I can’t believe this.
Surely my parents would not do this to me, their only daughter. Selling me off like a broodmare to the highest bidder just because of a short rebellious streak that was stunted almost as suddenly as it began. I went to the club once, drank once, played pool once and somehow I’m the one being backed into a corner.
Not like my brothers haven’t been doing the same since they turned sixteen.
I’ve always been the perfect daughter. My blonde hair always in perfect curls, makeup always covering my face to prevent people from seeing the real me. Everything dictated, controlled and horrible. I haven’t had a breath to myself since the day I was born. Twenty-two long years being told what AP classes to take, what extracurriculars to participate in, what college to go to.
And now my marriage is being decided by the two people sat across from me. Two vile people who I have hated from the day I understood my own emotions.
My own goddamn parents.
My mother looks just like me. With long blonde hair - she wears hers straight to distinguish between the two of us - and blue eyes that sometimes look purple in the right light. The same cheekbones that I was born with, though hers have been advanced by the extensive plastic surgery over the years.
The same boring silk dresses that hug her figure but can only be worn in dull colours because it is the woman that makes the dress shine. Pearls and diamonds adorn her neck and fingers because anything less than that is for poor people. Everything must be designer. She herself is a designer so it’s expected for her youngest child and only daughter to be well put together.
My father looks nothing like me, however, sometimes I even question whether he’s my real father. I wouldn’t put it passed my mother to step out on the man in front of me, it would justify his anger towards me and not his other children. He may be considered handsome with a well formed body that is always dressed in designer suits and dark hair that hasn’t even begun to thin despite being in his early sixties but if people who really knew him they’d find him as vile as I do.
He always wears his Rolex watch, though he has many so switches between them depending on the day or person he is required to meet, and his brogues are perfectly shined with his facial hair perfectly trimmed.
Everything perfect. Perfect. Perfect.
I had tainted the family name by spending one night out in my entire life. I went to college for goodness sake but my father made me live at home so that I couldn’t experience the degenerate behaviour he claims the schools are littered with. He’s the one that forced me to go, wants me to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer.
I hated every class. It’s soul sucking and depressing just sitting in the elaborate lecture theatres of my father’s alma mater and listening to the classes as if I actually wanted to do this. I’ve never wanted the wealth that my parents throw around like having money elevates your status.
I just want a life where I don’t know what’s going to happen the next day. One where I’m allowed to explore my options and be visibly excited about something instead of this well composed façade that I must maintain whenever I’m outside of my bedroom. Hell, I wanted to be a baker when I was younger, always cooking in the kitchen with my nanny before my mother found out I was doing it and fired the nanny.
She said that eating what we made was making me fat. Now I have severe body image problems and can no longer stomach looking at myself in the mirror for long periods of time. I’m forced to when I do my hair and makeup, forced to when my mother drags me to her workplace to be used as a model for her clothes.
These people sat before me have completely demolished my life, bulldozed it really but they have dropped the final bomb. Marriage. I’ve never been completely against the idea, I don’t think anyone really is but I always thought I’d find someone on my own terms, make my own mistakes and fall in love.
I’ve watched the movies but I’ve never felt a single emotion shown on that screen. Dating was not allowed while my three older brothers paraded their conquests in front of my dad like a competition and my eldest brother, Kaden, always won.
I’m expected to marry a doctor - a neurosurgeon to be specific - a man who is twenty-two years older than me. Yes, he was my age when I was born and I’m expected to marry him. For money. My parents are forcing this marriage on me for money. It feels like we’re back in the olden times when men paid a dowry to marry their daughters off to wealthy suitors but this time it’s the other way around.
I am the one being bought.
I feel disgusted.
Down to my very soul, I feel absolutely vile and I don’t know how to breathe. The seat I’m in is so expensive, probably close to ten thousand dollars and all I want to do is throw it through the window my mother is stood in front of. My father’s office has always been a horrible place for me, it’s where I’ve been called a plethora of names and punished for things my brothers got away with.
It’s a cold room, painted black with gold everywhere, dripping in extortionate wealth. My father comes from old money, his parents having been wealthy title holders in England, and he shows it everyday. In his extreme cruelty and complete control. “You will marry him, Juniper. You have no choice, this is an important business deal for me.”
“A business deal? I am your daughter!” The cry peels from my mouth before I even get the chance to stop it. Raising my voice is a no-no, showing emotion too and I’ve broken both of those rules in the span of ten seconds.
“Exactly. You are my daughter so you’ll do as I tell you.” His glare is sharp and I feel my already broken heart shatter. You always hope that he’ll be better, that they’ll be better, but it never happens. Hope is always the worst thing to have, it causes more havoc in your heart and soul than any other emotion. Completely obliterates your beliefs, your ideals and your dreams, leaving you an empty shell.
An empty shell, he’s just made of me.
“As you wish, father.” I drop the letter from my betrothed on the oak desk in front of me and fix my appearance before taking my leave. If he thinks for one second that I am marrying that man then he is mistaken, I’ll be out of here by early morning and he can figure out just what to do then with his business deal.
I stalk to my room, ignoring my brothers who are making a mess of the kitchen. I’ve never had a relationship with any of them, all of them too high on their own wealth and privilege. They can never get enough of it, it’s basically shoved down their throats and they expect me to be happy with the scraps that I am left after they devour everything.
I certainly won’t miss them.
I make sure to make minimal noise as I get to my bedroom on the top floor, far away from the rest of them. It’s always been a bit much for me, never designed for my taste even though no one else is never allowed in here. It’s all velvet and silver, decadence beyond my ideals and I hate it. I just want something small, warm and comforting.
Not this cold indifference.
I walk into the closet and haul out my biggest suitcase. I don’t plan on coming back after all. I put in all the clothes that I actually like, none of the boring dresses, no stupid pantsuits. Just my jeans, warm sweaters, skirts that I’ve never been allowed to wear, even crop tops. Just everything I’ve always wanted to live in yet never allowed to.
Once I’ve managed to wedge my shoes in alongside the clothes, I pack my jewellery and other toiletries before loading up my backpack with snacks and books that I’ll need on the way. My best friend from childhood, the girl I grew up with, told me to go there if I ever needed trouble. That he would help me after all this time and I hope to all the gods that he will, I have no other choices.
I zip up the suitcase and dig out every penny of my hidden box in the back of my closet. I’ve been taking money out of my trust fund for years, ever since I was sixteen and I’ve accumulated close to three hundred thousand dollars to last me for as long as it can. I’ll sell my car as well when I get the chance, probably in the next city before I get on the coach.
I wait impatiently for three hours, having changed into some jeans and a sweater as soon as I’d finished packing. The house is normally asleep by eleven, my brothers out and my parents otherwise occupied. The staff will have gone home too and I can’t have them reporting what I’m about to do.
I smuggle my bag down the backstairs, grab my car keys from the box in the garage before loading the case into the trunk. It’s a good thing the garage door was just fixed because it doesn’t make a noise when it rises and I crawl out so the sound of the engine doesn’t disturb the quietness of the estate.
Once I’m out on the main road, I’m gone.