Chapter 11:

Reason for Guilt


As evening drew near, Rayner and Blake decided to walk back to his house. When they arrived, but before walking in, Rayner turned to Blake and said, "Can I talk to you about something before we go in?"

"Yeah," Blake replied. "You can tell me anything. Is something the matter, Rayner?" She sensed that his tone was rather morose. 

"I just wanted to tell you about... my family."

Blake listened to Rayner and looked at him with a serious expression. "Are you sure you wanna talk about it?"

"Yeah, I can't keep everything from you forever. That wouldn't feel right to me."

"Alright, Rayner. If you're sure, then I'm all ears."

"I'll start with my sister. First off, her name is Olivia and she's five years older than me." He then took a deep breath before explaining what happened. "She... was struggling with life in college. She went to the city because of a scholarship she got from a university there. She's really smart and I looked up to her. But sometimes, people from the city have a certain prejudice towards people from our town. She was ridiculed for being from a 'nowhere' town, as they apparently called it.

"They made fun of her?" Blake asked with visible anger.

Rayner nodded. "After a semester, she came back home to get away from the city. I think she was hoping that we could help relieve her from the stress she suffered from while she was over there. Unfortunately, we didn't help at all. My mom and I are usually quiet and tend not to say much. And my dad..." Rayner then froze. Merely mentioning his father seemed to be difficult for him. However, he decided to push through his trauma and continue explaining.

It helped as Blake reached out and held his hand with a warm and gentle touch. "Slowly now," she said, comforting him.

"Thank you," he said, genuinely. "While Olivia was away for school, my dad was going through his own struggles at work. He would often complain that his workplace was changing too many policies, which led to some of his co-workers either quitting or getting fired. His job was even going under new management that he absolutely could not stand. All of his stress turned him into an alcoholic." Rayner felt his breathing begin to grow heavier.

Blake noticed Rayner’s face start to sweat, so she pulled him in and embraced his arm. "Don't force yourself."

Rayner heard her but didn't want to stop until Blake knew everything. He went on, despite the internal struggle. "My dad would become a different man from then on whenever he was drunk. It wasn't a problem at first, but eventually he grew to become angry whenever he drank too much. Every night, I would hear him yell at my mom for one thing or another. When my sister came back, she was puzzled by our dad's temperament. She shrugged it off for few days before deciding to confront our dad about it. That was when she got into a heated argument with my dad..."

At this point, Rayner had explained the events of the incident so vividly that he practically experienced it all over again.

Four years ago, in the Kingsman household, Rayner had gotten startled by the sudden shouting of a woman throughout the house. He jumped up slightly from his chair as he was working on his homework. Concerned, he came out of his room and saw his mother down the hall, peering into the living room.

Rayner approached Maddie to ask what was wrong. Before he could even say anything, he was interrupted by shouts. This time between a man and a woman.

"Why the hell are you shouting every night!?" Olivia yelled. As Rayner saw his sister, her purple and blonde hair was flowing straight down her back. Rayner was used to seeing his sister tie her hair in a ponytail but at that moment it was kept naturally down.

Rayner looked passed his sister and saw her yelling at their father, Charles Kingsman. Charles was a tall and well-built individual with spiky and short blonde hair. As Rayner saw him, he understood that his father was already heavily drunk.

"Olivia?" Charles questioned, intensely. "Why do you care? You've been away from home for months!"

"I went to school in the city! I came back to visit after the semester ended!"

"So you're just going to leave again once school starts up again? You could've just stayed in the city."

"I didn't want to! Everyone there treats me like I'm worthless! The professor's act like I don't know anything and the other students make fun of me on a daily basis! I wanted to come back home to relax and spend time with who I thought was my loving family. But nobody even said 'welcome back' to me when I got home!"

Rayner didn't realize that his sister was hurting until this moment. He slumped back against the wall, crippled with the feeling of guilt for not spending time with Olivia.

"Well not everything is about you, miss!" Charles exclaimed. He then took a sip from a bottle of alcohol in his hand. "Ugh! I don't need this right now! Leave me alone and go to your damn room! You're still just a kid throwing a tantrum because you don't know how to deal with adulthood."

Olivia's eyes flared up with anger as she fell silent and darted back towards the hallway. She had completely given up on seeking compassion from her father. As she passed by her mother and Rayner, she whispered something under her breath. "This family's a lost cause."

Rayner heard his sister's comment and lamented. However, he was too afraid to confront his sister about her grievances. Afraid because he felt so ashamed for not being there for Olivia sooner.

