It was the rising rays of the October sunrise peaking over the trees and streaming in through his window that woke Eli Redgrave from his fitful slumber with a stomach churning start. He had been dreaming again. It had been one of those uncanny dreams that everyone has, set in an impossible mix of familiar people and places, all taken from different places and times of a person's life, but twisted and made strange. Even still, you know what places and people are meant to be. Even if the layout is all wrong of the places is wrong. Even if you know all people are all dead.
It had been nice.
Eli shifted beneath the covers and placed a pillow over his mop of messy curls to block out the light. He tried to find his way back to being asleep. Back to that dream world where everything made sense, even if it was all wrong. But no, he guessed he was awake now. The pillow shifted to allow his dark brown eyes to peer out into the slowly brightening room.
It was a mess. It was always a mess. The light crept over mounds of unwashed laundry that littered the floor, collections of half drunk glasses and mouldering plates accumulating on every raised surface. A series of fist sized holes on the drywall beside his bed. The window was bare, no curtains graced the rail that sat above it. When did that happen? Did he tear the down curtains? Why did he tear the curtains down? Still it gave him a nice view of the sunrise.
There's something mournful about autumn sunlight. Even the sunrises. Its almost as if the knowledge of the shortening days, the dying of the year, taints it. So even though its supposed to be a hopeful, happy thing, a new day, you can't help but shake the underlying sadness. No more than sadness, terror. The underlying terror of another sunrise of another dying die.
School. He was going to be late.
Eli leapt out of bed into the chill air of the unheated bedroom. He grabbed some clothes from the floor that didn't smell to badly worn and threw them on as quickly as possible. He went to open the door and as he did so caught sight of a pattern of mottled bruises that ran up his forearm. Can't go into school like that.
He turned back to the floor of his room until he found a shapeless grey pullover that would hide the marks. Better.
Out of the bedroom door and down the creaking wooden stairs (always remember skip the third from the bottom because its too loud) and into the the hallway. Through the archway that led into the sitting room to his left he could hear snores and the white noise of the T.V tuned to a dead channel. Uncle Hank was still asleep. That was good.
Instead of going left he crept along the unvarnished boards to the back of the house, where the kitchen was. There was a door between the kitchen and the sitting room, it was safer. The kitchen smelled of cigarette smoke and of the scummy stagnant dish water that still filled the sink. From the number of fresh empty bottles stacked along the sideboard Eli judged that his uncle should be sleeping soundly for sometime yet.
He opened one of cupboards to pull out a half empty box of some cheap own brand cereal, leaving it otherwise bare. He rinsed a bowl and a spoon beneath the cold tap and filled it with his breakfast. From the rusting refrigerator Eli retrieved a carton milk, but as soon as he went to pour it he could smell the tell tale sour stench that it was long gone off. "Shit."
He ate his cereal with water instead.
When it was gone, Eli snuck back into the hall to retrieve his bag. He was about walk out of the back door onto the rotting back porch, when something peaking between the empty beer bottles caught his eye. A carton of cigarettes, only a few gone, his uncle must have bought it on his way home last night. He hesitated at the door.
Eli knew he shouldn't, if his uncle realised, he would be mad and that was not a good thing. On the other hand, if that bastard had bought milk instead once in a while, maybe I wouldn't hate him so much.
He reached into the carton and took a handful of cigarettes and shoved them into his backpack, save one.
On the porch he stuck a match against one of the faded and leaning white washed posts. He cupped the flame to the cigarette that dangled from his lips. In weed choked driveway there sat his uncle's truck and his own ride for this morning, a rusted and dented mountain bike. Eli mounted up and took another drag on the cigarette, puffing smoke into cold autumn sunshine.
It was only a few miles into town. He wouldn't be too late.