For the last three years Emily had been working six days a week and thirteen hours a day at the diner. On her day off she was forced to spend her time attempting to clean the house after her mothers continuous substance abuse party’s. 
Emily’s mother had been trying to take as much of her hard-earned money as she could, the act she had shown Emily on the night of Emily’s job announcement had only lasted a few days, and soon it became a manipulative game of heart sob stories. She would cry and tell Emily that she only needed the drugs one last time and then she would stop, when Emily would refuse her the money or say that she did not have any, her mothers crocodile tears would be replaced by instant rage and hatred, she would threaten to hurt her little brother or would say that she would have to sell her sister for sex to get the money she needed. 

The last three years of Emily’s life had become so much harder than she had ever thought possible, she didn’t know how much more she could take. She had been secretly saving every scrap of money that she could, while still handing over enough to keep her mother quiet. She was exhausted all the time, she knew that she shouldn’t have to deal with these kinds of things at her age but what could she do? She had contemplated calling social services numerous times, but she knew that  there was no guarantee of her brother and sister ending up with a better living arrangement. Social services would probably just split them up and send them thousands of miles away from each other, she would probably never see them again. Emily had decided a long time ago to take care of them herself, and now that she had all the money they would need to get away and start a fresh life, it was just about picking the right moment.

Emily was now half way home, the walk had never seemed so long before. Her finger tips were now starting to lose feeling as the temperature had plummeted. She began to think about the other night, when the escape plan for her and her siblings had almost been discovered.

She had come home two hours later than normal. Dwayne, her manager had tried to seduce her into his office at the end of her shift but after a long and heated argument she had managed to get away. She opened the front door to the house, her mother and sister were screaming and shouting, the house had been trashed. Emily rushed down the hallway following the direction of the noise. “What is going on?!!” Emily shouted, her mother stopped and turned, Emily noticed that she was holding a dark green duffel bag in her hands and Emily’s stomach dropped. “Why don’t you ask your whore of a sister” her mother slurred, she was clearly very drunk or very high or probably both. Emily looked at Sarah with a questioning glare, “I tried to tell her it was nothing, I said it’s just a bag full of old magazines!” Sarah said with desperation in her voice. “Bullshit! If there is nothing in here then why is there a lock on the zips?” Accused her mother. Emily started to panic, all the money, the open bus tickets and the plan was in that bag, she had kept it at the back of their closet for years, how the hell did their mother find it?! “Let’s just cut this sucker open then shall we?” Her mother said as she turned to walk out, Emily followed her mother while she staggered and swayed drunkenly down the hallway, Emily got desperate, there was nothing she could say to make her mother hand over the bag. She picked up an empty bottle of vodka off the hallway floor, raised it above her mother’s head and slammed it down as hard as she could. Her mother’s body hit the floor like a sack of lead. Sarah let out a scream from behind her but she didn’t turn around, her heart was pounding, Emily leant down and put her fingers on her mother’s neck, she was still alive. Emily grabbed the bag from under her and returned it to the closet. Sarah went to say something but Emily put her hand up, “I’m going to make sure Joshua is ok, when I come back I just want to go to sleep, we will deal with all of this tomorrow”.

The next morning Emily had been woken up by groaning and moaning, when she came out of her room she was confronted by her mother pulling herself up off the hallway floor. She looked at Emily, “I feel terrible, what….. what happened last night? Why am I in the hallway?” Her mother asked with confusion in her tone. Emily paused, did she really not know what had happened?

“Well!!!……. what the fuck happened?!” Emily startled back into the moment, “you got really drunk, or high, or…. something, then you fell over and hit your head, we thought it was best not to move you.” Her mother stared at her, the hatred coming from her eyes for Emily could have set her on fire. “And you just left met there!!!???, what if I was dead? But I guess you would have been happy then eh??” Emily refused to answer, she turned around and walked back to her bedroom, ignoring the insults and shouting that followed her.

