Locked Out at 12

May 21, 2010
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We arrived at the School Dance quite early, four minutes before it was even supposed to start, in fact. I didn’t really care, I was supposed to be early since I was one of the people organising it, but my cousins groaned in embarrassment at the empty parking lot. I was their only ride though, so it was either come very early, or don’t come at all.
I smirked from the front seat as we pulled into the drive, my cousin hiding his head in his hands. As if anyone would see him. There was nobody even here. “It’s okay, Mohammed,” I said cheerfully. “You can just hide until people show up.” He made a face at me in response behind my mother’s back. I laughed. I remembered what it was like, being his age. Well I should, since it was only a year ago.
It was 7:30 and I waited at the gate while people slowly began to trickle in. I decided to get a drink from refreshments table, and saw Thomas, Alexis, Chris, Gordon, and Kirrilus sitting around a small table. I really didn’t want to walk over and say hi; most of that group didn’t take kindly to me. So I just shot them a quick smile and a half wave, and kept on walking, hoping that it would be enough. Obviously not.
“She doesn’t even come to say hi!” Gordon complained loudly of my rudeness.
I stopped in my tracks. Rolling my eyes as I turned, I walked over to them, my hand awkwardly held out to shake the hands of the people who hated me. Well, it was a mutual feeling.
Alexis, surprisingly, responded with even a polite, “How are you?” I replied with equal civility, not bothering to ask him how he was. To think that we used to like each other, and be really good friends. Now he backstabs me and treats me like I don’t exist. It’s a good thing I can be the mature one and effortlessly show that I don’t give a f***.
Thomas smiled tightly (past friend, now an enemy), and Chris didn’t even offer his hand, so I just mock punched his shoulder. Chris doesn’t hate me, though. I think. I mean, boys can be really two-faced. Kirrilus and Gordon, though, I knew for sure didn’t mind me at all, and I really liked them. So when I said hi to them, I was being completely sincere.
I finally left their table and went to get a coke. All we had in the fridge was coke and water. I consoled myself with the fact that we were getting pizza soon. Everyone likes pizza, right? I suddenly felt the stress of having to organise a party for over 100 people.
On my way back to the gate, I passed that table again, and Gordon made me stop, and he struck up random conversation. I looked up as I heard the word “Expelliarmus”, being yelled out most jubilantly by none other than Chris. Of course.
Can I ask you, how the hell do I look like Harry Potter, if I don’t even have any of his f***ing facial features? Oh yeah, and not to mention that I’m a girl. I hate it when Chris teases me about retarded things like that.
Well you know, he’s okay, really. I kind of lost some of my respect for him recently, for reasons that shall be untold of, but he’s like my brother in a way. Although I get the feeling that he doesn’t like me as much as I think he does. Plus the fact that Thomas and Alexis were stifling laughter, obviously in on the stupid Harry Potter joke, didn’t make me feel any better.
I ignored Thomas and Alexis and arched an eyebrow at Chris. “Chris, you’re really evil to me sometimes.” I smiled sadly at him while Thomas’ and Alexis’ snorts turned into full-fledged laughter. Right at me, right in front of me. Whatever.
Chris grinned cheekily at my remark. “Are you going to the gate?” He asked.
“Yeah.” I started to walk away.
Gordon stood up, as did Kirrilus. “Wait, I’m coming with you,” Gordon said. I waited, smiling at him in appreciation. At least someone was friendly.
“I’m coming, too.” This came from Chris, who I was bewildered to find, was right beside me. Wasn’t he just sitting down? Chris put his arm around my shoulders, and I walked with him to the gate, Kirrilus and Gordon on either side of us.
I waited at the gate for two hours, while people walked in and out, waiting for hosts and guests alike. It was hot, humid, and hell. My temper wasn’t improving and neither was my appearance. I didn’t put in my usual effort for this school dance thing because I really couldn’t be bothered. There was no one I was trying to impress anymore. Besides, “Harry-f***ing-Potter” only wears a dress robe for special occasions, and unfortunately, I didn’t have one of those handy. Still, knowing that my wild mess of curly hair was standing on end, with bits of it clinging to my sweaty forehead and neck, didn’t raise my self-esteem one inch. I almost went to the bathroom to check in the mirror if I really did look like Harry Potter...
