The drive back home was quiet. Fredrick focused on getting us home before my parents as I sat in silence replaying the scene I’d just witnessed over and over in my mind. Was I unfair to feel anything against Elliot when I know my parents have not made his life easy? I thought this question countless of times. A part of me wanted to demand Fredrick to drive me back so I could confront Elliot. But a deeper part of me kept me sat in my seat with my mouth shut.
When we’d arrived home, I got out the car and waited for Fredrick to escort me back to the house. He’d seen that something had gone wrong, but didn’t question it. Something in me respected Fredrick for his silence. There were times I caught his eye as he stole quick glances at me during our drive home and now as we walked towards the main door, but nevertheless no words left his lips. Once we were inside, I started making my way to my room when Fredrick called my name.
“Miss Alexandra, if this is any consolation, things will fall into place.” I manage to place a small smile on my face and made my way to my room just wishing I could erase the scene I’d just seen.
The next few days following the Elliot incident I kept to myself. I played the role of the famous Harold’s daughter to the best of my abilities. Keeping quiet when I wasn’t spoken to, responding only when I was asked a question and casting my gaze towards the ground like the obedient daughter my father always wanted. Without consciously wanting to, my mind would drift to Elliot every few moments. Torturing me ever so slightly. I’d reminisce about the nights where we’d find ourselves speaking for hours upon hours, or how we’d steal kisses when we’d managed to find ourselves seated at the same event and that fateful night on the balcony… Then the memories would be burned out by the image of him laughing at the racial jokes against my father. My eyes watered slightly, I thought what we had was real? I close my eyes, trying to shut out reality when my mother’s voice pulled me out of m thoughts.
“Alexandra, did you hear what I said?”
My mother said across the dinner table. She always insisted we sat and ate dinner like a normal family, but these humans didn’t understand me and didn’t want to. Father was always first to excuse himself from the table and mother acted as though she wasn’t hurt however, her face spoke the words of pain and disappointment that her mouth failed to utter.
“Sorry.” I muttered, blinking the water away from my eyes that threatened to fall. “Could you repeat it please?”
With an exaggerated sigh she started again, “I was just saying to your father, Mrs Monroe from the ‘Give for All’s’ charity event we met two weeks ago, mentioned her son graduated from law and was single.”
She smirked at me as though I’d be jumping out of my dining chair with joy. I sat watching her blankly wondering who this Mrs Monroe was.
“Who’s Mrs Monroe?”
My mother looked irritated, probably at the fact that the only thing I managed to pick up from her statement was Mrs Monroe and not her single son, who she was clearly trying to partner me with.
“She was the one who spoke about hosting the dinner party for the wives and daughters of those within the charity club?” I nodded as though her sentence managed to put pieces to the puzzle, she so wanted me to see. She looked at my father who seemed less interested than I did. With a non-receptive crowd, my mother decided to continue on with her one-sided conversation.
“Well, we’ll meet him this Friday at the St. Augustine Ball. Kevin, I believed was his name.”
I looked to my mother this time. The ball… how could I forget the stupid ball? Elliot would be there. His father would shake my father’s hand smiling from ear to ear, when truly he wanted to see the downfall of my family. It’d be too much for me to bear with. Even as I sat frozen in the comfort of my own home, I couldn’t fathom how I was meant to deal with the inevitable that seemed to be fast approaching. I looked at my father and then back at my mother who gave me a quizzical stare.
“I don’t think I’ll be attending the St. Augustine Ball.”
“Excuse me?” My father was first to talk. Scowling as he watched me in disbelief.
“I think it’d be best if I don’t attend the ball.” My voice shaking slightly, sounding less confident the more I spoke.
“And why would that be?” My mother, now joining in on this war against me said.
“I’m aware the Winston family will be attending and for that reason alone, staying at home would be the best choice.”
My father looked shocked as I spoke. It was obvious that they hadn’t expected me to want to stay at home, let alone the reasoning behind this be because of Elliot and his family. I could almost see the smirk formulating on my father’s lips as I confessed why I wanted to stay behind. My mother still bewildered spoke,
“Well you’ll be attending as you’ll be meeting with Mrs Monroe’s son. There’s no question about that.” I looked at my mother as she spoke, wanting to scream at her but finding myself clutching tightly at the serviette that lay on lap.
