Every month, on the first, Megan lit a candle. It was something she did to send strength to her youngest sister, who was still trapped in a situation that she wouldn’t be able to free herself from until her sixteenth birthday, the same way both her elder sisters had done. When the candle was burning Megan found herself thinking back to the day she’d left the ‘family home’ behind for good and the days that followed it. She’d been planning on leaving from the time she realised what it meant, because she wanted it to be her choice, but the way he’d looked at her had made her wonder what he really was thinking. Thinking about it made her shiver, so she did her best not to, as it had never happened – she had packed up everything that was important to her, said goodbye to her sisters, and walked out without a backward glance.
That had been more so she wouldn’t cry though. Megan hated leaving both of them behind, but, as they’d told her more than once, she’d had to put herself first. He was either going to throw her out, because he’d never wanted children in the first place, or, as she was no longer a child, do something worse… she remembered telling Vitali about that look before she left, about what she thought it meant, and hoped he would tell her that she was wrong, but he never did. Instead, the next time she visited, he told her that she could stay as long as she wanted if she did leave. She wasn’t entirely surprised by the offer, it was Vitali, and yet she knew it meant his parents were also worried about what she’d told him.
Having a place to stay had helped, but Megan didn’t want it to be permanent. She was terrified of losing her best friend because she was living with him and there were things she hadn’t told him back then. Of course she should have known better than to have been worried, but she started planning from the moment she took over their spare room how she was going to find a place of her own, even though her age was going to make it difficult. Fortunately that was when she got in contact with an old friend – one she thought might have a place for her to stay, although that wasn’t the only reason she chose to contact them.
Rose, before everything had changed, had been her best friend, but then Megan’s father had died, her mother had remarried, and she’d found herself shutting off from everyone. It had been easier than talking about it, even thought talking might have helped. Then the two of them had ended up going to different schools when they switched to secondary, so they’d lost touch, and it hadn’t been until Megan had made herself a profile on one of the social networks that she thought she might be able to find Rose again. Rose, who, sadly, had a very popular name, which meant it took Rose hunting for her for them to connect again.
Megan had never thought that Rose might want to be friends. It was strange, really, because Megan had wanted to be friends, to make up for mistakes that had been made in the past, but she always assumed that Rose would tell her that after everything that had happened before it was too late. She’d moved on. Their lives had changed too much. Yet there was a friend request from Rose – a friend request she found herself staring at in disbelief, until Vitali, sighing, had clicked on the accept button, knowing how much it meant to her to reconnect with Rose. To be able to explain why.
“It won’t be long,” a voice said from the doorway. “Three more months to go.”
As she turned to look at Rose Megan sighed. “Those three months seemed like forever when I was still there. All I wanted was for it to be over, but it felt like it never would be, like I’d be trapped there for the rest of my life, because of the choices my mother had made when Dad died.” There had been a time when she felt sorry for her mother, but that pity had faded away when it was obvious that she was never going to leave him, no matter how bad things got… and it didn’t even seem to matter when her eldest daughter left the house. “I know you’re trying to help, Rose, and I do appreciate that, but you’ve never been in that position.”
“I know, sweetheart.” Rose crossed the room and kissed Megan’s forehead. “At least she knows she has somewhere safe to go, people who’ll look after her, and she won’t have to worry about anything more than her homework for a while.”
“Your dad is a wonderful man.”
“My dad has been in the position you were and knows how hard it is to be a kid out there on their own. That’s why he spent so much of his own money setting up these houses, working out how he could make them a safe place for someone who ended up walking away or being kicked out, and why I told him about you before I managed to find you. It took me a long time to realise that something must have gone very wrong for you to have changed that much that quickly…”
“We were children. Unless you’ve been through or are going through something like that it’s not an assumption anyone would make.” Megan bit her lip. “You could never have known what was happening unless I told you and I chose not to tell anyone, because telling anyone would mean having to relive it, which was something I didn’t want to do when I was away from it. Instead I bottled everything up, I did what I could to look after my sisters, and to me that made the most sense.”
Mirrored from K. A. Webb Writing.