It has been six hundred and sixty six days.
Six hundred sixty six days since I have been gone.
Six hundred sixty six days since I heard screams.
Six hundred sixty six days ago, I realized something was wrong with me.
I did not mind.
I was excited.
Then, I was taken.
Since I have been gone, I have learned a few things. That’s something you do when you’re living on the streets for more than a year. You learn and learn and learn until you cannot learn anything other than learning.
The streets are a rotten thing. Once you’re out there, it picks you up, drops you into its mouth and chews. It chews and chews until every single one of your bones are nothing but mush in its mouth. Then it spits you out, and subsequently, you learn.
The most important lesson I have learned in my time away was that family is more than blood. They never looked for me. They never went to the authorities. They never bothered. I was hiding. For a year and half I hid, waiting to see whether or not they would show any signs of missing me, of caring, of remembering, but there were none.
January 6, 2014, 6:10PM
Four hundred twenty six days since I left my so-called parents, the very people who are the reason I am alive, my “home.” I was casually relaxing in the alleyway I’ve been sleeping in for the time being, snuggled up next to my cardboard box, and enjoying the rain as it soaked my entire body while I mumbled, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” I’ve always loved the rain. Whenever it rained when I was still living at home, I would leave the house for hours, escaping the darkness. I loved walking in the rain, because no one could see me cry. Cry for myself, cry for the parents I don’t have, and cry because I knew there was something about me that was different. Something that made me feel excited when I saw that driver run over that cat. When the blood spilled all over the ground. When the man got out of his car and started crying hysterically. I liked it.
January 6, 2014, 6:46PM
A car screeched to a halt ten feet away. Someone stepped out. They walked towards me. It is a man. He’s right in front of me. He pulls out a gun and presses it against my forehead. I smile, continuing to chant the nursery rhyme.
September 2, 2014
Two hundred and thirty nine days since he took me. It’s been two hundred and thirty nine days of pure bliss. He gave me a home, food, a bed. He gave me a glimpse of what family is really like. He supported me. His wife held me when I was at my lowest, when I was going through one of those days where I just knew I wasn’t meant to be here. I felt so utterly alone, until he came that day and rescued me.
The gun. I never found out why he pointed that gun at me, but after a few minutes of just blatantly staring at him and singing the nursery rhyme, he put the gun away and extended his hand. He told me if I accepted it, he’d help me, and he did. He took me to Athens, Georgia, and I started a new life. I started again. He supported me all throughout, and I was homeschooled for the rest of my junior year. When I got an A on my Geometry test, he told me he was proud of me and got me ice cream. When I failed my History test, he told me it was okay, that he was still proud. He got me ice cream again. He continuously showed support and care, and I didn’t have to face the outside world as much because he understood me. I didn’t have to face the looks people would send my way. I didn’t have to face the fact that I knew that everyone thought something was wrong with me. So what if I enjoyed the whimpers of the dog I ran over with my bike? So what if the sound of a gun shot made me feel invincible? So what if I liked what was wrong with me. SO WHAT IF THEY THINK I’M CRAZY?
“Psychopath” I hear them whisper. Psychopath is better than no path.
I am terrifying and strange and beautiful, something not everyone knows how to understand, how to love.
Tomorrow, after six hundred and sixty six days, I will see them again, and I will show them. I will show those two heartless people who were supposed to be like him. Instead they just used my heart, because theirs wouldn’t start. They’re the reason I’m like this.
And I’m out for vengeance.
September 3, 2014, 5:57PM
Six hundred and sixty six days since I’ve seen them. The house hasn’t changed one bit. The same old tree, the same old broken doorstep. All the same. Like I was never gone. He drove me out here. He said I’m doing the right thing. I got out of the car and he parked around the corner.
My heart continues to beat exceedingly fast. Nervous? No. It’s exhilaration.
I knock the door three times quickly, matching my heart rate. I’m met with silence. I wait. Then I hear it, the clicking of a lock. The door is thrown open, and I’m met with the stunned faces of the two people who were supposed to be my guardians, and not just the legal ones.
“Jett,” my mother breathes, and then she bursts into tears. She pulls me into a hug, but I remain stiff, unwilling to return the hug. She seems to realize that and pulls away awkwardly. She tells me to come in and I do. I stand there, in the entrance of what was supposed to be my sanctuary, and memories flash through my mind.
Screams, tears, grunts, belts, knives, and my mother who stood in a corner and watched. Not shedding a single tear.
They both face me. My father’s body is stiff as he observes me. He hasn’t changed.
“Son-” he starts, but I don’t let him continue. I pull out a small revolver and both of their eyes widen in shock.
“Where did you get that? Why do you have it?” He asked harshly. He tried to grab it from me, but he quickly stopped as he realized I was pointing it at my temple.
“Listen to me,” I said, but my father was quick to interrupt.
“Son just-” he began, but I cut him off.
“I SAID LISTEN TO ME.” I screamed. Both their eyes grew so big they could have fallen out of their sockets.
“Listen to me,” I repeated, “I came here today to tell you two a story. A story I hope you will learn from.” They nodded for me to continue. “I left. Yeah, I left, and I’m glad I did. But you know, during the first week I thought ‘Hm, maybe they will look for me. Maybe they will realize what morons they were. Maybe they will realize that they actually love me.’ However, nothing happened. I thought ‘okay, I’ll give them another week.’ But again, nothing. I hid in alleyways for weeks waiting for you to come looking for me. I waited and waited and waited until one day it hit me. ‘They’re not coming for me.’ I cried that day. I cried because my own parents, not great ones either, did not want to find me. Did not want me.” I paused to take a breath.
“But then I tried to think of it from your point of view. I thought, ‘maybe they didn’t want to deal with a child that isn’t natural, that isn’t right.’ I let myself think that for ninety-eight minutes. Then I got angry.” I smirked at them, and they stepped back slightly, probably noticing the peculiar glint in my eyes. “I was infuriated as to why my parents would do this. Surely the people who are the reason I’m alive were prepared to deal with whatever they received. Isn’t that what family is supposed to do? Support you through everything? But no, no. Not you two!” I let out a laugh, “No! You two probably prayed for an hour thanking whomever for finally having me gone! I was livid.”
“I wanted to do things. Bad things. Things that made my heart race in anticipation and excitement. I wanted to set you on fire and watch you while you calcinate like a piece of rotten bacon.”
“Jett, sweetheart, how could you say that? We’re your family!” My mother cried.
“Family?” I questioned, “Family?” I choked out. “You two are no family to me. Family is the cardboard box that sheltered me from the rain for half a year. Family is the stray cat that shared its food with me. Family is the man who took me. Who showed me that the way I am is okay. Who gave me support, education, food, and a roof over my head. Family is his wife who held me when I cried for days because I still wasn’t over the abandonment. You two, you are not family.” I took a step back, “You two are the people whose blood I share, and nothing more. You’re nothing to me. I hope you have learned from this, and I pray you don’t have another child either.” I clicked the safety off the revolver, “I hope I am your last.” I said, and just as I was about to pull the trigger, something flashed, and in an instant everything became white.
I am terrifying and strange and beautiful, something not everyone knows how to love.
I suddenly remembered the faint smell of gunpowder in his car.
Maybe he didn’t know how to either.
TEXT: LAMAR BALUBAID