I participated in the OCSFC because I loved it the last time and I hoped to bring Ryan back to my head. I'm wary whether it really worked.Title: The Atwood LuckAuthor: valkrysBeta: none, not enough time, sorry for thatWord count: 1,399Rating: PG13, mild languageSummary: I wrote for philippa_ and the sentence was:The door banged shut, Ryan winced, he was more alone than he'd ever been in his life. I did change the tenses though.Discl.: I don't own anything.
The Atwood luck
It's the time again, when the days are turning cooler, the morning air is slightly crisp and the children start bringing a jacket along to school more often than not. Ryan is ten, and he doesn't wear a jacket to school. Instead, he sports Trey's worn hoodies and sweaters and hugs himself while walking home to shield himself from the stiff breeze.
But not today. Today, Ryan doesn't even notice that he's cold.
Instead, he bounces from energy, his legs in constant movement under the desk and his eyes darting back and forth from the teacher to the grayish clock with the broken glass on the wall. The seconds seem to creep by as slow as a snail on valium and it takes Ryan a great deal of self-control not to groan every time the needle passes the black 12.
"Ryan, what about you?"
Caught, Ryan sheepishly glances at the teacher, eyes dark with embarrassment and guilt. The deep baritone of Mr. Meyer when he laughs understandingly breaks the tension in the room and Ryan's shoulders relax.
"Why don't you tell us about your family Christmas traditions, Ryan?"
Still hesitant, the usually quiet boy seems to lose himself in his excitement for the holiday, his voice, which started out low, grows louder and his eyes light up.
“Today, when I get home, me and mum and my brother Trey will decorate the tree. On Christmas morning we will all get up really early and open the presents we get from Santa Claus. Dad will make breakfast and we will all sit down together, eating pancakes and other very cool food we never have. In the afternoon, we will all go to the park and play together, even though Trey always complains that he’s too old.”
Here, Ryan stops for a second to chuckle softly.
“In the evening we will light the tree and watch TV together until it’s late and we have to go to bed.”
Now Ryan’s eyes sparkle with excitement and absolute happiness is rippling off him in tiny waves.
“Thank you Ryan, for sharing your traditions. Well, I guess I can not keep you any longer. Have wonderful holidays and I will all see you again next year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, class!”
Half of the sentence drowns in the noise of the children jumping off their chairs, their bags packed faster than Mr. Meyer can say “eggnog” and off they are, sprinting into the long awaited holidays.
Standing outside the hall, Ryan dutifully waits for Trey to collect him, even when his feet burn and he would rather storm home instantly, to start the holiday preparations. Things have been bumpy lately, with mum losing her job and dad bringing home all those shady thugs, so this year’s Christmas is all Ryan has been looking forward to for the past couple of weeks. Finally an occasion to see the entire family together, to be a family, the way Ryan remembered it used to be.
Trey shows up a few minutes late, as usual, a scratch and a purple bruise blooming on his chin, but he’s smiling when he reads the excitement in his brother’s eyes.
“Ready for the Christmas tree decoration, Ry?”
Ryan just nodds frantically, anticipation momentarily disabling his vocal cords.
“Ok, let’s go,” Trey grins and shoves Ryan towards the exit, not allowing his little brother to see the dark shadow settling on his face for a split second.
They walk quietly, both too absorbed in their respective thoughts to talk or bicker as they do most of the time.
Finally home, Ryan bursts through the door like he expects to find gold in the living room, but freezes instantly at the scene in front of him. Trey’s deep sigh behind him feels like a stab to his heart and Ryan swallows. With disbelief he stares at Dawn, sprawled on the couch, snoring loudly, a broken Scotch bottle scattered over the floor beside her, drowning in vomit.
There’s no tree sitting on the blanket Ryan had spread out this morning and no decoration waits to be hung onto the green branches.
Ryan fights hard to keep the tears from filling his eyes and he takes a step back, bumping into Trey.
“Ry, we better go to our room.”
Putting his hand on Ryan’s shoulder, Trey quietly guides them through the living room, their steps carefully avoiding the area around the sleeping woman. Ryan’s breathe hitches when the stink of vomit and alcohol invades his nose and he casts his eyes away.
Collapsing onto his bed once they reach their room, Ryan takes deep breathes to keep the tears at bay.
“Come on, Ryan. Dad will set up the tree when he gets home, you’ll see. We will still celebrate Christmas morning as we used to do.”
Trey’s voice is hopeful and optimistic, but Ryan is old enough to read the desperation hidden beneath his big brother’s words.
“It’s time for a Christmas miracle, bro, and we certainly deserve it. Let’s go out and have a good time, mum won’t even know it.”
Ryan’s head comes up slowly from the bed, eyes dark and swimming with emotions.
“I need to clean up so dad can put up the tree.”
“Oh Jesus Christ, Ry! Let her do it herself, it’s not our duty to clean up after her!” Trey spits, anger and disgust radiating from his body. “Fuck, when she can’t even stay sober on Christmas, she doesn’t deserve our help.”
Ryan just stares, resignation and acceptance spreading over his face.
“Fuck this, I’m leaving, I don’t need this crazy shit,” Trey growls while jumping off the bed and rushing over to the window. He hesitates a second and turns to look at his little brother.
“Keep praying for that Christmas miracle, bro, it’s all we got,” and off he goes through the window.
Sighing, Ryan gets up and returns to the living room. It takes him a few minutes to carefully pick the shards out of Dawn’s lunch remains. Afterwards, he calmly discards the broken glass and cleans the carpet as good as he can, before gently shaking his mum awake.
He is used to the swearing and cursing by now, but her hurtful words still slice through his heart and he focuses on taking one step after another, slightly swaying under her weight but tuning out her voice entirely.
There is no tree to decorate, so Ryan puts up the decoration on the windowsill and thinks about the possibility of a Christmas miracle. Anything that would save what seemed to turn into the worst Christmas he had ever had.
Trey has not returned by the time he finally falls into bed. Ryan has never learned how to pray, but tonight he casts a wish to the universe to – just for once – help his screwed up family celebrate a normal Christmas.
The next morning starts in a haze. Ryan wakes up when the bedroom door is kicked in with a bang and an armed police officers enters, screaming and gesturing at him to get out of bed.
Startled and scared to the bone, Ryan obeys and climbs out of bed. Blinking at the blinding light he moves away as far away from the intruder as possible. Casting a glance to Trey’s bed, hoping for help, he notices that his brother’s bed is unused. His heart is beating crazy fast as he watches how the officer rifles through the drawers, ripping out his clothes and tossing them carelessly onto the floor. Ryan swallows when the cop’s eyes level on his, a dirty smile playing on his lips and Ryan backs into the wall, arms pressed at his body, hands trembling.
“We’re taking your mum down to the station for interrogation, find out if she was involved your dad’s heist. Tell your brother to stay the fuck here when he shows up, child service will pick you two up later. Merry Christmas, kid.”
The door bangs shut, Ryan winces, he’s more alone than he'd ever been in his life.
Sliding to the ground, he erupts in silent sobs and buries his head in his hand. Hot tears burn in his eyes when acceptance dawns that in this lifetime, the Atwood luck would never give him or his family a break.
And Ryan silently swears to never celebrate Christmas again.
Ah, the poor little boy... *sighs*
I know, I'm a bitch. Or rather Dawn is.