A boy plays with his best friend, but his friend's life at home becomes a nightmare.
"Come on Josh!" A young boy with light brown hair called out as he ran through the fresh cut grass towards his swing set. Josh, a younger boy with black hair, quickly followed behind giggling as he tripped trying to keep up.
"You push me this time!" Josh said as he stumbled back to his feet tossing aside one of his NERF guns the two boys were just playing with. A green stain now streaked across his shorts but he didn't pay it any mind as he sat in the swing his friend was holding for him. "Push me as high as you can!"
"Not too high David." shouted Michael who just re-entered the backyard with a gas can from the garage.
"Alright Dad, I won't." David said as he began to push Josh. His father walked across the grass to where he had left the lawnmower. Michael began to unscrew the caps off the lawnmower and gas can and slowly poured the gas into the gas tank. As he poured he could hear Josh shouting "Higher! Higher!" until finally the tank was full and he began to screw the caps back on. As he stood and picked up the gas can he noticed a couple NERF bullets in front of the lawnmower. Sighing he picked up one then two then three bullets that he would have run over and chopped to pieces.
"David, I thought I told you-" Michael started to shout but was interrupted by Josh's shrieking as he was launched from the swing into air landing on the ground and tumbling.
"That was awesome! Again! Again!" Josh said as he picked himself up and ran back to the swing set. His shirt now also stained green by the lawn.
"No, you are not doing that again." Michael interrupted as he walked to the swing set. "David what did I just say!"
"Sorry dad." David said as he hung his head. Josh hanging his head in unison.
"And I thought I told you not to shoot these where I hadn't cut the grass yet." Michael said as he showed David the NERF bullets. "You go through enough as it is, we don't need to start losing more because I run them over and chop them to pieces. I can't keep buying a new pack every month."
"I'm sorry, I shot them over there, I was gonna pick them up but I forgot." Josh said to cover for David. Michael sighed knowing it wasn't the truth, it wasn't the first time Josh tried to cover for David, and it wouldn't be the last he knew.
"Just don't let it happen again ok? And don't go so high again you understand?" Michael said to both of them. They both responded with yes sir's "Good, now I'm gonna go see what your mother has planned for dinner." Michael made his way to the back door, dumping the NERF bullets by one of the guns sitting around. He opened the backdoor of the house and shouted "Hey Sarah! What are we doing for dinner?"
"Come on let's go play Pokon. I just got past the 7th gym." David said as he climbed up into the canopy of his playset. Josh followed and the two settled in with their two Nintendo 3DS's.
"I'm only on the second Island in the new one." Josh said. "The Pokon look so cool."
"It's really weird that they got rid of the gym's." David said as grabbed his shirt and carefully tried to wipe the cracked screen on his 3DS.
"I like it." Josh said. "When are you gonna get it? I've been going slow so we can play together."
"I don't know, I asked for it for my birthday tomorrow." David said. "My mom just keeps telling me that money is tight since she lost her job."
"I hope I can come tomorrow." Josh said. "Mom and Dad have been fighting a lot more. Oooh, check out this Pokon!" Josh sat closer to David and showed him his 3DS. They both continued to play together for hours. As the sun began to set the two boys heard car doors slam next door. David looked up to see Josh's dad, a scary looking man with black and grey hair, an unshaven messy beard, and ratty clothes. He stomped up the driveway into his home.
"I don't wanna go home yet." Josh said quietly. There was some yelling in Josh's home when his dad threw open the back door.
"Josh!" He screamed as Josh's mother also exited the house. Josh had already begun to pick up his things as his mom waited quietly by the door. "Josh get your fucking ass back in this house!" His dad screamed.
"I'm coming!" Josh said. "See ya David."
"Bye." David watched as Josh ran back home. Josh's dad grabbed Josh by the ear once he was close, Josh yelping in pain as his Dad yanked and pulled on it, digging his nails into it. "What did I fucking say about leaving this house!" David could hear him say through gritted teeth as they walked away. "Look at your fucking clothes, how many times do I need to tell you not to get them dirty!" Josh's dad shouted as he pushed Josh towards his mother.
"Go to your room." Josh's mother said quickly as he ran past her. "Good fucking god, Brian he's just a child." She said as she entered the home.
