From the Beginning
by Natalie Lang
Knowing I was up to no good, I still decided to do it. I was old enough at the time to decipher right from wrong, so it really wasn’t a question of whether I had morals or not; I did. Though I simply decided to disobey my mind, my conscience, and my parents. He was 17. I was 14 and completely enthralled by all the attention.
Adam was the type of guy who was boisterous and exciting! He did whatever he wanted to do, whenever he wanted to, without having to check with any parents, consider whether it was right or wrong or anything else along those lines. He simply did as he pleased. And I was head over heels.
I used to baby-sit for a young couple who lived a few blocks away from our house. We lived up on Sumas Mountain on five acres. All our neighbours had at least three acres, and therefore a block consisted of a great expanse of field, trees, and spread out houses sitting far back on the property away from the road.
When the couple enlisted me to house-sit for them while their family went away for the weekend, I jumped. It wasn’t the money I was excited about: ten dollars a day to feed the goats, cows, chickens and dogs didn’t seem like a lot to me. It was the fact that I would be in a house, without the supervision of my parents, all alone. I had free reign and could do whatever I wanted to.
Quite a lot of freedom for a 14-year old girl. Some might have questioned my Mom and Dad’s decision to let me stay there for the weekend, one night and two days, but I know they trusted me. Mom and Dad always allowed me to make my own decisions, do most things on my own, and make the majority of my own choices without too much interference.
“Parents aren’t helping their kids by treating them like babies,” my Mother always said, “they need to learn from their own mistakes, otherwise they grow up to be sissy little Mama’s boys and Daddy’s girls who can’t do laundry or get a job.”
I knew she was right, and I also knew this meant I had a lot of freedom and could do whatever I wanted. Mistakes were made of course, but I always learned something.
The night I went over to house-sit for the Marks, I made sure I gave Adam the address and phone number. Kids my age didn’t have cell phones then; we contacted people through land line only, making sure they had the correct digits for wherever you were going to be, otherwise you were always out of the loop.
Heck, I didn’t have Internet until I turned twelve or thirteen, whereas kids nowadays are brought up on computers, surfing this and that. There’s no need for books anymore, some say, all you need to do is turn on the computer and google whatever you want to know.
My mom drove me up to the place after dinner and by then the family had already left, leaving a key for me under the carpet at the front door. I let myself in and my mom, at my insistence, went home without coming inside. She said she would call me the next day to see how things went.
I wasn’t listening. All I could think of was the fun I was going to have once she left and Adam made his way over. In hindsight I know I should have seen the flaws in my brilliant plan. All the neighbours were friends with my mother; and being the protective and loving mother that she is, she probably notified them of my staying there and asked them to keep an eye on me and the house. Not that she expected me to invite my 17-year old boyfriend and all his older friends over, but in case there was a fire, for instance.
Once inside the house, I took a look around, put my small bag down on the floor and thought about what was going to go down. A questioning and foreboding feeling flooded my body as I thought about everything that was involved in the pending evening. It would be me, Adam and all his friends.
I thought about my mom, about how much she seemed to trust me. I thought about my dad and how I always thought of myself as a kind of daddy’s little girl — I never wanted to let him down. Just then, the phone rang. All the thoughts that were holding me back for a few minutes dissipated into thin air. I had a one track mind, and that phone call brought me straight back to the evening planned.
“Hey, all clear?”
“I’m ready for you guys! She’s gone!”
“See you soon!”
Our little conversation left me uneasy with anticipation. The night awaited and there was still so much left to do. The Marks had told me to help myself to any food in the house, so the first thing I did was rummage. I rummaged through cupboards, fridges, freezers, pantries and even the food storage in the basement.
I found a variety of chips, ice cream and candy. The chips I dumped into bowls and set on the table, then I decided it was too late elementary birthday party so I dumped them back into the bags and set them, in a very unorganized and not so classy fashion, on a counter in the kitchen. The candy I left in unopened bags on the counter, and put the ice cream back in the freezer to save for myself.
Then in a frenzy, with my heart rate rising with every minute that I waited for him to show up, I raced to the bathroom, got out my hair brush and make up and started to make myself “beautiful.”
About ten minutes later I heard a car pull up the gravel driveway. Doors opened then closed. I realized I didn’t have any music on so I ran to the living room, popped in a CD. “Lets Get This Party Started” was instantaneously blasting. By then Adam was at the door, knocking.
I raced to answer it, my heart pounding in my ears the whole time. I was slightly sweaty, wondering if my hair looked okay, if my makeup was nice, if he would think I was silly or too young, what his friends would say when they saw me. I was so worried about them, that I failed to notice the phone quietly ringing amongst the music and all of our voices as I opened the door and greeted them.
We partied all night, eating chips and candy, drinking the beer they had brought which Adam got from paying his older brother. The music I’d chosen, which I didn’t particularly care for but put on because I thought they would like it, was switched almost immediately.
Adam’s friend Sam brought a mixed CD with hard rock and metal head bands like “A Perfect Circle,” “Rage against the Machine,” “Billy Idol” and “Metallica.” While rocking all through the night, laughing, drinking, trash-talking and badmouthing authority and “the man,” my conscience and wit for what was wrong and right became less and less evident. I swore more, I badmouthed my family and friends and really spoke and acted as though I didn’t care about anyone or anything but myself.
