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The roads were silent and dark with the occasional flicker of an overhead street lamp. A calm breeze and the smell of burning leaves filled the air. Sitting in the passenger’s seat of Suzi’s car, Tara glanced at the clock on the stereo, which to her surprise read 1:45 am.
"Is that time right?" Tara stared at Suzi with wide eyes and an open mouth while pointing at the clock.
"It’s a couple minutes off, why?"
"Oh, no reason, I just should have been home already, that’s all." Tara’s voice shook as she spoke.
"Well, I can drop you off at your house on my way home; I go right by it."
"Okay, thanks. I really hope my parents are asleep. They’ll freak if they catch me walking in at this hour." Her hands shook and Tara took off her sweatshirt. She was beginning to sweat.
"Why are you shaking? You should be fine." Suzi consoled Tara the best she could.
"I sure hope so." Her eyes shifted back to the clock.
Tara’s parents had warned her before about coming home late. She had come home late before but her parents were beginning to get upset with her. It was becoming a habit. Before she left her house, her parents told her to be home on time or she would surely be grounded, no questions asked. Tara wasn’t the listening type.
Pulling up to Tara’s house, the girls notice that all the lights were off. Tara breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe her parents would never know that she was getting home this late. The car door slammed and Tara gasped as she walked up to the front door with Suzi’s headlights illuminating her every step. She felt like a criminal on the run, the cops on her heels. Tara turned the doorknob slowly hoping the door wouldn’t make any noise, but the door opened with a loud creak that sounded like a vicious cackle. Tara carefully closed the door behind her and headed towards the stairs. A light clicked on and Tara’s dad appeared.
He was sitting in the corner of the family room hunched over with a restless look on his face. There were black rings around his eyes, and his mouth was drooping. He looked like a deflated ball popped by some punk, and his hair was ruffled and flattened on one side. Tara suspected it was because he had just rolled out of bed.
"Do you know what time it is?" Tara’s dad asked.
"Dad I know I’m home late but I lost track of…"
"That’s no excuse. You were supposed to be home by eleven! Where were you?" Tara’s dad stared at her. He was no longer deflated but was standing up straight, filled with rage.
"I was out with Suzi," Tara blurted out quickly, trying to get away from her father’s interrogation. Tara’s dad looked at her as if he didn’t believe her.
"Are you sure that’s where you were, Tara?" His eyes were now piercing.
He never believed what she said. Why was he always questioning everything she said to him? Tara slowly turned around without saying anything and hurried towards the stairs.
"Don’t think about going out for awhile!" He yelled so loud Tara cringed and was afraid her neighbors down the street could hear him. They were always poking their noses in other peoples’ business. They’d probably be over here tomorrow wondering what all the commotion had been about. Tara ran up the stairs and slammed the door behind her, shaking the whole house with it.
"AHHH!" Tara screamed hurling herself onto her bed. "I can’t stand him sometimes!" Tara reached for the light beside her bed and turned it off. The house fell silent.
The smell of bacon and eggs had provoked Tara to roll herself out of bed earlier than she usually would on a Saturday morning. Tara, still half asleep, stumbled down the stairs heading towards the kitchen.
"Smells good." Tara grabbed a chair next to her mom.
Across the table Tara’s dad sat reading the newspaper. Hoping that her dad had forgotten all about her being grounded, Tara took a deep breath.
"Uhm, Dad…Suzi is having some people over tonight...is it okay if I go there?"
"You’re not going out tonight," Tara’s dad calmly said glancing up from his newspaper. "I told you that last night…remember?"
"Oh, yeah." Of course she had remembered; it was just too bad that he did too. Tara pushed herself away from the table thinking about how unfair her dad was being. It was not like she had stayed out all night; she’d just come home a little late, that’s all. It wasn’t even that big of a deal.
Tara hiked back up the stairs, making her way to her bedroom. Lying on her back, staring up at the ceiling, all she could think about was how much she wanted to just scream. Her room that she loved so much was no longer a sanctuary but a jail cell. Her parents weren’t going to let her go out tonight, and that had been made very clear. She swore to herself that she was never going to talk to her parents again, but she knew that wouldn’t last long. Her parents were the type of people you couldn’t stay mad at longer than a few days.
The silence in the room was beginning to become unbearable, and she couldn’t take it any longer. Tara quickly switched on the TV, but the room seemed to become suffocating.
As Tara sat there, the silence grew stronger and surrounded her. She needed to escape her jail cell. Tara crept down the stairs, peering over the railing to see if her parents were anywhere near the front door. Of course, they were still sitting at the kitchen table capable of seeing all the available exits. Tara carefully sneaked back up the stairs avoiding all the steps she knew would creak and give away her position. Safely back in her room, Tara’s eyes situated themselves on the window next to her. Extending out from her window there was a roof and the drop from the roof to the ground was merely a few feet.
“That’s it!” Tara mumbled to herself. “I’ll sneak out my window and have Suzi come pick me up!”
Tara quickly shot up from where she was sitting, grabbed her backpack and tossed in a pair of shorts, a sweatshirt and a couple other things she would need to stay at Suzi’s. Tara approached the window and gripped the handle expecting it to open with ease. It wouldn’t budge. She took a deep breath and pulled harder. Nothing. This was strange. It usually opened with no problem! Tara looked at the latch that was locking the window.
“Of course, I’m such an idiot!” She mumbled with a loss of breath.
Tara unlatched the window and pulled up on the handle. She held her breath as the window screeched upon opening. She was gone.