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Authors: Rosie Somers

Because I'm Disposable

BOOK: Because I'm Disposable
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Because I'm Disposable

By Rosie Somers

 

This book is a work of fiction. All characters, places, names, events are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any likeness to any events, locations, or persons, alive or otherwise, is entirely coincidental.

 

Because I'm Disposable

copyright ©
2014 by Rosie Somers

 

License Notes:

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

Edited by
Emily Ward

Book Design by
Eden Plantz

 

 

To Adam, for always loving me for me
.

 

 

Thank you to my husband and children for always supporting my madcap ideas with verve.

 

A huge thanks to Emily Ward, whose guidance and insight have been paramount in bringing Callie and Link to life.

 

And finally,
I owe a debt of gratitude to S.T. for always encouraging me to
stay the course
. Thank you for your endless support and enthusiasm. I couldn't ask for a better cheerleader.

 

Chapter One

I tried to kill myself the night my father died.
Maybe he kicked it from the shock of seeing me bleeding out on the bathroom floor. But more than likely, he’d already taken his swan-dive down the stairs when Mom found me. It’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg situation, and I’ll probably never know.

Mom waited fo
r me to get out of the hospital—seventy-two snail-paced hours of suicide-watch fun—to have Dad’s funeral. Waiting only made things worse. Not because my father was gone, no. Looking around at anguished loved ones, watching them dab away mournful tears was depressing only because it brought home just what a horrible daughter I really was. How heartless did it make me that I wasn’t sad he was gone?

If I was alone, I’d have spit on the shiny, black casket Mom was laying a white rose on.
Heck, I was still considering it. Maybe no one would notice. Maybe they would be too busy mourning.

Of course, Aunt Una could afford to lose sleep over the death of her beloved nephew.
Uncle Pete deserved to grieve the younger brother who should have buried him—at least thirty years from now. They didn’t know Daddy like I knew him. They knew the man who drove his wife and daughters six hours to visit Grandma Harris for every Holiday.

They didn’t know about the nights spent binge-drinking until he passed out on the foyer floor, too drunk to climb the stairs.
They didn’t know about the four—or was it five?—jobs he’d lost this year alone, all because he’d been too smashed to show up. And they certainly didn’t know about the times he’d chased me through the house with the nearest household object turned ersatz weapon, breaking through whatever door I tried to hide behind so he could leave me broken and bloody and wishing I could end him.

To my father’s
family, he had been a saint—a hard-working, family man who adored his wife and daughters. Yeah, he loved me so much, he’d fractured two of my ribs twelve days ago.

My mother shuddered, pressed her over-used Kleenex to her mouth, and sobbed silently as she left the line, following Uncle Pete and my cousin, Toby, back to their seats.
Hope
fully, she would be able to hold it together during the wake.
Her mouse-brown hair was already slipping out of her chignon, and mascara was smeared at the corners of her dark eyes, which were bloodshot and tear-filled. More than likely, she would wind up locked in her room, ignoring the world. Just like she always did when something bad happened.

I didn’t want to take that last step, the one that would put me close enough to look down at my father’s dead body, but a shove from Corrine sent me sprawling gracelessly toward the casket.
I glared over my shoulder at her, once I caught my balance. She smiled impishly back at me, a younger, cheerier picture of my mother’s Mediterranean beauty. What were little sisters for, if not to make you almost fall flat on your face at your father’s funeral? Okay, that wasn’t exactly fair. She was a good little sister, the best I could have asked for.

That was why I always took the beatings.

I inched up to the casket, which was too elaborate and expensive for such a waste of a man. My heart thumped so wildly, I half expected it to burst from my chest any second to land piteously in that ornate, mahogany box. Wouldn’t that be fitting—to bury my heart with the man who’d ripped it out of my chest more times during my sixteen years than I could count.

