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Friday Night Curfew
Clair tiptoed up the steps to her bedroom at 11:15 p.m., trying to be as quiet as possible. If things worked out, her mom would have gone to bed early, trusting that Clair would be home by her 9:30 curfew. Wearing black sneakers, dark torn jeans and a My Chemical Romance T-shirt, she blended into the darkness of their old, uptight, lace- covered house. Clair opened the door to her bedroom to find her mother sitting on her bed in the dark like a cat, waiting to pounce on it’s unsuspecting teenage prey. Busted.
“I called your phone five times,” Her mother said. “No answer.”
“Must’ve had it turned off in the theatre,” Clair replied, showing no facial expression. I have caller ID mom, how stupid do you think I am?
“And what sort of time do you call this?” asked her mom.
“Well, if you take a look at the clock…”
Her mom cut her off. ”Do you have any respect for the rules I have for you in this household?”
Well mom, when you think about it, I was out of the house when I broke my curfew so as far as your rules for me in this house are concerned, this situation doesn’t apply. Her mom’s voice rose as she continued, “So for an hour and….” She looked at the alarm clock. “Forty-eight minutes, you have been out doing God knows what…”
“Okay, first of all,” Clair cut her off, ”I’ve listened to you lecture for five minutes, plus the time it took to get up here more like an hour and a half of ADULT SUPERVISION. “ She stopped for a breath, her face turning a shade of pink. “God knows that we went to see Disturbia, then for ice cream followed by a trip to Target. Search me mom. I don’t smell like smoke, I don’t have any drugs on me, I haven’t been drinking, I don’t carry a gun, I’m not pregnant, I’m not hiding a fugitive in my room, I didn’t get a tattoo, I have no stolen goods on me, and if you seriously don’t believe me then call up Brittany’s mom to check my story on my totally innocent Friday night out!”
“Young lady, you are SO grounded!”
“ So basically if I leave the house again for the next month without you knowing, I’ll come home to a screaming mother? Yeah, that’ll teach me! Way to think up new and innovative ways to punish…”
“That is not the…” Her mom began.
“Oh wake up from the lifelong PMS, Mom!”
“GO TO YOUR ROOM!” her mother hollered above Clair’s voice.
“ WE’RE IN MY ROOM!!!” She screamed.
At that moment, the doorbell rang. Clair and her mom answered the door, showing no signs of the fight that the visitor probably heard anyway through the thick, wooden door. Clair’s friend, Brittany had come to return Clair’s bag, which she had left in the car. Brittany’s mom waved from the driver’s seat as Clair’s mother put on her sweetest smile and headed over to ask about the night’s events. Brittany’s mom pulled out her receipt from target, explaining how she had a baby shower for a co-worker in the morning and she just had to get the pink rose-covered tutu she discovered in the baby girl’s section. And how the frozen custard creamery was practically next-door and everyone knows how the have the best Dark Chocolate Amaretto cones in the state…. etc.
Brittany’s mom is so awesome, “Who care’s if it’s 11:00 at night? Let’s go get ice cream.” What kind of mom is that carefree? Clair thought.
Once they left, Claire’s mom closed the door, saying “I don’t want you going anywhere with them anymore, I don’t like Brittany or her mother.”
Clair retorted, “What’s the matter? She didn’t have her hair in a tight enough bun or does the fact that she lets her daughter live without a shock collar alarm you to the point of no return?”
Her mom whipped around to face her. “You have no respect and until you acquire it you will stay strictly in your room and count your blessings that I don’t put a GPS on you.” Clair headed up stairs almost bursting with sarcasm, resisted the urge to kick down the door to her room. (Currently known as Alcatraz.)
God, it’s like she expects me to land in juvie any day now! She thought.
Well do you have any idea what kids your age… mom’s voice entered her head.
SHUT UP, MOM!!!!! Yes, I’ve been taking health, D.A.R.E., sex ed., covered drugs and alcohol, teen parenting and tobacco since the 6th grade and have heard enough abstinence speakers to last me a virgin lifetime! I know what kids my age are doing better than you do!
Grounded. So I can’t leave the house, huh mom? I can’t just open my window, walk on the roof, hang on the gutter and drop four feet to the deck below?
So Clair did just that. They lived outside the town and she couldn’t drive after dark without a parent in the vehicle. She decided to take a long walk and come back whenever she felt like it, long enough to freak her mom out. She turned up her I pod as loud as it would go, blasting Evanescence.
Within an hour or so she reached the local playground at the edge of town.
At the same time, Laura drove down the road that lead out of town. Just a short drive to clear her head, maybe swing by the nearest café and get a coffee or something. Tonight had been total and pure chaos, with her husband and her arguing, the twins bickering, and their baby sister screaming for four hours solid, she decided on some alone time as soon as they were in bed.
Also at the same time, Bryan was headed into town, lost and looking for directions. He had the map in front of his face, thinking about his wedding plans that had yet to be set in stone. He was so absorbed with his world he didn’t see anything in the road a few seconds in front of him.
Clair stood in the middle of the road, searching for Orion’s belt, I pod still turned up, completely oblivious to the two cars approaching on either side of her.
Laura was the first to come to her senses. She saw Clair and slammed on the brakes, honking the horn from only a few feet off. Clair jumped into the other lane and didn’t notice Bryan and the map that occupied him. Bryan heard Laura’s horn and swerved to avoid Clair at the same time Laura swerved to avoid Bryan and Clair. Clair felt the wind of Bryan’s car as she dove into the ditch. By some miracle, Laura and Bryan’s cars didn’t collide. Clair climbed out of the ditch. Her I pod still played, but for a few seconds, her world stopped.
Once things were sorted out, ”Are you O.K.’s” were exchanged, and directions given, Laura said she’d drive Clair home.
When they pulled into the driveway, Clair looked at Laura, a person she didn’t even know but had experienced a life and death situation with.
“Thank you.” Clair said. She wanted to say so many things but she could only choke out those two words.
“You’re welcome, honey.” Laura seemed to know that was all Clair could say.
Clair tiptoed up the steps to her mother’s bedroom at 2:30 in the morning trying to be as quiet as possible. If things worked out, her mom would have gone to bed soon after the fight.
“Mom?” Clair pushed open the door. Her mom sat reading a book, tear stains on the page. She looked up from the book and Clair could see the bags under her mother’s eyes.
“I’m sorry.” They said in unison.