Early that next morning, Rayner was woken up by the sound of something being wheeled down the hall. He decided to step out of his room to see what was happening.

Rayner saw his sister dragging a bag of luggage out into the living room. He decided to follow after her. "Olivia?" Rayner uttered, timidly.

Olivia jumped as she suddenly heard Rayner’s voice behind her. "Ack!" Olivia screamed. Her voice then became a stern whisper, as she was trying to speak quietly. "Rayner, you scared me!"

"Sorry... I was just wondering what you were doing. Are you... leaving?" 

"Yes, I am."

"You've barely been home for a few weeks. Is your school starting back up again?"

"Um... No, not yet," she answered, honestly. She first thought of lying to get Rayner out of her hair but decided to be completely honest with him instead.

"So why are you leaving now?" Rayner meant to ask sincerely but Olivia sensed a hint of fear behind his words.

Olivia frowned and said, "You just want me here so that you don't have to listen to Dad verbally abuse Mom all by yourself!"

"What?" Rayner was truly confused. He just wanted the chance to catch up with his role model of a sister that he aspired to be like. Deep down, he couldn't deny what Olivia proclaimed about him though.

"I'm leaving, Rayner." She turned around and tried to dismiss him from the conversation. She grabbed her luggage and walked towards the front door.

"When will you be back?"

Olivia didn't respond.


"I'm not coming back!" Olivia interrupted. "Why would I return to a dysfunctional family ran by a tyrant of a father?"

Rayner struggled to find a response. Grasping for any idea that might stop Olivia from leaving, he said, "Maybe you, Mom, and I could help fix him."

"You and Mom?" Olivia laughed in disbelief. "You and Mom are too docile to say or do anything to Dad. You didn't even bother to comfort me when I was struggling!"

"But..." Rayner couldn't refute her. "I didn't know... I'm... sor-"

Without listening, Olivia opened up the door and said, "Goodbye, little brother. I would've loved if things went back to the way they were. But things change and we just have to deal with it. Since you're here, I won't be needing this." She took off her house key and threw it over the nearby table. "Lock the door for me please, Rayner." She then walked outside and left the Kingsman household behind. Rayner overheard her say one last thing as she walked out. "I'll prove to them what a girl from a nowhere town can do."

Rayner was left there, trembling helplessly. It took him way longer than it should've to lock the front door. He then went over to Olivia's key at the table and picked it up. It was then that Rayner noticed how bad he was shaking as he saw his hands quiver nonstop while holding onto the key. Rayner sat down on the couch and remained in the living room for the entirety of the morning afterwards. Partly in case Olivia decided to come back, but also because he felt too weak to walk back into his room. He eventually fell asleep on the couch until his mother woke him up later and asked why he was sleeping there.

Rayner looked back up at his mother with a dreadful expression and said, "Olivia's... She's..." His voice was too shaky to speak clearly and he couldn’t bring himself to explain what happened.

"I think I overheard you and your sister's voices this morning," stated Maddie. "Are you both alright? How is Olivia? I'm worried about her."

"She... left..."

"Oh, I see. Did she tell you when she'd be back?"

Rayner, still unable to speak clearly, went and showed his mother Olivia's house key that she left behind.

Maddie looked at her son, confused. "Raynie, why do you have your sister's house key?" She recognized who it belonged to because Olivia's copy of the front door key was black in color. "Olivia must have forgotten her key today. That's unusual for her." Maddie tried to convince herself of that but started to have a bad feeling.

"She’s not coming back..." Rayner finally let out. His eyes then watered as he began to slowly sob. "Olivia... wanted to confide in someone... because she was hurting... I should've talked to her more... I should've spent more time with Olivia and catch up with her... but I decided to focus on my studies all the time instead..."

Maddie realized that Rayner was solely blaming himself for Olivia's decision. Trying to calm him down, Maddie put her arms out to hug her son and said, "Come here, Raynie. Its not your fault."

"I can't do this!" Rayner screamed. He got up off the couch and backed away from his mother. He looked at the black key still in his hand and then towards the front door. "Maybe she's still in town!" Rayner then took off outside without thinking. He was desperate to find and apologize to his sister and beg her to stay if he had to. He didn't even bother to check how long he had dozed off for.

"Raynie, no!" Maddie called out. As she saw her son run outside, she sank down onto her knees and began to sob heavily. "Please come back..." Knowing that Olivia severed ties with the family was one thing, but she had worried that Rayner would want to leave the house too. It wouldn't have surprised her with how much Rayner suffered every night. Though Maddie knew how Rayner despaired when his father was in a drunken frenzy, she did little, if anything at all, to comfort him. She felt that Rayner, who bottled everything up inside, would run away from home after seeing his sister leave mere hours beforehand. 

