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Foolish Teenager – 3/3

By Venus Wright

While my father was simultaneously panicking about the situation on the phone with my mother and seething with frustration, I sat on our couch in the den with eyes sloped like the Alps. From what I was able to hear of their conversation from my mother’s end of the call, she would be getting on the next flight home from Missouri. Somewhere in the back of my mind I went, “shit,” but there were no alarms going off in the front of it. Nothing could really matter all that much at that moment. I knew that I was in deep shit, I knew that I was going to be paying for this for God only knew how long. But I never knew how much it would change the chemistry between my parents and I. I’d thought the consequences would turn to a grounding and then we’d move on and I’d get my vapes back, going back to my believed-to-be sweet little life. Little did I know that the consequence would be more about long lasting tension and distrust rather than my usual teenage punishments. 

Again, with little memory of this evening, I believe, with past-consequence-context to aid in my inference, that after my father got off the phone with my mother he berated me for a little while longer before realizing his attempts were futile. He told me to go to my room without looking at me, only his words and a wave of his hand. We would talk in the morning. 

I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t eaten dinner until I got upstairs and felt the need to devour anything I may have in my stash. My parents may not have been the strictest parents I’d met, but they’d still been strict all my life. That included no food in my or my brothers’ rooms at the risk of pests and rodents. I’d never had an issue, so I was always curious what my parents had done in the past to build that strong of a belief. Looking back I understand their concern, even if it was exaggerated. I went to my stash spot, a plaid grey ottoman that opened to become a storage box. I had Cheez-itz, a half-sleeve of Ritz crackers, and a single cup of mandarin oranges. Yikes. Well, it was enough. I grabbed all of it and climbed onto my queen bed, turning my LED lights to dark blue before putting on Bob’s Burgers. 

The signature light strumming of a tenor ukulele and horns began to play as I wolfed down the Ritz before moving onto the oranges. I think I fell asleep shortly after, because the next thing to come to mind is the soft morning light shining into my room, filling me with an overwhelming sense of relaxation before I remember: my parents caught me. 

I take my time getting up, just seeing how long I can go before I have to face my father. Still in my clothes from yesterday, I get out of bed and change out of them. Sufficiently in my lobster pajama pants and an old, big t-shirt, I hesitantly make the inevitable walk downstairs. 

Walking through the foyer into the kitchen, my father is not there. Nor is he in the den, and I passed the only other rooms in the house, the dining and living room, on the way here. I hope he’s still asleep, maybe we won’t have to do this so soon, so I go to check his bedroom. As soon as I step into the doorway at the end of the downstairs hallway I see him sitting on the edge of his side of my parents’ bed. His hands are pressed into the mattress around him at his hips and he faces away from me. I gulp and clear my throat. 

He turns to me with a face of nothing but disappointment. 

“Let’s go talk in the den.” He says. 

I stay quiet, just turn, walk, and go sit on the couch where I sat last night. 

He walks in a little after me, and leans against the kitchen counter with his hands in his pockets. 

“What’s been going on, Anna?” 

I shrugged, doing everything to keep my eyes from his. 

“I mean, what’s wrong with you? This isn’t normal for you, not to mention this is way, way too far. I mean, did you even know him? You put yourself in so much danger, Anna. Do you even care about how your mother and I may have felt? Did you ever, once, stop to think that maybe we’d be worried about you? ”

“I did know him, actually,” I snapped, “well, sort of. And what would you know about any danger that I’m in? You don’t know me. I can take care of myself.”

“Anna, he didn’t even look at me. That boy was trouble, and not the fun kind.”

I stayed quiet. He sighed. 

“Do I need to take you to the hospital?”

My head flipped up. “What?”

Even for his unpredictable ass this was out of left field. 

“This isn’t normal behavior, Anna. If there’s something wrong they can figure it out. I’m just saying, it’s an option.” 

On one hand, I was not some broken toy that had something “wrong” with it. But on the other hand, I had the easiest excuse to be treated for my mental health. Something I’d been practically begging them for these past few years. I’d been thinking for months at that point that maybe being in an institution could help, or at least rule out its possibility for helping. Sure, I’d heard the horror stories, but how would I know unless I experienced it myself? 

I took my time in answering. “Yeah, maybe that’s a good idea.” 

He seemed upset with my answer for some reason. He pursed his lips and nodded without a word. Well, what the hell was he expecting? He shouldn’t ask a question that he doesn’t like both answers to. He began to walk towards the door prompting myself to get my jacket on. I walked to the closet in the den where he was headed and took out my jacket that felt the same as any old teddy bear. Soft and matted to the point of being well-loved, pulled far from its former wooly quality. 

I stood in silence watching him put on his bright yellow puffer jacket before he turned to me, glanced into my eyes, and walked to the door. He took his Ford keys off of the key hooks and turned the handle to our backdoor. He stepped out onto the deck and left the door open rather than his usual opening where would motion for me to go first. 

As he walked out he said, “Lock it behind you.” 

It wouldn’t be until after I got out of the crisis unit, a week or so later, that I would learn my parents had my town’s police department search my room for “anything unhealthy.” Really that just meant things my parents disagreed with, which was only my vapes. They believed that I had drugs too, but on the contrary. 

I understand now why they took those things away, but it only resulted in buying replacements on my part. I never learned the lesson they’d tried to teach me, even after I “earned” my door back. Oh, yeah, they also took my bedroom door as a way to prevent me from “hiding anything”. A door should be a right which is nonrefundable by parents, but I disagree with mine on that one. Also, as if it’s any less likely that I’d hide my habits without a door. There’s this thing called a bathroom, and its door can’t be revoked. Honestly I’d thought that maybe from our past conflicts, my parents had learned their lesson that I would never learn. I guess we have something in common in a certain respect. 

Sometimes lying only results in short-term consequences, but other times, times like these, where my parents had been waiting for me to slip up for months and knew I’d been lying to them even without proof, the consequences turn to last years. My parents and I are on good terms now, but they still have a sense of distrust in me. I may be an adult, but I find them questioning both my truths and lies now, too, big and small. Our relationship has been tainted by my teenage desire to live, or rebel, in actuality. Sure, I may have lived and experienced one-of-a-kind sights and sensations, but at what cost? When I was younger I never took into consideration the fact that my parents would more than likely be in my life for the rest of it, but those friends wouldn’t. Hell, I’ve fallen out with them already and I haven’t seen them in years. But my parents and I still reap the consequences for my foolishness, my lack of foresight. 

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