Lost - By Nadia Simonenko


I hear him start yelling, and I’m up from the couch in an instant. My heart starts to pound in my chest and my breathing quickens. Where is he? What did I do? Is he coming for me?

“If you cared one goddamned bit about this family like I do, you’d be...”

He’s yelling at Mom. I can hear his drunken words slurring together as he screams at her. I don’t even wonder what they’re fighting about anymore; it’s been like this for as long as I can remember.

As I got older, I began to understand the truth. It isn’t about anything.

The fight is so one-sided that it’s not even a fight anymore. My father is being what he always is: a drunken, violent asshole.

A glass shatters against the floor in the kitchen, and I instinctively raise my hand to my face, feeling the ridge of the long scar running along my jaw. It’s nearly invisible now after so many years, but I can still feel exactly where it is. I got this one from a glass, but my parents told the school I’d been in a bike accident.

In the kitchen, Mom starts to cry.

“...stupid fucking bitch! What the hell is wrong with...”

His yelling grows louder, more violent and terrifying to me, and I quietly head upstairs to my room. I feel like I should step in and try to help Mom, but I know I’ll just make things worse. She wouldn’t help if it was me, either; if I’m the first person Dad sees, she disappears and leaves me to take beating. She comes crawling back when it’s all over to tell me that everything is going to be okay, but I haven’t believed her since I was twelve.

The only person I’d protect is Samantha, but I thankfully haven’t had to yet. My sister is only eleven, and Dad doesn’t go after her.


I close my door, sit down at the wooden desk in the far corner and pretend I’m working on my homework. I’m staring at numbers scrawled near-illegibly in my physics notebook, but they don’t mean anything to me right now. My mind is still hiding in terror behind the couch downstairs.

The fight is spilling out of the kitchen and toward the stairs. I can hear their voices echoing through the heating vent; my bedroom’s vent connects to the one in the living room, and there is no vent in the kitchen. The aluminum ductwork distorts his cold, hate-filled voice and makes him sound like a monster out of a bad movie. I wish this was all just a bad movie.

I hear my mother’s light footfalls as she runs up the stairs. She is trying to get away from the fight, but the loud, dull ‘thud’ of Dad’s boots are following behind her. He was honorably discharged from the army almost ten years ago after he hurt his back, but he still wears those same old combat boots everywhere. It’s obvious enough to me that he isn’t ready for civilian life, but the army disagrees.

They’re fighting at the top of the stairs right outside my door now. I close my eyes and hunch over, trying hard not to shake as I hear the sickening sound of his fists hitting her again and again. He’s beaten me so many times that I’m terrified of him even when I’m not the target of his rage.

A new voice cuts through my thoughts and I bolt upright in my chair.

“Stop that! Stop hitting her!” cries Samantha. She sounds terrified, and I can see her wide-eyed, fearful look in my mind. I imagine her jaw quivering in fear, but even if it is, she’s still braver than I am. I’m hiding in my room, trying to pretend that I’m not here.

“I promised I’d protect her.”

I get up from the chair and start toward the door.

As I reach the door, though, I stop. No, she’s not in trouble yet. Dad won’t hurt her. As I turn around and head back toward my desk, I hear the loud clap of my father’s palm against her face, and she starts to cry.

A door slams down the hall. Mom has abandoned Samantha.

I spin around and hurry back to the door, but again my hand hovers at the knob and refuses to budge.

“He’ll kill me!”

“If you don’t go, he’ll kill Samantha!”

My hand trembles and my teeth grind as I try to force myself to open the door. I need to protect my sister, but my mind screams at me to step