Loud, heavy footsteps can be heard throughout the deafening silence.
The old, worn-out doors creak in protest, as they're slammed open; a violent ray of light pierced through the darkness, illuminating the messy room.
Somewhere behind the intimidating figure standing in the doorway, a quiet sobbing resonates within the corridor.
In a corner of the room a young boy lifts his head. Bruises and clots cover his arms and face; dark bags surround his eyes.
His body seems malnourished; bones visible under yellow-tinted, pale skin. Dark brown hair, grown out, pile up in disorder at the boy's head.
He slowly raises his eyelids, squinting from the light coming through the door, and looks at the figure with a seemingly empty stare.
'Come here, you fucking useless brat!'
He tries to lift himself from the floor, but before he can stand up, the figure rushes over to him.
Overwhelming stench of sweat and alcohol fills the air, as unreasonable, drunken rage swings at the defenseless boy.
The boy falls over under the weight of the hit, trying to wipe the blood off his lower lip.
'Please stop, dad...'
The boy's name is Sam. For as long as he remembers, things have always been like this.
Father would often come late at night, completely drunk; he would hurt mom, yell at her, hit her; he would beat Sam until he ran out of breath, if he had a bad mood.
He didn't go to work at all - instead, he wasted a vast majority of the money that mom has earned on liquor and cigarettes, going out with his drunkard friends whenever he wanted to have fun.
Sometimes he wouldn't come back for a couple days, carried away in his alcoholic frenzy - those were the few days of peace,
and the only time when Sam could try to spend some time with his mom and forget about the grim everyday reality at least for a little while.
His mom was good at heart. She tried her best every day, worked hard to make a living for all three of them; although most of the earnings went down the drain.
When father wasn't home, she tried to hide her pain with a broken smile. Smile that nobody, not even her, believed in.
Gray strokes were peeking through her hair and wrinkles were scattered across her troubled face. She hid her bruises with cheap make up, and hoped nobody would notice.
She tried very hard to cope with the horrible situation she's unwillingly locked herself into - a husband that turned to alcohol and a little kid that needed a family; however,
even she couldn't go for too long, fighting back against all that by herself. Sam remembers a couple times when even mom snapped, relieving her stress on her child during her husband's absence.
Sam didn't hold it against her, though. Forced to grow fast in such an unfriendly environment, he tried his best to understand her feelings too.
His mom didn't give up her marriage out of fear - father, being a manipulator he was, bullied her into compliance, threatening to commit suicide,
and even taking them down with him; as if making their life a living hell wasn't enough.
Poor woman decided to endure this constant torment for the sake of her child - hoping he'd be able to seize a better future once he grows up.
However, the present didn't look too bright.
Sam is lying on the bedroom floor, with his father towering above him, reeking of alcohol and clearly in a fit of rage.
Scenes like these were commonplace at Sam's house; it's not something you can just simply get used to, though.
He curled up on the floor, near the bed, raising his hand defensively in anticipation of another hit.
'Maybe that's enough, Frank..?'
Cracking voice of Sam's mom reached from outside the room. Something like this obviously wasn't enough to calm the father though, and Sam was sure his mother knew that.
She was most likely just trying to get the heat off him.
'You stay quiet, bitch! You want me to come back there, huh!?' , snarled father. His eyes turned again to Sam, piercing him with violent, semi-absent gaze.
'Whatever', he mumbled under his breath and left the room, staggering.
Loud, heavy footsteps. Sharp creak of the old sofa in the living room. After a short while, disgusting snoring. It seems he has fallen asleep.
Mom entered the room. Sam couldn't help but notice a faint smile on her tired face. She's glad it didn't get worse. So is Sam. 'What happened this time?', he whispered. 'Your report card...
', she responded. Her smile faded, giving in to a bitter expression. 'Sam, you really have to study more...', she said. 'I'm sorry', replied Sam. He couldn't force himself to say anything else.
He lowered his eyes to the floor, as the ray of light disappeared with the sound of closing doors. Then, he could finally allow tears to flow.
He really did try his hardest at school, as much as he could. However, it seems that it's just not enough.
He felt a lot like he was letting his mother down; but studying in an environment like this is not an easy task, that's a given.
He sobbed for a couple minutes, before finally standing up from the floor. 'I really... have to try harder, don't I?', he said to himself.
Sam turned around and looked out the window.
It was a cold Autumn evening, the trees were already decorated with different shades of gold and brown; the fallen ones piled up on the sidewalks like a soft, rustling carpet.
The stars up above were bright and clear; and not a cloud was in sight. The faraway moon stared back with its warm light. Sam took a deep breath and sighed heavily.
'If there was something I could do about all this...", he mumbled.
His eyes were suddenly drawn to an unusual pair on the street. A middle-aged woman, by her side - a young girl. The woman was holding her hand on the girl's shoulder, seemingly talking to her.
Both dressed in fancy clothes, to Sam, used to living in poverty, they looked like some otherworldly beings. Then, the girl turned her head over in his direction and their eyes met for a second.
It wasn't anything like a moment from a romantic story; What happened was a meeting of two pairs of the same, sad, weary eyes.
In this moment, that seemed to last so long, Sam felt a shiver down his spine. 'This girl...', he thought. 'There's something so incredibly familiar about her.'
And then, like a soap bubble bursts, the moment passed, and the girl looked away.
Sam followed her with his stare until they turned around the corner; it could've been his imagination, but he could swear he saw the grip on the girl's shoulder tighten as she was walking away.
--to be continued