Home > Chasing Hadley

Chasing Hadley
Author: Jessica Sorensen








My family has moved a total of fifteen times in my almost eighteen years of existence. That’s almost one move per year. Up until I was ten, though, we lived in the same two-story townhome in the middle of a quaint neighborhood, so technically, we’ve moved almost two times a year.

I hate moving. Let’s get that right out of the way. I hate packing up all my stuff into boxes, the taping, the labeling—all the work. And then, usually only days later, when we’ve arrived at our new home, the process happens again, only backward. It’s exhausting, especially since I’m the one who unpacks most of the boxes. I’m not even sure how I got stuck with the job. How my three younger sisters decided they’d only unpack their own shit, while I unpack my stuff, the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, and … well, you get the picture.

I guess, since I’m basically in charge of our household these days, it sort of makes sense.

After our mom died eight years ago, being the oldest and most responsible in the house, the job fell on me. Even my dad relies on me to take care of everything. Like, for instance, now.

The trailer attached to his beat-up pickup is crammed with all our belongings. Boxes are also piled into the bed and back seat of the truck, and the trunk of my 1969 Chevelle is filled with to the brim, as well.

The house we just moved out of—a singlewide with a field of dead grass surrounding it—is all cleaned out, thanks to me and Londyn, one of my sisters. We pulled an all-nighter last night, wanting everything ready to go so we could get an early start, since Honeyton, the small town we’re moving to, is about an eight-hour drive from here. I took a powernap at around five o’clock, and then woke everyone up at seven. It’s now eight thirty. We should be on the road by now, but my dad can’t find his damn car keys.

Of course.

He’s constantly losing or misplacing his stuff—it’s one of the few things he’s consistent with anymore. Well, that, getting fired, and getting drunk. I blame most of his scatterbrained tendencies on the booze.

Before he started drinking, he was more responsible, involved, a proud father who worked as an undercover detective. Now he can barely remember to take a shower, sometimes going weeks on end without one, which can get really smelly. He’s unemployed more than he’s employed and works jobs that would make the old him cringe. Currently, he’s between jobs, hence the reason we’re moving. After getting fired from his position at a plumbing store for showing up drunk, he spent three months straight hanging out at the bar almost every single day and night. He blew all our rent money on drinks, including what my sisters and I had saved up from our random jobs.

A month ago, an eviction notice was stuck to the door. None of us were surprised. It’s become a routine. We get evicted, and Dad gets a reality check for a couple weeks where he eases off the drinking and finds us a new place to live, sometimes in the same town, sometimes not. Then we all pack up our shit, which isn’t a lot of stuff—moving so much has made us become minimalists, and we don’t have a lot of extra cash to buy a ton of crap—and hit the road. After we get moved in to the new place, Dad finds a job, and a few weeks in, he starts drinking again.

That is the Harlyton routine. And yes, it’s about as sucky as it sounds, but we do what we must to make the best of a shitty situation.

I have my own plans, though. Get good grades, stay out of trouble … when I can, and make sure my sisters do, too. Once I graduate, I’m hightailing it to college. I don’t even care where. I just want to go someplace where I can stay put for a few years and obtain some structure like I used to have before my mom passed away.

“Did you leave them at the bar last night?” I ask my dad as I circle his truck, searching for his car keys.

We’ve spent the last twenty minutes looking for them to no avail. He can’t even remember the last time he had or used them since he walks to and from the bar.

He pats the pockets of his jacket with a crinkle forming between his brows. “I don’t think so.” He presses his lips together as he studies me. “You didn’t by chance touch them yesterday, did you?”

I shake my head, more than annoyed. He’s constantly blaming me for breaking things, losing things, the power getting turned off, the car breaking down—stupid shit. He thinks everything is my responsibility. And it always ends up being his fault, either because he’s drunk off his ass, spent the bill money on booze, or didn’t keep up with the maintenance on his truck.

“No,” I reply in a clipped tone.

Sighing, he digs his phone out of his pocket. “Let me call Larry and see if they’re at the bar by chance.”

Good old Larry, the owner of the corner bar where Dad likes to spend most of his time. The guy also drinks as much as Dad does, so there’s a fat chance in stupid drunkenville that Larry’s going to have a clue where the keys are.

“All right, you do that.” I back toward the house. “Londyn, Bailey, Payton, and I will search the house again.”

I motion for my sisters to follow me inside, earning a scowl from Payton and a glare from Bailey, the two youngest of the Harlyton sisters, with me being the oldest. Londyn is only a year younger than me and will be turning seventeen next month. Bailey and Payton are twins, not identical, and will be celebrating their sixteenth birthday only a week after Londyn’s birthday. My parents had us really close on purpose, or so they used to say whenever they’d reminisce. They also wanted a son, but after having the twins, they decided four daughters was enough. Although, our dad used to often joke that they should’ve tried for more.

He doesn’t joke about that anymore. Doesn’t joke about much of anything since our mom passed away.

“Why is he always losing shit?” Bailey gripes as the four of us drag our butts inside the empty trailer.

It’s the end of summer, and with the windows closed, the air is stifling hot and muggy, like the air outside. I’m not a fan of the intense heat, but harsh winters suck balls, too. According to the online city page, Honeyton has mild summers and winters, so I guess that’s good. Although, the small town is out in the middle of nowhere with no close cities nearby, so that’s going to suck.

“Because he’s drunk all the time and doesn’t give a shit about anything,” Payton mutters as she leans against the wall, texting on her old-school, hand-me-down phone.

Sighing, I take the phone from her. “Help find the keys so we can get going. You can have this back when we do.” I pocket her phone. “The sun’s already going to be setting by the time we get there, and I hate moving in when it’s dark.”

“Dad probably didn’t even call to get the power turned on,” Bailey mumbles as she peers inside a drawer.

“No, he didn’t.” I start opening drawers, too. “I did.”

Londyn sighs as she opens a window. “Of course you did.”

I frown at her. “What’s that tone supposed to mean?”

She fans her hand in front of her face, trying to cool off. “It means you always do everything.”

I cross my arms. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“It is, and it isn’t. I mean … don’t you ever get tired of doing all this crap all the time?” She tucks a strand of her shoulder-length brown hair behind her ear. “He’s supposed to be the adult, yet we’re the ones getting the power turned on, trying to keep up with the bills, and trying to figure out where the hell he put his car keys after he stumbles home drunk at three in the morning. And he didn’t even bother helping us finish packing, even when he saw we were still up.”

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