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Rock Bottom

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When the first man showed up, Alec hadn't really known what was going on. After watching his mother leave the room in tears, Alec was worried. When more men showed up and started taking things away, Alec knew nothing would ever be the same again. Still he protested, trying to take back household items, yelling at the men that those weren't theirs to take. When that failed, Alec looked to his parents. His father only sat and stared, while his mother was sobbing silently in a corner. Neither one of them acknowledged his questions, so all Alec could do was try to comfort his younger sister as they watched helplessly.

His mother's sewing machine, his father's record collection, his sister's makeup kit, and every other household item made their way out the door in the arms of strangers. As he watched, Alec spotted the corner of his favourite blanket sticking out of a box. He remembered once falling asleep as a child when his mother tucked him in with that blanket. The family television followed shortly after the box with his blanket in it. Next went the box that Alec suspected contained the family's physical movie collection, a mix of DVD's and VHS's. The tapes for sure were very old, and could well have been home videos that had never been ditalized. Another stranger walked out the door carrying a laptop, though whether it was his mother's, sister's, father's or his own, Alec didn't know. Just as he had no idea why everything was falling apart before his eyes.

Just as the house was starting to look hollow, Alec heard the tell tale sound of his father's car being started and driven off the lot. As the house emptied out even more, rather than feeling hollow, it began to feel soulless. Very suddenly Alec wanted nothing more than to leave, but he'd lived in this one place for all seventeen years of his life. There was nowhere else to go. So instead, Alec sat against the wall with his arms around his sister, just existing, as they watched everything they'd ever known be taken from them.

As the shock began to wear off, reality sank in, and Alec couldn't help thinking about the cause of this. His parents clearly weren't about to explain why the men had put up a 'For Sale' sign on the lawn. Alec found himself wracking his brain trying to figure it out, but nothing really came to mind. Nevertheless, Alec kept pouring over the events of the last few months, as if looking for an explanation.

Over the last month or so, his parents had started staying up very late working in his dad's office, and yet they'd still be awake before Alec left for school. Alec remembered once asking them if he could help, but his mother had just smiled and said everything was fine, then advised him to do his homework. Last week Alec had overheard them yelling as he'd walked past the office. Now he wished he'd stayed to listen instead of running past. Then again, how could he have known? Even if his parents had been acting weird for a while, there was no way staying to listen at the door could have prevented this, right? Then again, since Alec didn't know the cause, how could he know what could or could not have helped?

Time moved very strangely as the house emptied out. By the time it was over, Alec was somehow sure that nothing he could have possibly done would have prevented him from losing everything. He didn't know why this was happening, but he sensed somehow that he'd had no choices in it, no choice at all.

Alec now stood on the street in front of the house that was the only home he'd ever known. It was a beautiful house if you asked him. Vertical wooden siding stained a rich blue covered every inch of the house, including the two car covered garage that Alec's dad had used for woodworking. The front yard was a testament to his mother's gardening talents, with two large trees for shade, and flower beds of all types around them. Alec had particularly liked the plants that grew on the raised flower bed that ran along the driveway. As it was a two car garage, the driveway fit at least four, though only by blocking the two cars packed in the back.

A wooden gate on the left lead to the backyard where Alec knew there to be a deck off the dining room. And on that deck was his mother's hammock and herb garden. Down the stairs, and into the main backyard, was her raspberry patch. Alec remembered as a kid having raspberry picking parties, since they produced far too many berries for his mother to pick alone. Then there was the fire pit where Alec could remember many evenings spent roasting marshmallows with his sister and her friends. There was a small red shed to the right of the raspberry bushes that Alec knew had once been home to the lawn mower and his father's winter tires. Alec's mind flashed back to when he and his sister had played rock, paper, scissors to see who got stuck mowing the lawn, and who got to go out and have fun. If Alec recalled correctly, he'd lost. The thought made him smile now, even while he was crying.

Alec looked down at the garbage bag in his hand that currently held everything he owned in this world: clothes and a toothbrush. Alec was pretty sure he'd heard the men offer to drop them off somewhere before leaving in his father's car, but Alec was also sure he'd heard his dad turn them down.

Someone started walking, and soon they were all moving out of the suburbs and towards town. No one spoke as they walked. They passed so many beautiful homes, and Alec couldn't help but resent them all. They had been walking only about ten minutes when a van pulled up and stopped beside them. Alec recognized the vehicle at once, and wasn't at all surprise to see his little sister run desperately towards it as if she were drowning, and it was the only life raft.

