The door creaks open and Henry silently tip-toes in and pushes his shoes off, making as little noise as possible. He slowly hangs the cars keys on the hook next to the door and begins to pass the living room. He stops in his tracks.
Mom: Henry, is that you? Do you know what time it is?!
He looks at his watch which is blinking 1:15 AM. He pause, says nothing, and continues to creep towards the stairs. His mother’s pink striped pajamas stand out against the pale yellow couch she is sitting on. Legs crossed, book in hand.
Mom: Henry! Why are you ignoring me! I told you that your curfew was 12:30, which I thought was a pretty generous time seeing as your grades right now are not what I want them to be.
Henry, still glued to one spot on the floor finally, finds his voice.
Henry: Mom… I’m sorry for being late but-
Mom: Stop right there Henry! Do not try to make excuses.
Henry: Well I was just going to peacefully go to sleep but you are the one that stopped me and forced me to say something. You can at least allow me to explain!
He has now fully turned to face his petite mother who has not budged from her position on the couch.
Mom: You were out with Chris and those other troublemakers again, weren’t you.
Henry (Calmly and slowly…): Mom, my friends are not troublemakers. I think I actually happen to be a good influence on them.
Mom: How are you being a good influence if they are bringing you home at this time of night?! I bet you were at some party and I bet that those kids were all drinking.
Henry: Mom, I do not want to have the argument right now. You are trying to take away all my freedom and you have given me no trust.
Mom: Well you haven’t earned it!
Starting to raise his voice…
Henry: You won’t give me the chance! You don’t even give me room to breathe with your constant hovering and millions of questions every single day. Dad is upstairs sleeping right now because he actually trusts me.
Her voice hardens.
Mom: Don’t bring your father into this. He made his parenting choice and I made mine. How can I trust you when you can’t even come home when I ask you to?!
Henry: Trust is not about listening and following commands! What if I had been out at a party getting into trouble and doing stupid things but I came home at 12:30 when you told me to? Would that make you happier than me watching a movie at a friends house, getting a phone call that some kids need rides home and staying out later to make sure that everyone gets home safe? Which kind of son do you want me to be? Dad seems to have made his decision, seeing as he went to bed already. He trusts that I’m making GOOD decisions instead of following your stupid orders.
Henry does not budge from his place on the floor. It is silent in the room. Rain can be heard tapping on the window and the light next to his mother burns onto the side of her face. No one moves.
15 seconds pass and Henry begins to feel uncomfortable. He slowly moves one foot back hoping to make a run for his room. After saying what he needed to say, his mind is racing with uncertainty of what his mother will respond… or will she respond.
25 seconds and Henry is feeling more uncomfortable. His feet stay still but his eyes are racing around the room.
Mom: Go to bed Henry. I have had enough for one night. You are grounded until further notice.
Their eyes meet for the first time since Henry made his entrance. Henrys brows furrow and his mother stands up. She gathers her things off the couch and begin to make her way through the living room and towards the stairs. Henry moves slightly so that she can pass, but his face and the rest of his body remain still.
His mother’s small feet hit the stairs as she pulls her body up towards the second floor. A few more steps, and she reaches the top. The door to her room is heard creaking shut.
Henry moves to the couch, sits himself down and pulls out his cellphone. He taps a few things on the screen and calmly puts his cell to his ear.
Henry (into the phone): yeah hey Chris, what are you and the other guys up to?”
The sound of muffled voices and loud music can be heard through the phone and Henry moves it a little farther away from his ear.
Henry: wait I can’t hear you… You are at that party?... It sounds big, is it big?... Yeah, I can be there in fifteen… (A big noise is heard followed by a loud cheer and the music gets louder) Are you guys okay?...Oh haha (nervously) I’m glad you are having a good time… Yeah, I’ll leave in a minute.
Henry walks to the bottom of the stairs and glances up at them, he turns his head to the door and makes his way to where he had slipped his shoes off just a few minutes before. He glances back down at his watch as he silently wiggles his toes back into the shoe. The watch blinks 1:31. He grabs the car keys back off of the hook and pulls the front door open. Henry gives the stairs one more look as he shuts the door behind him.
The clock in the living room blinks 3:04 AM. All of the lights have been turned on and Henry’s mother and father sit together on the couch, staring at the phone. Henry is nowhere to be seen. The rain can still be heard and every few minutes a large crack of thunder shakes the room.
Breaking the silence...
Dad: I told you not to be so hard on him.
Mom: I thought that tough love was the right strategy with high school students. All of the other moms do the same thing with their kids.
Dad: Well those kids aren’t Henry! (Sighing, he looks down at the phone) Henry is such a good kid…
There is a few more moments of silence which is again broken but this time by the soft whimpering of Henry’s mother as tears begin to drip down her face.
Mom: I should have believed that he was with those kids earlier watching a movie. We raised him to help others and that is exactly what he did by driving everyone home.
Dad: How did this get so out of hand?
Another crack of thunder shakes the room and the tired couple grab one another's hand. Their fingers interlace as they work together to stay positive and hope that their son is somewhere safe.
Dad: Let’s call him one more time and if he doesn't pick-up, we are calling the police. The weather is too bad for us to take any chances here.
Mom: Okay. She takes a deep breath and nods her head, convincing herself that everything will be okay. She reaches for the phone, puts it on speaker, and gently lays it back on the table.
With each pause in between rings, the couple hold their breath, exhaling when the ring is heard again. They reach the voicemail.
Voicemail: “ Hi this is Henry! Leave a message and I’ll probably (haha) get back to you after the beep.”
Dad shuts off the phone and sighs.
A slow ten minutes pass and dad picks up the phone, this time preparing to dial the local police number. He dials and once again puts it on speaker for his wife to hear.
Police: “Hello, how can I help you?”
Mom: Hi. Our son has been missing for a few hours now and we don’t know where he is. We are trying not to panic but do not know what to do.
Police: “Does your son happen to attend the local high school?’
Mom: Yes! Is that helpful? Did something happen?
Police: “Well a large party was just shut down about an hour ago. I assume that most students would have made is it home a half hour ago, some of our guys drove a few of them back to their homes also. Was he driving?”
Mom: He took my car- I’m just worried about the weather out there. Have there been any accidents?
Police: “Yes a few…”
The officer was cut off by the door swinging open and a soaking wet Henry walking in.
To his shocked parents..
Henry: Sorry I snuck out. I was really mad but then people needed rides home and it was raining so...