All day, Rayner practically ran all over town thoroughly looking for any sign of Olivia. To no avail, he returned home at sundown. His face gray and sullen, Rayner walked up to the front door with Olivia's key in hand.

When Rayner walked up to the door and put the key inside the lock, he noticed that it was already unlocked. He could already hear yelling from inside the house. He grew nervous and gulped before waking in. He had hoped to be able to walk into his room without hearing too much of his father's outrage. 

As Rayner stepped in, what startled him wasn't his father's voice. It was actually his mother that seemed to be yelling that night. Curious, Rayner walked into the kitchen where he heard the shouts coming from.

He saw his mother standing by the countertop yelling at Charles with tears in her eyes. 

"It's because of you that our children are running away from home!" Maddie screamed. She was too distressed to realize that Rayner was there.

That was the loudest and most upset Rayner had ever heard his mother. But for some reason, instead of unsettling Rayner, it inspired him. It must have been the fact that his mother seemed to finally stand up for herself instead of just listening to his father's outbursts silently. Rayner felt that if his mother could be that brave, then there's no reason why he can't be either.

"So you're just blaming me for everything?" Charles asked, angrily. "Hell if I care! I get blamed for everything thing at work already. I'm used to it by now." He then took a heavy drink of alcohol. "Olivia's an adult, she can handle herself! And so what if she doesn't come back? That ungrateful girl-"

"Don't call her ungrateful!" Rayner screamed. Both of his parents then looked over at him as they noticed he returned.

"See that?" Charles asked Maddie. "Rayner wouldn't have left for good. He's too young and barely has any friends."

"I've had enough of your attitude, Dad!" Rayner was taken over by his instincts and adrenaline at this time. Rayner rushed over towards Charles, attempting to steal the bottle of alcohol out of his hands as it was the root of his father's temperament. 

As Charles saw his son charge at him, he stepped back and felt himself bump into the refrigerator. Rayner saw his father flinch as he made contact with the fridge and took that moment to reach for the bottle. Charles then realized what Rayner was going for and tried to tighten his grip. As Rayner made contact with the bottle of alcohol, Charles' grip on it wasn't very strong. However, Rayner wasn't able to grab it completely as Charles moved his arm off to the side. At that moment, the bottle slipped out of Charles' hand and fell to the floor, shattering. 

The kitchen floor was now stained with broken glass and alcohol. "No!" Charles howled. "That was the last one we had!" He then turned to Maddie, who was still in tears. "Maddie, go to the store and buy some more!"

Maddie looked back at her husband in fear and back at her son in shock at his sudden actions. She decided to stay resolute in her defiance now that both she and Rayner seemed to be against Charles.

"Now, Maddie!" Charles continued to bark.

Maddie looked at Rayner to try and calm herself down and then replied back with, "No... I'm not doing this for you, Charles..."

"What was that?" Charles began to walk over towards Maddie, frustrated. His footsteps were loud and heavy, as he stomped over some of the broken glass with his shoes.

Seeing that, Rayner instantly ran over to his mother's side and put his arms out to keep his father away from her.

"Move, Rayner," Charles threatened.

"No, Dad," replied Rayner. "You need to stop drinking. This is for your own good..."

"You little..." Charles then darted at Rayner.

"Dad!" Rayner put his arm out just to stop his father from advancing but accidentally used too much force and pushed him towards the counter. 

"Ugh!" Charles almost fell down but caught himself against a wooden knife holder and looked back at his son, angrily. Without thinking, he pulled out a kitchen knife and rushed at Rayner again. "Get outta the way!" Charles was only trying to indimidate Rayner, despite how bad the situation looked.

Rayner’s eyes widened as he was both surprised and disturbed to see his own father run at him with a knife in hand.

"Darling, no!" Maddie cried out. She ran in front of Rayner and hugged him tightly with her back facing towards Charles.

Charles was in the midst of stopping himself from hurting Rayner at the last moment but, Maddie got too close between them. Before Charles could pull the knife away completely, it grazed the back of Maddie's neck carving a small wound that ran from the back of her neck down to her shoulder blade. 

Maddie then screamed and fell down to her knees while clutching the back her her neck.

Rayner’s eyes were wide with shock and anger as he then looked at his father, furiously.

Charles stood aghast, in response to what he had just done to his loving wife. His arm trembled and dropped the knife onto the floor. "What have I done?" Charles mumbled, disgusted by his own actions. He stood there, reflecting on everything that had happened and how he had become a horrible person.

