Needing a Ride (15)
The start of my second grade year was nice. I had made a group of friends that kept my mind off of life at home, as much as they could I guess. Shortly after my first parent teacher conference, I began to really like my teacher. She was young, pretty and she seemed to really like me. I never had any trouble in her class. If there was something that I didn’t understand, she would spend extra time to explain it to me. I was picked for all kinds of fun jobs in the classroom that others kids wanted. I think that this is honestly what started my popularity at this school. I was the one who took attendance and was able to leave class to turn it in to the office. I helped in the kindergarten rooms and at all the second grade assemblies. I answered her phone and was the one who collected all of the homework. Life at school was good.
I was still kept busy all week long. On top of dance classes and softball my dad also signed me up for piano class. When my school day was over I would head over to the after school program until my dad picked me up. He would take me straight to dance class, softball practice or piano lessons (depending on the day) and drop me off. When my class or practice was over, I would check the parking lot for his car. Most of the time I was left waiting alone until he came to pick me up. I spent six days out of my week at some class or practice and Sundays I hung out by myself in my room. I hated piano class but did really well. Even though I picked up on it rather quickly, it just wasn’t something that I was interested in. Softball and dance were my true passions. Softball allowed me to let all a lot of frustration and energy that I had no other outlet for. I did so well in softball that year that they offered for me to join a boys baseball team the following season. That was something that my dad loved to brag about, which I always found fascinating because he had only seen me actually play twice by that point.
The thing that kept me going was my dance class. I loved going to dance class because it allowed me to escape. When I stepped into that studio or onto a stage I became a different person. I was no longer that child who had survived years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. I wasn’t an inconvenience, an intrusion on a new relationship or the daughter of a drugged out battered women. I was someone new. I closed my eyes, felt the music, and became whoever I needed to be to dance my routines. It was exactly what I needed. The only thing I dreaded was when the class was over. I often sat in the parking lot waiting to be picked up and sometimes would wonder of I had been forgotten. My three hour classes ended at 8pm and I had to get use to sitting alone in the dark. My dad would pull up, I would hop in, and we’d head home so I could get some sleep. I hardly saw my dad or Karen at all during the week. Sadly, I was fine with that.
Then one day, when my school day was almost over, my teacher pulled me aside. She said that she had just spoken to my dad during lunch and that I needed to stay with her after school. She explained that her daughter went to the same dance studio that I went to and that she had a class with another teacher. My dad was going to be running late at work and she had offered to take me. I though the situation was rather odd. I mean, are teachers suppose to do that? But I followed the directions that I was given. She took me home with her and I watched in awe as her family interacted. They talked, they laughed and no one yelled or threw things at each other. It was a complete opposition to all things I ever knew about a family life. I had gotten so use to being miserable that it hadn’t phased me, until that moment. Even though my mom and her circumstances were the root of a lot of my pain, I missed her more than ever. I went to the bathroom and cried.
She dropped us off at the studio for class and before leaving the car I asked her who would be picking me up. Her daughter’s class was only an hour and mine was three hours long. She assured me that my dad said he would be there and told me she’d see me in class the next day. I spent the next three hours practicing for a recital that was coming up. I escaped in the music and before long my time was up. I gathered my things and stepped out the front door. It was dark and so was the parking lot.
I walked through the maze of cars hoping my dad would already be there, but knowing I’d have to wait. It was cold. I sat on the sidewalk in front of the studio and listened to the faint sounds of music coming from the adult dance classes that had just started. That’s when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I thought I saw a man moving around in one of the cars but I couldn’t sure. my heart started to race. I stood up and grabbed my things. News reports of the Night Stalker and other horrors ran through my mind. The car door opened and a man stood up. As he turned towards me I realized that the horror was far more real to me than the Night Stalker ever would be.
It was John.