Spencer slammed the door shut, knowing that he’d hear about it later, but not caring, for in that moment, he was alone, himself.
With each step up the hill behind his house, Spencer could feel the anxiety lessen, allowing for the calming breath of his mind to dissipate the stabbing in his chest.
The long grass under his feet held dew that made his socks all wet, but he didn’t care. He didn’t care that this would be a point of contention later; that the socks, wet and soggy, would somehow find their way into the “reasons why boys need structure” handbook his father so dutifully abused.
At the top of the hill, Spencer looked down into the valley. Horses fed on alfalfa in one-acre lots. Kids ran up and down the street looking for something to prod, someone to play with, some activity to occupy their time. His two younger brothers, Jeremiah (or “Miah” as everyone seemed to call him) and Marcus, played in the oblong patch of grass in the front yard of their home. Spencer, sometimes, was jealous of their innocence. He wondered how they could not know. They lived in the same house. Slept in the same room. Pooped in the same toilet. Showered in the same linoleum box.
But perhaps they did know, and their alternate universe wasn’t the opposite. Just different. Possibly better.
At least that’s what Spencer wished for.
Better like the time he spent the weekend at his friend Micah’s house, when his parents had to make a last-minute trip with the church. Micah’s house, with all of the tasty white bread and sour licorice whips and soda pop, was something better.
Less stabby chest, more sore smiling cheeks.