As it turned out, my heart stayed where it belonged, right behind those two healing ribs.
But, at that first good look at Daddy’s pasty, serene face, my stomach plummeted to my feet. Time ground to a halt, and everything around me—my sister, the preacher, the collection of lilies and roses Uncle Pete had said were absolutely necessary—it all melted away. My father’s face shifted and morphed until he was no longer lying prone, looking so much like a man content in sleep. No, he was towering above me, thinning, blond hair standing at drunken angles from his head. He was menacing, reeking of alcohol, ready to kick the crap out of me while I cowered in the corner of my bedroom.

“You ungrateful little bitch!” The words were barely more than a growl, but he somehow managed to spit on me with each one.
I knew better than to wipe the saliva off my face, though. Any movement, for any reason, when he was this close and he would pounce.

I didn’t even breathe.

His foot shot out anyway, connecting with my thigh as I hugged my knees to my chest. I managed to muffle a cry of pain, but he heard it. And kicked me again. I didn’t make another sound, not when he kicked me twice more and not when he backhanded me so hard it slammed my head into the wall next to me. Not even when he grabbed my upper arms in each of his meaty fists and lifted me, only to toss me to the ground a moment later.

“Cal, you gotta move.” Corrine’s whisper, accompanied by a nudge, broke through my memory, pulling me back to the present.
I dropped my rose onto the casket and went to join my mother at our seats. I didn’t spit on my father’s body. But I should have.

*
* * * *

I dreamed about him that night, dreamed about his fetid
breath as he'd yanked me mid-REM cycle from my bed last month. My own mind betrayed me in my sleep, forcing me to relive being pulled, hair first, out onto the hallway landing, where he bent me precariously over the railing to look down at the living room.

“Look at that mess, you slob.” He grated the words against my ear, his breath forming a potent cloud around my face. His fist was wrapped around a large chunk of my hair, but enough was free that thick, dirty-blonde locks tangled in front of my eyes and slipped into my mouth as I gasped for fresh air around the stench he was breathing over me.

I teetered there, tightly gripping the rail supports and stretching my feet in an effort to feel the carpet against my bare toes, but I didn’t look down. Only when he rocked my body against the thin, oak banister like he was going to push me over, did I focus on the room below me.

Empty beer bottles littered the area around my father’s worn recliner.
Car magazines and fast-food wrappers were strewn across the coffee-table and floor surrounding it. On the floor at one end of the beige couch, a pair of Dad’s shoes and a whole pile of socks—at least four pairs—sat in a jumble.

Just as he shook me, demanding, “Well?
Do you see it, girl?” I spotted the reason he’d woken me; Corrine had left her Geometry book on the couch.

“I’ll go pick it up,” I told him as I tried to wriggle free and touch my feet to the floor.

He didn’t let me go.
“You know better than that!” His words came out more slurred than before, like the angrier he got, the less he was able to articulate. “You’re supposed to have this house picked up before you go to bed. What the hell were you thinking leaving your garbage out like that?” He grabbed the back of my neck, forcing me further over.

“I’m sorry.
I’ll go get it now. It won’t happen again, I promise!” The railing was digging into my stomach, making it hard to breath and even harder to speak, but I forced the words out anyway.

Suddenly, I was yanked back and thrown to the floor.
I crab-walked further away from him, hoping that was the end of it, but my attempt to escape only angered him more. He lunged at me, already pulling his arm back to land a blow.

“Callie?” Corrine’s concerned voice sounded from behind me, stopping my father mid-step.
I was scared to look in her direction, afraid of what he would do if I took my eyes off him. But right now, he wasn’t moving, wasn’t coming toward me anymore. Wasn’t blinking? He’d frozen in place.

“Callie, honey, it’s Corri," she called.

The house faded into darkness, and I became aware of a hand massaging my shoulder. “Cal, wake up. It’s just a dream.”

I opened my eyes to Corrine sitting on the edge of my bed, her face a mask of sympathy.
Thank God she’d woken me when she did. As the dream played through my head, I shut out the real memories of that night, the ones of my father giving me a bloody nose and threatening to throw me down the stairs. I shuddered and pulled my sister down to me for a desperate hug. She was a year younger than me, but right then, I felt like a small child.

“Is he really gone, Corri?”
I needed the reassurance.

“He’s gone forever, Cal.
Never gonna hurt us again.”

