Infinite Repeat

Infinite Repeat by Paula Stokes Read Free Book Online

Book: Infinite Repeat by Paula Stokes Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paula Stokes
the day after he died. One tiny column on page four. That was what my dad’s life was reduced to.
    I slipped the thin piece of paper out of a shoebox, but I could read only the headline, “Local Guitarist Killed in Robbery,” before tears blurred my vision. I shoved the box back under my bed, but Dad was still everywhere. The room started to feel like it was running out of air. I had to get out of the house. Flinging open my bedroom door, I hurried down the hallway and knocked on my sister’s door.
    She opened it a crack. “Yeah?”
    “If I go for a bike ride, will you be okay?”
    Trinity lifted her sharp chin and glanced up at me with her big hazel eyes. “I’ll be okay.”
    “And you won’t tell Mom?”
    She shook her head quickly. “Maybe when you get back we can play Flat Cat?”
    Flat Cat was this old board game my dad had found at a garage sale. It had this doghouse and you had to roll a die and turn the doghouse so many clicks and occasionally a giant pit bull would come racing out and knock over your game piece. We never had much money for toys and stuff, but Dad was great at finding used games and movies for Trinity and me.
    “Yeah, we can definitely do that,” I said.
    “Okay. If Mom calls I’ll tell her you’re in the bathroom and then call you on your phone.”
    “Thanks, Trin.”
    My sister gave me a wan smile and then closed her door.
    Grabbing my bike from the storage locker in the basement, I took off down the street, heading for the nearest park. Two girls from school were kicking a soccer ball around. They both looked up at me as I rode past, but neither of them spoke. That was my world since last year. Everyone looked at me but no one said anything. I was surrounded, but alone.
    The suburbs of Hazelton where I lived grew dense, the apartment buildings and ranch-style houses with their green lawns giving way to strip malls and brick houses tucked tightly together. The sun had almost completely disappeared, and I realized it had to be after nine o’clock. I didn’t know how long my mom would be on her date, but I figured I still had an hour, at least.
    A redbrick house loomed in front of me, its windows boarded over, a notice on bright yellow paper pinned to the door. I hopped off my bike for a closer look.
    CONDEMNED , the notice read. AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY . I can’t remember why I wanted to go inside. I think maybe I just wanted to be alone in my aloneness for once. No one staring. No one judging.
    No one pitying.
    There were deep gouges in the front door where someone had jimmied the lock. I tried the knob and the door creaked open. Activating the light on my phone, I scanned the room: water-stained walls, threadbare carpet. The living-room floor was dotted with pieces of broken wood and shards of glass. I crept across the carnage into a kitchen where half of the appliances had been ripped out, leaving only a tangle of hoses and wires behind. At the corner of the kitchen, a door hung crooked on its hinges, a set of stairs beyond it.
    They led to an unfinished basement littered with broken beer bottles and the remains of a fire, as if someone had squatted there recently. I wasn’t afraid of homeless people, but I wasn’t in a hurry to cross paths with any of them either.
    I headed back up the stairs and through the kitchen, pausing in the doorway leading into the living room. I hadn’t seen it when I first entered, but one entire wall was made of mirrored tiles. I reached out to touch them, staring at the way my face distorted in the faint light from my phone. Before I even knew what I was doing, I picked up a piece of broken wood and swung it with all my might at the mirror.
    If only we hadn’t stayed for the headlining band.
    My reflection shattered into tiny fragments. I swung the board again.
    If only there hadn’t been traffic.
    And again.
    If only I hadn’t been thirsty.
    I wound up like a baseball player and took swing after swing at the mirror. Ten times. Twenty times.

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