It’s just over an hour later when I hear my mother crawling up the stairs as slowly as a sleep-deprived slug. She opens my bedroom door, as expected, and then closes it. My father follows a few minutes later, and as soon as I hear his bedroom door shut, I reach underneath my pillow case for my phone.
I send Nathan a text to inform him that the coast is clear for him to begin driving, and he texts me back barely twenty seconds later, like he’s been staring at his phone for the entire hour to be given that news.
The party is at least ten minutes away, and that’ll be enough time for my parents to drift into a soundless, deep dream where they’re probably just sat on chairs, reading and sewing. Their dreams must be every nun’s fetish.
Ten minutes goes by like seconds, and soon enough, I hear Nathan’s car pull up on the street outside my house. Excitement curses through my veins and I fly the covers from my body as I wander through the darkness of my bedroom to the window. I open them wide, testing my right foot first which goes over the ledge easily, and I dig my foot into a gap between the bricks as I twirl my left foot to follow it. I grip the edge of the windows like my life depends on it, because it does, just one mistake, and I fall to the floor--and even if I do survive, my life will still be over. I drop my body softly downwards as I make the exchange from the window to the ledge, which leaves me hanging in mid-air for a moment as I lose my footing.
I can hear Nathan’s heavy breaths from here, he must be close to having a panic attack while watching me attempt to take control of my upper-body strength. I become breathless as I keep myself hanging while trying to find somewhere safe to place my feet.
I push my body down, moving my hands further down the ledge, so I’m hanging on by the tips of my fingers, and then I let go. I fall to the floor, which greets me quick and sudden, and I try to hold in a noise of pain as my backside smacks into the concrete. I observe my legs first, making sure there’s no visible marks, but there doesn’t seem to be any, however, my arm aches like someone has punched it.
I rise to my feet, wiping off gravel from my clothes, before turning to meet Nathan’s panicked face as he abandons his car across the street to charge over.
“Are you okay?” he says as he jogs towards the end of my lawn.
“Yeah,” I say, still wiping myself down. I turn my attention to my hands which are plastered in small cuts where my skin has broken, leaving patches of dry blood. “Dammit. How am I going to explain that?”
Nathan stares down at my hands, and confusion mounts on his face. “Just say you got up early and went for a run and fell in the forest.”
I glare at him.
“What?” he says with a shrug. “It happens.”
“Not to people like me,” I mumble.
“Nothing,” I say, and then I smile. “Hi.”
“Hi,” he laughs, leaning in to kiss me. I wrap my arms around his shoulders as our lips meet, and then I have to retract them as my arm begins to sting.
“Fuck,” I say. “I think I’ve done some damage to my arm.”
Nathan rolls his eyes and takes my hand, dragging me to his car. “Come on, wuss, you’ll be fine once you get some alcohol in you.”
I agree with him silently, and I slip into the passenger seat of his car while he drops into the driver’s seat and turns the engine on. He might think I’m just over-reacting, but he doesn’t realize the consequences that something like this will have on me at home. How am I supposed to explain that I developed a bruised arm and cut hands from having eight hours sleep? It’s my own fault, I shouldn’t have jumped, I should have thought first. It’s just that, sometimes, I really can’t bring myself to care anymore. I do reckless things and I think about the repercussions afterwards, a part of me has always been this way, no matter how thorough my life at home becomes.
Nathan doesn’t know about it. He doesn’t know about anything. He knows little things, like how religious my parents are, and that they’ve got strict views on the world, like rejecting the idea of technology or allowing me to date. But he’s oblivious to the other things, the things that will scar my mind until the day I die. To the abuse that I’ve been subjected with since I was a child. I know that how my parents treat me is wrong, I’ve always known that, I’ve just never had the courage to challenge them. They’ve got the church behind them, they’ve got an army of religious, brain-washed allies to back them up if it ever got serious.
When I break their rules, I feel like I’m secretly getting revenge on them, and that’s enough to keep me smiling.
As Nathan’s car begins rolling off the side walk and into the road, I glance towards my house aimlessly, feeling that satisfactory victory creep into my bloodstream.
But as I attempt to grin, as I attempt to enjoy the moment when I can defy them--a tug of dread curses through me as I swear, just for one moment, I see a face in my bedroom window.