My alarm woke me up just in time for my morning chores. Even though sleep is still very much in my eyes, I have to sober up and get my chores done before my parents wake up or I won’t like the consequences that will follow after.
I walk into the bathroom and splash water on my face to clear the sleep off my eyes and then go downstairs to start my daily chores. I did my chores silently in order not to wake my parents up. I remember the one time that I accidentally woke them up because of the noise I was making while cleaning the house. My parents were beyond furious. My dad hit me with the vacuum cleaner so hard that I couldn’t eat for a week because my ribs were swollen.
Ever since our family business went bankrupt five years ago, out of frustration my parents developed anger issues and became very aggressive towards me. At first, they would emotionally abuse me but as time went on, they started abusing me physically. The drugs they are taking aren't helping matters either. Many at times, I am tempted to report them to the social welfare and child abuse commission but I could not because I am afraid. What if they don’t believe me? What if they take me away and give me foster parents that are just like my parents? And so many other “what if” prevented me from reporting them.
Even my friends in school do not know what is going on in my house. I usually use makeup to cover up the bruises. The ones that are not able to cover up, I lied that I fell down the stairs or the bed or hit a table or the wall. My friends brought my life up and nicknamed me “the clumsy girl”. Since I lost too much balance. If only they know the real cause of the bruises. If only they know.
Luckily enough for me, I was able to finish all my chores and make breakfast without my parents waking up. They must have had a long night yesterday. They came back home around one in the morning. Although I was awake, I did not even bother myself to go downstairs because if I dare do that by mistake, I will surely wake up in the hospital, that is if I even wake up at all.
I rushed into my bedroom and quickly took my bath, dressed up and rushed out of the house. I let out a breath I didn't even know I was holding.
I made my way to the bus stop just in time the school bus arrived.
“Good morning Mr Joe”. I greeted the bus driver as I got into the bus and looked for a seat by the window and sat down. I took out my eyepiece and connected it to my phone as I closed my eyes and enjoyed the rest of the ride to school.
“Thank you for the ride Mr Joe”. I waved at the driver who waved back at me. Although it’s not compulsory to greet the driver or thank him because technically he is just doing his job. I believe in appreciating people for what they do even if you are paying them to do that work. It’s not going to cost you anything if you do that but as for the person, he or she will feel loved and important.
I made it to my locker and I frowned as I reached there. Usually my friends and I gather ourselves here, gist and gossip a little bit before heading to class together. But right now, none of them were present. I checked the time on my phone and frowned deeper. Usually by this time Sophia and Lisa are supposed to be here already.
I waited for another five minutes but none of them came. Maybe they planned on not coming to school today. I concluded. But why will they plan to tell me? I questioned myself. My friends are one of the reasons why I still have my sanity. Whenever I am with them, I forget all the pains I am feeling.
I started making my way to class alone and that will be like the first in forever that it is happening.
“Hey Ashley, Good morning!”. Cole, a classmate of mine, greeted me.
“Morning to you too Cole.” I reciprocate his greetings.
“Why are you alone today? Where are your sisters?”. Cole asked. Everyone usually calls my friends and I “sisters”. They are actually not wrong though. We see and treat each other as if we are sisters.
I flex my shoulders up; “ I don’t know. I just arrived a few minutes ago”.
“Maybe they are already in class?”. Cole tried to think of possible places my friends could be.
“Maybe.” I responded and kept on walking. Why didn’t I think of that? They must have thought I was coming to school today and went ahead without me. After all, I was not in school last week and gave them a reason that I am sick. They must have thought I was still sick. Although I wasn’t actually sick. My mom hit me with a pan and it left an injury on my forehead and I needed it to heal before I go out because I don’t think I can survive the looks and questions I will get from people.
Suddenly, a hand dragged me into a classroom. Everywhere was dark and I couldn’t see a single thing.
“Who is there? And what do you want from it?”. I asked in a frightened voice. I don’t usually get bullied here in school so I wonder who is doing this.
“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to everyone. Happy birthday to you!!!!”. A lot of familiar voices in the dark started singing.
They must have gotten the wrong person because today isn’t my birthday. Just as I wanted to open my mouth and talk, someone on the lights and lo and behold standing before is my friends holding a cake with a big smile on their faces.
“Happy birthday Ashley!!!”. They all screamed at once. I am actually touched by what they did but today isn’t actually my birthday so I wonder why they thought so.
“Thank you so much guys. I appreciate it. But today isn’t actually my birthday. It’s next week”. I remained with them. And they gave me a look of shock.
“What?”. I questioned when I saw their expressions.
“You can’t be serious right? Bring out your phone and check today’s date on the calendar”. Lisa commanded. I brought out my phone and checked the date.
“What! How? I can’t believe today is nineteenth already. I really thought it was next week. Who in her right sense will forget her own eighteenth birthday?”. I questioned my sanity.
“You obviously!”. Elsa jest at me. I didn’t even know I was thinking out loud.
“How the hell did you even forget your own birthday?”. Lisa questioned me. I honestly don’t know either. To think that I have been waiting for my eighteenth birthday so that I can get freedom from my parents.
“We will talk about that later on. Ashley makes a wish and blows out the candles, it's already melting”. Unice who was holding the cake moved closer to me. I blew the candles then closed my eyes and made a silent wish in my heart.
“So to celebrate your eighteenth birthday, we are going clubbing tonight”. Lisa excitedly stated. My heart immediately picked up a race.
“Em..” I started saying before Unice cut me off.
“Don’t even think about saying no. We are all going and that’s final.” Unice said and before I could reply to her, the bell rang and we all hurried up to our class.
All through the day, I was thinking of how I could go out of the house without my parents noticing.