"Now you've gone too far!" Rayner yelled. Rayner walked up to his father, who was still dazed, and grabbed him by his shirt. "You've ruined this house, Dad!" Rayner pulled his father in and bashed his own head against his father's as hard as he could. Both of them reared back in pain, but Charles stumbled and fell back onto the floor.

Charles grunted in pain moments later as his hand got cut over the shards of glass on the kitchen floor. Charles seemed to be getting back into right mindset as he saw the pain that his wife and son were going through. Maddie was hurt mentally and physically now, while Rayner was putting on a brave front for his mother. However, Charles could tell that Rayner really wanted to cry. Charles extended his bloodied hand towards Maddie to try and help her. Rayner, who had just recovered from the hard impact, saw his father and thought that Charles was going to hurt Maddie.

"Get away from her!" Rayner screamed. Rayner stumbled and tripped over the glass on the floor as he ran towards his father again.

"No!" Charles yelled. He grabbed Rayner's arm with his clean hand and yanked him away from the glass on the floor. Charles needed more strength to fully get Rayner out of harms way so he used his bloody hand to push Rayner by the forehead against the wall.

Rayner, unaware of his father's intentions, grabbed onto Charles' arm and pulled him towards the living room entrance to get him out of the kitchen.

Charles, trying to explain himself, looked back up at his son and began saying, "Rayner, I-"

Before his father could finish, Rayner interrupted him. "You have been the worst person anyone could be for the past few months! You've hurt Mom every night with your verbal insults! If this is truly the man you are, then you're better off not being here at all!"

"Maybe you're right," Charles declared. He then began to slowly get up off the floor.

Rayner’s adrenaline faded then, and he realized the weight of the current situation. He felt the blood on his forehead and thought that it got there because of the headbutt. "Wait..." Rayner took a step forward and reached out to his father subconsciously. 

Charles put his hand out in front of him and yelled, "Stop! Don't come near me! I'm leaving on my own!" Charles picked himself up and hastily made his way towards the front door to leave the house. With his face full of resentment, Charles decided to leave the house for the betterment of the family.

"Dad..." Rayner still couldn't get over the fact that Olivia had left earlier that morning. Seeing half of the household leave put a strain on Rayner's heart that day.

While Rayner was in disbelief over all of these sudden events, he heard his mother's voice call out to him. "Raynie..." Maddie said while sobbing. "Sweetie, It hurts... Your sister left... Is your father leaving too? What has happened to us?"

Rayner saw his mother hold onto her bleeding neck and felt a great amount of shame and sorrow. "I'm sorry!" Rayner uttered, shakily. "I don't know why I did that! I didn't know that would happen!" He then ran off to find his cell phone and immediately called for medical attention for his mother's sake.

Rayner’s flashback ended and he was so distraught that Blake had to hold onto him or else he'd have fallen. She pulled Rayner in close while clutching onto his arm.

"After that," Rayner continued, "Mr. Writer, who lives next door, drove my mother to the hospital right away. Luckily, my father didn't cut her too deep and she recovered quickly. She was just left with a scar in the back of her neck."

"And what about your sister and dad?" Blake asked. "You have no clue as to their whereabouts?"

"We have no idea where Olivia has been all this time. She disconnected her phone so we couldn't call her and we figured she would be upset if we went to search for her. However, I recently learned that my father is currently in rehab. Before that, we were told by Mr. Brian that my father had been living places that were far away from town. The two of them are close friends so they kept in touch all these years."

"It seems like everyone knows everyone in this town," commented Blake.

"That's not too far from the truth," stated Rayner. "I know everyone who frequents Dino’s, at the very least."

"So, I understand your story now," Blake said. "And in my honest opinion, Rayner, you put too much of the blame on yourself."

"I'm at fault for what happened, Blake," Rayner stated, indignantly. 

"If that's true, then why are you still home while your other family members aren't?"


"If everything was your fault, you should've been the one to be punished."

"Yeah, you're right..." Rayner grew more depressed as Blake went on.

Blake then sighed and said, "You're missing my point, Rayner."

"What are you trying to say?"

"Sure, you weren't supportive enough when your family members were struggling. But from the way you described it, it sounds like neither of you guys were there for one another. Your all equally at fault for that. Nobody listened to your sister's troubles but she also didn't let anyone know she was struggling until she blurted it out angrily. It's common human nature to respond to anger with more anger. That's why your sister and father couldn't see eye to eye in the end."

