Escape (4/6 Excerpt from Beyond the Cover)

In case you missed the following links: 

Beyond the Cover Introduction
Past (1/6) – optional
Nuts for Coco (2/6)
Present (3/6) – optional

No Sleepovers
No Play dates
No Plays
No Games
No musical instrument other than the violin or piano

No, No, No.  Rule after rule after rule.  I’m fed up with it.  It’s my senior year in high school and I still have no freedom.  Mom has my schedule always packed tight.  She doesn’t support what I really want to do.  Unlike my friends, if they want to try out for the school play, their parents encourage them, they even show their support by going to the show.

“Sara! Come down.  It’s time to practice the piano.”  I hear mom yell from downstairs.  I wish I can just tell her, “No! I’m not in the mood to spend hours playing the piano.”  Do I dare stand up to her?  No, she’ll just make me play until supper time.  I strut downstairs making it seem like I’m in a good mood, until I see the wooden ruler in her left hand and I slouch a little.

Sigh, I can just hear the whooshing sound the ruler makes through the air, the sound it claps as it hits the top of my hands, the searing pain which lingers as the red marks are left behind. I tend to wear gloves when I go to school, so nobody questions me about my bruised hands.  What would I say?  “Oh my mom hits me when I play the wrong note on the piano during practice.  It’s no big deal.”  Yeah, right, like I would say that.  People might think it is child abuse. I can hear my friends say, “Sara, are you cold?” or “what’s with the gloves?  Are you trying to set a new trend?”

Mindlessly, I sit and start playing the basics.  We spend 2 hours every day, nonstop, not even a bathroom break, practicing the fluency of playing each key in a simple melody.  To prevent getting whacked with the ruler, the melody has to be fluent, constant, and perfect.  If I miss one note, I’ll get hit.  If I stop momentarily, I’ll get hit.  I’m so used to doing this, so I don’t get hit as often as I used to.  When the ruler does hit me, it burns for a split second, but the sting doesn’t last too long. After 2 hours, I take a 10 minute break where I can use the bathroom, rest my hands, drink some water, and if I’m really lucky grab a snack.  I then practice a Mozart piece I will be playing at the annual piano recital in four months.  My mom stops me in another 2 hours to finish my homework.

I’m a very obedient daughter. I do what I’m told and I listen to my mother. I have my own mind and my own thoughts, but I don’t use it.  I don’t complain.  I don’t do anything to displease my parents. I saw how rebellious my older sister was and although, I dislike the way my mom tries to teach me and sets all these rules, I don’t completely disagree with my mom’s decisions in kicking Jackie out of the house. However, just because Jackie went a little crazy with her freedom when she left for college, doesn’t mean I will. Still, I don’t dare rebel against my mom.  I never talk back.  I never raise my voice.  I never even use my actions to display my anger towards her.  I think I can hide my real feelings very well.

My last semester of high school, I took a creative writer’s class behind my mom’s back. She never suspected anything because she believed in the false mask I portrayed.  I received good feedback from my teacher for my mid semester project.  She asked my permission to send it to her friend in publishing.  I didn’t think much of it and said yes.

One month later, my teacher confronted me saying that her friend wants to publish my story and wants to meet me.  Since I have a tight schedule back home, we met during creative writing class.  I stepped into the office with my teacher to meet the publisher and I saw my mom sitting next to him.  My heart sank heavily, deeper into my body.

My mom spoke first,  “I was just talking to this nice man, Richard is it?”  The man smiled and nodded.  “About your story.”  Her eyes cut through me with a fire in her eyes, I had to look away from her gaze.

I sat down as Richard spoke,  “Your story is very inspiring and heartwarming.  With your permission, I would like to publish it.  It’s a bit short, so I would like to discuss extending it about 100-500 more pages, depending on your work flow.  I understand you’re a student, so we’d work along side your schedule and extra curricular activities.  If you’re interested, we can set up a deadline and a time to meet.”

