Second attempt with the present tense…
I have a look at the watch as the bus reaches the final stop. It’s only seven thirty but it’s already pitch black outside. The last couple of passengers get off the bus impatiently, as if they were anxious to get to whoever is waiting for them at home. I stay still in my seat, staring through the window at the fine rain outside and praying for the driver not to realize I’m still there. I just want him to go on driving. Nowhere. Forever.
“Last stop, love!” he says looking at me through the rearview mirror.
I put on my coat and drag myself and my ragged school bag off the bus without even saying goodbye to him. He’s a nice chap. He always waits for me when I’m late and he sees me breathlessly running and waving from the distance. Sometimes he even forgets to charge me for the ride to Uni. It’s not actually fair on my part to take it out on him like that. But I don’t care.
I walk down the street without even bothering to open the little umbrella my mother put in the bag before I left home that morning. She’s always so annoyingly caring… Sometimes I wish I had mistreating parents; that way I wouldn’t feel so bad for behaving the way I do.
I’m about to open the little and rusty gate that gives onto our two square meters of ridiculously tidy garden, when I notice my father’s car at the end of the street. He can’t be home already! I look at my watch again only to realize that I have lost track of time completely. It’s ten past eight, which means he’s been home for like ten minutes only. If I’m a lucky he might have just jumped in the shower. I cannot break the news to both of them at the same time. I just can’t.
I’ve hardly slid the key through the keyhole when my mother opens the door for me with her apron and oven mitts on.
“Hi hon… Oh, dear, you’re soaking wet!” she exclaims when she sees me. “Didn’t I put a brolly in your bag?”
“Yes, mum. Is dad here?”
“Then why didn’t you use it? For heaven sake, it’s almost below zero outside!” she rattles on as she goes back to the kitchen and starts rifling through the pans. “Sometimes you behave like a two year old, really…”
“Mum, can we talk?” I ask her after checking my father’s nowhere to be seen. He must be taking a shower or something. In any case, that’ll give me enough time to get through this.
“Look, this chicken looks lovely, doesn’t it?”She grabs me by the arms and drags me to the oven for me to contemplate her masterpiece.
“Yes, mum, looks great. Mum…” I suddenly hear the upstairs toilet flush and remain quiet until I make out the sound of water running in the bathtub.
“Why don’t you go get changed and help me set the table?”
“Mum, I need some money,” I ask bluntly.
My mother looks at me surprised. “And… since when do you need my permission?” She smirks before returning her attention to her chicken. My mother’s always been quite relaxed when it comes to money. Ever since I was twelve I was allowed to take whatever I needed from her purse. Mind you, my mother probably knew that I had no friends to spend it with, so I never took more than what I needed for school stuff, which wasn’t much anyway. “You know where my purse is. Have look and see what your father’s left. He also took something for fuel and…”
“I need five hundred Euros, mum,” I mumble lowering my gaze.
“I need five hundred Euros.”
“I heard that already. What for? That’s quite a bit of money.” She’s turned off the oven now and removed her oven mittens. “Silvia, what’s happened? Is it that guy?”
“Shhh,” I shush her looking upstairs. “Dad doesn’t need to know…”
“Oh yes, I’m fed up with this story, Silvia. It’s lasted long enough now and I can’t live like this anymore, all these secrets…”
“What happened? His wife found out? Are they blackmailing you?” she exclaims covering her mouth with her trembling fingers in that melodramatic way I hate so much about her. Sometimes I think she would have been an excellent actress. “Oh my goodness, is that it? I knew nothing…”
“What?” My dad is standing at the kitchen threshold right behind me with a bath towel around his waist. All I want to is curl up and die right there.
“Oh, God!” I push my dad to one side and make my way to the living room not knowing what I’m really doing. I start biting my nails and pacing the room up and down like a mad person. When I look up, both my parents are standing there at the door, one in her flowery apron and the other in a scarce towel. Petrified. “What!”
“Honey, what’s going on?”My father asks as he carefully takes a step towards me.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes. “I’m pregnant and I need 500 Euros to have an abortion tomorrow.”
“An abortion…” my father mumbles. “Are you sure?”
“Why don’t you ask him for the money?” My mother sneers. “He has a job, right?”
“Yes,” I answer to both of them, although they probably don’t know.
“Sure he has a job!” my mother goes on. “He has a family to provide for, right?”
“What? A family? Is he married?” My father looks from my mother to me as he runs his fingers through his hair nervously. “Did you know about this?” This time he’s looking at my mother.
“Of course I know! I’ve known for months!”
“But… why didn’t you tell me?” He looks at him imploringly. I shrug my shoulders and keep my gaze low. “Do I know him?” I can feel how his initial confusion is giving way to a rage that I’ve only witnessed in very few occasions.
“No,” I lie. I look at my mother suppliantly.
“And you? Do you know the bastard?” he asks her.
“No,” she covers me lowering her gaze. I wonder why lying becomes so much easier when you don’t look at the person in the eye. My father, though, seems to trusts us too much to suspect anything.
“Who is he?” he asks me.
“That’s not your business,” I snap and regret it immediately. I look at him, standing there, looking at me with a mixture of deep disappointment, sympathy and love. “He’s no one, ok? It’s over now. I just need the money for tomorrow, otherwise I’ll have to wait for…”
“I’ll give you the money if you want to,” he interrupts. “But do you really want to?”