"Let her go," Alec almost ordered his parents when they tired to stop their fifteen year old daughter from getting into a strange van. Even if they didn't know that van, Alec did. That was Simon's mom's van, and Izzy would be safe with him.

As they kept walking, Alec wondered when Izzy had managed to contact Simon. Alec certainly hadn't been smart enough to text or call anyone before they'd taken his phone away.

And now it was Alec's turn to ignore his parents questions. Izzy had confided in him just last week that she's started seeing a guy at school a few months ago, but she hadn't told their parents yet. There was a certain satisfaction in being able to hide things from his parents in this moment, but eventually Alec explained he knew the guy, and she'd be fine.

"I still don't like it," his mother, Maryse, began. "She's too young to be sleeping over at a boy's house."

"Let alone a boy we haven't met," his father, Robert, seconded.

"Well, you don't get a say," Alec snapped, stopping dead in his tracks and turning on them both. "I may not understand what the hell just happened, but I know it had something to do with you two." He paused for just a moment, then added with extra anger. "This is your fault, and if I had anywhere else to go, I'd have run off too!"

This seemed to stun both his parents into silence, and so Alec turned and kept walking. He was by now pretty sure they were headed to a hotel for the night, but the closer they got, the less Alec wanted to get there. He was starting to envy Izzy's escape.

Alec had never yelled at his parents before now. In fact, up until recently, they'd been two of three of his favourite people in the world, the other member of that group being his little sister. He could remember only too well how they'd reacted two years ago when he'd come out to them, both with smiles on their faces as they tried to re-define normal. Alec wasn't allowed to have sleepovers with his male friends after that. His parents logic was that if he was straight they wouldn't have let him have girls over, so gay means no guys sleep over.

Alec had always considered himself lucky. He'd never wanted for anything he really needed. He had the unconditional love and acceptance of his family, as well as being a gay man in the twenty-first century. He was good at school, and though by no means popular he'd never been bullied. So he wasn't the best at making friends, but he hadn't felt isolated either. Thanks to his mother's rule, his friend Maia had probably spent half her elementary school years at his house, while his other friend Jace hadn't been over once, despite being as straight as an arrow.

As they walked up to the horrid motel, and Alec watched as his father tried to check-in but be denied, it was like all his luck had run out. Moving forward, Alec took out his wallet which was all he had now, apart from clothes and a toothbrush, and used his own money to check them in. No one spoke as Alec took the key and lead his parents farther into the building. One look at the rooms, and Alec considered burdening either Maia or Jace for a place to crash tonight, but something stopped him. Alec was't sure if it was pride or shame, and he didn't work too hard to try and figure it out. Instead he just collapsed on the uncomfortable bed, at least grateful in that moment that the people who'd taken the house hadn't taken his allowance as well. It was now clear that every cent his parents had was gone if they couldn't even check in to a motel like this. Alec had no idea what the future would hold, but he was at least glad in this moment that Isabelle wasn't here.

Sleep eluded him as Alec tried to sort through his thoughts. With Izzy only being fifteen, Alec wondered if she'd end up in foster care. Alec's high school graduation was only a week away, and since it looked like college was out of the question now, he supposed he'd have to find a job. He wondered if there was something he could do to keep his sister out of foster care. After all, she only had two more years of high school left, well two years and three weeks. Alec was too mad at his parents right now to worry about what would happen to them. His father had worked at a bank for years, while his mother had managed a jewelry store. But at this very moment, Alec wasn't totally sure if either of them were currently working. If they were working, would that mean Izzy would have a place with them? Or was there even more bad news on the horizon Alec hadn't even begun to think of?

A deep sigh escaped him as Alec stared up at the motel ceiling. No matter how much he thought about it, tonight there was nothing he could actually do. It was getting late, the sun had long ago set through the small motel window. Alec closed his eyes. He was so tired, and tired in a way he hadn't known before. Emotionally exhausted he focused on quieting his mind. He would need all the sleep he could get on his lumpy mattress if he was going to face tomorrow.

As Alec lay there, staring at the ceiling tiles he tried to focus only on which ones were yellowing or clearly had water damage, but his mind kept getting off topic. The idea that he'd have to go to school tomorrow felt very strange and alien to him. How could something so normal happen after a day like today.