Everything is not what it SeemsCo-captain of the 6-0 varsity football team, and only a junior. Straight-A student with all honors classes, and favorite amongst the teachers. Popular and liked by both under and upper classmen, not to sound too conceded. I look like everyone else in Forest Springs. 5 foot 11, with regular brown hair and eyes. The only reason why I have some muscle is because of football training. Not only do I, Derek Kingston, situate myself near the top of the high school hierarchy but achieve good grades, and am almost guaranteed for all types of scholarships. Every once and a while, a college scout will come to a game an interview me, and I’m sure that they are putting me on some sort of list.
Second child of four. Second, and last, boy in the family. For seventeen years I have been squished into a three bedroom house. Only two more years until I can move out into college and get a dorm of my own. That is, if by child three, my family can still afford a college education for me. That’s where my scholarships come in handy.
At home I’m secretly known as the golden child. No one has ever mentioned that phrase before, but deep down inside, I know they are thinking it. I’m not as notorious as my two older siblings though. When I’m compared to my college drop-out sister, Lisa, who has a two year old son, I look like a young Einstein. Even when people talk about my older brother and I, Paul, he cannot measure up. He barely made it to senior year this time, and almost had to redo junior year. Again. So he is eighteen, but still a junior. My younger sister Maya is pretty average. She is thirteen, and in the seventh grade.
Usually I don’t care who I work with when assigned a project, because I’m friends with everybody. That also means working with a loser, a druggie, or nerd every once and a while. Although, there is this one kid that particularly gets on my nerves. Luckily, I’ve been able to avoid him throughout my academic life so far. Nevertheless, all good things must come to an end, and in biology today, he was my assigned partner.
Jeff Rhineston. Only child of the richest family of Forest Springs, Massachusetts. He has a mansion, with wrought-iron gates and servants. Basically anything and everything you can think of, he has it. He is essentially royalty! Not to mention, champion JV wrestler for our school. And, I have to go to his house to work on our project. For twelve years, ever since kindergarten, I have been avoiding him, his family, and his house. It really sucks. It's so predictable too, which is even worse. I'm going over, we'll "work together", he'll be texting, I'll be researching. I'll put his name on the paper, and we will both get good grades, even though I did all the work. Unfair much?
So at the end of the day, after enduring block math and an agonizing physics class, I threw my bag and books into the back of my own old, "gently-used,” 1970's Nissan. $1000, for sale by owner. I had saved all the money I every earned since I was twelve to pay for it. I even bought a brand new radio with the money left over. I was brought up with the idea that things are always better if you pay for it yourself. I think I have proven that theory wrong. I got in, shoved the key into the ignition and turned on my brand new radio.
It took me around 10 minutes to get to Jeff’s house, or should I say mansion. As I drove into the mansion, a silver box started to talk.
“Who are you here for?” A voice cackled over the intercom.
“I’m here to work on a project with Jeff. My name’s Derek.”
“Okay, hold on,” The massive wrought-iron gate swung open, “come in.”
I pulled up next to the fountain, and parked my car. As the doorbell echoed through the house, I began to feel nervous. Before I could think too much, the doors creaked open, and a tall, bald man came into view.
“Are you here for Jeff?” He asked.
“He’s in his room. Third floor, second corridor, fourth door on your left.”
Their house was dark and dim, almost medieval. There was a coating of dust on every surface, like nothing has been touched in years. There was barely any light down any hallways. When I reached his room I apprehensively knocked on the door.
“What? Who is it?” He yelled.
“It’s me, Derek. I’m here to work on our Biology project?”
“Oh. Well, come in.”
As I opened the door, the first thing I saw was a colossal bed, with only Jeff on it. I followed his gaze to an equally big television. This was going to be a long day.
“Do you mind if get started?”
“Yea, sit, whatever.”
“Do you have a laptop? Or a computer?”
“Of course, it’s over there, by the hot tub.”
Oh of course, because everyone has a hot tub.
