I was four the first time He hit me. We believe that’s when we first split, the burning cheek and our mother yelling for Him to stop being the final breaking point in our mind. Hulk and Robert were both born at that moment, but Robert was the one who was Out. We share memories, I got to watch as he froze, eyes wide in fear as Hulk began to rage, begging to be let Out so he could help.
I remember Him yelling at us, unknowingly having just shattered our mind. Robert couldn’t move, we couldn’t help, we were frozen as He turned on our mother, hitting her just as hard for disobeying Him.
The yelling was so loud, but it was only background noise for us, fading away as we struggled to move, yet Robert couldn’t do anything but stand there in fear.
He hit us again, our head snapped to the side. He turned on our mom, gripping her by her hair and dragging her to the bedroom before slamming the door.
Robert was still frozen, we couldn’t escape the noises, the crying, the screaming . We stood there, unable to move until I forced myself to front and ran to my room, closing the door as quickly and quietly as possible before hiding in my closet, trying to make myself and the room as small as I could.
I cried, not knowing what happened, who was in my head. Robert was silent, he didn’t know either, but Hulk was loud. I knew he was angry, he wanted to help protect us but I was scared. So in that closet we sat, crying silently as we tried to block out the sounds next door.
It didn’t work.
People on the outside don’t understand what it means when I say ‘boundaries didn’t exist in my life.’
Kate didn’t know any better, she was made to be Good after all.
By that point there was over a dozen of us, but the one Out the most was Kate.
Kate was Good, He liked Kate a lot because she listened.
Kate didn’t flap her hands, she didn’t rock or tap or go silent. Kate didn’t act out when her socks got wet, and ate applesauce without getting angry even though she hated how it felt. Kate wore jeans and long sleeves even if they were too tight. If He asked for a beer, Kate got it for him, if He told us we deserved it, Kate believed him, if He tells us to get His belt, Kate said “yes sir” before Robert was forced out.
Kate was Good.
Danny didn’t like Kate, he said she was weak for listening to Father. Father hated Danny because Danny talked back. If Danny didn’t like something, Danny said it, if Danny didn’t want to do something, Danny refused, if He said to get out of our safe spot, Danny said “NO.”
But no matter what Danny thought, Kate was Good, so Kate stayed Out.
Three years after her murder, we had enough.
Sometimes I wonder who set the fire, rather it was me or Martin or Claire or all of us at once.
I remember the lit match, Him passed out drunk on the couch. He had hurt us so bad that night, we decided to leave and make sure we never returned. The fire was pretty, I liked the smell of the gas in the carpet. We dropped the match and ran, our runaway backpack on the shoulders as we got outside to escape the flames.
We could see the fire through the windows from our hiding spot. Neighbors came outside to see, and firetrucks came speeding down the street. Dom had to come Out quickly so we could avoid a meltdown at the sirens.
We watched them attempt to control the fire for a few minutes, before deciding we needed to go in case someone found us. We ran to Jen’s house, we had met her once and she promised if we needed help we could come to her and her moms house. Abby is friends with Jen so she was excited, but everyone else was scared.
We had no idea what was going to happen next, the only place we’ve ever lived at was slowly turning to ash behind us.
Hulk, Claire, and Danny promised to protect us, Robert stayed silent, Kate wanted to go back to ‘Daddy’, Martin was glad we were safe from Him, everyone else shared the same thought.
But no matter what, we were scared of the future.
One moment we were fine, and next Hulk has his own body and people were shouting at us.
They shot guns, scared, but Hulk was scared too.
He’d never been this big, normally he looked like the body, but now he was big, and strong.
Everyone in the mind panicked, Hulk was just jumping Out to protect me from the experiment, but now he was Out and scared.
They were trying to hurt us, and Hulk’s job was to protect us from harm.
So he did what he did best.
“Morning sleeping beauty.”
I roll my eyes, turning from my cup of tea in order to look at Clint. He’s rubbing sleep from his eyes and is only wearing a pair of sleep pants, his hair going every direction.
‘ You look like a mess .’
I sign since I notice he isn’t wearing his hearing aids, and Clint laughs, grabbing the coffee I prepared for him and gently kissing me before sitting across from me.
‘ You look good wearing my shirt .’
I look down at the purple shirt we fell asleep in last night, two sizes too big for me but very comfortable.
‘ Yes, well, you know Dani loves wearing your clothes .’
He raises his eyebrow.
‘ Do you and Martin? ’
I laugh, which causes him to smile.
‘ Martin would rather see you wearing his clothes, and you know I love wearing your shirts, nerd .’
Clint’s smile softens.
‘ I love you Bruce, so much .’
I smile back.
‘ I love you too Clint .’