Amity’s story
Finding Mercy
“You’re shouting in your sleep again!” Mom yelled. “Can’t you stop! I’m trying to sleep!”
I instinctively blocked my face with my hands as she aimed to hit me. Her hand stopped midair as she broke down crying.
“Can’t you just stop? I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep ever since Richard died and your nightmares aren’t helping anything!” She left in a huff, slamming the door loudly behind her.
Dad had died in a truck accident while he was going to work. The guardrails hadn’t stopped anything. They said he didn’t suffer. I don’t know if I believed that after I saw him next to me in that car.
Mom blamed everyone and everything. I was her main target even though I was in the accident too. Sometimes I wished I had died, but instead, I was left with an ugly scar on my face and the blame that I was the one who killed him.
I let out a loud sob and quickly covered my mouth with my hand and quieted, afraid she would come up again. When I didn’t hear her footsteps stomping up the stairs I pulled the bedcovers over my head. My fingers shook with fear and my tears were uncontrollable.
“God,” I whispered. “If you’re real, please send a miracle.”
The door swung open again and mom came in again before ripping the covers off. “I forgot. You have school and it’s in half an hour. You better go. I don’t want CPS after me again.” She pulled me up by my wrist.
My rapidly beating heart calmed itself when there was no sign of her usual viciousness. I nodded obediently and grabbed my bag off the desk by the door and hurried down the stairs. I usually slept in my clothes so I didn’t have time to change in the house. I could get out of there faster.
I walked to Golden River High. It wasn’t that far down the road and I needed a little bit of exercise to shake off the dream. I relived the crash again. It was always the same. Dad, watch the ice. Dad! Dad! The car slid downhill, he couldn’t stop no matter how hard he pressed the brake. I remember him holding his arm out in front of my head so I wouldn’t hit it against the dashboard. With brute force, the car slammed against the guardrail separating us from the other lane. The accident could have been prevented if only he swerved sideways.
“Hey, are you alright?” A boy who looked a little older than I was, asked.
I looked up, reality slamming into me. I wiped my eyes with my sleeve. “Yeah. I’m okay.” I realized I had been standing in the middle of the sidewalk. “Just a little tired, I guess.” I shoved my hands deep into my grey sweatshirt pockets and hunched my shoulders self-consciously.
“You sure?” He asked again, his bright blue eyes concerned.
“Yeah.” I walked briskly ahead of him. “I’m okay, thank you for asking though.”
He caught up to me. “Wait, I’m handing out some flyers for my youth group in church if you want one.” I hadn’t noticed he had a stack of papers in his left hand. I didn’t want to be rude so I hesitantly reached out my right hand to grab one. He smiled. “You’re the first one today.”
I nodded politely and continued walking, excusing myself. I thought he would talk to me about how I was going to hell because I didn’t love God and I needed too, or else, but to my surprise he just walked quietly behind me, asking an occasional person if they wanted to attend his youth group.
I made it to the parking lot of Golden River High, the boy still behind me. I turned around again.
“I promise I’m not following you,” He joked. “I just go here.” He was excessively happy. It made me envy him. I envied how he could smile when there was nothing to smile at. It was like I couldn’t be happy, no matter how hard I tried, nothing was beautiful or joyful anymore. I was only living, but it didn’t feel any deeper than that. I felt hollow. I was made for something, but...what? I swallowed back the questions and building anxiety so I could make it through the doors of the school without crying.
The warning bell rang, reminding everyone that they had to get to class. It took a while to get there, and by then, the confirming bell rang as I walked in. I was met with the gaze of the whole class. The teacher turned around and smiled. “We were just introducing ourselves. You are right on time, Miss Brown. I’m Mrs. Everdeen. You can just put your bag underneath this desk in the front and then introduce yourself.” She escorted me to the front where I looked at my toes shyly and then slid into my seat. “My name is Amity Brown.”