At 9:30, the gates closed, and I escaped to more hell. Loud music, and unruly teenagers are the worst thing to put up with when you’re in a bad mood and responsible for anything that might happen. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with getting wasted and high, but when you’re the one who’s in charge, it can get pretty annoying.
I spent he whole night picking up trash, watching other people dance to bad music, and getting more pissed off as I realised how much I missed the person who I had claimed to ‘be over.’ Alexis isn’t that great. He’s just hot, and fun...and a jerk. I sighed as I threw yet another coke can in the trash. A jerk. The one trait in a guy that ruins everything else, makes the rest of it irrelevant. I wouldn’t take it from anyone, not even if it was Chace Crawford. Well—maybe—I’d make an exception for him.
At 11:00, when my aunt came to pick my cousins and I up, I was relieved. I barely said bye to anyone. I couldn’t be bothered to. At the moment, I just felt so contemptuous of every single person I had ever called a friend.
Maybe it was because I had felt betrayed by Marijke when she went and started dancing with Thomas and Alexis, and enjoying it, even though she says she doesn’t like them. SO maybe I lost respect for her and her hypocrisy.
Maybe it was because Eman had been upset about Chris again, unnecessarily so. Ever since he broke up with her, she was a wreck and never stopped crying and talking about it. I always feel sorry for her and console her. I say the things I’m supposed to say, always. But today, all I had felt like saying was get over it. Harsh, I know. But I was in a bad mood. Plus I didn’t actually say it.
Maybe I had also been jealous of Genan, who could drink without shame or regret, because I knew that I couldn’t. And that was all I really wanted to do. To forget everything. To just crawl in a black hole and die—or at least not come out for a very long time.
I was thinking about all of this as I got into my aunt’s car, exactly like my mom’s, but with black leather interior. My aunt’s questions snapped me out of my reverie.
“So, how was it?”
“Fine,” my cousins and I answered simultaneously.
“I saw you dancing, Ali.” She said.
“Yeah.” He fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat.
I glanced at Mohammed. “Were you dancing?” I whispered furtively to him.
He nodded slowly, relieved that his mother hadn’t seen him. He hadn’t been doing anything wrong, but I knew Mohammed, he’d get embarrassed about anything.
“Well, I didn’t dance,” I said, diverting my aunt’s attention from her next victim (Mohammed), to me.
“Oh? How come?”
“I was cleaning up the whole time.” After people who were too stupid to see the five trash bins surrounding the dance floor.
“No, really? That sucks. You still could’ve danced.”
“I don’t like dancing in Sudan. It makes me feel...” I struggled to find a world that would adequately describe how wrong it felt to dance in front of people who would automatically judge me. “...Uncomfortable.”
She nodded. “Was anyone dressed weirdly?” She asked.
“Like, how?” Ali asked this, seeming genuinely confused. I knew exactly what she meant, but I gave her a chance to describe the art of s***ty dressing to her eleven year old son, before I answered her question.
“Like, short dresses, low cut things...” She explained vaguely.
I thought of Martha, scantily clad in a mini body-con dress, with towering heels and loads of makeup. She didn’t even go to our school.
“Yeah,” I said, answering my aunt.
“People from outside school, or from this school?”
I thought of Genan, drunk and tottering around on gladiator heels, with a sleeveless, low-cut leopard patterned top, with dark kohl, squinty eyes, and second-skin pants.
“Both,” I said curtly. The conversation ended there, and I slipped back into my brooding mood.
Finally we arrived at my apartment building. I thanked my aunt for the ride, and m cousins walked me as far as the elevator.
