Winslow had been having a rough week in school, from falling asleep to troublesome grades. He wasn’t doing so well at home either. His parents had not noticed their son’s grades due to their constant fighting as of late. Normally his father would’ve given one of his lectures where’d he say something akin to “You probably won’t ever use algebra, but you need to get it over with and just suck it up for the year!”, or so Winslow imagined he’d say, instead his father doesn’t even look him in the eye, and simply ignores him, his mother always involves Winslow in every argument whenever his father is there, and when he isn’t she’ll vent to her son about his own father. On the bus ride from school, Winslow was sitting next to his friend Henry, a light skinned boy with short brown hair and freckles,m he was on the edge of the seat. Henry is on the spectrum, which made fitting in more difficult for him, but he and Winslow had been friends ever since kindergarten, it was because of Henry that Winslow was the person he was today. Henry looked over at Winslow, his mouth curled into gapped tooth grin. “Guess what?” he said. Winslow continued to stare out the window, he responded “Chicken butt”. Henry looked slightly offended, “No dude seriously, I’ve made a decision with my life.” Winslow turned to face his friend, now interested in what he had to say.”What is it?”, he asked. “I’ve decided that I’m not gonna cuss anymore, its immature” “Oh really?” Winslow said with genuine surprise Henry has always been a good person, but he has the vocabulary of a sailor. “Does that include all words?” Winslow asked “Just the really bad ones, like the f-word, s-word, b-word, damn, and-” Winslow cut him off, “You just cussed Henry, you said damn.” “Well I had to say it, how else were you gonna know what I meant.” “Why didn’t you just say the d-word?” “There’s a lot of d- words, you had to know which one I meant specifically.” “What other d-words are there Henry?” “ I can’t say, I’m trying not to cuss anymore” “Wow, just wow” “Don’t be mean!” “No man that wasn’t at you, I just realized I missed my stop” Winslow looked outside the bus window to see unfamiliar houses “Winslow”, Henry said, you can just head out with me to my place, at least from there you know the way home.” It was true, both boys had been walking to each others homes for years, the walk would take them about ten minutes.The bus came to a stop, and both boys walked out. The sounds of teenagers on the bus grew quieter and quieter as the bus drove off. Both boys walked into henry’s colossal two story home which they had been dropped in front of. Winslow and Henry headed to the house. In Henry’s room, articles of clothing were scattered across the floor,cases of videogames were stacked neatly across his open draws. Henry faced his illuminating computer screen, Winslow stood leaned back against the wall next to the door, his eyes shifted every now and then to Henry. A familiar urban theme began playing from the computer, Winslow recognized the tune and zoomed towards Henry to confirm what he was hearing. “No. Freaking. Way.” he said in awe,“You have GTA IV?!” GTA is a very popular gaming franchise that is controversial for its violence, most reasonable parents would not allow their kids to take part in owning the infamous game. “Shush man!” Henry snapped, “My parents would kill me if they found out I had this. Winslow chuckled,”I think that’s an over exaggeration.” “No its not, they’re not like your parents, they wouldn’t even care if you had this game” ,Henry didn’t realize what he had said Winslow looked down at his feet, embarrassed by that, Henry’s right, he thought to himself, My parents wouldn’t even notice if I came home late. Winslow doesn’t remember the last time he had a real conversation real with his father, or a normal conversation with his mother, from his point of view they only ever talked to their son when they needed to use him as part of the argument. He decided to stay at Henry’s and play videogames for a while, he didn’t know or care what was his parents were doing.Hours quickly passed by as the boys played games, laughed, and vented to each other. There was a knock on the door. A tall dark woman dressed in a dark gray power suit stepped in. Henry turned to her. “Hey mom” “Hey Mrs. Smith”, said Winslow Mrs. Smith looked at the boys, and gave a tired smile, “Winslow, your parents must be worried, don’t you think it’s time to go home? “Okay Mrs. Smith, thank you for having me over”, Winslow was dreading to go home.”See you later Henry.” “Later bro” Winslow walked along the neighborhood, heading to his home. The sidewalks were cracked, the air was still. It wasn’t night yet, but it was dark outside, the sky was cloudy and the sun had slipped just beneath the horizon. Tall elderly trees were abundant in the neighborhood, making light harder to penetrate through. WInslow began to slow down as he had reached a familiar small tawdry box, with a patched on roof. Winslow glanced up at his house, he uttered “Home bittersweet home”, it was it this moment he realized Henry’s dry sense of humor had rubbed off on him. Inside Winslow closed the front door and walked into the kitchen, there was nobody there. The fridge had been left open, beer cans littered the floors and counters, one of the dining tables wooden chairs lay underneath the microwave attached to the wall. The microwave itself had been cracked. Winslow’s chest began to feeling the pounding of his heart. “Mom!?” “Dad!?”Is anybody home?” he cried He rushed over to the master bedroom door, he began to smell a hint foul, unlike any other he’d experience, it was faint, but pungent. He wondered what could the smell be. What could be behind that door? He placed his hand on the metallic handle, as he turned it he pushed the door open.The smell. It was cadaverous, that was the first thing Winslow noticed as he entered. An empty plastic bad rested on top of the untidy bed. Behind his parents bed, he could see his father’s upper body, shaking violently, he was looking down at something, something, that Winslow could not see from where he was standing. However, he began to relax. At least my dad is here, he thought, still unsure of where his mother could be. His father had always been a caring man. He may have been harsh to his son and wife but it was always out of love. He believed that it was his responsibility to make sure they were well off. To him, his life’s purpose was to his family. Winslow’s father worked a job in which he was treated like dirt, there’s a possibility everyday that he could die on the job, he wanted something different for his son, for Winslow. He had been the man to push his wife to get a driver’s license, to go to college, and to strive for a job, His biggest fear was not to die, but to die, and have his family be incapable of living on their own. “My legacy is my family”, he’d say. To his father, he felt proud knowing his wife was his, and Winslow was his son.
Or so his father once thought.
Winslow stepped into the room, he notice his father was very pale, and breathing heavily. He had not noticed his presence yet. Winslow couldn’t figure out the source of that smell. His father stood up and faced the boy, a stranger to him.Winslow looked at his father, then looked at who laid next to his feet. He realized who the smell was. His father could barely stand. Winslow looked at his father, desperate that he wasn’t who he thought it was. He looked at Winslow, pained that he was what he always suspected.