A Price to Pay

Kathy Santiago, Featured Columnist

     I did something so stupid; it took me two years to make up for what I did. The memory lingers on in my mind like a VCR tape on rewind.  I’ll never forget the look that my father gave me. I’ll never forget the tears streaming down from my mom’s hazel eyes. The trust that I had was ripped out from their hearts, leaving a gaping hole waiting to be healed once again.

     “Hey babe, it’s time to get up,” said my mother peeking through the door way.

     My eyes felt as if they were stapled shut. I couldn’t get them open. Something was on my face and it smelled like Doritos. It was smooth with a leathery touch, but with little hairs scraping my nose. I opened my eyes and saw my dogs two inch paw on my face. His stared at me wagging his tail.

     “Ugh, Jackson you need a bath,” I said.

     I rolled out of bed noticing my shirt was all twisted up, trying to squeeze my chest. I grabbed my PJ pants and slid them on ready to go eat breakfast. Jackson jumped around letting me know he’s ready to take a wiz.

     By the time it was 8:30; I was out the door and walking to school. It was another muggy day. The clouds were so low you could see them floating right by you. All the kids in the neighborhood were flooding out their doors trying to escape their mothers’ kisses.

     “Kathy! Wait for me. Hurry up, Marcio. We’re going to be late,” yelled my close friend Rebecca.

     She ran down the hill, with her long brown straight hair flopping from side to side. Her glasses reflected the sunlight that covered her green eyes. I was shocked by the fact that her ebony skin showed way too much.

     “Why aren’t you wearing your uniform? Also, what in the world is up with your shorts? You can’t even see them.  It looks like your butt crack is sucking them up,” I said, pointing to show her.

     She rolled her eyes and shoved me to the side. Marcio looked at me with a sorry plead in his eyes and went ahead, following her. In the locker room, music played from old CD players and girls dolled themselves up for the boys next door. I stared at my lock, remembering how it’s going to be my last week in New Jersey before I move to Texas. I shoved my clothes in the locker and closed it shut.

     “I’m going to miss this old dump,” I whispered to myself.

     I saw Rebecca sitting by my spot on the gym floor. She looked at me waiting for an apology knowing I won’t give her one.

     “So, you still are talking to Will? He kept messaging me how he misses you,” she said leaning in closer.

     “I’ve been really busy. Besides what’s he doing talking to you? He’s your ex,” I said sounding annoyed.

     “We’re just friends, ok? We always get into arguments anyway, so I really don’t care that you two are dating.”

     I stared at her sensing that something isn’t right. A shadow appeared hovering over us. We looked up noticing our gym coach was waiting for us to finish talking.

     “You two, go run four laps outside now! You better not come back till you finish,” she yelled while we scrammed for the door.

     “Hey Kathy slow down, I can’t run fast like you.”

     She caught up to me sweating and out of breath.

     “Damn Beca, you need to lose some weight. We’re not even halfway done on the first lap,” I laughed at her, pinching her belly flab.

     “You can say all you want about my flab, but you have some talking to do about those pictures.”

     My heart froze in place. I shot a look at her wondering how she found out. My ribs felt soar from the intense beating of my heart. I stopped.

     “When did you…”

     “He showed them to me. Bragging about how I never did that for him,” she said twirling her hair with a sneaky smile on her face.

     It was five o’clock and I was restless. What if she showed them to everyone now that she has those pictures? Cold sweat dripped off my nose making puddles on the kitchen table. I felt the tension in my spine stiffen up. My nails dug deep into my scalp trying to squeeze out the stupidity that’s left inside. I walked to the fridge and grabbed an apple to ease my tension.

     “Kathy, come upstairs,” said my mother.

     I walked up the stairs stepping two at a time just for the workout. I reached the bedroom door and found her sitting on the computer chair staring at the screen with the phone on speaker. The room was dead silent, leaving goose pumps as Jackson scurried away knowing something isn’t right. All you could hear is the sound of my apple rolling away on the wooden floor.

     “What is this,” she said with a chill to her tone.

     She pointed at the photo. A girl leaning forward exposed her light colored breast, captured in a polka dotted bra. Her brown curls defied gravity as they lingered around her cleavage. A girl my age stuck out her tongue in a rock star image. Her fingers inched to the side of her hips advertising her lacey underwear. I couldn’t believe she found my picture on Facebook.

     “How long has this been going on Kathy? How long… did you think you could hide this from me?”

     My arms trembled. The vibration pounded the side of my thighs shaking my whole body. I choked out the words that     sent her patience flying.

     “For two years you’ve been doing this?! You Slut, look at yourself. Look at what you’re doing. I can’t believe this. I can’t,” she cried out in tears screaming at me.

     I dropped to the floor and cried.  I cried my eyes out; I cried till they went dry.

     “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean for this to go too far. I only wanted to feel the love that he gave me. His words made me feel pretty and wanted,” I cried holding onto the side of the computer desk.

     The sound of my hiccups echoed through the room.

     “It’s ok. I’m not mad at you…I made the same mistake when I was young,” said my father through the speaker phone.

     My eyes widened out to the disbeliefs of what I just heard. I looked up to hear his voice losing trust in me. My mother stood up and walked to the door, not glimpsing the sight of me.  She stopped midway and raised her head to the ceiling.

     “You know Kathy, God sees all,” she said leaving the room.