5:00 p.m./ If you aren’t home by the time the street lights are on, I will hunt you down.
5:45 p.m./ Alright, that’s it. Send me this boy’s address right now. I’m coming to get you.
6:20 p.m./ SIENNA MARICELA MARTINEZ, ANSWER THE PHONE RIGHT NOW!
Every muscle in my body tensed with fear.
“Oh my god, oh my god.” I swept up my papers from the desk and scrambled to find my backpack.
“What’s wrong??” Joseph asked, entering the room.
“What’s wrong is that I was supposed to text my mom when we first arrived here. HOURS AGO!”
“Are you even breathing? Relax.”
“No entiendes (you don’t understand), Joseph... my mom has probably sent out a search party for me.”
“I can —”
“I’ll never be able to leave my house again.”
“I have to go!!”
Without a second glance, I darted from Joseph’s room and down the staircase. I found my shoes and bag by the door and made a run for it.
“Way to make an exit...”
I walked back to my desk and sat in the chair Sienna was in, mashing my cheeks. From the corner of my eye, I saw a paper caught underneath the wheel and plucked it from the floor. She had doodled her name a couple times in a bright pink ink and underneath was a flower. I didn’t know what type, but it was pretty. After I folded the little sheet with her drawing, I put it in the drawer of my desk.
“Where’s Sienna and how long was I out?”
“Jesus Chri- when’d you wake up?!” Alex’s voice filled the room and I almost gave myself whiplash from how fast I turned around.
“Um, when I heard a door slam, but you didn’t answer my- question,” she said in between a yawn. When my heart calmed down, I joined her on the bed. Looking at her, I couldn’t help but laugh. She looked like a wild animal.
“Right... she bolted a few minutes ago. Does she normally freak out about running late?” I brought my hand to her head but she swatted it away, laughing.
“I’m not your pet. But yeah, her mom can be intense. I wish I would have known she was leaving because I’d have gone with her,” she said, laying her head on my shoulder.
“Do you think she’ll be in trouble?”
“She might get yelled at.”
And I felt like that would be all my fault. If I hadn’t kept her so long downstairs after we ate, she might’ve been able to avoid all this. But I just couldn’t help myself. Idiot.
“Emmanuel, I just saw Sienna leave. What happened?”
Turning my head toward the door of my bedroom, I saw my mom standing near it with an oven mitt in her hand.
“Oh, she had to head home,” I told her.
She frowned. “That’s too bad. I was hoping she’d get to try my apple tarts. Almost ready to pull a batch out of the oven. Maybe next time.”
In heeled boots and all, I ran home as fast as I could, hoping and praying my mom hadn’t done anything drastic. But as I neared closer to my house, I could hear the loudness of blaring police car sirens. Coming up on the driveway, I saw my mom talking with an officer on our front porch.
“Mom, why are the police here? Are you okay? Is papa okay?!”
After finishing up with the officer, she made her way down the steps and looked at me with a deep frown on her face. She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.
“Sienna, we’re fine. I thought the absolute worst when you didn’t reply back to me. For all I know, you could’ve been kidnapped!”
“Mom, I told you I’d be working with Joseph and Alex. It was totally unnecessary to have the authorities involved.”
“Watch your tone with me, y escucha bien!” (Listen well!) she snapped, causing me to flinch.
“There’s no way an 18 year old has a phone and doesn’t check it. I was your age once, okay? I know what teens do nowadays and I just... I just want you to be safe, but it seems you can’t follow simple instructions.”
“What happened tonight is a result of your carelessness.”
I don’t know what came over me. Any other day I’d have endured her berating me, but I couldn’t stand it.
“You say the reason for all of this is because you want to keep me safe, but you don’t trust me.”
My hands were balled into fists by my side, anger coursing through my veins. “That’s it! You don’t trust me, but not once have I ever given you reason not to.” For the first time I wasn’t afraid of how my mom would react. I’d been holding these feelings inside me for years and she was going to hear me.
“I do everything you ask of me, I-I mean, you keep me so busy that I barely have time to make any friends. But of course, the one time I slip up, the world is suddenly crashing down on you. That’s not fair!” I shook my head, scowling. “I am constantly trying to be the perfect daughter and student, yet that still isn’t good enough for you. Nothing ever is.”
As quick as my feet would carry me, I ran into the house and sank to the floor. There was a golf ball sized lump in my throat, threatening to choke me.
“Josie?- Oh, mi amor, what happened?”
My dad came through the entryway and knelt beside me. He was dressed in his scrubs with his bag over one shoulder, having just gotten home, but he quickly dropped his things and scooped me into his arms. That’s when I let the tears flow freely.
“I swear, Mom is impossible to please,” I muttered into his shoulder as he stroked my hair.
“I broke the stupid curfew for the day because I got caught up after school. She got upset, but it escalated. She always makes me feel like crap!”
“Shhh. Eres mi hija (you are my daughter) and you know what that means? That means you are the best as they come. I’m so lucky to have had the privilege to raise such a beautiful girl. You’re smart, so smart. You’re strong and you are important to me and your mother... I know she can be tough to deal with at times, but she loves you.”
“But it’s like I’m not allowed to have a life, Pa. I can’t breathe.”
“I’ll talk to her after she’s cooled down,” he said, with a warm smile.
“Te amo, Pa,” (I love you, Dad.) I said, kissing his cheek.
“Te amo, chiquita. Tienes hambre?” (Are you hungry?) he asked.
“Always,” I replied.
“Good, because tonight’s menu is arepas. We can make ourselves a plate or five and talk about the rest of your day,” he said, extending a hand to help me off the floor.
I took it eagerly. “Sounds like a deal.”
During dinner, I told my dad about my English presentation. I even told him about Joseph, which caused his eyebrows to shoot up above his hairline. “Sienna! Y-you met a boy?!” he asked me. His reaction was to be expected, considering I’d never talked to him about guys before. It was a fun conversation. Still, I felt pretty lousy and wanted to wash off the day.
When I dragged my full-bellied self up the stairs, I’d never felt luckier to have a private bathroom. It meant I was able to shower in peace without encountering anyone, in this case, my mom.
I quickly towel dried my hair, changed into a pair of comfy sweats, and shimmied under my warm blanket. Immediately after my head hit my soft pillow, I drifted off into a pleasantly deep sleep. I’d meet whatever punishment my mom had ruled out for me in the morning.