While I made myself at home and tried to figure out his $2,000 Macbook Pro, he settled himself back down on his Temperpedic bed and resumed his video games. Surprise, surprise. I set up the paper, and got our project started. Two hours later I was finished with my- I mean ‘our’ lab report. And yet, he was still playing video games. Despite the fact that I was doing all the work, I applaud his advancement in Gears of War. It is a particularly difficult game, and he got pretty far in a short span of two hours. I am so bored! I was done with the report, and since I planned not to make any kind of conversation with Jeff, I was left with nothing to do. I was really curious to what a house this size could contain, and was left with a growing interest.
“Hold on, give me a sec...yeah? What’s up?””
“May I use the bathroom?”
“Sure, there’s a guest bathroom down a flight, first hallway, seventh door on the right”
As I wandered through the corridors I counted numerous doors and hallways, that all looked the same. I felt like Hansel. If I didn’t leave a gingerbread crumb trail, I could get lost very easily. On the second floor, around the third or fourth hallway, near the tenth door, I heard a faint sob. I inched my way as stealthily as I possible could have down the hallway. As I neared the end of the hall, the crying became louder, but still very delicate. It sounded like a girl, but I know Jeff doesn’t have any sisters. I came to the very end of the corridor and I paused at the last door. I tried to peek through the door, but it was too dim. I urged the door open just a bit and to my surprise there was a frail, small girl that looked about my age. She was huddled in the corner, surrounded by cleaning supplies. She was dressed in dirty jeans and a dingy shirt. I nudged the door open a little too much, because she abruptly stood up and turned away grasping for the mop.
“I- I’m sorry. I- I’m cleaning. I’m sorry! Pl- Please, I’m sorry.” She whimpered between sobs.
She was beautiful. Despite the clothes and the dirt. But what was a gorgeous girl like her, doing in a mansion dressed like that? She was around my age, but I have never seen her in school. I had to ask her, it was all too bizarre.
“What are you doing here?”
She spun around, her eyes wide.
“Who are you? You shouldn’t be here!”
“I’m Derek. I go to school with Jeff. Who are you?”
“I’m-I’m, I’m no one. No one important.”
“Well every one's important. What’s your name?”
“What are you doing here, Mae?”
She simply looked at me. I could tell she was contemplating either answering me or ignoring me.
“I work here, I’m their, um, maid.”
“How old are you?”
“Me too. Where do you go to school?”
“I‘m home schooled.”
“Oh, okay. Why don‘t you go to public?”
“I don’t go to public school because I’m their maid. They told me when I was first brought here, that I don’t deserve to go to public school.”
“When were you first brought here?”
“When I was eight.”
“Why do I have to answer you? You don’t know me! You don’t know anything about me! Just please, go away!”
And like that she collapsed, and started to cry. I didn’t know what to do. It’s true that I didn’t know her, but she looked like she needed someone. I knelt beside her and wrapped my arms around her. To my surprise, she leaned her head against my chest and continued to weep. We stayed that way for who knows how long. As her crying started to cease she pulled away and studied me.
“I was brought here because my parents were killed, and I had no where else to go. The Rhineston’s are my family. Mrs.and Mr. Rhineston are my godparents. They didn’t want another kid, so they made me their maid.”
I wiped the tears off of her perfect, smooth, olive-toned cheek. I didn’t know what to say, so I simply hugged her, and started to stroke her back.
“Why are you doing this, Derek? No one talks to me, no one comforts me. I’m invisible here.”
“I hate to see a beautiful girl in pain. I can’t stand it.”
“But why do you care about me? I’m not beautiful.”
“Yes you are, Mae. You’re gorgeous.”
Then she curled up, and leaned against my chest again. She started to cry silently once more, and her shoulders were trembling. I held her for what seemed like hours. A while later, her crying stopped, and I heard her breathing steady. She fell asleep in my arms. After reviewing what had recently happened in my head, she started to stir again. I thought she was waking up, but she started thrashing around, and started to yell,
“Please! Please stop! Don’t do that! No!! Stop! Jeff, stop!”
