Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chapter 2, part 1: Confession

All too soon Mom and I were winding our way through the hills toward our home. As we walked in the door, the old grandfather clock in the entryway struck midnight, echoing in the cathedral ceilings of the living room. Further beyond, the flicker of the TV dimly lit the sleeping forms of Kirsten and Ruth on the leather sofas in the family room.

Mom led me to the living room and pressed her cell phone into my hand.

“It’s so late. Can’t this wait until morning?” I asked in a last ditch effort to put off the inevitable.

“It’s only 10 in Honolulu. Enough excuses. You need to make this right tonight.”

“Do you have to stand there and watch me do it? You’re making me nervous.”

“Fine. I trust that you’ll tell him the whole truth. I’ll give you some space. I’ll be helping the girls to bed. I want you to come find me when you are done. We still have a lot to talk about.”

I trudged up the stairs and down the hall to my room as though going to my execution. I sat on the edge of my four poster bed, then stood again. I couldn’t say something like this sitting down. I found Daddy’s cell number in the list of contacts and hit send. While it rang, I paced in front of the window, studying the twinkling lights of the city below. Just when I was getting my hopes up that he wasn’t going to pick up, I heard his voice come on the phone.

“Millie? Why are you calling so late? Is something wrong?”

“Daddy, it’s me, Giselle.”

“Giselle, what a nice surprise to hear your voice! Miss me?”

“No. I mean, yes, I do miss you, but that’s not why I’m calling.”

“What’s up, kiddo? You sound upset.”

“I was driving to the beach with Alicia—”

“On a school night?”

“I did my homework first. We were almost there when someone ran a red light and hit me.”

“Oh my God! Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine, Daddy. But …”

“But what?”

“Your Miata.” The tears edging my voice finally spilled out.

“What about my car?” He said warily.

"That’s what was in the accident. I’m so sorry, Daddy. I wanted to drive it, and Mom—”

“I don’t want to hear anymore. Let me talk to your mother. Now.”

In the hall outside my room Kirsten and Ruth stumbled past me to their shared room, still half asleep. I found Mom tidying up in the family room and handed the phone back to her. I sank down onto the couch, hugging knees to chest. Mom took the phone around the corner into the kitchen. She was speaking too low for me to make out any words, but it didn’t sound good.

After a few minutes, Mom returned the phone to me with a scowl. She sat in an armchair opposite me, arms folded.

“Daddy? I’m so sorry.”

“It seems to me, Giselle, that you’re only sorry that you were caught. Not only did you take my car without permission, but you lied about it, trying to blame your mother.”

“I didn’t!” No wonder Mom looked so mad. She trusted me to tell the whole truth, accept responsibility, and now it looked like I tried to weasel out of it.

“Don’t you dare argue with me. I heard you with my own ears. Your mother and I have decided that you will need to pay $500 toward the repair of the car. I really should make you pay for all of it, but then you’d be in debt the rest of your life. Instead you will pay for the difference in my insurance premium this year, and work in my office this summer. Two hours a day. For free.”

“Where am I going to get that kind of money?” I protested.

“Get a job, sweetie. I’d already had one for two years when I was your age.”

“I was planning to get a job this summer to help pay for college.”

“Well, then just think how nice it will be to already have one.”

When I hung up with Daddy, Mom said in a steely voice. “Go to bed now, Giselle. I need to sleep on this before I can talk about it calmly.”