Isaac’s mother came home from work and went straight to the kitchen where she saw her son sitting at the table. He had a bowl in front of him filled with steaming soup.
“Hey mom.” He greeted her as he took a saltine cracker from its package and sunk it into the noodle soup.
“Hi baby.” She walked over to him from behind and draped her arms around him giving him a warm hug.
“How was good ol’ school today?” She kissed the top of his head and walked to the refrigerator. She pulled out a half of a watermelon and set it on the counter.
“Ahh, all right I guess. How about work?” He blew on a spoonful of soup and slurped it down.
“Oh, you know who came in today?”
“Guess.” Mrs. Hanson tugged down on her mini skirt that was rising up her thighs.
“Mr. Marlon, the guy that gets drunk and jumps on stage and grabs all the girls butts?” Isaac laughed.
“No.” Mrs. Hanson flashed him a nauseated look. “Cassandra’s father.”
“Yeah, he used to come in alot and just showed up today. I didn’t know he was Cassandra’s father until today when I saw a picture in his wallet. He got smashed.” Mrs. Hanson peeled the aluminum foil from the cut watermelon and cut a piece for herself. “You want some?”
“No. When did he come in?” Isaac asked.
“Around one thirty or two. Why?” Mrs. Hanson spit out a seed into the sink.
“Cause he forgot to pick Cassandra up form school today.”
“Oh, well that’s probably why then. I’ll be surprised if he got home all right.”
“Unfortunately, he probably did.” Isaac took a sip of milk from his cup.
“Do I detect a little hostility?” Mrs. Hanson smiled.
“Whatever gave you that idea?”
“I don’t know.”
The door bell rang interrupting their little conversation. “Who could that be?” Isaac started to get up but Mrs. Hanson put a hand on his shoulder.
“I’ll get it. It’s probably some solicitor.”
“Okay.” Isaac sat back down to finish his dinner.
Mrs. Hanson trotted to the door unlocking it and opening it up. Cassandra stood outside the Hanson door with tear stains down her face. She huffed and puffed from running all the way. She was hoping Isaac would be the one to answer the door but to her dismay is was his mother.
“Hey sweetie.” Mrs. Hanson looked down at her. “What’s wrong?” She put her arm around Cassandra’s shoulder.
“Is Isaac here?” Cassandra muttered through her tears.
“Yeah, come on honey.” Mrs. Hanson guided her through the house and into the kitchen.
“Who was it?” Isaac asked as he heard his mothers feet on the kitchen floor.
“Isaac, I think something’s wrong.” Mrs. Hanson pushed a few stray hairs on Cassandra’s face behind her ear.
Isaac turned around quickly to be faced with a haggard Cassandra. Isaac sprung from his soup and enveloped Cassandra in a careful hug. He looked to his mother with concerned eyes and she returned his same gaze.
Cassandra bawled into Isaac’s chest.
“What’s wrong with her?” Mrs. Hanson asked.
“I don’t know.” Isaac lied.
“Oh, well I’ll leave you two alone.” Mrs. Hanson exited the kitchen leaving the two teenagers to themselves.
As soon as Isaac’s mother was clearly out of the room Isaac softly pulled Cassandra away from him. He looked at her. She sniffled and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
“He did it again? Didn’t he?” Isaac took her hand examining the bruise that was already appearing on her wrist. Cassandra shook her head up and down. “Geez.” Isaac pulled her back into a hug somewhat soothing her pain.
After a few minutes Cassandra calmed down and stepped away from Isaac. She swiped her hand over his now damp shirt embarrassed by her tear marks.
“It’ll dry.” Isaac looked down at his soaked shirt and back to Cassandra’s puffy eyes and red face. “So he’s back to his old self, eh?”
“Don’t make me go back.” Cassandra started.
“I...” Isaac was interrupted by her.
“I’ll sleep on the floor. I’ll clean your whole house. I’ll do your laundry. Anything you want. Just don’t make me go back.” Cassandra pleaded.
“Like I was going to say. I would never make you go back.” Isaac finished what he was saying before he got interrupted.
“And no cleaning the house. Come on lets go to my room. Well, actually, maybe you can help me clean my room up so we can have some room to sit.” Isaac took her hand and they headed out of the kitchen.
“Isaac!” Mr. Hanson yelled.
Isaac tightened his grip on Cassandra’s hand and stopped in mid-stride. “Yes?” Isaac asked.
“Go get me a beer.”
“For crying’ out loud.” Isaac whispered just loud enough from him and Cassandra to hear.
Mrs. Hanson came up behind them putting he hand on Isaac’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get it.” She spoke.
“No mom, I’ll get it.” Isaac let go of Cassandra’s hand. “You know where my room is.” Isaac pointed down the hall for Cassandra.
