that I go through, it would be worth it. "...It's....ok, Mom. I mean...I'll...stay." It drained every bit of joy out of my life all at once. There was no more color, no more sunshine...just this..'misery'.

"No, Zack! You go out, and you have fun."

"Mom...really. It's not that important..."

"It is important. You did a good job, honey, and I don't see any reason for you to be stuck in this house all day on a Saturday As a matter of fact..." She walked over to get her purse, and pulled out a twenty dollar bill, "...You order the boys some pizza and soda. Enjoy yourself."

"You MEAN it???" I said, hope returning to my saddening eyes.

"Damn right. Go. Don't come back until dinner time. Ok?" She gave me a kiss, and with a giant smile, I started to walk away, but then came back to give her a tight hug around the waist, burying my head in her embrace.

"Thanks, Mom. Thank you sooooo much!" And I sniffled a bit as I avoided my father's angry eyes, walking out of the house. I closed the back door behind me, my legs trembling from what had just taken place. I closed my eyes for a second, and tried to jus get my body in enough of a working order to move again.

I heard arguing as I walked down the steps, and stopped for a moment. I couldn't make out what they were saying, but I know a heated argument when I hear one. I swear...if he lays one hand on her...just ONE hand...I'll kill him. I'll reach for the sharpest object in the kitchen, and I'll stab it right through the center of his fucking HEART! Over and over again! And I won't stop stabbing until I've been repaid for EVERY bruise, EVERY busted lip, EVERY bloody nose, EVERY curse word, EVERY tear, EVERY sniffle, EVERY FUCKING SORE SPOT THAT HE EVER PUT ON ME!!! All I needed was the sound of a single slap! Just one! I was almost ANXIOUS to hear it!

I may not be able to stand up for myself...but I'd gladly cut his fucking throat for HER! No hesitation at all.

I felt my fists balled up, my teeth grinding, and I heard a few more shouted words before he left the kitchen and, I guess, went in his room and slammed the door shut.

Then...silence.

I waited for a minute or two, just to see if anything else happened. And that's when my mom opened the back door and walked out with a bag of trash. "Zack? What are you still doing here?"

"Are you alright?" It just...came out like that. I didn't mean to just 'ask' her, but...I was almost looking for an excuse to kill the son of a bitch once and for all. Just so the nightmare can stop.

She gave me such a look of concern, and walked down a few steps to brush her hand over my head. "Aww, baby..I'm fine. Your father is just being 'cranky' today. That's all."

"No he's not. He's being MEAN! And if he touches you..."

"Hehehe, touches me? Zack, don't be silly. It's just a little disagreement. That's all. Ok?" She was looking into my eyes. Her eyes were my eyes, and they reflected such a level of unconditional love for everything that I was. How could I tell her? What would she think of me if she knew how much pain that man had put me through? I was a total COWARD! A worthless fucking coward! And I had to look away from her to keep her from seeing me upset. "Go on now. Be with your friends. You're only young once. Leave the 'cranky' stuff for me and your dad to work out. Alright?" She handed me the bag in her hand. "Here. Will you take the trash out for me?"

"Yes, Mom." I said...and I just...I left.

But I'm going to check her from head to toe when I get back. You better believe me when I say that putting his filthy fucking hands on my mother is ALL the 'push' I need to send him straight to the morgue! I don't care about going to jail, I don't even care about going to HELL! Just don't you TOUCH her, you piece of shit! Not while I know where you sleep!

I look forward to Brody bringing me some 'life' today. I need it. I need it like I need air I need it like I need food. Please...my angel.....

...Save me?

Copyright © 2010 Comicality; All Rights Reserved.

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Okay, it's sweet that Zack gets all exited when the door bell rings, and he and Brody get to kiss at Adam's house. But there's a lack of consistency here. Where are the other guys that usually come to play games in the morning (as we are told in on of the first chapters) ? Also the fact that they are not present makes it somewhat unbelievable that Adam does not notice the lovers' behaviour even more.

But it's still an awesome if gut wrenching story.

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Ok, this has been bugging me but I feel like I have to say it. Thankfully in my life I've been lucky or blessed enough that I didn't grow up in an abusive home, so I know this kind of stuff happens in real like and this is how people cope and allow stuff like this to go on.

Zack's behavior, this clinging to his secrets and not letting anyone in or telling about the misery in his life is believable and understandable. It's actually pretty common for boys who are abused to be ashamed of what they go through and keep it secret.

But his mother is the most willfully ignorant person ever. Okay, that's harsh, but I actually find myself hating her character a little bit because she just seems to ignore what's going on in her own house with her own family. The signs are all there, and have been for years and she's just ignored them and kept on as if everything is fine. The way Zack's father beats him, there's no way the shoulder dislocation is the first hospital trip they took. The way he broke down after it happened. The he closes down whenever his dad is around, the fact that she recognizes that something happened that has made him withdrawn for years. But this chapter, she sees the abusive language his father uses, and Zack talking about him touching her. Does she not see it? I mean really? Does she think that all that doesn't happen when she's not around to intervene? Lady needs to wake the fuck up.

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On 1/18/2015 at 10:09 AM, spikey582 said:

Ok, this has been bugging me but I feel like I have to say it. Thankfully in my life I've been lucky or blessed enough that I didn't grow up in an abusive home, so I know this kind of stuff happens in real like and this is how people cope and allow stuff like this to go on.