Emily could still not believe that they had gotten away with the events of that night, her mother must have been so drugged up, she never mentioned it again and the bag remained forgotten and untouched. Emily was nearly home now, she could always tell because of the houses. She knew that when she saw the rose house (that was what she called it) that she was getting much closer. She had always loved the rose house, she used to make up fantasies of all the family’s that could be living in all the of the different houses on her nightly walk home, some would be rich, some would be poor but all of them would love each other and be happy. The rose house was particularly intriguing, the whole front yard was covered in rows upon rows of rose bushes, they were all so perfect and taken care of, in the spring you were able to smell them from miles away. She thought that she had seen a middle-aged couple coming and going from there, but she wasn’t sure if they were just visiting or if they were lucky enough to live there. One day she would have a house of her own, she would plant roses and grow her own vegetables, she would find a husband that worked hard and was nice to her all the time and they would have a fluffy dog named buster. It would be perfect.

Emily finally reached her block, she could see in the distance that the lights in her house were still on, but something was wrong, she could hear screaming coming from that direction, not the normal type of shouting she was so used to hearing, this was a blood curdling scream the type that made her hair stand up on the back of her neck……. she ran.

The door was open, she ran in, her fear had made the room spin into a blur, she was feverishly looking around trying to figure out what was happening, she heard more screaming, it was coming from the kitchen. As she ran down the hall she turned right and looked into her brother Joshua’s room, he was sitting on the floor in tears without a nappy and was surrounded by his own faeces and urine, She didn’t have time to stop, she turned left into the kitchen and stopped dead in her tracks, one of her mothers friends by the name of Jim was standing in front of the kitchen counter, his pants down to his ankles, she saw her sister bent over, her hands gripping the edges of the counter top. Her screaming was filled with pain, desperation and worst of all it was filled with a silent plea for death. His hands were holding her down, one on her back and one on her side, turned face. Emily ran, not to get away, not out of fear but out of intent. She ran into the bathroom, her mother was lying in the bath naked, her fingers running slow circles around the hole where the shotgun shell had gone through her dad all those years ago, she was muttering her husband’s name over and over, Emily could barely understand her drug induced mumbling. She ignored her mother and got on her hands and knees, she reached far underneath the broken bath panel, her hand touched cloth and she pulled, it was the shotgun, the same one that had ended her dad, she unwrapped it, cocked it and walked back to the kitchen door.

“Hey!!! Get the fuck off of her!!” She shouted, Jim stopped and looked back at Emily. Sarah, realising Emily was there began whimpering her name, pleading her for help. Emily held the shotgun as steadily as her shaking hands would allow, aiming it right at the centre of Jim’s back, for a second Jim’s eyes grew wider, but then the corners of his mouth slowly started to curl upward, a mocking, carefree laugh crept out between his cigarette stained teeth and grew louder and louder. “What! The little virgins gonna shoot me now?? I don’t think so!” Jim scoffed, he turned back and ignored Emily, he just carried on as if no one was there. The rage inside Emily took over instantly, and without hesitation she pulled the trigger.

As the shot made contact, Jim’s body was flung forward and then it fell off the side of the counter, hitting the floor with a thud, there was blood everywhere. Emily dropped the gun and ran over to Sarah, she grabbed her shoulders and pulled her close to her, she was inconsolable, screaming and crying and clutching at Emily’s shirt. What could Emily say? There was nothing that could be said, Emily just held her and told her it was going to be ok. After twenty minutes had passed not a word had come out of Sarah, Emily began to move her and helped her down, she led her to their room and told her she needed to get dressed, she told Sarah that they had to go, she had just killed a man and now was the time that they had to get out as quickly as possible, Sarah just nodded, her eyes were as wide as saucers, her face now stained with blood and tears. Emily quickly left her to go and grab her brother, she handed him to Sarah and ran back to the kitchen, she grabbed some rags and wet them, Emily took them to the bedroom and helped Sarah and Joshua to get dressed and cleaned up. She grabbed the bag out of the closet and the key to the lock from the chest of drawers. She dragged an empty suitcase out of the closet and placed it on the bed.

“Sarah listen to me, pack some stuff for you and Joshy, then I want you to take the bag with the tickets and money and get to the bus stop. Stay there and take the first bus out, do not stop for anything, keep going until you get to where we discussed, do you understand?”

“What! Aren’t you coming with us? There are three tickets Emily.” Sarah said in a confused and scared tone.