Cassandra nodded her head and followed the hall to Isaac’s room. Isaac went back into the kitchen and to the refrigerator plucking out a cold beer.
“Oh, I forgot my soup.” Isaac put the beer on the counter and picked up the dinner. Dumping the rest into the sink and downing the rest of his milk.
“Did you find out the problem?” Mrs. Hanson asked.
“Something with her dad.” Isaac wiped off a milk mustache.
“Is he all right?” Mrs. Hanson was concerned since he left the bar drunk.
“Oh yeah, he’s fine. He just gets really mean when he’s drunk.”
“Yeah, I told her she could stay the night. Is that all right?”
“In your room?” Mrs. Hanson raised an eyebrow.
“Not with me, mom. I’ll sleep on the couch and she can have my bed.”
Mrs. Hanson weighed it in her mind. “Yeah, I guess that’s fine. In different rooms.”
Isaac left the kitchen with his father’s beer in hand. “Here.” He handed it to Mr. Hanson.
“Finally. What took you so long? You’re like a snail. Your so stupid, you can’t do anything right.” Mr. Hanson took the beer roughly.
“Your welcome.” Isaac turned and left the room. He was used to his fathers name calling and put-downs. It still irked him but he had learned to deal with it.
“Hey son.” Mrs. Hanson greeted Isaac in the hall with a bowl of cut up watermelon. “Why don’t you take this in with you and share it?” She handed him the bowl.
Mrs. Hanson smiled and turned into her bedroom.
“Hey th...ere.” Isaac walked into his room. He looked around the floor and was surprised to see all his dirty clothes were picked up ad put in the hamper by his door and his desk was stacked neatly with his bed made. “Wow! You work fast.”
“It wasn’t that bad.” Cassandra sat on his bed with her legs Indian style.
“Here’s some watermelon if you want.” Isaac sat the bowl on the bed next to her grabbing his own piece. “So what happened this time?” Isaac asked a little shyly. He didn’t know if he should have brought the issue up again buy he really wanted to know.
“Well when I got home I went straight to my room.” She didn’t seem to mind talking about it.
“I lost him somewhere down the hill and came to the only place I knew. Here.” Cassandra now lay on her side facing Isaac.
“I’m glad you did. You can stay here whenever and however long you want.”
“Thanks.” Cassandra bit into a piece of watermelon. She spit a seed into her hand and placed it on the edge of the bowl.
“Your supposed to eat those.” Isaac gestured to the seed.
“No you’re not. They’ll grow in your stomach if you do.” Cassandra watched him stick a whole piece into his mouth with the seeds and swallow. “That can’t be healthy.” Cassandra commented.
“Its not true. Its an old wives tale.” Isaac corrected laughing at her facial expressions. “Is not.” “Uh huh.” Isaac changed the subject back. “Have you thought about what you’re going to do about your father? He needs some help.” “I know, but I’m afraid.” Cassandra confessed. “I understand.” Cassandra scooted closer to Isaac and he put his arms around her. “I think they’ll take me away this time.” “Huh?” “The county. I think they’ll take me away from him. The last time he did this to me my teachers found out and got him in trouble.” Cassandra laid her head on Isaac. “They gave him an ultimatum. Either stop the drinking and abuse or they would take me away. He turned his world upside down, and if they found out he started again they probably won’t give him another chance.” “Where would they send you?” “I guess a foster home or something until I turn eighteen.” “Well that’s not bad. Your almost eighteen. A couple more months and your out of there. And if Dale stops and you feel comfortable moving back in with him you could.” “Maybe.” Cassandra sighed. “It would be for the best.” “But I wouldn’t know where they would send me. Another state? Town? City? I’ve heard horror stories about foster kids.” “Just a couple months won’t hurt you. I’m sure.” “Anyway...” Cassandra was bored with this subject. “Anyway... what about school clothes and work for tomorrow?” Isaac asked since she was staying the night and didn’t bring anything with her. Cassandra looked up at him with a blank. “Should we go sneak into your house and grab something?” “I don’t want to move.” Cassandra sank further into Isaac. “Your dad should be passed out by now. It would be safe. I’ll come in with you. I’m sure my mom will let me use the car if it’s for you. You know she really likes you?” “At lease one of our parents likes our choice in dates.” “So you want to go?” “Do we have to right now? I just ran all the way over here.” “No we don’t have to.” “Good.” “Can I see your arm?” Isaac wanted to see the damage. “Yeah.” Cassandra sat up and lifted her shirt and moved her hair out of the way. “Aww man, he definitely needs help.” He affectionately moved his fingers over her arm in dismay. He covered her back up and hugged her to him. Cassandra ended up falling asleep in his arms. She hadn’t gotten much sleep in the past few nights.