He left right after your show was over. I wanted to ask him if he needed to use our shower again, but that would have cut it real close to time for my parents getting home. The last thing I wanted was for him to have to run out of the shower and across my backyard naked.

Then again, that’d be kind of hilarious and awesome.



Dear Ellen,

Come on, woman. Reruns? A full week of reruns? I get that you need time off, but let me make a suggestion. Instead of recording one show a day, you should record two. That way you’ll get twice as much done in half the time, and we’d never have to sit through reruns.

I say “we” because I’m referring to Atlas and me. He’s become my regular Ellen-watching partner. I think he might love you as much as I do, but I’ll never tell him I write to you on a daily basis. That might seem a little too fan-girl.

He’s been living in that house for two weeks now. He’s taken a few more showers at my house and I give him food every time he visits. I even wash his clothes for him while he’s here after school. He keeps apologizing to me, like he’s a burden. But honestly, I love it. He keeps my mind off things and I actually look forward to spending time with him after school every day.

Dad got home late tonight, which means he went to the bar after work. Which means he’s probably going to instigate a fight with my mother. Which means he’ll probably do something stupid again.

I swear, sometimes I get so mad at her for staying with him. I know I’m only fifteen and probably don’t understand all the reasons she chooses to stay, but I refuse to let her use me as her excuse. I don’t care if she’s too poor to leave him and we’d have to move into a crappy apartment and eat ramen noodles until I graduate. That would be better than this.

I can hear him yelling at her right now. Sometimes when he gets like this, I walk into the living room, hoping it’ll calm him down. He doesn’t like to hit her when I’m in the room. Maybe I should go try that.


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Dear Ellen,

If I had access to a gun or knife right now, I’d kill him.

As soon as I walked into the living room, I saw him push her down. They were standing in the kitchen and she’d grabbed his arm, trying to calm him down, and he backhanded her and knocked her straight to the floor. I’m pretty sure he was about to kick her, but he saw me walk into the living room and he stopped. He muttered something under his breath to her and then walked to their bedroom and slammed the door.

I rushed to the kitchen and tried to help her, but she never wants me to see her like this. She waved me away and said, “I’m fine, Lily. I’m fine, we just got into a stupid fight.”

She was crying and I could already see the redness on her cheek from where he hit her. When I walked closer to her, wanting to make sure she was okay, she turned her back to me and gripped the counter. “I said I’m fine, Lily. Go back to your room.”

I ran back down the hallway, but I didn’t go back to my room. I ran straight out the back door and across the backyard. I was so mad at her for being short with me. I didn’t even want to be in the same house as either of them, and even thought it was dark already, I went over to the house Atlas was staying in and I knocked on the door.

I could hear him moving inside, like he accidentally knocked something over. “It’s me. Lily,” I whispered. A few seconds later the back door opened and he looked behind me, then to the left and right of me. It wasn’t until he looked at my face that he saw I was crying.

“You okay?” he asked, stepping outside. I used my shirt to wipe away my tears, and noticed he came outside instead of inviting me in. I sat down on the porch step and he sat down next to me.

“I’m fine,” I said. “I’m just mad. Sometimes I cry when I get mad.”

He reached over and tucked my hair behind my ear. I liked it when he did that and I suddenly wasn’t nearly as mad anymore. Then he put his arm around me and pulled me to him so that my head was resting on his shoulder. I don’t know how he calmed me down without even talking, but he did. Some people just have a calming presence about them and he’s one of those people. Completely opposite of my father.

We sat like that for a while, until I saw my bedroom light turn on.

“You should go,” he whispered. We could both see my mom standing in my bedroom looking for me. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized what a perfect view he has of my bedroom.

As I walked back home, I tried to think about the entire time Atlas has been in that house. I tried to recall if I’d walked around after dark with the light on at night, because all I normally wear in my room at night is a T-shirt.

Here’s what’s crazy about that, Ellen: I was kind of hoping I had.


I close the journal when the pain pills start to kick in. I’ll read more tomorrow. Maybe. Reading about the things my dad used to do to my mom kind of puts me in a bad mood.

Reading about Atlas kind of puts me in a sad mood.

I try to fall asleep and think about Ryle, but the whole situation with him kind of makes me mad and sad.

Maybe I’ll just think about Allysa, and how happy I am that she showed up today. I could use a friend—not to mention help—during these next few months. I have a feeling it’s going to be more stressful than I bargained for.

Chapter Five

Ryle was correct. It only took a few days for my ankle to feel good enough that I could walk on it again. I waited a full week before attempting to leave my apartment, though. The last thing I need is to reinjure it.