Hard to Break - Bella Jewel


Exhaustion threatens to take over my tired, aching body as I walk carefully down the stairs. My eyes are burning from the lack of sleep in the past few days and my feet are hating me for every painful step I take. My house is dark, but I know he’s down there because I can hear him retching. Frustration seizes my chest, a savage twist to my heart, as my feet slowly take me closer to a scene I’m so tired of acting out.

“Quinn?” he cries between retching. “Quinn!”

Swallowing down the anger threatening to rise and explode from my chest, I walk with numb legs towards the bathroom. I step over an empty bottle of whiskey on my way there, the remainder of its contents soaked into the carpet for me to clean up once again. I put my hand to the slightly ajar bathroom door and push it open, stepping inside. My father is on the ground, curled in a ball, covered in vomit.

Pain rises up and flashes through my body as I walk towards him and stare down at his pitiful form. He wasn’t always like this. Before my mother died he was happy, fun loving and clean. Now he’s a drunk and he has been since the day she was taken from us. I’m the only person in the world who cares enough to stand by his side, no matter how hard that is at times.

“Dad, you need to get up and into the shower. I have to clean this mess up.”

He groans and rolls to his back, his shirt soaked with stale sweat. My shoulders slump and I know there’s just no way I’ll get him into the shower. He’s too drunk, too far gone. Instead I go to the sink and fill it up, and then I take a washcloth and start the daunting task of dabbing him clean. When his shirt is vomit free and his face is wiped clean, I get to work helping him out of the bathroom so I can clean up in there, too.

We make it to the couch before he vomits again. Swallowing down my tears for a third time, I start cleaning up that mess. When I’m done, I force him to drink some water then I go about hiding the remaining alcohol in the house because I know he’ll look for it. He’s too drunk to bother to try too hard. If he can’t find it he will, as always, just pass out.

Once the bathroom is cleaned and sanitized, I cover my passed-out father with a blanket and then disappear down the hall to my bedroom, closing the door gently. I gather my clothes, take a shower and then slide into bed. It’s late, probably past 1 a.m., and I have an entire garage to run tomorrow. The dull ache in my chest, the one that never leaves, is heavier tonight. It’s heavy with the burdens of our lives. How the hell am I supposed to fix it all?

I’m twenty-five years old. I should be out with friends, falling in love and have no care in the world except what I’m going to wear for the day and what sort of coffee I’m going to order. Instead, I have the responsibilities of a business, because it’s the only thing that keeps me sane. I have to keep this two-bedroom shack tidy because it’s the only home I have.

I have no friends, except the guys that work at the garage with me. I have very few family members, and only one of them actually gives a shit about my dad and me. That’s my uncle, who visits as much as he can, but mostly, he is too busy. I have never been in love. In fact, the only boyfriend I’ve had time for was when I was sixteen. He left me when he saw the state of my house and my father, oh, and when he got into my pants. Since then, there have been only a few random dates that didn’t go anywhere.

I want happiness, truly I do, but there are far too many obstacles in my way to ever begin to imagine where to start. The business is struggling. The expansion we did two years ago didn’t pay off the way we originally thought it would and our debts have doubled. The mortgage is overdue and utility bills are piling high. My dad gets worse by the day, in fact, it’s been over two weeks since he’s