“I would lo-,” I started to say, but my mom cut me off, “I’m sorry, between school and piano practice, she won’t have time to extend her story.  Besides, the annual piano recital is coming up in a few weeks, she needs to prepare for that.  I’m glad you noticed my daughter’s talent. But, for now, she can’t handle any more distractions.”  She stood up quickly and grabbed my arm to pull me up.

Richard swiftly raised from his seat and offered his business card to me, “Well, if you change your mind.” Before I can extend my hand my mom took the card, “Thank you Richard for your time.  I’m so sorry it was a waste.”

She walked out of the room, tossing his business card on the way out. “Come along, Sara. I’m taking you home.”  Sulkily, I followed behind her, but not before I turned around to look at Richard and Mrs. Chase one last time.  Their faces were looking at each other in shock and looked at me with such sadness.  After I found Richard’s business card that was laying neatly in the trash, I ran to catch up to my mom, but only a few steps behind her.

On the way home she spoke sternly, “I am very disappointed in you Sara. You disobeyed me.  You broke rules.  You took a class without my permission.  You lied to me.  I can’t believe you lied.  You were such a good daughter.  What happened? From today until the piano recital, you are grounded.”

I lost it.  “How can you ground me?  I’ve been living like I’ve been grounded since I was born.  What else can you ground me from? Phone privileges?  It’s not like I can talk on the phone much anyway.  I’m not allowed to watch TV or play games, so you can’t really ground me from that because that is already a rule.  You can’t really ground me from eating because I will probably die, and God forbid you will let that happen.  Oh I know, you can take away my computer and internet, but by doing that I won’t be able to do research for papers, which will probably lead me to being number 2 in the class!”

“Don’t be a smart ass, Sara!”
“Oh, is that another rule?”
“Do you want to add more to your punishment?
“What, you’re gonna kick out your last child like you did with Jackie? At least she is free from your dictatorship!”

The car ride was silent after that.  The tension during the last 10 minutes of the ride was torturous.  I just wanted to slam something like how Jackie always pounded her feet marching up the stairs and slamming her bedroom door after she got into it with Mom.

We arrived home and I realized I really hurt her.  I apologized and when she didn’t reply, I assumed she was still angry with me, so I gave her space.  I walked to my room, finished my homework, went down to eat supper, but she wasn’t there.  Dad just looked at me, his eyes glazed over as if he didn’t know who I was and just shook his head and sighed.  In the dead of silence, he turned to look at me and whispered, “Was it wrong for you to want to follow your own dreams and write stories?  No.  Was it wrong for you to talk back to your mother the way you did? Definitely.  You shouldn’t talk to you mom that way.  She’s only looking out for your best interests.”

I spent the whole night playing the piano with no breaks to use the bathroom or to eat.  I sat there playing my Mozart piece until morning.  Mom came down and saw me playing, but she didn’t say a word.  She didn’t even acknowledge my existence.  But I know she heard me.  Dad came down and asked, “Have you been playing all night?”  I nodded.  “Are you going to eat?” I shook my head.  “Are you going to sit there until mom forgives you?”  I nodded.  “That’s going to be a long time.”  I heard my dad call the school saying I was sick.  The clock turned noon and my dad stood by my side and examined me for quite some time and whispered, “This is ridiculous.  You need to stop.  Look, even your fingers are bleeding.  Stop.  Eat. or go to sleep.”  I ignored him and continued to play.   He patted me on the shoulders, sighed, and walked away.

Mom finally came out and stood slightly behind me, looking over my shoulder.  Practicing the Mozart piece for about 20 hours nonstop helped me play it perfectly without error.  Another hour passed and I felt the warm embrace of my mother and I melted into her arms.

I felt my dad carry me to the couch and my mom lay a blanket over me. I slept until noon the next day.

Leave me a comment if you want to me to extend “Escape” or if you have any theories.

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