When I got to the second floor, I saw a faint yellow glow coming from the crack underneath the door. I rang the doorbell, and waited for two minutes. There was no answer, so I rang it again.
Still no answer.
The door bell was pretty loud, a high and annoying screeching sound that sounded like a constipated rooster at dawn. Still, no one seemed to have heard it.
I considered chasing Aunty Lamia, but realised she’d be too far away. Dammit. I didn’t have a phone. I didn’t have a key. I was locked out.
This wasn’t the first time I had been locked ut of my house. The first time, the only other time, Tara dropped me home, and I thought my maid would be there. But she wasn’t. I didn’t panic, though, because I had a phone and I knew my Dad would be coming home soon. Plus it was still daylight.
Now was different. The difference here was that, I had no phone. My Dad was out of the country. And it happened to be 11:30 at night.
I jumped as I heard men’s voiced downstairs. Pass warnings from my mom, from the first time I got locked out, about the guards raping me and whatnot, haunted me now. I stopped banging on the door, my fist held in the air mid-knock. I didn’t know whether making a noise would bring them up, or if I could get away with it. I decided to risk it, and banged on the door with my right hand, while keeping my left pressed on the doorbell for a full minute, so that I heard a high wailing like a cry for help.
So, here I was, fourteen years old. It’s 11:35 at night now, and I’m locked out of my house in f***ing Sudan, by a mother who complained about my irresponsibility. Ha, bull s***. That is so rich coming from her now. She fell asleep. There’s no other explanation. She fell asleep although she was blatantly aware that I would be coming home now.
I grew more frantic and began to yell, to no avail. Nothing worked. I was, simply, screwed. It was a good thing my father was out of the country. Knowing him, he’d blame me for my mother’s obvious incompetence.
My right hand was sore from banging, so I stopped altogether, resting my forehead against the door, banging it against the hard wood in time with my repetitive chanting of three words: “What to do?”
I decided to go downstairs, though I honestly didn’t see how it would help. I was crying now as I began to panic. What if I never found out what to do? What if I had to sleep outside the door until morning? I closed my eyes in dread, my mascara getting wet (and therefore smudged) in the process. Ah, shit. This was bad (the whole situation, not my mascara getting smudged.)
When I got to the first floor, I was too scared to walk further than the front door. I went back upstairs to try my door again. Still locked, my mother still oblivious and unresponsive. Suddenly I wished that I could be Harry Potter and unlock the door with magic.
After another fifteen minutes of useless banging and yelling, I decided to try and go downstairs again, this time further than the front door.
I was crying more as I stepped into the dirty, tiny elevator for the second time, new tears replacing the ones I had just wiped away.
I got to the front door, and took a deep breath as I walked through. I started in shock as I saw a black cat dash from a bush, stopping to look at me with wide green eyes. I nearly ran back to the elevator, but instead composed myself and walked away from the cat in the opposite direction.
There was a small room connected to the building. Though the windows were covered with curtains, I could still see a faint blue light through the thin drapery. I heard voices, and I hoped to God it was just a TV and not the horde of men I had heard earlier. Either way, it was my only cance, and I stepped up the door hesitantly.
I stood there, undecided for a few seconds, until desperation overcame fear. I knocked.
Knock, knock, knock. I waited for a few minutes, fresh tears pouring down my face as I began to lose all hope of finding anyone who’d be awake at—I checked the time. It was now exactly midnight. Great.
Suddenly the door opened to reveal a foreign man, shirtless with a beer belly and jeans. I looked at him, then glanced quickly at his house. It was nice. I relaxed a little.
“Hi, I’m so sorry to bother you at this time of night,” I choked between tears.
His eyes widened with evident concern as he took in my tear streaked face. “No, it’s no bother at all,” he assured me.
I tried to imagine what he was seeing, thinking. If it were me opening the door to a you girl with runny makeup, having a panic attack in the middle of the night, my mind would’ve jumped to a number of conclusions.
