My Stepmom hates when I leave the house. I never understood why. My dad is always on business trips and for the past three months, she hasn’t let me out on the weekends. Unless it is school related. Her daughter is allowed to leave and it isn’t fair. I never have time with my own mom, so I prefer not to go out when I’m with her. She is in the marines, so she is always overseas.
My best friend lives right next door. We have been best friends since we were very young. Our moms are friends. Mrs. Ancil has told me many times that If I need to escape from my step mom, that I could go over there. But surely, Anita would kill me. But I don’t care. Sometimes I need refuge. I open my curtain to see if Dan is there. He is sitting at his window with his white board. He smiles when he sees me. I grab my white board and my marker. I read his board.
How's it going? I uncap my marker and write it down.
I’m okay. You? I’m really not okay. Anita is mean. I am depressed. Dan and I are freshmen in high school. Anita is a year older and she is dating Dan. She always asks for help on homework assignments from me, and when I “don’t know how to do them,” she throws a tantrum. She hates it when I talk to Dan. Finally, all of her friends pick on me because she tells them things that aren’t true.
Dan frowns as he holds up his board. Tess, I know you’re not. This is why I can’t lie. He knows me too well. He erases what he just wrote and scribbles something down again. What’s wrong? You can trust me. He nods his head with a slight smile. I smile back as my head falls down to write back.
I know. But you’ll be mad. Slowly, I turn around my board. I feel my cheeks getting hot, so I bow my head to hide the color. I can see his face from the angle my head is at. He is scribbling on his board, face hard with concentration.
No, I won’t. I promise. He smiles and I relax back into my chair. I hesitate, but I still begin to write.
“TERESA!” Anita shrieked. “THAT IS MY BOYFRIEND! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!” She is bright red from screaming at me. I feel that I am bright red from her screaming at me. I can feel my ears getting hotter and hotter. She glares at Dan from my window, and she shuts the curtain. She rips the board from my hand, snaps it in half, and turns to leave. “Teresa. The next time I see you talking to Danny, I will break you. Consider that a warning.” She tosses the broken white board on the floor and leaves.
A few minutes later, my stepmom comes in. “Hello, Teresa.” I nod my head and turn my back to her. She sits on the bed next to me. “Do you remember our little agreement?” I turn to face her.
“What agreement?” I ask. We never had an agreement. She smiles slyly, and sighs.
“Oh I am sorry. I never told you. Annie can have anything she wants. If it was yours and she wants it, she is to break whatever is in her way from getting it. If you do not follow this, by the end of summer, you will be going to boarding school to become a lady.” She stares at me and waits for a reaction. I mean I couldn’t care less where I go to school. And, hey, if she wants to spend all her money on me, she can be my guest.
“Well, thank you. You can go now.” She frowns deeper and scowls at me.
“I really wish you weren’t so awful dear. I could’ve been like a mother to you in another world. Maybe that’s why you have issues with your mother.” I gasp at her. I have a good relationship with my mother, when I can see her. Other than that, Mrs. Ancil is my motherly role model. She stands up to leave and before she shuts the door on me she says, “Oh. Annie wants to look through your phone. Hand it over.”
“No.” I say. I am not letting a girl that is a year older than me read through my phone. She comes back into the room.
“I said give me the phone, Teresa.” I don’t listen. I tear off my phone case and then the back of my phone. “TERESA! I SWEAR, CHILD!” I take the SD card and the memory chip out of my phone. I throw it on the floor, not even thinking, I stomp on it. And again. And again. My stepmother shrieks and Anita comes in.
“Mom what?” Anita asks. She sees the crushed phone on the floor and turns red. “I SAID TO STOP THIS, TERESA! WHY WON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME?” She pulls her mother into the hall. I hear a click. I rush to my door. They locked me in here. My eyes are tearing up. I just want to be with my mom. And my best friend, but I can’t have either. I wipe my eyes and open the curtains of my window. I lay on the cushions of the bay window. I see Dan in his window.
