“Yes, Father, I’ve gotten the money.” The voice was indistinct, but I could recognize it as Tyler’s. “Spring break is coming soon. I’ll meet you then.”
I stirred in my sleep, abruptly shaken to reality. I adjusted my eyes to my radiant surroundings before my eyes shot wide open in befuddlement. My heart pounded in an unsteady metronome, reverberating stridently against my ears.
“Yeah, I know I’m supposed to be at school in thirty minutes, I’ll go get ready.” Then I heard shuffling.
Furrowing my eyebrows, I sat up, realizing I slept on a couch.
“Good morning, Angel,” Tyler greeted, strolling beside me. “You fell asleep yesterday, and you looked so peaceful, I couldn’t afford to wake you up.”
I bobbed my head leisurely, glancing around the room to spot my bag at the side of the room. Angst smothered me. It ingurgitated me whole like a famished individual. If he had rummaged through it and discovered the notebook that my father gifted me as a gift when I was younger, he could peruse all my nefarious plans. I shut my eyes, assuring myself that I was unnecessarily fretting.
“What’s on your mind?” he asked, settling down beside me. He had a smile plastered on his face as he stared back at me. He seemed much more exuberant than the day before.
“Oh, and I have a question.” He leaned in a little closer, and the thump of my heart sped again. “You replied to my question yesterday with a shrug, but I need to know the actual answer because I will help you with something, I don’t care what it is.”
I shook my head, telling him that I cannot be helped. Unless he is willing to hurt someone with vile intentions, no assistance is useful.
“I’m serious, I’ll do your homework,” he suggested, and I scoffed in response. If only it were as simple as homework. The thought caused reality to dawn on me, and I recalled we must report to school since it is a Friday.
“You want to get ready for the morning? You can use the bathroom in the guest room, two rooms down the hallway. There are towels in the black cupboards along with extra toothbrushes and clothes in that room that belongs to my sister,” he said, leaving me mystified. He allowed me to use his items; knowing full well stealing is an open option for me.
I nodded, hankering to change out of my current filthy clothes from the day before. I glanced at the clock hanging above the television. There was not much time before we have to report to school.
Standing up, I followed the directions he voiced out a second ago but halted promptly in my tracks when a framed photograph caught my eye.
It was of a younger Tyler pushing away an item offered by a girl. It was a blurry photograph, and I could scarcely make out any of them, but I could identify the woman standing behind both of them.
“That’s my mother, Violet. The girl beside me is my sister, Hailey. My dad took the photo, but his time is now more precious than gold, so we never had the chance for another picture,” Tyler explained from behind me.
I then realized money was a common problem we had. After all, it was the reason my mother chose my stepfather over my biological father. I hung pictures in my home as well, but it only consisted of my father and me. I do not have a sibling or the competence to look at my mother’s face after what she committed
I looked away from the picture, feeling melancholia linger in my chest. I wish I took more photographs. They are frozen moments that were ineradicable from the mind. If only I thought that way in the past.
I then made my way to the bathroom in the guest room, which looked modest, just like the rest of the house.
I know I should not be loitering around the house of Tyler Rivera. I should be in school, instead. There’s no use being around him because he does not possess the ability to fill in the hollow pit in my stomach.
I stepped into the shower after I had selected some clothes from the wardrobe. I abhor wearing clothes that call for attention, but it seems to be all Tyler’s sister kept in the house. I reluctantly picked an outfit and headed into the bathroom.
Spring break is coming up in a few weeks, and I dreaded it. At that time, I would be asked by my mother to visit my stepfather’s mansion and have dinner with them. I would circumvent conversations. Instead, I just nod and shrug.
It has been a decade, and this is the year I will strike. My plans for revenge will take place. I will be crossing the line, probably miles from the point, but I do not care anymore. The delighted and effervescent young girl from a decade ago is gone because the light in her life was stolen. Now, all I want is my current parents to have a taste of their own bitter medicine.
“Hey, Hope?” I let out a hum while unlocking the door
“I was wondering if we can skip school for the day since we’re already late and we didn’t get to finish the assignments from yesterday. I have a place I want to bring you.” His persuasive personality sprang into action.
