C H A P T E R     T E N
DON’T TRY TO GET ME BACK*

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      The next day, Monday morning, Cassandra’s alarm clock went off at six thirty am. She didn’t feel like getting up but she pushed herself and got ready for school.

      Dale drove her to school. The ride there was silent and she didn’t look at him at all. Maybe he didn’t even remember any of the day before she thought. But then again maybe that’s why he wasn’t saying anything. He was ashamed of himself.

      Cassandra hated her father at this moment. She got out of the car slamming the door behind her and with out a word or look to her father. Her face was down cast and Isaac noticed this from where he was standing at the corner of the school.

      Isaac followed her as she passed her locker. People were staring at her remembering Saturday night.

      “No locker stop today?” Isaac yelled after her. She didn’t hear him so he jogged up to her. “You don’t need to go to your locker?” He asked again.

      Cassandra turned around walking back to her locker. Isaac followed her. She stopped and carefully took her back pack off. She winced as it glided down her arm.

      “Are you okay?” Isaac asked.

      “Yeah, can you just open it?” Cassandra bent over and took some books out of her back pack. Isaac did as she said and took the books from her hands putting them in her locker and giving her the next classes books.

      “Thanks.” Cassandra zipped her back pack up but this time holding onto its straps instead of putting it on her shoulders.

      Isaac closed her locker.

      Cassandra looked at the ground again. “Isaac, I don’t think I can see you anymore.” She blurted. She had thought about this subject last night when she couldn’t sleep. Her father was was going to keep doing this to her unless she got rid of Isaac. He had even threatened Isaac’s life. It was the only thing to do. To have her father return to his sober loving self.

      “What?” Isaac murmured.

      “I’m sorry Isaac but I just can’t keep doing this.” Cassandra turned around and started to walk away. Isaac stopped her by putting his hand on her up arm. “Oww.” Cassandra cried. He had barely touched her.

      Tears started to pour down her checks. Isaac walked in front of her. “What’s wrong?” He asked hugging her.

      “Oww stop. Just don’t touch me.” Cassandra pried him off of her.

      “Why, what’s wrong?” Alarms in his head went off and he lifted her long sleeve shirt arm. “Oh my gosh.”

      On her arm was a huge cement burn. Isaac couldn’t believe that her father would do this to her. He was such a... goodie goodie.

      “I guess I shouldn’t have lied to him, huh?” She trembled letting out a sob she had been holding on to.

      Isaac pulled her towards him careful not to touch her arm. He wrapped his arms around her head and she cried into his chest.

      “I’m so embarrassed about Saturday night. I didn’t even want to come to school today.”

      “I know how you feel Cass. You don’t deserve this. These people don’t mean anything to you just ignore them.”

      “I don’t know why he’s doing this. He hasn’t had a drink or hurt me in a long time.”

      “You mean he’s hurt you before?” Isaac asked.

      “Yeah, but he’s changed. He hasn’t done it since I was thirteen.” Cassandra confessed.

      “Oh yeah, then what do you call Saturday night and your arm them? What are you just going to leave me and hope everything turns out all right? Its not going to happen like that and I can’t let you go.” Isaac confessed.

      “There’s nothing I can do about that.” Cassandra stomped off leaving Isaac to watch her scurry off to her home room.

      The rest of the day Isaac stayed his distance from Cassandra. He kept an eye on her at lunch though. He watched her sitting at a table with her friends. She didn’t interact with them just sat staring at the table top.

      “Cassandra what’s up?” Nicole made an attempt to get her talking.

      “Nothing.”

      “All right. So what do you think I should wear to the next school dance, the pink dress or the blue one?” Nicole asked.

      Cassandra raised her shoulders not really paying attention.

      Nicole grabbed onto Cassandra’s hand. “Cassandra you’re not helping me here. Are you and Isaac having a fight?”

      Cassandra raised her shoulders again.

      “Well whatever. You’re no fun.” Nicole turned around now entertaining her other friends. Cassandra left the table and sat at the door of her next class for the rest of the fifteen minutes of lunch.

*****

       Dale skipped work early and went to the local bar “Electric T’s”.

      “Hey there sexy. Haven’t seen you in here in al long time.” A waitress came to his table in the back of the bar.

       “Yeah, how ‘bout you get me a beer.” Dale ordered.

       “Okay, coming right up.” The waitress went to get his drink.

       Dale stayed there boozing it up for a while and decided to go home. He went to get his money out of his wallet while the waitress stood by him. She looked in his wallet. There in a photo holder was her sons girl friend, Cassandra.

       “Is that your daughter?” She asked.