You okay? His sign says. I lower my eyes. He already knows that I am not okay. I look around my room and find a notebook.
No. I’m not. I write I turn it over and show him. He nods. He writes on his board and turns it over.
You can come over. If you need a break. I tear up again and I shake my head. He looks confused. He writes something again.
Are you mad at me? He drew a dinosaur on the board and I can’t help but laugh. I shake my head again and flip a page.
I got locked in here. I show him and he gasps. He writes something.
Pack some clothes and stuff in a bag. He holds up a finger, to imply that he’ll be back in a second. I start packing my clothes and things that I need in a backpack. I wait for Dan to get back to his window. Once I see him, his mom stands at the window. She is a cop. She sees me in my window and gasps. She runs out of the room.
What is she doing, Dan? I write on another piece of paper. He laughs and writes on his board. He turns it around.
She is calling child services. The tears on my face have gone from sadness to joy. I smile a huge grin and write my question.
When are they coming for me? I am jittering with excitement and all I want is to leave. He puts a finger up again and runs out. Five minutes later, I see him run in and pick up his board.
About 30 minutes. I frown. That is a long time. I flip another page and write my reply.
Okay! Thanks so much! He smiles and writes something.
So, guess what? He is smiling radiantly.
What? I write. I flip over my notebook as he writes on his board.
I am done with Anita. Now I am smiling, because that is great news. He is writing something on his board again.
You are going to come live with us. I nod my head with a smile.
Okay! I write. I flip my book and he nods as he writes some more.
Also we are moving. Mom can’t stand living by Erica. I laugh and agree by writing on my paper.
Me too. He nods in agreement and I laugh some more.
We only stayed here to make sure you were okay. I pause my writing and smile at him.
I’m okay now. I write. I flip it back over and write again.
Why was your mom in such a rush to call child services? I flip over my board and he purses his lips.
As she was pulling into the driveway, they were loading suitcases into the car. Then they left. I feel my jaw drop.
I begin to write. That is LOW. He laughs from his window and he flips his board over.
She didn’t know that they left without you. He let me read it before he erased it. And she didn’t know that you were locked in your room. I nod at that and begin to write something on my paper. Dan leaves and here I am in my room. Loving the fact that I can escape. Loving the fact that I am not alone. Technically, not alone. I hear the door open downstairs. I hear stomping up the stairs. I am just waiting for them to come and get me. I hear a click at my door. The sound of the door unlocking. It opens and I burst into tears and run to the door.
“I love you! I love you, Mom! Are you retiring?” My mom is hugging me and crying too. She pulls back and nods.
“I missed you. I love you, Tessie! I am sorry that I wasn’t home sooner. I am sorry that I couldn’t save you. I was going to surprise you tomorrow. But Judy called me and told me what had happened. I rushed from my hotel and came here.” I hugged her again.
“They told me that they called child services. I was expecting them to come get me.” I say.
“They are going to be called, don’t worry. And I am suing Erica. Okay. Grab your stuff. I am taking you to the hotel. Grab a swimsuit. We are going with Judy, Dan, Denisa and Dara. It's a water park hotel. They have the room next to us. We are staying for four days. Lets go!” I am so happy to leave a terrible place. We leave in my mom’s truck and she says that we will be meeting the Ancils’ there. We sing along to all of the songs on the radio. We even stop for McDonald’s on the way there. I have never felt this happy in my life. I hope to never see Erica again.
I see Mrs. Ancil’s mini van on the highway. I hold up my paper to the window, hoping that Dan will see. I had written something based off of the game we had played when we were little. I always chose to be the princess and he was always the prince. I was an expression I always said when he saved me from the dragon.
You are my Prince. My life. He smiles and nods. He holds up his board. I guess he just brings it everywhere. I read it and realize that he remembers.
You are my Princess, my love.