I walked down the corridor, slower with every step. I cracked the door open to the office where my father sat in his chair, and as usual, on a conference call. The sound of the creaking door got his attention; confusion was clear on his face. I never go in here. He quickly recovered to his usual impenetrable eyes and inscrutable countenance. My heart continued to race, hands clamming up yet again, guilt filled my conscience. With his expectant look, I had to say something.
“Father, remember the paella I had to make for a Spanish project?”
He narrowed his eyes. “Yes, what about it?” he asked.
I felt like I was about to throw up, my stomach filled with remorse, I already regretted this decision. But it was too late to back out now, recalling from memory, I answered. “I have to make another Spanish dish for the class, we are making churros and chocolate. We are planning to do it at Angela’s house since we made the paella at our house last time. She’s coming to pick me up in an hour, I might need some money because we have to go to the Spanish market to get the ingredients for this recipe.” It sounded rehearsed – I definitely screwed up. I suddenly heard a creak from the door. Please be my sister or my brother or the wind or anything but my mother, otherwise I will be spread like baba ganoush on pita bread. I turned, and guess who it was? Mother! Before my mother said anything, my father had told her about my Spanish project. My father was scary enough, with his overbearing build, he seemed like that giant troll from Harry Potter, Grawp. Except instead of being a friendly giant, he would use his strength to tear down anything that opposed him. But asking my mother for something was like asking a spawn of Satan for a favor. She noticed every detail, which was why it was crucial for me to stay completely still and keep an enigmatic expression while talking to her. I had to seem relaxed and show no fear, or otherwise I would be put under the Guillotine within a split second, no doubt.
“How long will you be gone?” my mother inquired.
“I have no clue. The last time we made paella it took five hours.” My heart speed doubled, my mouth became dry, and my hands had a slight quake that I was striving to conceal from both parents on either side of me. While my parents were discussing what my fate would be, I was busy in my mind going over every part of my scheme I meticulously arranged.
Finally, after a thorough discussion between my parents, understanding that this was for a school project, my father handed me ten dollars and I went to gather my school things. I couldn’t believe it. This was working.
My phone buzzed, the screen read “Text from Angela Orzel: I am here, bring ibuprofen.” I checked the time- 5:12. Damn it, we’re late. I poured 10 pills in my hand and ran out the door, I shouted “I’m leaving now, I will update you on the project!” I always had to call my parents when I arrived somewhere when I was without them, and update them on where I was, what I was doing, who I was with; it was quite exhausting. But I knew for this I had to keep up with this requirement or I would get caught.
I reached the car, sat down and let out a sigh of relief. My parents couldn’t see me. I’m free. I’m out of the house, alive. I felt invigorated, liberated, I couldn’t contain myself. I felt I could do anyth-
“You couldn’t bring a bag?” Angela asked, laughing, interrupting my thoughts of freedom. “Sorry pal, I saw we were late. I hurried on out before my parents could change their minds.” I replied.
“Dude, you’re crazy. I have no idea how they bought that or how you’re going to pull this off. I am actually scared for you.” She asserted.
“Bro, me neither.” I derided from the subject, I didn’t want to think about it, then screamed: “BUT ARE YOU READY TO SEE RIHANNA?”
We screamed together. Driving out of my driveway, we blasted the entire discography of Rihanna on our way to the United Center. As we sat there driving through traffic, screeching the lyrics to “We Found Love,” and I truly felt happy. I don’t even care if I get caught, it’ll be so worth it, I’ll have no regrets ever.
After the concert, Angela drove me home and I felt a pang of anxiety, yet again. I couldn’t help but panic at least a little. Throughout the concert, I gave “updates” on our churros, how we burnt one batch and had to bake another, how the Spanish market was twenty-five minutes away, how we had to make many batches, how long the chocolate sauce took to make, and the many worksheets we filled out… I completely lied to my parents, but I still had no regrets! The concert was amazing and honestly life-changing. My main fear was getting into trouble, and I felt apprehensive to what my fate would be. But I knew I planned every part of tonight to the minute. I updated continuously, making sure to text at the right times, and having reasonable excuses ready, I knew I was safe.
I reached home; the lights were still on. It was 12:19AM, I knew my father would still be awake, probably on another conference call. I opened the door, and I saw him at the kitchen table, seemingly waiting for me. He asked, “How was the concert?”
I froze. Who told him? He doesn’t know Angela or her family, I didn’t post it anywhere, I didn’t tell anyone, how could he have known? Nevertheless, I still had no regrets. That concert was worth whatever punishment is at the end of this discussion. I was prepared to accept being grounded for life, not being allowed to go to any social outings, have my phone taken away, whatever it may be, I was ready. But before I could answer, he continued,
“I put a GPS in your phone when we bought it. Did you really think you’d be able to get away with going to a fucking concert without us knowing?”
Damn it. I’m going to be spread like that baba ganoush on pita tonight.
He continued, “At around 8PM, I started wondering where you were. I texted you, but you kept making excuses for me not to come pick you up, saying you still needed to record a video, or make more churros, or do more worksheets. I checked where your phone was, and there it was!” He pointed to his computer, the map of where I had been. “The United Center! I look and see there’s a Rihanna concert there, and checking your Spotify, that’s all you’ve been listening to the past two weeks, which tells me you’ve been planning this for quite some time!”
“I’m… sorry.” I mumbled. What else could I say? I wasn’t sorry, and it seemed unfair to me that he put a GPS in my phone without my knowledge, and totally went through my private information, although I should’ve thought of that.
He shook his head and returned to his work. After two solid minutes of silence, silence that I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with, he said, “You’re lucky I’m not telling your mother about this. She’d make sure you wouldn’t live to see the light of day.” He sighed and went back to his conference call. This was something I wasn’t prepared for. He seemed disappointed, but he didn’t ground me or punish me in any form. He didn’t even tell my mother. I said before I didn’t have regrets, but that was when I thought if I were to get caught I was going to have to face the wrath of both parents, where they would unjustly take my entire life away. I was ready to be upset and angry with the punishment. But I saw the disappointment in my father’s face. Was this worth it?
The answer… Definitely. Given how things are going, it might have been her last concert.