The next morning, Simo woke up alone in his room. Sunlight encompassed him. A strong pain immerged from his eyes. He tried to sit but, as soon as he lifted his head, he started to lose balance. He leaned on his arm but the world kept on spinning around him. The pain migrated to his frontal lobe. A desire to vomit grew in him. The floor below disappeared. His heart beated faster, he was out of breathe and his vision became blurry. Panic got to him. Numbness invaded his body. Mechanically, he moved his fingers and realized there was a solid matter underneath. He focused on that, kept on moving his hand to regain sensation of his body and took deep breaths that slowed his heartbeat. He regained his composure.
‘Simo! Wake up! Josh’s father is here.’ The latter jumped: his pupils dilated, his muscles tightened, his mind lost in between two worlds. Time stood still. Then Simo took a deep inspiration: he forgot to breathe. His sight cleared. He was confused; the floor and the roof were in place. Simo felt the warmth of the sun on his skin and could hear birds cooing outside of the walls. He gazed around and recognized the harmony of his room. Although, what he experienced seemed to be a dream or an hallucination, his headache was very present and it spread to his temporal lobe. ‘What?’ Simo located the origin of his ache. When he looked at Ezekhiel, his eyes burnt. ‘What? Who’s here?’ He said as he stood up. ‘Josh’s father is at your doorstep. Let’s go! Your father is waiting for you to… I don’t know, do something.’ Ezekhiel announced. Five minutes later, Simo joined his parents at the door. ‘Where’s my son?’ Josh’s father. He had no response. ‘Tell me where he is?… JOSH! COME OUT!’ He started to lose his patience. ‘Calm down, sir.’ Simo’s father stepped up. ‘JOSH! You, little scum! You better make him step out or…’ – ‘Or else what?’ Simo interrupted.
The latter stared straight the abusive man in the eyes. Unafraid.
– ‘What are you going to do? Beat me up? Then what? Drag your son out of my house to yours then beat him up a little bit more? I don’t where i’m going with this but i have a question: where’s your wife?’ Simo realized he touched a sensible subject. The man’s face changed. Simo glanced at his right. ‘I’m sorry. I thought wrong: i thought you killed her but from your expression, it seems like you didn’t. I’m guessing you started to drink after her death, then. Trying to forget, grieving, i understand… I saw the pictures on your walls, when we broke in your house. You looked happy: you, Josh and your wife. She didn’t look – how can i say this – like, dangerous. No, that’s not the word…’
– ‘Violent.’ His father helped.
– ‘Violent! That’s it! She didn’t seem violent. None what so ever.’
– ‘Your point being.’ His father tried to shorten his son’s speech.
– ‘My point is that what you’re doing right now, who you’re becoming, right now, isn’t the person she fell in love with. I don’t think that she would have been happy seeing you beating her son like that.’
As Simo voiced his thoughts, Josh’s father felt the anger grow bigger in him to a point where he couldn’t control himself anymore. He walked towards the young man and punched him in the nose. Simo fell on the ground. Josh’s father attempted to hit him more but Simo’s father intervened. Simo’s mother called the police. Ezekhiel ran to Simo to make sure he was alright. And Josh stood there: overwhelmed. The police arrived, five minutes later, breaking the fight bewteen the fathers. Two officers handcuffed both of them and brought them to the police station to clarify the situation in a neutral space. Another asked Simo, his mother and his friends some questions then notified them that a social worker will come within the hour. ‘Here: put some ice on your nose.’ Ezekhiel handed a towel filled with ice cubes. They sat in cercle in the kitchen waiting for the bell to ring. A silence settled.
‘What now?’ Josh’s voice resonated in the air for the first time since he left his house. Simo looked at him. The latter had fear in his eyes. Then Simo turned his head to Ezekhiel hoping he will have an idea. But he remained silent. ‘Wait for the social services to come and we’ll figure it out then.’ Simo’s mother said. Her son took a minute to think. He stared at the table, his hand pressing the towel on his nose. ‘Do you have any family other than your father? Like an aunt or uncle.’ he asked. ‘Grandparents.’ Josh said. ‘My mom’s parents live in New York.’ Simo looked up. He grabbe his phone and handed it to Josh. The latter entered a phone number then handed it back to its owner. ‘Do you talk to them often?’ Simo asked while the tone rang. Josh shook his head. ‘When was the last time you saw them?’ Josh raised four fingers in the air. ‘Months?’ He shook his head again.