       “Yeah.”

       “She’s very pretty.”

       Dale just smile. He was too drunk to do much else so the waitress didn’t go on.

*****

       School had ended and Cassandra flew to the entrance where she always waited for her father to pick her up. She stood there watching all the people being picked up. Thirty minutes had passed and she was the only one left standing around. She sat on the curb looking up at every car that passed hoping it was her father. No such luck.

       Cassandra felt a hand rub down her back and she jumped turning to face Isaac.

       “Want me to walk you home?” He asked.

       “Isaac you shouldn’t be here. What if he came right now?” Cassandra stood up.

       “He’s not going to come, Cassandra.”

       “Yeah? How do you know?”

       “He’s not here yet, just let me walk you home.” Isaac picked Cassandra’s bag up from the side walk and put it on his back. “Come on.”

       “Fine.” Cassandra stepped with Isaac and they set for her house half a mile away.

       “You know I’m not giving up on you or this. If it happens again I’m going to have to do something.” Isaac stated.

       “Its not going to happen again.” Cassandra insisted.

       “Yeah, just remember I’m here for you.” They walked the three blocks and stopped five houses from Cassandra’s. Cassandra looked ahead, there was her fathers BMW. “See, told you he wouldn’t come.” Isaac handed Cassandra her back pack.

       “Thanks.”

       “No problem.” Isaac leaned over and gave her a kiss on her cheek. “Bye.”

       “Bye.” Cassandra took off to her house.

       Isaac continued to stand there and watch her walk away. “I hope he has changed.” He whispered.

       Cassandra made it into her house and walked up the stairs to her bedroom. Plopping down on her bed she got her school work out. She took her history book and note pad in her lap and started to do her home work. She didn’t get too far reading one word when she pushed the book off her lap and it fell to the floor followed by the empty note pad. She couldn’t concentrate. Her mind was reeling with all the stuff going on. She collapsed into her bed closing her eyes trying to forget about everything. She succeeded, falling into a peaceful sleep.

       An hour or two later Cassandra was woken up by an ear piercing scream. “Cassandra, are you up there?” Dale yelled.

       Cassandra scrambled to her feet and out her door. “Yes, Dale.” She yelled down the stairs.

       “Well get down her. Its time to eat.” He eyed her at the top of the stairs.

       Cassandra skipped down the stairs. She noticed that he wasn’t quite acting like himself. When Cassandra made it to the dinning room, the table was set. The food was on the table ready to go. It all looked nice and Dale sat at the head of the table with a smirk on his face. She sat down giving him a half-hearted smile and started to eat.

       “So, how was school?” Dale asked. His voice was ruff.

       “All right.” She didn’t dare bring up the fact that he forgot to pick her up.

       “You going to eat that or just play with it?” Dale pointed his fork at her plate.

       Cassandra was rolling her food around her plate. She wasn’t real hungry. “I’m eating it.” Cassandra chomped on a piece of her pork chop.

       The rest of the dinner went silent until Dale noticed that he was done and Cassandra’s plate was still full. “You’re not leaving this table until you finish everything on your plate.” Dale got up and went to the kitchen.

       Cassandra leaned back in her chair. She couldn’t eat. She felt like she was going to throw up if she took another bite. She got up from her chair and took her plate to the kitchen where her father was.

       “I’m full.” Cassandra started to scrape her food into a Tupperware bowl.

       “I said you weren’t to leave the table until you finished.” Dale grabbed the plate from her forcefully. Food flew from the plate landing on the floor and counter. Cassandra stood back and looked in her fathers demented eyes. “Now look what you did.” Dale threw the plate into the sink making it hit the steel with a clamor and shatter.

       “I’ll clean it up.” Cassandra took off to the refrigerator where the broom was between the crack of the wall and refrigerator.

       “I can’t believe this.” Dale grabbed on to her wrist pulling her back to him. “Why do you make me do this?” He slapped her face.

       “Uh.” Cassandra breathed in deeply clutching her cheek with her hand. He brought his hand back up ready to hit her again. “Stop!” Cassandra yelled.

       She saw him reach for his belt, unhooking it with his one free hand and pulling it loose. She pulled herself loose from his grasp and started to run. Dale got his belt off but not in time. She ran from Dale who was on her tail. She ran out the front door and down “Mart Hill”. Dale had given up when she escaped the house.

       Cassandra stopped at the end of the hill. That was the fastest she had ever run before. She jogged down the road with Isaac’s words flowing through her mind, “I’m here for you, I love you. I’m here for you, I love you.” She knew exactly where she was going.

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© 1999 Alana Gustafson