By Chef MethadoneDonor
I am twenty years old as of writing this. I don’t want these words to be destroyed. That is why I am posting these words now. I want someone to see these words in case I don’t survive the next three weeks. Every second counts.
He has lived in the house since before I was born. He has tormented me my entire life. Sometimes he pretends that he cares about me. When I was a child, I used to believe him sometimes.
I sleep in a room on the second floor of the house. I would normally call this room my bedroom, but I cannot anymore because he sold my bed last year. I sleep on the floor now because he wanted one hundred dollars.
I cannot call the police because there are only two phones. One is in the living room, and the other is in his room. If I pick up the handset of one phone, a small light lights up on the other phone. If I call anyone on the living room phone, he will see the light and pick up the handset on his phone. I cannot call anyone because he sees the light every time and he listens to every word. By the time the police came, it would be too late.
I cannot rely on my neighbors for help. They all hate me because I live in the same house as him. They probably don’t know that I hate him too. More than one of the neighbors has called the police on him before, but nothing ever happens. The police don’t see any evidence of anything and then they leave.
I am acutely aware that the distance from my window to the ground is sixteen feet straight down. I constantly think about jumping, but not to kill myself. I would jump in order to escape. I would jump in order to survive. I think I could survive a sixteen foot drop mostly intact. If I hang off of the edge of the window and drop down, it’s only a ten foot drop. I’m pretty sure that I would survive a ten foot drop without injury if I landed right. If I landed on the hood of my car, it might be better than hitting the concrete driveway. I wonder how many seconds it would take to remove the car cover and start the engine. Would it even start after sitting in the driveway all this time. If it did start up, how many seconds would it take to do so? Every second counts.
Sometimes when my mom leaves the house to go to work or buy groceries, she will say cryptic things. “If I don’t come back, take care of your brothers for me.” “I hope I see you again.” “I’ll be back, I hope.”
About half a year ago, I began leaving my window unlocked at all times. I worry that if my window were locked, I wouldn’t be able to get out in time if anything happened. I would have to take time to unlock the window before I could even open it. If my window is already unlocked, that will buy me at least a second or two of extra time. Every second counts.
He doesn’t want me to go to college. He has prevented me from going to college for two years now. I have been trapped in this house for two years since graduating high school. I have been able to find work sometimes, but most of the money is taken and goes directly to him. Two years of my life have been stolen from me so far. Two years is a really long time when you measure your life in seconds. Every second counts.
He had a nightmare a while back. He walked into my older brother’s room where we were both watching television. He just stared at us for almost a whole minute in complete silence. Then he walked back down the hallway and stopped at door to his room. He just stood there as stiff as a board, staring into his room but not entering it. I asked him why he was staring at me and my brother. He didn’t answer. I asked him if there was something in the room that he was looking at. Without looking at me, he whispered some words which terrified me and continue to scare me even to this day. I was afraid that I was going to die that night. Eventually he entered his room and closed the door. I went back to my own room and picked up the spiked bat that I keep next to my window. I got it at the renaissance festival last year. I locked my door and I didn’t go to sleep that night. The spiked bat was hard to hold onto because my hands were shaking and my palms were sweating.
It was this night, three months ago, when I began locking my door at all times. Having my door locked buys me some more time. I think that I could probably make it out of the window before my door was broken in. A locked door adds precious few extra seconds, but a couple extra seconds is better than none. Every second counts.
The next day, my mom asked me where the rope ladder was. I told her that it was probably in the hall closet. She told me that I should keep it in my room. “If something happens, I would want you to make it out at least.” In this exact moment, something became perfectly clear to me. I have two brothers who sleep in adjacent second-story rooms. There is only one rope ladder, and my mother wants me to have it. She wants the only rope ladder to be in my room where only I have access to it, instead of in the hall closet where everyone has access to it. My mother had asked herself which of her three children was the most likely to survive if something happened, and the answer was me.
My next door neighbor’s house was broken into and robbed last week. It happened in the middle of the day. I even heard the glass break, but my window doesn’t face their house, so I didn’t see anything. I didn’t call the police. It’s not that unusual to hear glass break sometimes. I continue to keep my window unlocked at all times. I don’t fear anything that could come through my window from the outside. What I fear lives inside of the house.
The other day I opened my window, and I cut loose a corner of the window screen. Then I cut small slits along all of the edges of the screen. This was to make it easier to rip the screen out if I needed to escape through this window. I wouldn’t want to waste precious seconds struggling with a screen if something were to happen. Every second counts.
I have spent the last couple of months gathering documents. I have been frantically searching my house for W-2s, 1040s, proof of SNAP, etc. I need all of these things if I want to escape. He has tried very hard to shred all important documents and then burn them in the backyard, but some survived. He does this because he doesn’t want anyone to escape. What documents I do find, I must hide from him. If he found out that I had all of these documents, I don’t know what he would do. At the same time, I know exactly what he would do.
I went to the community college last week, and I brought all of my top secret documents. The college person told me that I have all of the documents that I need except for one. This special document is called an IRS tax return transcript. In order to obtain it, I must file taxes secretly without his knowledge. Then it will take three weeks to become available, and then up to ten days to arrive in the mail. That is a very long time for someone who measures their life in seconds. Every second counts.
Using the documents I had gathered, I was able to file a tax return without anyone knowing. Now I must wait. There are fifteen days left until I can request the transcript, and then I might have to wait ten more days. When it arrives, I must get to the mailbox before he does. If he reaches the mailbox first, he will open the envelope and read the words therein. If that happens, the IRS tax return transcript will be shredded and burned. After that, it will be too late and I will have to wait an another year to try to escape again. It will be the third year that I will spend trapped in the house with him. I cannot fail again. That is why I must reach the mailbox first. Then I must go the college and submit all of the documents. Once I am enrolled, I will be able to leave. I will have to leave secretly, without anyone knowing. When he finds out that I have escaped, there will be nothing that he can do to me. I will be already be gone. My two siblings and my mother will still be there, however. He might take it out on them. I don’t think that they will ever escape. I have survived for my entire life, but escape is so close I can almost taste it. I have to survive for three more weeks. If I survive for three weeks, I have to reach the mailbox first. Every second counts.