“I know this is going to be hard but you have to trust me, I have just killed a human being Sarah, I can’t go with you two. You know that I love you more than words can say, but if I come with you we will always be worried, scared and running from something, please don’t make this harder than it already is, please don’t make the last three years worth nothing. Take Joshy, get out of here, I will come and find you if I can.” Emily pleaded

“But Emi…..”

“Don’t argue, it had to be this way! Hurry! Pack your stuff, someone would have heard the shot and the police are probably on their way, don’t worry Sarah, I will be fine.”

After Emily had helped Sarah pack, she walked her and Joshua to the door, “I love you guys so much” she said while she kissed and hugged them. Her mother started mumbling and was beginning to shout from the bathroom, “please just go! hurry! You have everything you need.” Emily said with tears streaming down her cheeks. She watched as Sarah with Joshua in her arms went walking down the front yard and out onto the street, Joshua began to cry, he was uttering the only part of her name he had ever been able to say, Emi….Emi….. and it echoed through dark of the early hours of the morning.

Emily turned and looked around the trashed house, her heart was broken that she could not be with her siblings but at the same time a massive relief had washed over her knowing that they would now stand a chance at a normal life. With heavy legs Emily returned to the kitchen, she picked the shotgun up off the floor and started to move towards the  bathroom, towards the woman who called herself her mother. She stood in the doorway, her mother was still mumbling incoherently, her eyes drifting all over the room like they were following things flying through the air, she was high. “Mom, can you hear me?” Emily asked, “ahhhh, hello my…… perfect…… little……. virgin” slurred her mother, Emily felt her anger boiling up inside her once again, ” Your fucking friend Jim raped my sister tonight!!! Do you know that!!! Or were you too fucking high to notice??!!” Emily screamed, her mother rolled over and stared at Emily, her eyelids hanging heavily, her mouth slack, a line of spit seeping out the corner of her bluing lips. “She probably asked for it!”

Emily hung her head, her mind was going a million miles an hour, she didn’t have the energy to deal with this woman anymore, how could someone live all this time with this much hate inside them. “Why did you have kids mom? You clearly havent loved us at all, so why did you choose this life?” Emily’s tone had changed, the fight inside her seemed to be disappearing, fading into nothing.

” I didn’t choose this! Your father wanted all  of you, not me, and look at what happened, all of you turned out to be shit, worthless and fucking lazy, I gave you my life! You should be fucking grateful!! Look at what you kids did to your poor father, he killed himself because of you kids! My poor, poor David, my lovely David….”.

Emily snapped! She couldn’t control herself any longer, she could not be this gentle, reserved girl anymore. She picked up the shotgun, cocked it and violently rammed it into her mothers filthy, gaping mouth, her mother’s head hit the cracked, faded blue tiles at the back of the bath with a loud thud. Her eyes grew wide, she was coughing and spluttering and began to gag but Emily would not lessen the pressure. Tears started to pour out of the sides of her mothers eyes, mucus running out of her nose and out of  the sides of her mouth onto her naked, weathered neck. She was trying to fight, but her drugged up drunken body refused to cooperate. Emily leaned forward, as close as she could get to her mother’s ear, “I am not a virgin, dad made sure of that! He didn’t kill himself either, I fucking killed the bastard myself!” She whispered. Her mothers eyes were now huge! She was writhing around, with terror written all over her face, trying to shout for help. “Go to hell you bitch!” Shouted Emily and she pulled the trigger, blowing her mothers brain all over the walls and the ceiling.

The house was completely silent, the first time in years that it had ever been like that. There was no drunken men around, no loud music, no cigarette smoke lingering in the air, no baby brother being neglected, no sister hiding from drunken men’s possible antics, no mother snorting all her money away….. it was just quiet. Emily sat in the living room, she knew her sister and her brother would be fine, she had made sure they had a good chance at a new life, she wasn’t worried for them, no one would ever treat them like this again and that made her happier than she had ever felt.

She could hear sirens in the distance, blue and red flashing lights becoming more visible while they bounced off the torn lace curtains hanging in the window, but she didn’t care, she wasn’t worried at all, everything was going to be ok now.

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