Rayner felt an uplifting sensation as he listened to Blake. However, that wasn't enough to alleviate Rayner of his guilt. "That's one matter. It doesn't change the fact that I physically attacked my father."

"Because he cut your mother with a knife!" Blake stated, sternly. She then tried to lighten her tone. "And if not for your mother, he would've cut you, Rayner. Your father started that incident and you were just trying to protect your mom. You can't convince me otherwise."

Rayner wanted to argue against her, but didn't know how to refute. "But... I don't... I'm-"

"You still want to argue with me about this? How come you can't believe that you're not at fault?"

"It's not that I can't. I just... don't want to believe that."

"You must really hate yourself." Blake looked back at Rayner with a look of disdain.

"That's something we can agree on..." Rayner stated. He looked back at her with a despaired expression. He's never seen Blake look at him in that way before, but he felt like he deserved it. He felt that this would be the moment Blake would decide to stop associating with him. He was content with ending their friendship just so long as Blake knew the truth first. Instead, Blake said something that surprised him yet again.

"I could give you several reasons to love yourself, Rayner," she claimed, with a warm smile.

"Huh?" Rayner was speechless. Blake continued to praise him and he couldn't help but stand silently throughout it all.

"You're an honest person, Rayner. For better or for worse, you will always tell people the truth. You have compassion that a lot of people in the world lack. For example, the scumbags that bullied your sister in the city. You genuinely care about your family. Not a day goes by without you thinking about them, I figure. You're so supportive that you started working as soon as you could to help Maddie with the house. You go out of your way to help me when I need help with schoolwork. Need I go on?"

"No," declared Rayner. "I can't deny a thing you just said. But I don't think that I'm as kind as you think I am."

"This coming from the guy who actively avoids people because he doesn't want to scare them."

Rayner thought of an excuse to use as a rebuttal. "That only because I don't want to cause a commotion. I'm not doing it for other people's sake."

"Then why do you always make sure to remember the names of everyone you share classes with? If you're avoiding them then there's no need to remember who they are."

Rayner paused for a bit before he responded. He couldn't help but be honest now. "People... like when you remember things about them. If I remember their names and hobbies, I might be able to become friends with more people."

Blake smiled and said, "See what I mean? You've been getting along with Ken and Ari a lot as of late. They seem to have a lot fun whenever your around them too."

"But I don't always talk whenever I'm with them. Most of the time I just listen to their conversations and respond to questions they ask me."

"That's not a bad thing."

"But there are times when I feel like I'm bothering them. Like I shouldn't be around them some days."

"Well, have they ever told you that they didn't want you around?"

It didn't take long for Rayner to think about that. "No," he replied. "Its the exact opposite... They tell me that that want to hangout with me more often."

"That's because they see you as a true friend. They understand you for who you are and want to spend more time with you."

At that moment, Blake cleared up any doubts Rayner had about his relationship with Ken and Ari. He let out a subtle smile and said, "You and Rebecca are really convinced that I'm a good person."

"Rebecca?" Blake questioned. "What do you mean?"

"Oh, right." Rayner realized Blake's confusion. "I helped Rebecca with a problem she was having yesterday and she sort of confided in me and told me that I was a nice guy."

"Okay, first off, I'm jelly. But more importantly, if Rebecca thinks your nice then there's no reason why anyone else can't. I bet that even your father would be proud to see how well you've grown since he last saw you."

"I... I don't know about that." Rayner went doubtful of himself again.

Blake sighed. "I've given you reasons to believe in yourself but you still have doubts. It worries me greatly that your so disbelieving of yourself."

Rayner felt bad for causing Blake to feel that way. At this time,he had to choose between self-doubt and alleviating Blake's concerns. Thinking of how he wanted Blake to be at ease, his decision came easily. He'd rather make Blake happy than wallow in self-pity. 

Rayner stood silently, thinking of what to say to Blake. He swallowed nervously before saying, "Blake, I'm not ready to let go of the guilt I feel... yet. But if its not too much trouble, could you perhaps tell me that its not my fault again in the future? Maybe someday, I'll learn to stop blaming myself if you do."

Blake smiled and said, "I'll tell you every single day until you do."

"Thank you..."

"My pleasure." Blake then gave him a great warm hug.

Rayner was flustered at first but eventually gave in and hugged Blake back. Rayner’s body was still quivering for a moment but grew more relaxed as the pair continued to hug each other. Rayner took in a heavy breath and exhaled as his body fully relaxed.

Blake noticed that Rayner had finally calmed down and felt happy for him. She was glad that Rayner had at least taken a step in the right direction that day.