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No matter how hard I try, I can't fall asleep (weird how that works), though I should. I'm exhausted. It's been that kind of a day. Actually, it's been the kind of day I've never had before and hopefully, never ever will again.

I mean it isn't like it's every day, your mother's boyfriend shows up at your dorm unannounced before break, assaults and then abducts you (trussing you up first like a Thanksgiving turkey) because you have enough smarts not to take off with a total stranger voluntarily. And where the hell was campus security anyway when this was going on? Who lets some lunatic wander around, except maybe they've already taken off, too. Or they thought he was some kid's father. More likely, they figured he was just a maintenance worker.

Okay, I assaulted him, too, technically, but what adult wouldn't simply retreat and leave? Karate was supposed channel my aggression (whatever that meant). At one point, I wanted to stop (though now I can't remember why), but my father said he didn't raise quitters, so I stuck with it, and also because the idea of being able to beat the crap out of anyone who hassled me was appealing. So it's not a noble motive, who cares? It wasn't like I'd ever been the only kid who was motivated by revenge. Still I'd never confronted a man twice my age and twice my size except in the dojo, and anyhow, I could press charges myself if my father won't. Once I return to civilization that is.

Speaking of fathers, I have absolutely no idea what mine will do when he finally gets wind of this. Start preparing a lawsuit? (He has his own personal lawyer on speed dial.) But he's not here, he's not even in the country, so that will all have to wait. Besides, surely I can get myself out of this on my own.

I wasn't lying to the guy when I told him I had plans. If I couldn't be with my father this holiday, I was perfectly fine with not going home. Why did he not get that? If I was old enough to decide to go boarding school in the first, place, why wasn't I old enough to decide to stay there over break if I wanted? It wasn't like anything was going to happen to me. Not the way it could going cross-country in that piece of crap he calls his truck.

Not that I'd be any more uncomfortable than I am right now. I'd already figured out ahead of time that we weren't headed for the Hilton, or even the Marriott or whatever the nearest approximation would be out here in the middle of nowhere, but this place he picked is really a shithole. It reeks of secondhand smoke, there's this weird lump at the bottom of the mattress, and the walls are thin enough so that you can hear everything, and I mean everything. But like I said, I wasn't expecting that any guy my mother would date would have sheet thread count as a criteria for choosing a hotel, so we weren't heading anyplace with scented soap and complimentary chocolates on the pillows. (Seriously, my father wouldn't be caught dead in a dump like this.)

I did consider trying to sneak out once he fell asleep. If i were going to escape, now would be the ideal time. But I decided that wasn't feasible, not with low funds, no one reliable to call and come rescue me, plus it's freezing out, and I don't want to catch pneumonia on top of everything else. Besides it's a safe bet that he'd have no hesitation about tying me up again, and then I'd never get to sleep.

But despite everything, it's not the end of the world. It's not the worst thing in the world that's happened to me, if you want the truth. That would be a couple of years ago. Ever since I could remember, my parents would fight, excuse me, have a discussion, but I figured that was normal because I had nothing to compare it to and my friends' families seemed more or less the same from what I could tell. Maybe it's unavoidable when you live with someone day in and day out, no matter if you actually love them.

One of the things they fought over was whether or not to have more children. My mother was pro; my father, decidedly against. I never could figure out if it was because I was enough or if it was because I was more than enough. I never asked him. Maybe I was afraid he'd tell me the truth, and I didn't want to hear it. So I remained an only child to which people will occasionally respond to this revelation as if my family is part of a cult. Or as if that explains some deep dark secret. As if my parents' choices are any of their business in the first place.

I hadn't noticed any increases in discussions, though maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention, so the fact that my parents finally decided to call it quits and split up completely shocked me. When I hadn't been paying attention, they'd "grown apart," and decided that this was "best for everyone."

Maybe I'm not as smart as I thought, if something like this could sneak up on me. But in the end, they'd reached the point where they could get into a discussion about whether or not the sun rose in the east and set in the west, and even I could see that.

My father suggested boarding school but said that he would leave it up to me. The highly credential shrink my parents sent me to to make sure the divorce proceedings weren't scarring me also agreed that it was good that I should get away to someplace where it was easier to breathe, easier to concentrate on other stuff and easier not to think about my parents (gag) dating again and eventually even marrying. Moving on.

"Between you and me," he said on the way up to school three months ago, "your mother is not the easiest person in the world to live with."

What was I supposed to say to that? I had a feeling that maybe he should be telling the shrink that, instead of me, but I didn't know. So I just nodded in agreement.

A snore from the next bed brings me back to the present and my predicament: that I'm stuck for the next few days with a guy who hates my guts. I don't know whether he decided this before he met me, but I can hardly go back and reverse what happened. So for now, I'll try to be at least somewhat civil. It's not like I have to spend any more time with him than I have to once I'm home.

If you want to call it home. But deciding that seems to work, and I fall asleep.