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No Longer a Child

Updated: Mar 12

Trigger warning: suicidal thoughts

Wesley wanted to scream. His parents were fighting again. Last week, it was about not cleaning the bathroom properly. This time, it was about visiting family. Even through his closed bedroom door, he could hear their shouting.

“You say I never visit your side of the family,” his mom shouted, “but when I want to go, you say you’re busy!”

“You can’t tell me the day of!” his dad shot back. “Do you just expect me to drop everything I’m doing? You can go by yourself!”

“That’s not the point! I want you to come with me, and you won’t make the time!”

“Oh, of course it’s all my fault, and you’re playing the victim like you always do!”

This would go on forever. There was no way Wes was going to get any homework done. High school was hard enough without the drama at home. At least his younger brother and sister were out with friends. They didn’t need to hear any of this. Their parents usually did a good job of keeping their tempers in check around Peter and Melanie. But the tension was there, like a pot of water simmering on the stove. All it took was something to turn up the heat and cause the water to boil over.

Wes had seen his parents erupt at each other over and over again. They didn’t try to be as careful when it was just him in the house. Maybe they thought he was old enough to handle it, or maybe he was just so quiet that they forgot their filters. He never got between them when they fought, but he still felt like he was caught in the middle.

He might as well have been invisible.

He needed to get away from his parents and the toxic environment they created in their fights. Wes would’ve bet that all of his gray hairs were because of his parents and not school. After changing into running clothes, Wes went downstairs to the kitchen, which also doubled as his parents’ battlefield. His mom was at the sink, washing dishes. She picked up a knife, and Wes feared she would wield it as a weapon. His dad wiped the counter, but there was one stain that wouldn’t come out no matter how much he tried. They launched words at each other like bullets, the air thick with anger.

Wes grabbed his keys and muttered, “I’m going for a run,” more to himself than to them. They paid him no mind.

As he said—invisible.

After inserting his earbuds and selecting his running playlist on his phone, he took off. The music blasted in his ears and drowned out the other noises in his head. He kept running and didn’t stop, even when he got to the park. His focus was just to keep moving. If he stopped, he would start thinking, and he didn’t want to think about anything right now.

Wes’s feet struck the path that curved around the park. His heart beat faster to keep up with him. Blood roared in his ears, and sweat rolled down his neck and back. Someone might have waved at him in passing, but he didn’t pay attention. He ignored the other runners, the couples having picnics, and the parents pushing their kids on the swings.