Sheer Curtains (16)
My heart raced and panic set in. I didn’t know whether to scream, to run or to go back in and interrupt the class that had just started. Would somebody help me? No one had before….
I froze. I couldn’t even move. He smiled. He knew I saw him. It was like a bad dream where you are frozen in place. My legs felt like lead and I could not move. I wasn’t even sure I was still breathing.
Before my brain would allow me to do anything, a car rushed in to the parking lot. It was Karen. She threw the passenger door open and informed me that she was in a hurry and I needed to jump in. Without hesitating I threw my dance bag and backpack in the car and jumped in. My heart was still racing as she started to pull away. John just stood there. He never moved.
She asked me what was wrong. I must’ve looked like I had seen a ghost. I questioned my own sanity in those moments. Did I really see what I think I did?
“I’m just tired”
That 20 minute ride home seemed like it took forever.
She asked me why I still had my backpack and why I hadn’t left it with dad. Did she not know how dad had arranged for me to get to dance class?
“I’m not sure”
Karen was in a hurry because she was trying to beat dad home. We made it. I grabbed my things out of the car and went to my room. I wondered if John had followed us here. Did he know where I lived now? Why was he watching me from that parking lot? I had come to feel that my bedroom was my own personal space and I felt safe there. I spent a lot of time there, alone. I sat on my bed staring out of my large bedroom windows and into the street. I realized in that moment that if I could see out that easily through the curtains that he could watch me if he really wanted to. I felt the safety of the only sanctuary that I had found slip away while I sat there.
The next day at school went on as if nothing had happened. When the last bell rang for the day, I made my way over to the after school program on the other side of the school campus. I had spent the day thinking about my dad. He hadn’t come home before I had gone to sleep. The whole situation with my teacher seemed odd to me. None of the other parents called her if they couldn’t take their kids to dance class. When Karen asked why I still had my backpack I realized that she didn’t even know about it. My dad picked me up later that evening and I was expecting to go to piano. He told me that piano had been canceled. He still had some reports to write and so he was going to take me to dinner with him. He could write his reports and I would have dinner and do my homework.
We went to a place that dad apparently went to all the time because all the waitresses seemed to know him. He did his work while I ate and did my homework. We really didn’t talk. The waitresses were really nice and even took me to the pastry case to pick out some cookies. I loved it there. Back at our booth, a waitress was sitting next to dad. I hopped in on my side as she stood back up. She grabbed his hand as she laid our bill down on the table. She smiled and then walked away. Even as young as I was, I knew something just wasn’t quite right. Dad paid and we left.
Walking through the parking lot to the car reminded me of the night before. It was dark and cold. I told him that Karen had asked me about my backpack. He paused at the car before unlocking it and asked me what I had said to her. I told him that I really didn’t answer her. He seemed relieved and continued to unlock the car. We got settled in and before starting the car he turned to me.
“You know, Karen is really sensitive and sometimes takes things the wrong way. Maybe it would be better if we just didn’t say anything about how you got to dance class. Honestly, maybe we shouldn’t tell her that I talk to the waitress here either. I’m sure you caught on to the fact that I was talking to our waitress when you went to get cookies. She is having some trouble at home and so I’ve been helping her out a bit. Karen would probably get the wrong idea. We wouldn’t want to upset her. If we can do that then I’ll bring you back here with me soon. Ok?”
I lost some respect for my dad while sitting in that car. I didn’t trust him. The special treatment I had been getting in class started to make sense now. Would I have trust him enough to tell him I saw John?