In the Absence of Faith

Chapter One

This situation in my head
Will this situation ever end?
How can I feel if I can’t breathe? away…

Picking through his plate of food, growing cold from his lack of appetite, Taylor relished in the rare silence that engulfed the dinner table. Dropping his fork, he buried his head in his arms, a futile attempt to smother the agonizing migraine that he had fell prey to earlier that afternoon. "Oh God," he mumbled, groaning as he shifted to a more comfortable position, relaxing enough so to allow his eyelids to become heavy with drowsiness.

"Is anyone going to talk or do I have to choose the topic of conversation?" Eyeing each family member impatiently, Walker Hanson frowned as his gaze locked on his second born. "Taylor, wake up!"

"Aw shit!" Consequently after snapping his head up, Taylor cringed as the pain pounded around his skull, barely noticing his father’s unwavering stare, visibly perturbed.

"Where are your manners young man? How dare you use that kind of profanity at the dinner table let alone fall asleep, ask to be dismissed next time!" A grimace etched upon his lips, Taylor hardly moved as he felt a hand caress his hair, the warmth flowing through his body from his mother’s touch.

"Walker, leave him alone, he’s not feeling well, are you Tay honey?" Allowing himself to be drawn into her chest, Taylor shuddered in his mother’s comforting embrace.

"There you go again Diana, turning this entire family against me. Why am I always made out to be the bad guy?" The plates and cups clattering loudly on the table as Walker slammed his fist, Zac grabbed his glass of milk as it pivoted wildly, preventing the liquid from pouring into his lap.

"No I do not Walker, maybe you should just learn to control your temper." Remaining remarkably calm, Diana stood up to her husband undauntedly, still holding her son lovingly.

"My temper is under con…" Stopping in midsentence, Walker scowled at Zac who merely continued to sing in a hushed murmur, determined to get his point across to all those listening.

"Where’s the love, it’s not enough, it makes the world go round and round and…" Zac watched in horror as his father came at him in a flash, a blow connecting with his face that sent him backwards out of his chair, a bitter taste mingling on his tongue as his own blood dripped into his mouth.

"Walker! Kids, please leave, now, up to your rooms. Walker you bastard, who could you?" Getting dizzily to his feet with the aid of Isaac, Zac kept his shirtsleeve pressed firmly against his nose as they made their way into the den.

"Ike, where’s Tay?" His words coming out muffled, Zac glanced fearfully back towards the kitchen, praying that his father’s wrath would not fall upon his brother.

"Why’d ya hit him Dad? He didn’t deserve that."

"Taylor, he was disrespectful to me, and now you should just leave!"

"I’m not gonna leave! I sure as hell ain’t gonna let you do anything to Mom…" Zac cringed as his brother’s words ended in a distressed yelp, hung portraits shaking as his body collided with the wall.

"Oh my God, Taylor…Walker that’s the last straw, it’s over! STOP!" Fighting back tears, Zac curled himself into a ball an armchair, his heart thumping in dreadful anticipation as Taylor’s cries rang on.


Crumpled in the corner, Taylor clenched his teeth against the agony that swelled in his lower abdomen, continuous hacking and coughing causing his dry throat to burn almost unbearably. Bracing himself for more blows, he shot a quick glance at his father, relieved to have been seemingly forgotten. Wincing as he slowly got to his knees, Taylor crawled along the far wall, the sheer determination to escape further injury surging through his aching muscles. Praying not to be seen, he scurried through the doorway into the den, collapsing behind the sofa exhausted beyond belief.

"Tay?" Receiving no a sound from his brother, Isaac crept closer to the dark form that lay stationary on the carpet. "Tay, please answer me from Christ’s sake!" Frustration and fear converging in his brain, clouding over any sane judgement, Isaac grabbed his brother violently, hauling him to his feet. Letting out an anguished yelp, Taylor felt his knees buckle beneath him, a feeling of helplessness surging through his veins.

"Please Isaac, put me down, Ike, IKE PLEASE PUT ME DOWN!" Screaming hysterically, Taylor clawed frantically at his brother’s hands, the state of shock setting in scaring him further.

"Taylor, calm down, I’m not gonna hurt…"

"Just put me down! Please Ike, you’re HURTING ME!" Choking back a sob, Taylor’s wild eyes locked with the confused ones of his brother. "Please Ike," he whispered, gently attempting to pry Isaac’s grip from his waist, "my…my stomach…please…" Noticing his brother’s labored breathing and shaking body, Isaac carefully laid Taylor on the couch, positioning him flat on his back so to not inflict further stress on his injury.

