I let my eyes take their time opening. It was ten o'clock which probably meant Mother and Father called into the school to tell them I would not be attending. The autumn sun filled my room as it did every morning. However, I wasn't sure I was ready to go back to every day feel. For, everything I've ever known had been shattered only twelve hours before.
My mother's knuckles lightly rapped against my wooden door.
"Yes?" I ask hoarsely. She enters on her tiptoes, as if the slightest sound would make me shrivel up and die. I had to admit, I was on the verge of tears but I knew it would do 'no good'.
"Good morning, sweetie." Mother sits on the edge of my bed. She reached out and smoothed back my hair, but the memory of Nigel's rough palms doing the same filled me, making me flinch. She retreated her hand, unsure of how to apologize.
"I'm sorry." Quickly rebounding, "Would you like some breakfast dear?" I nod and she examines me before leaving the room.
I suddenly heard father shouting from the other room. It frightened me. I could count the number of times, in my childhood that Father raised his voice on one hand. There was a muffled argument - was obviously between Father and another man. Mother burst through the door, making my heart skip in fear. But, her hands were full with a tray of orange juice, toast, fruit, and my personal favorite, chocolate chip pancakes.
I was quiet as she set it on my lap. She paused, trying to detect my emotions through my face before giving up and leaving me to my breakfast. I slowly ate, finding very slight joy in the rich chocolate bits. Any joy was worth it at this point. The morning progressed with me lying in my bed, trying to distract myself with books and photographs, occasional check ups by mom, and the random yelling conversation burning on outside my door. I yearned to be outside, feeling the crisp autumn air and the scent of the last of summer, long gone.
"Alice?" Mother's voice awakes me from my daydream.
"We would like to speak to you in your father's study." She tells me with a cautious tone. I nod, slipping from my warm and comforting, sheets to follow her down the hall. When we entered, Father was sitting behind his desk, facing our family's lawyer, Mr. Crawly.
"Good Afternoon, Alice." Mr. Crawly said in his deep tone. He was a rather tall and chubby man, probably mid 50's with a receding hairline that looked it would only last a few more years. His perfectly round glasses, shined in the light.
"Good Afternoon." I say, uninterested in too much of anything.
"Alice, darling, we need to talk." Father's watching me in a daze of his own thoughts.
"We have a few options on how to approach this situation," Mr. Crawly steps back in before I even completely sit down.
"Which are?" I push on, even though I haven't even thought much of how things were to progress from here.
"One, is to go to the police about what happened since rape is clearly against the law-" I quickly put up my hand to him, knowing it was an act of disrespect but unable to control myself.
"Don't use that word." I say, realizing that I was more afraid of being called a victim than anything else.
"My dearest apology, Alice." He tells me sincerely.
"What are my other options." I continue as if nothing happened.
"Just attend therapeutic sessions with a counselor and not going to the police. I want you to understand that if you do decide to go to the police, it will be a long messy process, but it will give you justice. Either way, we highly encourage going to sessions with a physiologist to deal with any repercussions." He used all his big words he learned from law school to sound more impressing than the options actually were.
"We are open to options, and we will back you up, no matter what you choose." Mother let her hands land on my arms as if to support my balance in the chair. I look at her with the same blank expression I've been using all day long.
"I want to leave." I said it before I actually realized what was coming out. Leaving. I'm not running away, I'm just taking a break. I have a right to that, don't I?
"And go where, might I ask?" Father asked impatiently from his big leather chair. I purse my lips in thought before deciding the only place that popped in my head.
"America." I say definitely.
"Where in America."
"I'll go stay with Uncle Jason and Aunt Anna. For a semester at least." I couldn't bear going to school tomorrow or even in the next week and having to act like nothing happened. I also couldn't bear the rumors that would consume the hallways if I broke up with Nigel.
"If you left, we would have to change everything." Mr. Crawly adds into the conversation. We all look at him.
"What do you mean?" Father's expression puzzled.
"The press will eat up the question on why Alice McCreed is leaving for a semester. They would follow her and ask question. Isn't the purpose of escaping to have privacy?" He curiously turns to me. I just nod. "Then we'd have to change her hair color, cut it, and give her a different ID for when she moved to America, so no one can follow her."
"I'm willing to do it." I eagerly tell him, more than anyone, as if I needed his permission.
Piercing silence consumed the room as the idea sets in.
"I don't know if I can let you go." Mother whispers, eyes filled with tears. I grab her hands quickly,
"Mother, I need to step away from the situation for a while. Uncle Jason and Aunt Anna will keep me safe in Pennsylvania." I assure her.
"If you go," Father interrupts anything going any farther. "We will require you to go to a therapist and you have to focus on school, no slacking." I knew he was being harsh because just like Mother, he was afraid of losing me.
"You'll need to call every day." Mother adds, as if she has a big say in the subject.
"When would you like to leave?" Mr. Crawly keeps the thoughts rolling.
"As soon as I could." I tell him honestly. As much as I loved my family, I knew there would be too many questions and hard explanation to handle.
"I don't see why not then," Mr. Crawly gives his blessing. We all look at Father, whose eyes were obviously glazed over in memories. I wanted to hug him and reassure him I wouldn't crack, that I was strong, but even strong girls need a break. America was my break. To him, I was still the little girl he would take out every Sunday afternoon and let me take pictures in the woods using his big camera.
"Start packing," he gives the right away. This is where I did crack a bit, tears streaming down my face I run to hug him tight.
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." I repeat over and over again, sobbing on his shoulder.
Knowing that in this moment, I realized how much I would miss my innocence.
Comment! It's going to get good!
Spotlight - Chapter 2The options.
By joslyn miller