But she was wrong.
Gone or not, he was still hurting me.

 

Chapter Two

By the time I returned to school on Wednesday,
almost an entire week after trying to off myself, the news of my date with the razor and my father’s tumble down the stairs had made the rounds. Maybe I was imagining everyone staring at me as I entered B wing. But by the time I hit my locker on the second floor, I’d gotten looks of pity from half the science club and been unsubtly whispered about by an entire gaggle of cheerleaders.

So this is what school was going to be like from now on.
Fan-freaking-tastic.

I’d just finished spinning my combination when two of my teammates from basketball jogged up to me.
“Hey, Tanner, you’re back.” Marsha “Captain Obvious” Tomein, nothing got by her. She tossed her salon-shiny, auburn locks behind her in a move clearly meant to draw attention.

“No kidding.” I dug through the contents of my locker in search of the composition notebook that served as my Lit journal.
Mrs. Fields was a tyrant if anyone showed up unprepared for class, and flying under the radar was my only priority today.

Carmen De Silva, Marsha’s lapdog for all intents and purposes, leaned against the locker next to mine, her black tresses reaching out electro-statically toward the red metal door.
“You coming to practice today?”

“Maybe.
I hadn’t really thought about it.” Ah, there was my notebook. I closed my fingers around the small corner sticking up behind my Calculus book and did my best to slide it out without dumping everything else on the floor. Then I slammed my locker shut and spun on the heels of my Skechers. Assuming my conversation with Marsha and Carmen was over, I slung my backpack over one shoulder and headed down the hall for first period.

Lincoln Devaux was the only person in the classroom who didn’t stop what he was doing to stare at me the second I stepped in. In fact, he barely spared me a glance before turning back to the book he was reading
. I wasn’t surprised. Even though he lived across the street from me, he hadn’t paid me one cent of attention since the time in kindergarten when I’d poured my entire can of red paint on his new Spiderman shoes. And I’d barely acknowledged him in return. I’d never noticed the way his short, blond hair spiked in the front, or how the small, pale scar on his chin pulled at his full lower lip. I’d never noticed, until that very moment, how green his eyes were when he was looking right through me.

In exactly two seconds, I zeroed in on the empty seat between him and the wall. That’s where I wanted to be. In a corner, buffered from curious eyes by a disinterested body. I couldn’t get there fast enough
, and I slid into the seat like a baseball player sliding home with only milliseconds to spare. I propped my feet up on the basket under the desk in front of me and curled as low as I could in my seat. A million years later, the late bell rang, and my classmates scrambled to their chairs.

Mrs. Fields kicked the door-stop out of the way and let the heavy, wood door slam behind her. As she bobbled back to her desk on ancient, bird legs, she addressed the class, “Take out your journals. Last night’s assignment was to read the rest of Frankenstein. Now, I want you all to write a thoughtful journal entry on what you think the underlying theme to be.”

I pulled out my notebook and a pen, but there was no way I could to write a thoughtful anything, right then. My only goal was to make it through the day without wanting to try to end myself again. So far, it wasn’t looking good. I bent my head over my desk and drew abstract designs and circles on the paper. Maybe if I looked busy, Mrs. Fields would assume I was doing the work.

I was so involved in trying to look busy, I nearly jumped out of my desk when a square of folded paper flipped end over end
over my shoulder to land smack in the center of my Lit journal. I peeked over my shoulder, visually retracing the arced path that folded paper had taken. Lincoln. He was looking at me with wide eyes, raised eyebrows, a half-smile—an expression of expectation—and when I met his gaze, he gestured toward the note with a slight nod of his head.

I looked at the note for a full minute, maybe two, before I picked it up. Judging from the way people had been treating me, it was probably some macabre question about my dad’s death or funeral. Or my little vacay to the psych ward.

Eventually, I unfolded the note and read.

 

I didn’t read the assignment either. Sleep seemed like so much more fun.

Link

 

At first, I didn’t know how to respond. I stared at the paper
almost expecting words to just appear there. Then, on a stroke of inspiration, I wrote back:

 

Yeah, so did suicide.

