I think most people would disagree with me when I say that knowing that you're going to get hit before it actually happens makes it worse. Well, I know that it does for me.
I start to hyperventilate in the passenger seat of Niall's car just thinking about the state that my father is in. He's beyond mad, that's for sure. And just yesterday I came home four dollars short – that could have easily been prevented. I wouldn't have gotten hit, I wouldn't be freaking out as much right now. And missing curfew! What is wrong with you, Maci? You've never missed curfew before. Ohhh God, I'm in for it. I wonder how bad it will be. Where will I get hit –
My train of thought is lost when Niall places his hand over mine, making me jump. My head whips over to him. He looks at me worriedly as he pulls up to the stop light. I give him a weak smile and turn my head back out my window.
What is this boy doing to you, Maci? You met him yesterday, and you're already holding hands and hugging... Is this how it works? I like Niall – that's for sure. And he likes me back, even better! And it's fair to say that we've been through a lot in the small amount of time that we've spent together. So I don't see how it would be a problem... But of course, there always is. I don't want Niall to get hurt. That's the problem. If I get to close to him, my father might hurt him, too! Niall will get hurt.
We finally reach my neighborhood and I start to breath heavily, my heart rate picking up again. Niall squeezes my hand, trying to comfort me.
“Is there any way that I could help?” he says desperately. “Please, Maci, let me do something, anything! I can't let you go in there and get hurt, I won't do it!”
“No, Niall,” I say sadly, shaking my head. “There's nothing that you can do. I have to go home no matter what. And I'm going in alone. I can't risk you getting hurt.”
“Oh, Maci,” he says, grim reasoning in his voice. “I'll be hurt no matter what! If I let you go in there alone I'll never be able to go to sleep at night. Maci, what if he hurts you – beyond repair? What then? He said something about two infractions? And then he said severe consequences! It's horrible already, and now he says it's going to get worse than beating you? Maci, I can't stand it!”
“Niall,” I whisper as Niall pulls up to my house and stops the car. “Please stop trying to convince me to let you go in with me. It's not going to happen. I have to tough through this like I have through all of the other times. And I need you to support me.”
“Support you?” he says incredulously. “Support you walking into your own home alone to be beaten?”
“No, Niall!” I yell, surprising both myself and Niall. I put my hand on the door handle and take a deep breath. “I need you to support me afterward! No one has ever been there for me before, but I needed it! I need you to be there this time, to support me after.”
“Maci,” he says, sounding on the verge of tears. “If I let you go in there alone, there will be nothing left to support!”
What did he just say to me...? I have handled my father's beatings before. What makes now so different, other than the fact that he's more angry? Did Niall just say that I can't handle myself? Hurt and anger flush throughout my body. It must have shown on my face, because Niall automatically changes his tone.
“Maci, you know I didn't mean it like that!” Even though I am so tempted to forgive him and soften, I don't. I see this as an opportunity to make him stay in the car.
I put on my best glare and throw open the car door, stepping out into the night.
“Maci!” Niall begs. “Please-” I can't hear the rest of what he says because I slam the door shut.
I start walking up the driveway to the front door, but I hear Niall get out of the car. His feet thunder against the concrete, and I hear him get closer. As soon as he is about ten feet away, I whip around, making him freeze.
“Don't,” I say harshly, giving him a hard glare, “follow me.”
And with that, I spin around and take off for my front door. “Maci!” Niall shouts behind me, but I'm already through the door. I close it just as he reaches the porch, and lock the door.
“Please, just leave,” I whisper against the door, on the verge of tears. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, leaning against the door. I'm so sorry, Niall. I hope you'll forgive me.
I open my eyes and stand up straight – only to find my father waiting, fists clenched, and beer in hand.
“Don't,” Maci hisses with a glare, “follow me.”
And with that, takes off for her house. “Maci!” I shout, but she's already through the door. I sprint as fast as I can to catch up, but the door shuts and I hear the bolt slide into place.
