Princeton, Kentucky, September 28th 2010
That was what Lucas had thought before the braveness of the unknown girl interposing between him and his father.
“Try to hit him again and I'll report it to the police!” that furious tornado shouted, making even Lucas jump; the boy was still pressing his hand on his cheek, made swollen and red by the latest smack he had got. The man laughed soundly, facing that silly threat. That hoarse and biting sound made Lucas feel thrills down his back, pushing him to hide cowardly behind his tall rescuer, who didn't look at all scared by his father's falsely amused behavior. However, Lucas knew him very well and he perfectly understood what would come after that baritone laughter and even more after such unveiled threats. In a rush of courage, he picked up his rescuer's rucksack and tried to throw it away, before his father lost his temper once more and lifted his hands, or worse his belt, also on her.
“Be careful of what you're saying, brat!” the man warned her, turning suddenly serious and moving still closer to her.
“You're the one who must be careful of what you do, or I'll tell mum and she'll send you to prison, together with all the violent parents who beat their children,” she challenged him again in a tender but at the same time fierce voice, decided not to let herself be scared by that scrounger.
“What did you say?” the man burst out angrily, bending on that small creature who turned her nose up at the alcohol-smelling breath coming out of his mouth. And then his father's sigh came. The sigh Lucas knew very well: that vibrant and stiff hiss which always ended up in a violent gesture against anything around him. He cast a furtive glance at the proud and perfect face of the girl, who hadn't even moved an inch back, going on to protect him and to keep him safe behind her back, which was slightly bending under the weight of the books in the rucksack. His eyes lingered on her pink and perfect lips, her small and heart-shaped mouth, without any scar or marks of violence. Her features were a bit strange, according to Lucas, but at the same time curious, and he wished he could see her face better, but his father's panting and trembling breathing had the better on him. Holding back his fear and the moans of pain which kept coming out of his mouth, he took courage and, by a force he had never felt, he was able to push his rescuer aside just in time, before his father's hand flew merciless to the girl's cheek.
“Let her go!” his son screamed, gathering his strength in a desperate cry. He knew he couldn't do anything against his father, but he swore to himself he would do anything he could to protect that innocent girl, who had proved silly enough to face hot-tempered and powerful Daren Scott.
“You can't give me any order, do you understand it? You are just a silly boy who will end up like his bust mother!” his father said angrily, seizing him by the snap of his neck. Just a few months had gone since they had found his mother sleeping in the water tub full of water. He had been taken aback at first, when he had seen his mother completely dressed in the tub, but everything had taken a different meaning later, after his father had come in. He still found it difficult to give order to his memories. He could just remember his father's painful and raging screams, while he took his wife out of the water and called Rosalinda, the waitress, who was crying and shouting that the house was cursed, while running to call the ambulance. Then everything had turned hazy till his mother's funeral.
He didn’t know whether he had cried or not, but he could remember that, when they had come back from the cemetery that night, his father had got drunk more than he usually did and had started shouting at him, telling him he was a loser just like his mother, who had been such a coward as to make suicide, leaving him alone to look after a son he had never wanted and who could even be a bastard in his opinion, considering the shameful and rakish past of the snake he had married ten years before.
That night, shut in his bedroom and hiding under the sheets, he had started trembling and calling his mother helplessly, hoping she would come and rescue him.
Unfortunately, his dream hadn’t come true, as it had never done also when she was alive, so he could just go on crying till he felt his stomach and his head ache.
Now, his father’s words were striking him as violently as that night.
He bit his lower lip to avoid crying, but tears started flowing abundantly at last.
“Dad, don’t hurt her. Please” he begged him, sobbing and hiding his face by the sleeve of his jacket, to prevent that girl who was braver than him from seeing him.
“My son is crying for a female! This is real news! You’re spineless. Guess what? You’ll get back home on your own, so you’ll learn not to disobey me and not to stand against me!” the man decided, turning on his heels and walking to his car with unsteady steps because he had been drinking too much that afternoon.
“Wait, dad!” Lucas tried to stop him, scared at the thought of going back home alone, but his father had already walked to the car door and got into the car, without even looking at him and leaving his nine-year-old son trembling and crying at the side of the road.