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Three Lived in Fear

Leah Holbrook Sackett

Matt was afraid of the reality that his parents did not know how to love each other or him. His soft blond curls lay across his face. He was crashed out on the sofa. Sleeping off who knows what drug, what high this time. He smelled of Imoīs pizza. He was a delivery boy. When Matt wasnīt taking drugs, he was working and taking drugs, or crashing and spending time with his girlfriend, Lydia. Sleep clung to his body like a lover, and even Lydia could feel it, the jealousy of another that kept him away from her. Her jealousy nagged him awake.

The last place he wanted to be was in touch with reality. He wanted to feel the high of the speed, the pink hearts, or the dull of the weed. He wanted to feel the desperate clinging of Lydia. He wanted to feel wanted; to feel loved. His mother could love no one, not even herself. But she kept the family intact whether that was through physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, money, or a stapling gun, which lay upon her dresser like a threat. His father could not love this woman for she would not allow it. He could not protect the children with his love, it was too small, worn away over the years; thin like a sliver of the moon with only a waning soft light hiding behind the clouds.

Matt called this family. He could not bear the burden of this lot, and he only had trouble to get into.

* * *

Lydia was afraid of her own skin. The rape had left her frayed and wearied. Her flesh was too pale. Her breasts were too small. Her curls too short and too frizzy. She felt itchy and antsy like an addict in recovery. She was jumping out of her own skin.

Lydia was anxious of being alone, of her own mind. She held fast to Matt like the funk of death to a soldier. She was overcome with the stench of fear. She stayed awake to outpace the nightmares. She stayed awake all night to the sound of NHL Sega.

Lydia hated video games, but they were the companions of her companions. She loved Bobby a little too much. She loved Ed. Lydia loved Matt like he was the blood in her veins, like a new skin she could put on and wear. She could not get close enough.

* * *

Bobby was afraid to be alone, to grow up and be on his own. He held court in his parentsī living room. His was the hang out house. He never left his throne. He dropped out of high school to stay home and be with Ed. He only wanted these days to last forever with Ed, Lydia, and Matt lounging about his living room. He only needed this one room to live in. He even slept in the reclining chair, fully clothed in jeans and a Black Sabbath t-shirt with a Harley Davidson blanket to keep him warm.

His hair fell in beautiful waves to his shoulders. He smelled of menthol cigarettes and whatever his mom had cooked for dinner that night. Bobby loved his friends. He loved Matt. He loved Lydia a little too much. He loved Ed most of all. Bobby was scared of losing them. He was suspicious of timeīs steady march.

* * *

Ed thought his friends decadent with the late nights: movies, Taco Bell, and talk about nothing. They were full of time. They didnīt have one foot in the grave. Literally, Ed had one leg chopped, gone. His prosthetic, a token of death and hope. But friendship made death wait.

Ed was not afraid. He embraced life. He embraced Lydia and Bobby with a deep and impassioned love. Grabbing life with both hands, he made love to life and all it offered. The cancer would eat away at his body, but it could never have his soul.

Ed was not afraid of life or the emptiness that gawped on the other side. His body was spent, but he was stalwart and lived on tenacity; each breath a labored hallelujah.