Roads We Walk POV exercise

Writing Exercise: Abbie’s POV exercise for ‘Roads.’ – H. Danielle Crabtree

I could hear the hiss of raise voices from the barn, and a sense of dread filled me. My older brothers had come home for the weekend, and at least one of them had declared war on Drew over James’ recent behavior. It wasn’t as if it was Drew’s fault that James had been caught smoking at school and that his grades had dropped off, but somehow, A.J. always found a way to put the blame on Drew because of his past.

I hated the way they argued and how it sometimes got so intense that Peter had to step in to keep them from coming to blows. Drew had always been the hot-head, but A.J. had been giving him a run for the title since Drew had taken custody of James and me. I liked living with Drew, in our family home, even if I wanted to see more of the world. It had been a comfort since our parents died, and it helped to have Drew home after so many years apart.

I sighed, and then picked up the feed bucket to hang it back on its hook. As I exited the barn, the hiss converted to broken sentences that included mine and James’ names. I proceeded across the yard, kicking up the dirt as I walked. As I stepped up on to the porch, I felt my heart lurch, and tears formed at the edges of my eyes.

“I don’t have to stay here, A.J., be here with them or for them,” Drew yelled. “It’s not like I didn’t have a life or things going on. But you don’t see that. You don’t see anything outside your little bubble, and I’m done with it.”

‘Done?’ I thought. How could he be done? He had promised to stay, to be there for me. Drew was the only person getting me through, getting us all through. A knot formed in my throat. He was not leaving me, too.

I sucked in a breath and then opened the door, staring between my brothers. My chin quivered and it felt as if a weight was holding me in place, even when Drew caught my gaze and refused to look away. I felt as if I would die on the spot, if Drew confirmed my worst fears in the next thirty seconds.

“I have custody, not you,” Drew continued, turning his heated gaze back to our brother. “And the interference ends now. I have given up everything to be here for them because they are worth it. They are not a duty, not a chore and sure as hell not a burden. The only way I’m leaving is if Abbie and James ask to go live with you or Peter.”

All my worries dissolved in that second, but I still thought I might cry out of happiness. Instead, I crossed the kitchen and threw my arms around Drew’s middle, hugging him tightly. “You mean that?” I asked, even with my face pressed against his t-shirt.

“Yeah, I mean that, Abs,” he said.

My arms tightened around him and I could feel his hands stroking through my hair. It was my greatest fear to lose him, that he would get tired of looking after us and return to wherever it was he had been for the last six years. I wasn’t a fool; I knew he hadn’t just skated through life like everyone else believed. He had changed from that child that had ripped our family in half, and not just because I believed he was the one pulling us back together.

“And what about James?” A.J. asked.

I pulled away from Drew, looking up at the firm lines of his jaw. He was still glaring at A.J.

“I’ll handle James.”

A.J.’s laughter echoed in the old kitchen. “You don’t stand a chance.”

“Maybe, maybe not, but I’m sure as hell going to find out.”

I smiled. I loved Drew’s stubbornness, and not just because I knew that stubbornness was part of the reason he hadn’t given up on us. I loved even more the fact that he wanted to be here. I also knew that this was just one battle; the war of the Covington brothers was far from over.

That scared me, but only just a little, because with Drew here, I always had hope, too.

— H. Danielle Crabtree