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Even If Your Voice Shakes
As I walked out of the school, I wanted to scream. To cry. To let go of everything I had. But I knew I had to hold it in, just a little longer. I needed to make a plan. I’m telling my parents. I need to. I have to. I told Mr. Freeman everything, and right now, I couldn't feel better.
I think people have noticed. It’s finally time for me to speak.
I take a deep breath in and soak up the warm summer air. I will have about an hour until my dad gets home. My mom will be some time after that. I can wash my face and maybe put some makeup on the bruises so they don't seem so bad and they aren’t as distracted. I can think about how I am going to tell them every thought from that night at the party, to today.
As I turn the corner to my street, I hear screams. I look around and it’s just some guys having an ‘end of school’ party. Before I put myself out in the open, I check to make sure IT wasn't there.
I’ve heard of people that end up in prison; I don’t think I want that but I do want people to know. I wonder if my whole story, our story, could go to court, be in the news and turn into some kind of a local ‘hot gossip’ or something. Or maybe this kind of thing would turn into one of those stupid laws or court rules or whatever it is, where I get punished for not speaking up sooner or for being a brunette or something, not him.
I walk past the group of guys so fast nobody saw me. I could have walked slower-they wouldn't have seen me then either, not today.
I look up and there is my house. In the driveway, I see a car. It's my dad’s Why would he be here? Do they already know? I told Mr. Freeman that I promised to tell them as soon as I got home, that I would let everything out. Did he not trust me? Did he call them? Did he really do that to me?
Now the sliver of a plan I had is ruined. I think I’m just going to try to get past him without noticing. I stand in at the front door; it’s never looked so big before. As I stand there my dad sees me through the glass part. I freak out and turn around ready to run away and then I remember that I am done with that, that I need to face what is in front of me. So I do. I turn back around and stand tall. He turns the door knob. I feel the hot salty water run down my cheek. He pulls the door open. He looks at me confused, then nervous, then scared, then surprised, but not in a good way, in the kind of surprised when your see you daughter, beat up, and home late from the last day of school (acceptable) but she's beaten up.
Me: Can I just come in and then I can explain everything? I promise, everything...I think it would be a lot better
He looks hurt and nervous. I am almost afraid he is going to be mad and maybe grab me or hit me. When he steps out of the way and I walk in, I can feel the heat rush to my face embarrassed to even think of my dad doing something like that. My bag should go in my room but I didn't think I should have left him all alone and confused. So I set it down behind the couch and turn to look at him.
Dad: I want to be able to relax a little so please, just let me help you wash and put ice on your face. Can I please?
We walk into the bathroom. I grab a washcloth. He watches me and leaves, probaly to go get some ice. I look in the mirror, but I don't see me. Instead I see a little girl who is hurt, scared and nervous. I splash on some cold water and then I set the rag, resting on my face. I already had one of those white strips on my forehead from Mr. Freeman. He put some stuff on it that stung; then I put the skinny bandaid on it.
I get scared that Dad might be trying to call Mom to get her to come soon so we can all talk. I take the washcloth off and am suprised to see my dad standing looking at me intensely.
Dad: I guess I’ll leave you alone, just hurry.
He hands me the ice he got.
Me: Hey, uh, Dad? Can you not call Mom? I want some time before I talk to her too. You know, like a break between you two? And, well, she’ll freak out if you call her, and she doesn’t need that.
He nods his head and reaches for his phone, grabs it then sets it down and nods his head a little, mumbles something, and walks away struck, like he has been told something amazing or something horrible. He can’t even tell and he hasn't really been told any of the story yet. I hear him moving stuff around in the kitchen, slowly.
When I was talking to Mr. Freeman everything was so easy. It all just came out. I wonder if it will be like that when I am trying to explain it to my parents. I think it is going to be harder.
I finish my on face, I don’t like how the soap feels that makes its way into my cut like I thought I might. Like the paper clip.
I look back in the mirror and still don’t see myself. Now I’m all cleaned up and I can see a strong young woman, ready to talk.
I walk out to the living room but my dad isn’t there, I walk over to the kitchen and he is standing there, with two cups of hot chocolate on a plate with two powdered sugar doughnuts on each plate. I look him in the eye and he reaches out one arm, hot chocolate spills all over the mug, and the doughnuts soak it all up. Our favorite.
We lock eyes. I think I know exactly how to tell him.