“Nice to meet you, Amity Brown,” The class responded in sync, sounding somewhat bored. The door behind them opened and the boy ran in, breathless. “Sorry Mrs. Everdeen, I was passing out flyers and I guess time just slowed down for me. . .” He looked at the ground, sheepish “But I guess that’s no excuse to be late.”
He was in my class?
“Reuben, that shouldn’t happen again.” By the look she gave him, he was excused of any punishments. I wish that could happen to me. Anything I did in the house, mom set out a punishment for it. One time I tried to take the garbage out and I dropped it onto the floor. Beer cans and McDonald’s takeout spilled everywhere. I was pretty sure she was upset because she saw how bad her life had gotten. The lock was on the outside of the door so I couldn’t try to run away, so she locked me in my room for a full two days without water or food. I was lucky I had packed a lunch for school and didn’t eat all of it. I had to ration the water I had in a plastic bottle on my desk. It was old too.
“Amity?” The teacher said loudly. “Do you want to tell us what’s on your mind that’s distracting you from listening?” There were a couple of snickers around the room.
“No.” I picked at a scratch on the desk, my mind racing with explanations just in case she pried but she didn’t.
“Alrighty,” Mrs. Everdeen’s gaze swept around the class. “We are going to learn about American history this year. Any questions? Good. We will start then...”
When the bell rang for free period, I quickly grabbed my bag, slung it over my shoulder and went straight to my assigned locker. I shoved all of my books in and slammed it shut, grateful that my aching arm had a chance to rest. I rolled my eyes when Reuben smiled at me. “So, do you want to talk about our loving Savior, Jesus Christ?” He asked it jokingly but I just felt pressured. “What is your full name?” He questioned more friendly this time, sensing my discomfort.
“Amity Grace Brown. Why do you want to know?” I started walking.
“That’s a very beautiful name. Your parents should be very proud.” I knew he didn’t know about them, but I stopped anyway and turned around, anger bubbling up inside my stomach. “Don’t talk about my parents that way when you don’t even know who they are!” I swallowed back tears. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t know anything at all.” I sprinted down the hall and pushed through the double doors. I made it behind the school and climbed the fence where the soccer field was separated from the forest. I found a suitable tree to climb, and when I got comfortable in its branches, sobs racked my body. Nothing could help the empty feeling inside of me. Just when I thought anything couldn’t get worse, the familiar voice broke the silence.
“Amity Grace?”
I looked at the blurry face of Reuben through my tears.
“Leave me alone!” I sobbed. “I don’t want to see you ever again!”
He paused for a second and I buried my head in my knees, missing his hurt expression.
I heard him climb the trees and I looked up to see him right next to me.
“Do you want to talk?” he asked with a soft expression.
“Well-“ He started. “Then I want to apologize. I tend to run my mouth a lot. I didn’t mean to hurt you, and I wasn’t trying to flirt with you. I was just-“ He grimaced, embarrassed. “Lonely. My mom said I had to make friends. So I tried, and this is always how it ends up. I always hurt someone unintentionally or they don’t like me because I’m a Christian. They think I’ll shove the word of God down their throats and scream it in their ears.” He picked a leaf off the tree and ripped it in half. “But that’s not how it works, and I’m sorry for not watching my mouth before I spoke.”
“I-I-my dad-he died in a car accident six months ago.” I hoped that was explanation enough for my sudden outburst. “That’s why I have the scar on my face.”
He smiled sadly without looking at the hideous mark. “I never met my parents. Mom gave me up at birth.” He grabbed another leaf. “She and her boyfriend didn’t want me so I went into foster care for a while before I got adopted. That was-“ He thought for a moment. “That was thirteen years ago. When I was four.”
I raised my head. He knew what it was like to lose somebody that you loved. He felt the pain. He knew the feeling.
He extended his hand. “Do you forgive me?”
I nodded slowly and reached my fingers out to grasp his rough palm. “I’m sorry too.”

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