I had no idea what was going on. She seemed to be having a nightmare, but I froze. I started to shake her, but she wouldn’t wake up. Her cries were getting louder. I shook her more violently, but she still wouldn’t wake up.
“Mae, Mae, shh! Mae, please wake up!”
“Jeff, stop. Please, Jeff, get off of me. No! No, Jeff stop!”
I started to panic. I grasped her by her shoulders, and shook her harder. That seemed to do it. Her eyes shot open. They started to widen, and I could tell she was startled.
“Mae, it’s okay. You fell asleep. You started to screaming, and I figured you were having a bad dream, so I tried to wake you up. But you are a heavy sleeper. I’m sorry.”
“What did I say?”
“A variation of, ‘Please, stop. Jeff, get off me. No! Stop.’ Stuff like that.”
She stood up and started pacing. I didn’t know what she was doing. So I got up also, and took her by her waist.
“Mae, are you okay?”
“No! No, Derek I’m not okay!”
“What’s going on? Do you- do you want to talk about it?”
I had no idea about how to handle this. She studied me once more. I think part of her wanted to tell me. She only had to convince her whole self I was trustworthy.
“If I tell you, do you promise you won’t tell anyone else?”
“Of course! You can tell me anything.”
“No, what am I doing. I don’t know you.”
“You’re right. You don’t know me, but if you give me the chance to get to know me, I can help.”
“I don’t know…”
“Please? You can trust me.”
“Do you promise? Not to tell anyone?
“Well then, I was raped. By Jeff.”
I released her, turned around and started heading for the door.
“Derek! Derek where are you going?”
“To go beat him up!”
“No! Derek you can’t!”
“Why not? He hurt you! He deserves it!”
“You can’t because he said if I ever tell anyone, he’ll really hurt me and beat me worse next time!”
“Next time? Mae, how long has he been raping you?!”
“Frequently, for the past five years.”
“Mae! Why are you letting him do that to you?”
“Because I have no choice, Derek! He and his family own me! They have the right to do whatever they want to me. I have no power. Like I said, I’m invisible.”
“Come on, we’re leaving.”
“What? Me? What are you doing?
“I’m getting you out of here! You can’t live like this Mae! You don’t deserve it.”
I took her by her wrist and led her down the corridor.
“Derek, you can’t. I’m their property. You’d be stealing! You could get arrested.”
“You’re a human being, not an object.
This took a minute for it to sink in. I know she wanted to leave. She needed to leave. She shouldn’t be living like this. She doesn’t deserve, not that any human being deserves it, but especially not her. Now she needed to see that. I could tell she wanted to leave, but a part of her wanted to stay.
“Mae, please. You need to get out of here.”
“Mae!” a voice bellowed from down the hallway, “We need you to clean the kitchen and make dinner.”
“See? That’s why I can’t go! They need me!”
“No, they don’t. Mae please come with me.”
“I don’t know Derek. I don’t think I can.”
“Mae, you have to! Jeff is treating you like crap, he can’t keep doing that to you.”
“I can’t just leave them Derek! They are family, after all.”
“No family would do that.”
“You don’t understand. They adopted me, even though they didn’t have to. They rearranged their lives for me. The least I could do is stay and help.”
“Mae, you don’t owe them anything. They’ve hurt you in so many ways, especially Jeff. You can’t keep living like this. Please, Mae? Come with me?”
I could tell by the look in her eyes that part of her wanted to leave. She was right though, the Rhinestons were family. A cruel family, but family nonetheless. She felt like she needed to stay because they took her in.
“I don’t want to make you do something that you do not want to do. But I strongly suggest we leave. I can drive you to my house. You can stay there with me, and I won’t let anyone hurt you anymore. I promise.”
She sighed, “Promise?”
“All right, I’ll go.”