I was about to turn down his plans for the day when I realized skipping school is a stranger in my history. Taking classes helps lead my mind away from everything going on in my life.
“So?” His lips quirked as he waited for my answer—an uncertain, small nod that ceased to undergo consideration.
A genuine smile spread across his face. Unexpectedly, he reached out for my hand, and we left his house together. We hopped in his car, with me in the passenger’s seat and Tyler in the driver’s, as always.
I glanced at my bag, and my eyebrow raised instantly. It was unzipped. I could have sworn I zipped it; Tyler could have searched through it and possibly had gotten hold of that notebook. Fluttering my eyes close, I brushed the thought away. I was paranoid.
I stared out the window of the car, realizing how often I stay home. I forgot the last time I had a glimpse of the scintillating morning sun and its ethereal glow as it ambitiously illuminates the land. It caused a stir of emotions within me; it was indeed beyond glamorous. The car came to a stop outside what seemed to be a car rental shop. He shot me a mischievous look before unlocking the doors and leaving.
Wearing a muddled look, I climb out of the car.
“My dear nephew, there you are!” The distinct voice belonged to an older guy, who appeared to be close to Tyler. “This is the girl?”
“Yeah, she doesn’t have a license, so you’re the first person I thought of who would allow something illegal,” he responded with a toothy smile. “I’m sure she’s a fast learner.”
I gave him a wary look, still uncertain of what we will be doing. From his conversation with who I think is his uncle, we will be renting cars for a drive although he knows I have no experience operating one.
“I’ll trust you, but you’ll have to pay for any scratches. I’ve heard from your dad that you had won a competition and have gotten some money in hand.” Tyler glanced at me before leading me to a large section of cars.
“Pick one, I’ll teach you all the controls before we race,” he said, still facing the different types of vehicles. Confusion saw me as a letter and enveloped me upon hearing his previous sentence. I do not have much knowledge about driving, though I have always ought to try it. Racing on the day I learn how to drive seems impractical.
I stepped towards the vehicle, which is indisputably a sports car. Despite my lack of understanding of cars, I could make out that the car I chose was a roadster. It looked extravagant, and I felt almost embarrassed sitting in it.
It is the only time I sat in the driver’s seat while Tyler was in the passengers.
“I have the smart key; you can simply push that button.” He pointed to the button beside the steering wheel.
I started up the car anxiously. Tyler then started explaining, “That’s the clutch.” It locates between the engine and the gearbox. He went in detail about everything that concerned it, then directed my attention to the brake and the accelerator. He leaned closer to me as he explained the use of the levers. I was just inches away when he stared at me. “Watch this,” he said, a jovial smile on his lips as he pressed a few buttons.
My eyes widened in awe when the car roared with unexplainable ardour.
He grinned at my expression. It pleasantly stunned me when I realize he is exceedingly patient. Once he noticed a look of uncertainty, he would repeat. It was just like how I taught him to fight. It took a while before he taught me how to operate the car and drive it. We fastened our seat belts, and then I recalled the steps he instilled. My lips stretched into a smile as it jerked for a moment before moving.
“Try going right,” he said, and I did it with ease.
“I knew you could get the hang of it in no time.” He gave a pleased smile. “You must’ve grown up with geniuses.”
I returned the smile because I did grow up with a genius; my biological father was indeed perspicacious and intelligent. He was and always will be my hero.
I followed Tyler’s directions to an empty track, where there were no buildings, just a broad lane for vehicles. I figured it would be where we would ‘race’ though I still have not tried driving at high speed.
Racing is wild, but I found myself enjoying every second.
“Wait for me right here,” he ordered. “I’ll go get a car for myself.”
I watched as he jogged a short distance back to the rental shop.
My thoughts borrowed my time alone to erupted with ebullience and invaded with clamorous roars.
We were becoming close. Probably too close. Tyler had no idea who I was inside and not a hint about what I had been through. I was drawing closer to him was because I was beginning to get comfortable.
So much that I might soon just trust him with the secret I kept since nine.
Perhaps, risking it would be wise.