First Sign: In Tim's Perspective
I’m driving back from school. It’s late, and I can tell she’s tired. She sighs a lot more, and her eyes get weary when she tires out like this. She’s holding onto my hand real tight, forcing me to hold the car’s wheel with only one hand. She shouldn’t be squeezing it so tight if it’s just exhaustion from having to work until midnight again.
“Are you ok?” I ask her, trying to keep my tone concerning but not obvious to the fact that I can see her biting her lip.
She doesn’t answer. She looks away— not just her eyes, her whole face. That means she’s hiding something from me other than that gaze. I hear a sniffle. Typical. Crying is normal behaviour when she’s tired. I’m not upset, I’m just tired! She used to stumble on her words when we first started to date, trying to explain herself. Just ignore me… it’ll go away. It’s just stupid crying. But she doesn’t usually try to hide stupid crying from me.
I wait for her answer; I know she’ll cave at some point.
“When are your parents leaving again?” she sighs out finally, exasperatingly.
“You know the answer to that.” I wonder if she actually thinks that that’s going to work, as if I am going to pretend that I don’t know that she knows their plane only leaves on Sunday. And even though it’s Thursday, it feels like it’s still Monday and that is going to go on forever. I can hear her crying intensify as she slowly stops trying to hide it from me. She’s not anywhere close to stupid, she knows I’m aware she’s crying.
“I just— I know you said not to say anything— but—“
“Don’t” I cut her off. “Don’t say anything.” She still isn’t looking at me. “We talked about this.”
“It’s just… I hate the way your Dad treats your Mom like she’s some sort of slave to him or something…” she trails off. I don’t need to cut her off, she knows not to stand up to them. She knows I don’t need to repeat something we’ve rehashed at least five times already.
You’re not allowed to drive Tim to school, you’ll get into an accident. I remember staring up bright-eyed at my angry father. He flusters out all bright and red and when he got like that we both lined up nice and tight like a cadet line, Mom and I, and held hands while he had it at us. Women can’t drive! At first I’d tried to get mad and red and loud also, but the only good that did was get me suspended from primary school. Ha, Geezus, Who gets suspended from primary school? A kid that grows up to seek emotionally unstable people, apparently.
Thankfully, at least Mom’s always on my side.