Callie

 

I folded th
e paper up and tossed it back—only after peeking around Angie Mills’ clown hair to assure myself that Mrs. Fields was busy on her computer. Link unfolded and read, then shot me a confused look. I held up one gauze-covered wrist, then mimed hanging myself from a noose. He snorted, and we both froze immediately. I shot another glance around Angie’s frizzy, red mane. Thank God, Mrs. Fields was still lost in whatever she was reading online.

A minute later, the note landed in front of me again.

 

I thought it might have had something to do with the cafeteria food.

 

It was my turn to snort. And this time, Mrs. Fields did notice. With a swift hand, I tucked the note into the front of my journal and flipped to a page with actual writing on it. By some miracle, I managed to make it look like actual work was happening before her bifocaled eyes landed on me.

* * * * *

As it turned out, I did show up to practice after school.
I didn’t actually decide to, wasn’t even sure how I got there. One minute I was navigating the throngs of students as they stampeded toward student parking, drunk on after-school freedom. The next, I was standing in the locker room, watching the other girls suit up. So I dressed out and followed them into the gym.

I probably should have skipped practice.
I couldn’t concentrate for anything. Jackie Forrester, the little brown-noser, made it a point to tell me, “You suck so bad, you’re lucky Coach doesn’t bench you for the rest of the season.” And that was just in the first play. She continued to taunt me, though I tried hard to pretend I wasn’t listening.

A few times, Marsha shot me looks of pity, but that might have been even worse than Jackie's jibes.

By the time practice ended, I was practically seeing red. What the hell was her problem? Rather than confront her about it, I stalked off, planning to hit the showers before heading home.

“What the hell, Tanner, what’s the deal?
Daddy’s not around to make you play anymore, so you just stop trying? The rest of us actually care whether the team wins or loses.” Jackie jogged up next to me on my way to the locker room. Her perfect, blonde ponytail swayed, slapping me in the arm.

“Back off, Forrester.”
I didn’t have the patience for a lecture.

She laughed, a derisive, mocking sound.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve acting the way you acted today. If you don’t care about the team, then quit. But don’t make the rest of us suffer ‘cause you’ve got issues. We don't need a shrimp like you dragging us down.” When I ignored her, she followed up with, “You hear me?”

I kept walking.
She could talk until she was blue in the face. It didn’t mean I would care what she had to say.

She harrumphed, and I almost laughed in her face. “Your frustration is showing, Jackie,” I told her.

That’s when she sped up, stepping in front of me, stopping me by stabbing a sharp finger against my chest. She was at least six inches taller than me, and I had to stretch my neck to look her in the eye. “Get your game together, Tanner, or get off the team.” To emphasize her order, Jackie shoved her basketball into my gut, hard. The force knocked the wind out of my lungs, and I went down hard, landing on my knees with a grunt. Giggles sounded from behind me. How many of our teammates were watching this confrontation? My vision tunneled in until all I could see was her, and I shook with fury.

I was going to beat the crap out of her.
End of story. Once I caught my breath, I shifted my weight, rocked back on my haunches. Anticipation itched across my skin like static electricity. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, fight-or-flight reflex probably. I wasn’t angry; I was so far beyond angry that I was dead calm. Darkness was building inside me: the memory of my father, of every bloated fist slamming into me, every slurred insult, every minute he’d spent near me for the last sixteen years. Rage bubbled up inside me like lava. Someone was about to get burned.

I launched myself from the ground so quickly the entire world around me was a blur.
I curled my fingers like claws and latched onto Jackie’s face. Her skin gave way under my nails. She screamed and tried to pull my hands away. I yanked harder. Finally, I pulled one arm back. My fist connected with her nose almost before I registered throwing the punch. Blood spurted, on her, on me. She cupped her bloody face with both hands and wailed.

Then I was being pulled off of her.
I went limp and let Coach Granger drag me away; I was done. Jackie was still screaming, even as Coach half-carried me out of the gym. That would teach her to mess with me.

BOOK: Because I'm Disposable
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