“Great! Do you want to pack any of your stuff, or…”
“I don’t have a lot, but do you mind if I take it with me? Because, I don’t need it-”
“Of course, let’s go. Where’s your room.”
“Um, one floor up, down the hall from Jeff.”
“Hm, okay. We have to be quiet though.”
I followed Mae down the corridor and up the flight of stairs. The entire house was dimly lit and we were almost halfway down the hallway when we passed Jeff’s room. It was eerily quiet. He jumped out and seized Mae. He gagged her with a towel so she couldn’t scream. I tried to grab her, but the next thing I knew, Jeff punched me and I was on the ground. I turned around to see Mae cowering in the door way. Jeff yanked her up by her shirt and dragged her into the room and slammed the door. I got up and tried to open the door, but it was locked. I looked around the hallway and noticed my backpack propped against the railing. I filed through my backpack and found a paperclip, and ran back to the door. After jiggling the lock, I got it to open and kicked open the door to find Mae, naked on Jeff’s bed, with him on top of her, raping and hitting Mae. She was still gagged and now had her hands tied behind her back. She was crying and kicking, but Jeff was too strong for her. He was able to hold her down with one arm, and still abuse her with the other. Mae saw me out of the corner of her eye, and her face turned bright red like she was embarrassed. Jeff was still oblivious. I crept behind him, which was very disturbing by itself, and took the 900 plus page Biology book we were supposed to be using and smacked him on the head with it. He turned around, but was too slow. I punched him with all my strength, in the face and knocked him out. Behind Jeff was Mae. She was still crying, and curled into a ball. I slowly walked over to her. She grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around her, still crying.
“Why are you sorry? You didn’t do anything wrong. Come here.”
I pulled her in, and wrapped my arms around her. She leaned against my chest and sobbed. Jeff moaned and stirred.
“Mae, I hate to interrupt this, but we might want to get going before Jeff wakes up.”
“Yea, okay,” she sniffled and began to move, “Um, Derek.”
“Do you mind…”
“What? Oh! Yea, sure. Of course.”
I turned around while Mae got redressed. I thought about what had just happened. Not many people witness something like that. I was deep in thought when Mae tapped the back of my shoulder. I turned around and saw her standing there, fully clothed. Then I looked at her, really looked at her, past her beauty; I saw a girl, full of fear, covered in bruises, who flinches at physical contact. All because of what Jeff did to her. I brushed a stranded piece of hair out of her eyes. Her eyes were huge and full of fear and sadness. Jeff stirred again and started to move.
“Mae, let’s go.”
“Sure. Come on.”
“Do you want to go to your room and get your stuff?”
“No, I’d rather not. I want to get out of here.”
“Are you sure? I mean… if we do it quickly we can-”
“No, I just want to go.”
“Lead the way.”
I followed her down three flights of stairs, and down the back hallway. The back was even darker and mustier than the lobby. It was obvious that no one really used this back corridor. All the doors had locks on them, and looked like they required some type of old fashioned key. We walked for what seemed like forever when we finally reached the back door.
“Where did you park you car?”
“Um, over by the water fountain. Why?”
“We need to get to your car, undetected. I’m not allowed to leave the house. At least from the front.”
“Do you want me to drive the car back here?”
“No, that would be too obvious. I’ll follow you to your car.”
“Okay, right this way.”
We crept along the side of the house and made it to the driveway. My car was, luckily, on our side a couple feet away. We ducked down and sprinted to the car. Mae got in the back seat and crouched down behind the passengers seat under a sweatshirt. I got into the drivers seat and started up the car. We drove right out of the mansion with no problems. After I turned the corner and was a safe distance away from the Rhineston’s, I pulled over, and let Mae get out. She got into the passenger seat and smiled.
“I thought I would never get out of there. Thank you so much.”
“It was no problem. Do you, um, do you still want to live with me and my family?”
“Do you want me to? Because if you don’t, I could always find somewhere else.”
“Of course I want you to live with me. I mean, us. Will you? Please?”
Her smile grew, “I would love to.”