Looking back now, I can’t express how ashamed I am at the girl I was at 14. All I could think about was how much Adam liked me, how much fun I was having, and how accepted I felt among his grade-F friends. They seemed to think I was cool, and that’s all the mattered to me. It wasn’t until they left, at about three or four in the morning, leaving Adam (at his own request) behind to stay the night with me.
I knew what was expected of me that night and, to Adam’s great dismay and my relief, I didn’t deliver. As a matter of fact, once the party was over, Adam and I were left with the mess. And in the deadly quiet after all that noise, my conscience started to speak up again. A horrible sinking feeling seeped through my entire body. Did I do anything about it, you might ask? Nope.
I should have. I should have sent him home with his friends, but being the impressionable 14-year old girl I was, wanting to be liked and accepted by everyone, I let him stay, and he stayed. We slept in the same bed and in the morning I got up and started cleaning up.
It was about 8 a.m. My guilt was growing. I was cleaning the living room, moving things into the kitchen. After I had moved the last bottle into the kitchen I heard a knock on the door. Fear struck me. Guilt, and everything else that goes with “I’m caught!” flooded my mind and my heart. I ran to the bedroom and told Adam it was my mom. Like a scared rabbit he raced down the stairs and into the basement.
“I’ll hide! You get rid of her!” he told me.
So that’s exactly what I did. I opened the door and didn’t let her in. My mother stood there with a questioning look on her face. She asked me if I wanted to join the family for breakfast back at the house. She said I could eat with them and then she would give me a ride back here to do whatever I needed to do to at the house in order to get paid. When she and my father came home, she would come pick me up again.
I’ll never forget, as long as I live, the look in my mother’s eyes when I told her, “No, thanks, I’d rather stay and eat something here.” Silence. Sadness and worry filled her eyes. I wonder all these years later if she knew at that moment what went on the night before, and if she knew or not that Adam had spent the night.
If she did know, she never let on. Not right then anyway. She simply said okay, turned around, got in her car and drove away. At that moment, I knew it was over between me and Adam. I had defied my mother, disappointed her, and above all, made her sad.
As I shut the door, guilt completely overwhelmed me. Then, with a numb heart I walked slowly and silently to the basement. That is where I found Adam, hidden inside a little wooden house that the girls who lived there played with. They fit inside the house with all their dolls and the family dog. Adam’s head stuck out, despite his best effort to stay hidden behind plastic walls and glassless windows.
“She’s gone.” I spoke in a monotone, wondering what the hell I was doing with a guy whose balls were so small that he had resorted to hiding inside a child’s play house out of fear of his girlfriend’s mother.
At that moment I couldn’t remember what had attracted me to him, why I agreed to have him over to this house, why I let him bring his friends, and above all why I let him stay the night. I had sickened myself beyond belief and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about it, so I just turned around and went back upstairs to finish cleaning up.
He followed, talking up a storm about how he was so afraid and about how he thought the footsteps coming downstairs were my mom’s and about how he thought about going out the basement door and running all the way home just to avoid confronting her. All I could think was: “What the hell was I thinking?”
As Adam went on talking, I went on cleaning. I washed dishes, put garbage into bags, fed the dogs, and even got out the vacuum to clean the floors. Once this was all finished, and I had been practically ignoring him for at least twenty to thirty minutes, Adam still wouldn’t leave. So I went out onto the porch and looked at the view of the fields directly below, the trees in the near distance, and then out further towards mountains and the horizon. I just kept staring in silence, contemplating. Adam eventually came out and stood next to me.
There we were, a couple of kids standing on a porch of a couple of rich people who were away for the weekend. We stared into the distance. I said nothing. Eventually Adam spoke and asked if anything was wrong.
“Nothing,” I replied.
After a few minutes, Adam finally spoke up. “Okay, I suppose I should go then.”
“Alright then, talk to you later.”
And he was gone. Out the front door, onto the driveway, down the street. Walking the ten kilometres back to his house. I didn’t even care. I didn’t look at him when he said goodbye. I just stared off into the distance with a coldness surrounding me.
Adam felt that coldness and when he called me the next day I was still cold. I told him it was over. I didn’t ever want to see him again.
The pig then had the nerve to practically yell at me. “It’s your mom who’s putting those ideas in your head. You shouldn’t be such a coward. Why don’t you stand up to her and be a rebel for once in your life. At least then you might grow some backbone!”
That’s when I completely lost it. “I’m a coward? Me? I’m not the one who was hiding in a little girl’s play house because I couldn’t confront my girlfriend’s mother! No! That was you! You talk about being a rebel and standing up to ‘the man’, yet you won’t even stand up for me! How dare you call me a coward! This has nothing to do with what my mom wants. This is me! I make my own goddamn decisions and don’t you forget it! I choose to dump you! And I should have done it sooner!”
That was it. I would later run into Adam through passing on a street. I would introduce him to my newest victim where everyone would be all awkward and I would again ask myself exactly why I’m with this new guy. My mother on the other hand, as it turns out, did find out about my evening house sitting. We had a small conversation about it. She knew I felt guilty enough and therefore had the foresight not to lecture me about it, despite the fact that I was grounded for a month and had to paint all the fences on our property.
I don’t know if she ever told my dad, but she knew, and that was enough to guilt me into never doing anything to betray her again like that. There were other times of course, before this incident, and others afterwards. But nothing ever compared to the betrayal I felt I had delivered on that particular occasion. Of course we all make mistakes, are swayed by one thing or another. I hope I succeeded in making her proud.
Copyright © 2011 by Natalie Lang