"Don't give me any lip Jessica he's a fucking brat. Useless shit playing games all day and-" David heard as Josh's dad entered the home. The screaming continued but David could no longer understand what they were saying. David sighed as he rested his head on the railing of his playset. He noticed his mother waiting by the backdoor.
"Come on David, dinner's almost ready." His Mom said. David grabbed his 3DS and slowly lumbered his way inside. He did his chore of setting the table, grabbing the plates and the forks and glasses, and then he grabbed some paper towels for their napkins. David then went upstairs to his room to change out of his dirty clothes. His room was a mess, clothes were sitting all round in precarious places, posters littered the walls and some were barely hanging on. His bed wasn't made, he figured why bother making it look nice when no one would be in here but him, his parents, and Josh. The TV was left on and he quickly turned it off silently saying thank you that his parents didn't come in and notice. Placing his 3DS by his window where the charger was he looked down at Josh's house. The screaming was still going on. Josh's bedroom light was on, but from the second floor David couldn't see into the room very well. David was sure Josh was probably in his closet, Josh always said it was where he hid when his parents fought.
"David come on! Dinner's getting cold!" His dad shouted. David quickly scampered down the stairs to the kitchen. David took his seat at the table and listened as his parents talked about their usual grown up stuff. Money, job searching, bills, David knew he should be worried by the way his parents talked but he didn't really understand everything.
"So, excited for your birthday tomorrow?" Sarah asked. David was caught off guard as the topic finally made its way to including him. He was only worrying about one thing though.
"Is Josh gonna be able to come over?" David asked. His parents exchanged worried glances as they picked at their food.
"We'll have to see." Michael said.
"Why do his parents fight so much?" David asked. "If they hate each other why don't they separate? Then Josh wouldn't have to be bullied by his dad all the time."
"It's... It's complicated David." Michael said, as he finished his food and wiped his mouth. "They're not like me and your mother."
"Why can't Josh come stay with us?" David asked.
"I know you'd like that David, you and Josh get along so well, and you asked for a baby brother for years, but we just can't especially not now that we're moving." Michael said as he picked up his and Sarah's plates.
"We're moving?" David asked stunned by this news. "We can't move." Michael turned to Sarah as he dropped the dirty plates into the sink.
"You still haven't told him?" Michael asked.
"I'm sorry, but what did you want me to do? His birthday was coming up I didn't want to ruin it. I was going to wait until after." Sarah defended herself as David sat there not even touching his food anymore. Michael sighed and sat back down at the table.
"I'm sorry David." Michael said trying to sound as convincing as he could "But we've told you money is really tight right now, and I asked for a raise at work. My boss offered me a promotion. But for me to take it, we have to move."
"I don't want to move!" David said throwing down his fork.
"David, we know you don't-" Sarah started to say.
"You can't make me!" David shouted as he ran from the table up to his room his parents calling for him but he continued forward. David slammed the door to his room and sat on his bed grabbing his sheets and covering himself.
"Tomorrow's not going to be fun." Michael said rubbing his right temple. Sarah grabbed his other hand firmly.
"He'll understand later." Sarah said. "We don't have a choice, I'm not finding any work and you'll almost be making what we were both making before."
"Yeah, I guess- I guess I'm also just a bit worried about Josh." Michael said. "I think taking David away is gonna hurt him the most."
"I know, but we've told police about his situation and they've done nothing." Sarah said. "We can't stay here. We're already behind on our mortgage. We need to worry about us, and David, and just hope for the best for Josh."
David sat at his window staring at Josh's bedroom window. The house had finally calmed down. He wanted to run back downstairs and go over there to hide in Josh's closet with him. He didn't want to leave. He couldn't leave. Josh was his best friend. Who else would he play with? These worries and questions raced through his mind as one of his parents knocked on his door.
"David." Michael called.
"Go away!" David shouted back.
"I'm sorry kiddo, but, it's for the best." Michael said. He waited for a response but there was only silence as David pulled his sheets tighter around him. "Good night."
Sleep didn't come easily to David, and he didn't even remember when he finally fell asleep. David woke up as his mom knocked at his door.
"You up birthday boy?" His mom asked. She opened the door to find David still cocooned in bed. "Come on, try to not think about last night, it's your birthday. What do you want for breakfast?"
"Whatever." David replied covering his face to not look at his mother.