"Hold on Tay, just stay still, okay? I hafta do this, please." Flinching as his brother lifted his shirt, Taylor blinked back the blackness, tears forming in his eyes as trembling fingers prodded his tender flesh. "How many times did he kick you, Tay?"

"How…how do you know he kicked me? Does it look that bad? Please…God…"

"Repeating himself firmly, Isaac looked up from the fresh crimson bruises, staring into Taylor’s pain-filled face, ghastly pale and glistening with sweat.

"I…I don’t know, maybe ten, I couldn’t concentrate. He just kept kicking me, Mom was screaming at him but he just kept coming and…"

"SHUT UP!" Standing before his brothers, Zac hollered into Taylor’s face, soaking him in tears and spit. "Please guys, Dad might hear us." Nodding his head in agreement and understanding, Isaac crouched on the floor, the silence that followed heavy and ominous until conversation drifted in from the other room.

"Look what…done!"

"Please…sorry hun…fault too!"

"…don’t trust…nothing…can do…I want…divorce…"


"Walker…can do…I want."

Once again, the air was disturbed with not a sound save for the patter of tiny feet on the rug. Glancing up, Isaac forced a smile as his little sister burst onto the scene. "Ikey, why were Mommy and Daddy fighting?"

"Shh Avery, they’re not yelling anymore. So why dontcha just go to bed?"

"Okay, but will you read me a story first?"

"Yup." Grinning, Avery wrapped her arms around Isaac’s neck, giggling gleefully as he rose to his feet.

"Ike, what are we gonna do?" Yanking on his brother’s arm, Zac felt his eyes water once again, his emotions too powerful to combat.

"Zac, please, not in front of Avery. Just let me read to the others and we can talk." Repositioning his sister in his arms, Isaac awaited his brother’s reply.

"Ike, just leave us." Groaning as he propped himself up into a sitting position, Taylor glared at his older brother impatiently.

"Tay, c’mon, we should discuss this together." Watching Taylor rise weakly to his feet, Isaac snatched the collar of his brother’s shirt, steadying him as he clutched the end table for support.

"Let me handle this Ike, I am capable of these things you know, it’s like you don’t even trust me. And I’m sick of you always lookin over my shoulder at every little thing I do!" Opening his mouth to object, Isaac thought better of it. Rolling his eyes, he turned and stormed away, muttering under his breath as Avery fell asleep in his arms.

"How bad does it hurt?" Speaking barely above a whisper, Zac inched forward, concern etched into his every feature.

"It’s okay, it’s getting better I guess, gonna be hell in the morning though." Staring at each other, neither boy talked as the atmosphere turned heavy, the fear of the unknown pressing down on Zac until he could stand it no longer.

"Why’d this hafta happen, Tay? Everything’s ruined, things are never gonna be right again." Giving in, Zac began sobbing, tears blurring his vision as his voice cracked. "They’re getting a divorce, Tay, they’re getting a divorce…"

"Listen to me!" Grabbing his brother roughly as the shoulders, Taylor shook Zac hard, his crying halting altogether. "Whatever happens, wherever we go, whoever we lose, I’ll always be here for you, okay?"


"Zac, please, just have a little faith in me, I won’t let anything happen, I promise. We’ll get through this together, all of us, even though we might be separated, our hearts will never be apart."

A small smiling gracing his lips, Zac wrapped his arms around his brother tightly, causing Taylor’s breath to catch in his throat. Sensing his discomfort, Zac released his hold on him, backing away sheepishly. "Heh, sorry Tay, I kinda forgot about that." Yawning, he glanced at his watch quickly, the numbers glowing back at him making him even drowsier. "I’m gonna go to bed now, you coming Tay?"

Placing a hand along the wall for support, Taylor trailed silently behind his brother, concealing his sufferance with but a small grimace penetrating through. "Oh God, how am I supposed to make it all the way up there?" Casting his brother a pleading look, Taylor carefully placed his foot on the first step, losing his balance immediately and clutching at Zac’s shirt.

"Woah Tay, take it easy, I’ll help ya, we just hafta take it slow." Gripping Taylor’s upper arm, Zac accepted the burden of his brother’s extra weight.

"I could just sleep down here on the couch cause…"

"No way, uh uh, I won’t let you, not with Dad around. We hafta stick together like you said."

"Fine Zac, but what goes up must come down, so if you hear a loud crash in the morning that’s just me falling down the stairs and cracking my head open."

************************************************************************* Musical credit given to Godsmack for "Situation."

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