"Inevitability"

The radiator doesn’t rattle anymore and incessant crying doesn’t continue on through the night. There is no breeze through the thin walls and cracked windows. The refrigerator filled with beer and week old cole slaw has been replaced with apple juice for the little ones and let over containers of spaghetti and mac and cheese. There used to be six of us, but now there is only four, just me and my three little siblings, old enough to ask where Mommy and Daddy have gone, but young enough to be placated with whatever lie I can come up with. If I let one of them cry for too long, there will be no one to yell at me, except for my own conscience. Momma would have said that the conscience is enough to damn a person, but I don’t think that the police will agree. It doesn’t matter anymore, Momma’s in jail and Dad’s dead. They called it murder, but Momma called it opportunity. And me? I took the money and everything else that’s left and ran. They’ll come for me soon. Mom took the blame, but I was the one who did it all. Too many nights of crying, too many nights of being cold and hungry can do things to a person. Too many nights of watching my father use up our money while his kids starved made the decision easy. Sure, he had plenty of money in the bank, but never let his family touch it, at least, not while he was alive. Brian is crying again, whining for his supper. Mom’s in jail and soon I will be, too, but that’s ok, Carole’s sixteen and can take care of the younger two when I’m gone and I’m sure that the police will find homes for them. It’s better than starving anyway. I didn’t kill him with any logic in my head, just a lot of anger and I suppose I’m paying for that now. As I put the left over mac and cheese in the microwave for Brian, high beams flash through the window in the kitchen. I won’t put up a fight. My conscience for letting down my family is enough. Sophie tugs on my jeans and I can’t bear to look down into her blue eyes. The microwave dings and the smell of cheese is thick, but all I can think about is my little sister. She’s four years old and I’ve let her down. There is a knock at the door. Can I really abandon them like this? I feel no guilt for my father’s death, but Sophie’s innocent eyes are like iron stakes in my heart. I should face the consequences for my actions, but at the same time, I am torn by the desire to take my family and run far, far away from this whole mess. They are my responsibility and I am all that they have left in the world. There is another knock and another tug on my pant leg while the microwave dings faintly in the back of my mind. They’ll ask me if I regretted doing it, but I’m sure you can guess what my answer will be.