No. No, no, no! I feel utterly defeated. I like Maci, a lot. And to hear that her father abuses her... That's tough on a guy! And then to hear him pretty much say, 'I'm going to beat the shit out of you when you get home' – that's traumatizing. I didn't know how to handle Maci before she rushed into her house. I said one wrong thing in the car and... Oh God, Maci.
The pain swells in my chest and I take off back toward the car. There's no way you're going to cry, Niall. I throw myself into the driver's side and whip my seatbelt around me. I had left the car running, so all I had to do was step on the gas pedal and I was gone – away from Maci, away from her father, away from the torture that he was putting her through. Staying on this street right now would only cause my heart to break. There wasn't any stopping it now – she had locked the door, making helping her impossible.
So I leave. I hate myself as I drive away, looking in the rear-view mirror at her house. My grip tightens on the steering wheel as I let sink in what just happened. Maci, the girl I like so much, confessed to me that she has no friends and that her father abuses her. Then, when her father called in advance to let her know that she was in for it, she wouldn't let me help her. I let her walk into a house where she could be seriously wounded.
What have I done?
There's no holding them back anymore, it's useless. I pull into an empty lot and put the car in park. “DAMMIT!” I scream, slamming my hands against the dash. That's when the tears start to slide down my cheeks. I rest my head against the top of the steering wheel and zone out. I don't know how long I'm sitting there, but eventually my eyes run dry. I'm still shaking, but I pull myself together enough to pull out of the lot and head back to the hotel.
I sluggishly park the car and slump into the hotel. I open the door to our room, not bothering being slow anymore. I slam the door shut, run past a gaping Zayn, and throw myself face down on the bed, renewed sobs racking my body.
Why the hell did you leave, Niall?
I hear Zayn do an intake of breath and jump off his bed, running out the door. I don't care. Leave, like I left Maci. I don't deserve comforting, and I'm right. She's probably getting beaten right now, and I'm sitting here in a nice hotel room, with five of my best friends. She doesn't even have friends! I don't deserve to be this lucky, and she doesn't deserve the pain that she goes through.
I don't hear the rest of the lads come in the room, but I figure they're here when Louis pounces on me. “Niall,” he whimpers. “Niall, honey, what's wrong?” I don't know why, but I snap.
“Get the hell off of me, Louis!” I seethe, rolling over so that he's thrown onto the floor. The other three boys just look extremely surprised.
“What's your issue?” Harry shouts, glaring at me and stooping to help his best friend. “We're here to help you, not hurt you. So don't hurt us!”
“I don't want to talk about it!” I growl, burying my face in my pillow once again. “I think it's better if you all just leave me alone right now!”
“Niall,” Liam says softly. “Whatever it is, we can help you. Is it Maci? Lay it on us, we've all been through girl issues.”
I roll over to face them. “Not like this,” I cry, my voice cracking at the end.
“Try us,” the lads say in unison. I shake my head. I don't want to talk about it, though I knew I would end up telling them anyway. They beg me, saying that seeing me hurt is hurting them. They have absolutely no idea how badly I hurt. When I finally have enough of their 'we get it' speech, I sit up.
“Look,” I say harshly. “I can almost guarantee that none of you have been through what I'm going through now-”
“Rejected 22 times!” Liam said nonchalantly, raising his hand. I grit my teeth to keep from yelling at him.
“It's not about being rejected, Liam,” I say as calmly as I can manage right now.
But as soon as Liam's theory is out, there's no stopping the others. I'm bombarded with all types of scenarios, all of them wrong. It nears twenty seconds of their constant suggestions and I finally lose my cool.
“CAN WE ALL JUST ASSUME THAT NONE OF THE ONE DIRECTION BOYS HAVE EVER BEEN THROUGH ANYTHING LIKE THIS WITH A GIRL AND SHUT YOUR MOUTHS FOR FIVE MINUTES SO I CAN EXPLAIN!?!?”
All of the lads freeze and stare at me with open mouths. What can I say, I have a pair of lungs. They do shut up though, allowing me a few seconds to pull myself together. I'm not going to go through every detail of the night, just the important bits. I take a deep breath and swallow down the growing sadness that rests inside my chest. I start off like this:
“Maci is getting abused by her father.”