I took a moment to calm myself as he waited patiently. “Um, I’m locked out of my house. My aunt dropped me, and I’ve been banging on my door for, like, fifteen minutes, and—and my mother’s not answering the door, a-and I-I’m just re-really wo-wo-worried.” I was stammering senselessly, and my words were coming out in short gasps. I took a deep breath, and my voice sounded steadier this time. “I was wondering if you have a phone that I could please use?”
“Of course. Please, come in.” He stood aside so that I could walk in, but I had better sense than to do that.
“No, thank you. I’ll just wait out here.”
A flash of confusion appeared on his face, then a grimace of grim understanding replaced it. He walked in, leaving he door open, and got his phone from a coffee table that was cluttered with coffee mugs, books, magazines, and a laptop. I wondered if he was a writer. I bet I’d make a great story for him. Or at least the latest gossip for his dinner parties.
I thanked him, and apologised profusely for bothering him as he handed me his phone. A blackberry, I subconsciously noted with approval.
“Um...” I looked at it helplessly. I had no idea how to use it. It just looked like a mini keyboard to me, without numbers.
He smiled and took it from me kindly, asking me for my mom’s number. While he dialled, he began asking questions like, Was there something else I was worried about other than the fact that I was locked out of my house, and Why do you think your mother isn’t answering the door? I guessed that all these were inquiries to soothe his curiosity, obviously an implication of one of his fantasies conjured about my predicament.
“No, no. I’m just worried. She should’ve been waiting up for me to come home...Hello?” I said abruptly. My mom had answered the phone.
He walked discreetly away from the open door, allowing me to freely scold my mom for her mistake. This was the first time in my life I had felt that I had the right to be annoyed at my mom. Obviously she thought so too, since she didn’t reprove my rude tone of voice.
“Mom. This is Nadine.” I said bitterly. I lunged into my story before I could reply, ending it all with, “And then I had to come to a random man and ask for his phone, because you didn’t answer the door! The one I was banging on for over fifteen minutes!”
Silence. Then: “Where are you now?”
“Downstairs. Out of the front door.”
“Okay, I’m coming to get you.”
Ha! Now she cares. “Don’t bother, Mom.” I scoffed disgustedly. “I’m coming up.”
“No, it’s okay—“
“No, Mom. I’m coming up. Now. Goodbye.” I said curtly, and hung up in her face before she could protest further.
The man returned and was now donned in a pink polo shirt. I handed his phone back to him with a shaky smile and thanks.
“I’m so sorry again, for the trouble.”
“It’s okay. Is everything solved now?” He frowned worriedly.
“Yeah, she’s gonna open the door now.”
“Okay. Why didn’t she before?” He sounded quite disapproving. I had a feeling that if we were in America, he wouldv’e wasted no time in calling social services. Though of course in Sudan, there was no such thing as a bloody legal system let alone social services.
“She must’ve been sleeping or something, I dunno. Anyway, thanks so much, I really appreciate it.”
“No problem. Would you like some water?”
Oh, God. I just wanted to get away. “No, I’m okay thanks. Goodnight!” I forced myself to be polite, despite my impatience to leave.
He smiled and nodded, closing the door softly behind him.




When my mom opened the door, I walked in with dignity, shaking my head at her, my lips curled in disgust. This time, I was the one who lectured her.

I was still shaken up, so I took a shower to calm my nerves,, but it didn’t make me feel one hundred percent better. I got myself a glass of lemonade from the kitchen, and walked back to my room. I sat on my bed, unsure of what I wanted to do.

Suddenly, an idea came to me and I smiled with abrupt enthusiasm. I grabbed a pen and note pad from my desk and began writing the events of that day, a non-fiction story. A short auto-biography of the past couple of hours of my life. Hey, it had been an interesting experience.

You should know, ‘cause you just finished reading it.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Eilatan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 2:23 pm
this is cute! good story, i like the ending
Sevanna replied...
Jul. 5, 2010 at 5:09 pm
Thank youu :) Read my other stories tooo pleaase! :) They're just as good as this one :D
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