I tried to stop them. I told them, "It's not what it looks like."
They dragged him out to the front yard. I pulled on their shirts, but they didn't listen, didn't relent. They were always stronger than me, even when I was the one that was a foot taller than them. My mother pulled me away, either to protect me or to let them hurt him. The neighbors drew their curtains closed, deciding to not let this ruckus ruin their Thanksgiving dinner.
He had no chance to explain, not that they would have listened. I had tried my best, but there wasn't enough makeup in the world to hide my black eye. Once he hit the ground, he only emitted grunts with every kick.
When they were done with him, they marched back inside. He stayed curled up for another minute or two before he managed to get up on his feet. Blood had run down his face and began to dry on his chin and clothes. His pants and jacket were torn and covered in grass, dirt, and footsteps. He hobbled to his car, and I anxiously watched as he drove off without me.
He called my parent's house the next day. I didn't hear what my father told him, but he didn't call again. My youngest brother had insisted on driving me home on Sunday, and when I saw the spare apartment key on the small table, I fell into my brother's arms and cried. Sometimes things are exactly what they look like.
Published in Issue #12