“If you’re happy for me to see Elliot again –”
“Don’t you dare mention his name.” My father said interrupting me. I looked between the both of them feeling like a cornered mouse. I just couldn’t win with them. It was always the way they wanted things done. If my actions swayed just slightly off course, I was dragged through hell for it. Feeling suffocated and angry, I rose from my chair, causing the chair to fall back creating a loud bang. My fists clenched in frustration as the serviette remained tightly held in my hand.
“Alexandra Bennett sit down!” My father shouted, standing also. My anger seething as I stood meeting my father’s stare. I was tired of being who they wanted me to be, talking to who they wanted me to talk to and loving who they deemed acceptable. I wasn’t a child anymore and I was not going to be treated like one.
“I said, SIT DOWN!” He growled, causing my mother to stand. All three of us stood, chests heaving in anger towards each other. My eyes locked with my father’s, aiming not to fall under his scrutiny. Weakly, my mother spoke trying to regain some order during her precious dinner time.
She stretched her arm towards my father, trying to transfer some calming energy to him. But the very fact I remained standing was what kept the flame in his eyes alight.
“You’ll go Alexandra and that is it!”
He turned to leave when something deep in my chest exploded. One moment I was meant to follow their rules and ignore Elliot and the first opportunity of me doing what they wanted, I still managed to be in the wrong?
“What do you want from me?! You want me to stay away from him, even took my bloody phone just so we didn’t speak…”
“Alexandra!” My mother shouted.
“And now when I don’t even want to see him, you’re forcing me to attend a ball where he’ll be? I can’t win with you both!” I threw the serviette on the table and left the dining room; walking passed my father as I did so. Our eyes never breaking apart until I was out of the room and pacing up the stairs towards my bedroom. Once I was back in my own domain, I slammed the door and laid face forward on my bed and allowed the emotions that had built within me to pour out into the pillow that cushioned my face. Feeling hopeless and powerless to the clutches of my family and to Elliot’s betrayal, I found myself crying until I lost consciousness.
I was awoken by a knock on my door and then the noise of it opening. My eyes blinked slowly, adjusting to the light but also to the aftermath of crying for hours. I felt terrible and knew I looked worse. Still in my dinner clothes, I slowly sat up on my bed as my mother closed my bedroom door behind her.
“Alexandra…” I watched her, feeling defeated. She looked back at me and for just a second it seemed as though she genuinely felt upset at the sight before her. It looked as though she wanted to say something, anything that could smooth out the events of yesterday evening… “Get ready, we’re going out.”
With that she left and closed my door behind her. What was the point? Who could I turn to? Elliot was no longer my escapism and my parents caged me like a trapped bird. A bird was luckier than I was. My wings were clipped before I had a chance to fly. I sighed and walked into my bathroom, ready to live a life that clearly wasn’t meant for me.
Fredrick was ready in the car when both mother and I descended the steps just outside the main door. She entered at the left side of the car, whilst I took the right door, behind the driver. I wasn’t aware of where we were going, yet what was the point in asking? I sat silently watching the world go passed me, wondering what life would have been if I had been born into a normal family? I wouldn’t have met Elliot. My heart thumped as I thought of him. I missed him so much, there was something about his presence that parted all my problems away from my mind and heart. He was my Moses. I needed him, he was the only thing that made everything bearable, I couldn’t lose him yet.
I’d let him explain what happened last week. I needed him to explain, if I didn’t hear what he’d have to say who else did I hope would save me from this hell that I lived in constantly? I closed my eyes and remembered his breath against my skin, his voice in my ear, his touch… my thighs pressed tightly together remembering how he took me on the balcony. I couldn’t let my mind think about what more we could do, I couldn’t tease myself with the thought that would never come – not with the way my family were.
I bit my lip and took a deep breath. I had to decide what I wanted to do, stick with my family or follow my heart.