"Pancakes and sausage it is then." His mom said knowing it was his favorite. The day moved on as David tried to ignore his parents and fill his time with games until he could go get Josh. David continuously checked Josh's house but today it was eerily quiet. David guessed that would be a good thing, maybe Josh's parents were in a good mood today. Unwilling to wait any longer David made his way downstairs and put his shoes on.
"David where are you-" His mom began to ask.
"I'm gonna go see if Josh can come over now." David said as he raced out the door. David swiftly walked over to Josh's house and rang the doorbell. David waited for a while and no one came to the door so he rang the doorbell again. Time went by again and still no answer so David went to ring the doorbell again. The door quickly jerked open as he raised his arm.
"Please don't press it again." Josh's mom said just as David was about to hit it. Josh's mom Jessica was in a bath robe, holding it closed tightly. Her hair was knotted and unkempt, and she looked as though she had been crying. What David mostly noticed however was her black eye.
"Um, I was just coming to ask if Josh could come over for my birthday party." David asked.
"No, he can't he's not coming over." Jessica said as she tried to close the door. David tried to push back against though.
"Please. It's my birthday and I want him to be there. We were gonna play games and have cake." David insisted. Jessica started to continue saying no but suddenly she was pulled aside and the door was pulled completely open by Josh's dad. The burly man in only boxer shorts and a stained tank top smoking from a cigarette.
"Get the fuck off my property kid before I beat your ass in." Brian said releasing a puff of smoke towards David.
"I just wanted-"
"I don't fucking give a flying fuck what you want brat!" Brian said grabbing David and tossing him down the steps of the porch. David twisted as he fell back and managed to catch himself with his hands as he hit the ground.
"Hey!" Michael shouted as he rushed over. "Don't you fucking dare lay your hands on my kid!"
"Get your piece of shit off my property." Brian said as he came chest to chest with Michael. "And make sure he gets the message to stay away from the other brat. I don't want them hanging around each other anymore. My kid needs to know how to be a man. Not some video game playing sissy like yours."
"Brian please!" Jessica said. "Just let it go, come back inside baby, dinner is almost ready." Brian took a huge drag of his cigarette. Puffing it as he walked back to the house "Get the fuck off my property." He reiterated before slamming the door shut. Michael and David could hear Jessica trying to talk to Brian before there was a loud slap and a crash.
"Come on David, I'm sorry but Josh won't be coming over today." Michael said. David followed reluctantly.
"Hey sweetie, are you ok?" Sarah asked David as him and Michael came back inside. David took his shoes off and ran upstairs not even answering the question.
"Are we gonna call the police?" Sarah asked.
"What for? We both know they've never done anything before, why would they now, Brian's done a lot worse than just push someone." Michael said infuriated by the events that just happened. He looked up the stairs and sighed. "I knew I was gonna hate today."
"Let's give him some time alone and then we'll try and celebrate." Sarah said.
David sat in his room by the window, covered in his sheets. Josh was by his window waving up to him. David waved back. David could hear screaming and shouting start over at Josh's house. Josh looked behind him and back to David with a worried look on his face. David tried to wave him away and make a motion for closet, but Josh stayed by his window confused at what David was trying to mime. David looked around his room and found a notebook and a marker. He wrote "Go to closet." and put it up to the window. Josh shook his head no and then left. A moment later he returned with a notebook and marker as well, he put it up to the window and it read "Happy Birthday. :)" David smiled, but it wasn't a happy birthday at all. He wrote on the next page "I'm moving." and put it up to the window. He could see Josh get upset even from where he was. Josh started writing and put it up to the window "I'm coming over." David started to shake his head no and write to tell Josh not to fearing Josh's dad would lash out, but Josh had already left the window. David worried now and took off his sheets and made his way downstairs.
"Hey there you are." His mom said as she was setting up the table. David could see the cake and a couple presents sitting on the table. "We figured you might want to just skip dinner and have cake. Is that ok?"
"Josh said he was gonna try to come over." David said.
"How did you hear about this?" Sarah asked.
"We were writing to each other through our windows." David said, "I was gonna tell him not to cause I don't want his dad to freak out, but he already left the window."
"Is that why I'm hearing more screaming coming from over there?" Michael said as he came in through the back door with a big box covered in wrapping paper. "Don't worry about it David, Brian is probably just yelling at him to get back into his room." Michael then set the big box down with the other presents on the dining table. "He'll be fine, now come on let's open your presents and cut the cake."