Zack's behavior, this clinging to his secrets and not letting anyone in or telling about the misery in his life is believable and understandable. It's actually pretty common for boys who are abused to be ashamed of what they go through and keep it secret.

But his mother is the most willfully ignorant person ever. Okay, that's harsh, but I actually find myself hating her character a little bit because she just seems to ignore what's going on in her own house with her own family. The signs are all there, and have been for years and she's just ignored them and kept on as if everything is fine. The way Zack's father beats him, there's no way the shoulder dislocation is the first hospital trip they took. The way he broke down after it happened. The he closes down whenever his dad is around, the fact that she recognizes that something happened that has made him withdrawn for years. But this chapter, she sees the abusive language his father uses, and Zack talking about him touching her. Does she not see it? I mean really? Does she think that all that doesn't happen when she's not around to intervene? Lady needs to wake the fuck up.

She may be the character we know least about. Except for the father. We see her less, we'll let her win. 

 

 we don't know what might be in her background. There might be some watershed moment in her past that completely informs her behavior. 

 

 The fact that she stands her ground in that kitchen and lets him go makes him go, almost entirely redeems her so far for me. 

 

It may in fact be a sign of exactly the waking up you are wanting to see.

 

 As others have said, disappearing reappearing supporting characters are something to watch out for. (I'm aware I'm commenting on the early chapters of something that goes much further ahead. This is just a general point.) The supporting characters need to be, even if only for the author, almost as real and permanent  as the leads. I believe this, I struggle with this. 

 

There is a breach of characterization that bothers me. The father. If he is a control freak, how come he  didn't notice the basement was clean.  I expected him to go down and check it just to make sure it was exactly the punishment he had in mind, even if he only looked that morning. 

 

I expected  either:

 

he would argue the point that it couldn't have been Zack that had done it. Somehow corner Zack with his lie that night about the bathroom. Or accuse him of lying about being the one who cleaned it.

 

Or that he would see it and trash it so that Zack had to clean it again.  and catch him "lying"about it being clean

 

However, the bastard is human and arrogant  and it's not impossible that it could happen exactly the way it did, simply because he was too self-assured to check. 

 

 I consider myself an extremely open-minded optimist.  in fact I teeter on the edge of plummeting into negativity.  I'm entirely more ready to overestimate my villains. This probably only stood out to me because I'm a vicious scourge upon the lives of my characters. 

 

( maybe it was a writing prompt I picked up somewhere, but I sometimes imagine what it would be like to meet my characters. As interesting as that might be, the fantasy usually turns into a Lynch Mob)

 

 I don't know. I had more to say I think but I'll leave it on a funny note. 

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Cleaning the basement like he did was risky and they’ll be hell to pay when mom isn’t around. Still, I’m glad he’ll get some time with Brody.

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The mother may be getting a bum rap.  So far what we know about her is that she works, and works late when she can.  She has some kind of dress code or uniform that is required, but no idea of what she does.  Does the father even work, is he just a stay home drinker, but not quite drunk?  

She seems to have the right instincts.

Zack sees hers as his only safety zone before Brody, that says a lot.  It may be intermittent but she is there for him, on at least some occasions.

That she has noticed his change, and her happiness at seeing him happy again is real, for both of them.

It may help to remember that most physical abuse, and sexual abuse of children, is by either a relative or friend, which is why it is not thought about.  It just seems to crazy to consider. 

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On the issue of Zack's mother not noticing what's going on: Keep in mind that there is a really long history there that we never got to see. Presumably she once loved her husband very much, and might still do so. Hell, he might have been her very own "Brody" to her! Think about it: if you have someone in your life that you really love like that, surely that makes it a tall order to suddenly see things objectively. So they have been living together for at least 15 years, have been very close, her husband has always been nice and civil towards her. For all we know their fight in this chapter might have been a first, or a very rare occurence at the least. So for her to suddenly become suspicious about him is not going to come easy, even if the writing is on the wall and the signs are as "obvious" as they appear to us readers.

Zack's mother certainly noticed that something is wrong, but putting her finger on exactly what it is that's wrong? That's not easy for her. And with Zack doing everything he can to hide what's happening from her, she simply hasn't been able to put two and two together yet.

The most obvious sign that I'd expect her to notice is how Zack's mood instantly changes whenever his father enters the room. But even here: We only get told about Zack's reaction from Zack's inside view of events. How obvious his reaction is on the outside is much less clear. And even if it is that obvious, the human brain has developed a remarkable tool-kit for explaining away events that don't seem to fit into one's pre-conceived worldview. I'm sure Zack sometimes forces himself to keep up the outside appearance of being happy when his mom and father are both in the room, and BANG, here comes confirmation bias and his mom gets all the "proof" she ever needed to think that everything's just fine.

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The fact that the mother does not see anything may be because the father has covered his "ass" and keeps threatening Zach! He might have threatened Zach with hurting his mother if he told and Zach is only protecting her in the only way he can by letting the abuse continue. What I don't understand is the neighbor next door hasn't heard anything the way they yell at each other. And if he has, why hasn't he called the law to tell them that Zach is being abused?

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