– ‘Are they ni…. Hi! Good morning! Am i speacking to Josh Scarrey’s grand-parents?… Hello, sir! I’m sorry to call you this early on Sunday. I am a friend of Josh’s and euhm, there’s a bit of a situation that you might solve with us… Ha? So he was violent even before your daughter died?… Oh. Alright, i see… Yes… He’s fine. He’s next to me right now… I’ll let you talk to him in a minute, he’s eating… Yes, i was wondering, well, we were wondering if it was possible for you to become his foster parents or guardians. To give him a safe place to live until he can fly with his own wings…’
– ‘What are you saying?’ Ezekhiel commented. Simo stepped away.
– ‘Do you know what that implies, right?… I mean, financially, could you handle it?… Oh! Perfect!… Mmh, mmh… Ok, cool! Well, for now, i can’t do much. Since i’m just a kid, still. But a socail worker is going to come to my house to talk to Josh about his situation. We’ll explain to her/him and talk about you… Euh, yes, my mother is here: she’ll do the talking… And after, that, Josh will wall you back to let you in the know. And that would be it… Ok… I let you talk to him.’
On that note, Simo gave his phone to Josh who left the room for more privacy. Simo reported the conversation to his mother and Ezekhiel. An hour later, a woman appeared at their door step. She requisitionned the living room to speak to Josh. Simo’s mother insisted in being next to him throughout the process.
Simo and Ezekhiel were locked out of the conversation. Simo glanced in their directions some time to times but his headache intensified. ‘Are you alright?’ Ezekhiel noticed the discomfort his friend was experiencing. The latter nodded. He massed his skull to ease his pain. It didn’t seem to work: ‘I’m going to lie down for a moment.’ As he walked through the hallway, he met the social worker. She stopped and scanned him, a smile on her face. ‘Hi!’ she introduced herself. Simo turned around. They starred at each other for ten seconds then the social worker realized her strange attitude. ‘You must be Simo. Josh’s friend. The one who convinced him to walk away from his abusive father. Josh yarned me.’ she said as they shook hands. ‘Euh, yeah. I mean, yes.’ Simo replied. She used her right hand.
They teleported to another house, the social worker rejuvenated by twenty years. The room they were in was dark: blinds were shut and lights were off. She looked up to Simo, fear in her eyes. Suddenly, a slammed door made her jump. A man rushed towards her, a belt in his hand. As he came closer, he prepared his arm behind his back. The little girl made a step backward, her hands as only shield. The man was close enough. He swang his arm. The belt followed the movement.
Before the belt touched its target, Simo came back in his own house. The social worker’s face was blank: her eyes were wide open, her heart skipped a beat, a chill went through her spine. Suddenly, her facial expression turned into worry. ‘Your nose… is bleeding. Are you alright?’ Ezekhiel joined them, intrigued by their sudden immobilization. The social worker offered him a tissue but the latter seemed to have frozen. His vision became blurry again then returned to normal. ‘Are you alright?’ Simo looked up: ‘Mmh? Yeah, i’m fine. Sorry.’ The social worker smiled to him. She said goodbye and left.
The three teenagers gathered in Simo’s room. Discussions were flowing like they were old friends. Josh was silent most of the time but a smile appeared on his face. Fear slowly vanished from his mind: he felt safe. When the conversation faded, he asked: ‘How did you know about me?’ Simo took a moment to think: ‘Euhm…’ – ‘You have bruises. When he rescued you at the party, yesterday.’ Ezekhiel responded. Josh was lost in his thoughts. He stood up and enclosed himself in the bathroom. Ezekhiel scanned his friend.
– ‘What’s going on?’ he asked.
– ‘Yesterday, we went to a party…?’ A silence passed.
– ‘Is that a question? Or an affirmation?’ Simo thought.
– ‘A question.’ Another silence.
– ‘Thea’s birthday… You don’t remember?’
– ‘Apparently not.’
– ‘Where do you think we met Josh?’ Simo remained silent. ‘You don’t remember.’
Ezekhiel’s tone was grave. He looked at Simo who seemed worried as well. Am i losing the small control i have on this thing? Simo thought. Josh came back in the room and noticed a familiar look on his saviors’ faces: both of them were scared.
To Be Continued.