"Which one do you want to open first!" David's mom asked.
"Um, the smallest one, I want to do the big one last" David said. His mom reached over and grabbed the small square present. David knew it was a 3DS game once he held onto it, the shape was the same as a game case and it was light. He tore away at the wrapping paper revealing he was right.
"Awesome! The new Pokon game! Now me and Josh can play it together!" David said excitedly. As he read the back cover there was a loud bang. His parents snapped to attention and David looked at them wondering what it was.
"What was-" David said when there was another bang.
"Michael." Sarah said nervously as Michael scrambled out of his chair. "Michael!" Sarah said again.
"Stay here. Call 911!" David watched as his dad frantically in a panic tried to get his shoes on. David's mom grabbed her cell phone and began to dial 911. Bang. David heard the door fly open and slam against the wall as his dad ran outside.
"Josh!" His dad screamed. "Josh!"
"Mom what's-" David asked.
"Hello, we just heard gunshots next door." His mom said to the 911 operator. She scrambled to the front door quietly telling David to stay where he was. "Yes, please we're at-" David quickly ran up to his room. He ran in and tripped over clothes he had left lying around. David picked himself up and ran to his window. David watched as his Mom then started screaming for him. He heard his mom start climbing the stairs and he watched as his Dad left Josh's house with Josh, blood smeared across his face crying.
"David!" His Mom called, she grabbed him and pulled him away from the window covering his head with her arms. "Oh god sweetie, don't look, don't look."
"Sarah!" Michael shouted over Josh's crying.
"Stay up here sweetie ok, promise me." David's Mom said. "We'll come and get you in a minute." His mom left and quickly traversed the stairs. David sat on his bed for only a moment after she left before heading to the door. Josh's crying pierced the walls of the house. David slowly walked down a couple steps of stairs before sitting down so he could see into the living room where his parents and Josh were. His mom was cleaning the blood off of Josh's face as he cried she tried consoling him as he screamed through his tears.
"Mommy-he-he" Josh cried. "Mommy!"
David heard the sirens of police cars pulling up around the house. His dad said something to his mom as he stood up and left to go outside. David came downstairs and his mom merely gave him a painful look. David sat down next to Josh and the two hugged, Josh crying into David's shoulder. David's mom hugged them both as Michael spoke with the police. It was going to be a long night.
The slam of the trunk snapped Josh to attention. He sat waiting in the back seat of the van, a mountain of luggage in the back threatening to fall over him. David's dad had put him on this side of the van so he couldn't see his old home.
"Ready champ?" David's dad asked through the window. Josh gave a meager smile and nodded. Michael climbed into the driver's side and started up the van.
"Well took some time, but, Wisconsin here we come." Michael said as he drove away from their home. He was glad to be rid of it.
Josh looked out the window as they drove, past his old school, past his old day care center, and past the city. He clutched the pillow he brought along tightly. It was his favorite pillow that he kept stashed in his old closet. It was always with him when he needed it.
"Glad we got the paperwork all sorted in time." Josh heard David's mom say.
"Yeah, and I'm glad my boss convinced the new job to let me start a bit later so we could figure everything out." Michael said. "I don't know why they have to make adoption so difficult."
As they continued to talk David poked Josh. "Hey, wanna watch a movie?" He asked. Josh shook his head no.
"No, I don't want to."
"Wanna play Pokon then? We haven't played it much and the new one is already coming out in a few months."
"No thanks." Josh said clutching his pillow tighter.
"Ok, um." David hesitated to find something for them to do. "What do you want to do?"
"Nothing." Josh said as he laid his head back and looked out the window. A few tears falling down his cheek. Sarah watched their exchange intently.
"Are you sure you don't want to do something?" David asked.
"David," His mom said. David looked at his mom upset. His mom talked to him often about what happened. How he should act and to understand what Josh had went through. David was his older brother now. David looked at Josh as he stared blankly out the window. David then unbuckled his seatbelt and scooched over to Josh. Sarah hearing the seatbelt unbuckle turned in her seat.
"David what are you doing?" She asked as she turned and saw David and Josh hugging, Josh crying into his pillow.
"Nothing," David said.