Saturday, August 9, 2014

REALITY CHECK by Lillian Csernica **Summer Blog Writing Challenge**

The Challenge:
In 3,000 words or less write a story about a girl that has never been allowed to leave her house. Why do her parents keep her hidden? Does she find a way to escape?

The Result:

Lillian Csernica

     Sherrie sat there at the metal table, on the hard metal folding chair.  Her jeans were still damp, and her long brown hair needed combing.  The air conditioning gave her a chill.  She had to go to the bathroom.  She wondered how Momma was doing.
     It had just been Sherrie and Momma for as long as Sherrie could remember, with Sherrie stuck inside the house every single day of her life.  She must have had a father once.  Momma probably drove him away just like she ran off everybody else with her holier-than-thou attitude about how the world was full of evil.  Momma said it at least once every single day.
     "You just remember, Sheryl Ann.  The world is full of bad things and bad people."
     Sherrie lived in a nice enough house in a pretty neighborhood with big maple trees that turned red in autumn.  Momma had been a teacher once.  Sherrie hated being homeschooled.  She wanted to go to high school with her best friend Cindy and have a locker and watch football games and maybe even go to a dance.  Sherrie watched cable shows about high school life.  She and Cindy talked about them online.  Sherrie could watch TV because Momma said all that was just make-believe anyway.  As long as nobody took it seriously the shows couldn't do any harm.
     If Momma hadn't given her a really good laptop and a DSL connection when her schoolwork started to get complicated, Sherrie would have gone insane.  Even when Momma set the filters to maximum, Sherrie could still learn so much and talk to so many people.  She met Cindy on the fansite for her favorite TV show.  Thinking about that made Sherrie shut her eyes tight.
     One night when she was twelve years old, Sherrie decided there had to be something wrong with Momma, or at least with Momma's view of the world.  She lay there wide awake, watching the clock, listening for the familiar sounds that told her Momma finally went to bed.  Sherrie pulled on her jeans and a sweatshirt, then tiptoed through the house to the kitchen door and unfastened all the locks.  She eased the screen door open, slipped out, then shut it without a sound.  Sherrie took four steps out onto the patio.  Lights blazed everywhere.  Blinded, Sherrie tripped over one of Momma's plants.  The pot broke.  Sherrie landed on the shards.  They ripped her jeans and cut into her leg.
     Momma came running out through the kitchen door, still tying her bathrobe.
     "Sheryl Ann!  What are you doing outside?"
     "I just wanted to look at the stars, Momma.  That's all."
     "I hope you got a good look, young lady.  You won't be seeing them again."
     The next day, Momma had a new security system installed with cameras and keypads and everything.
     Sherrie was so excited.  Cindy wanted to visit her in person.  Cindy's boyfriend was a computer genius.  He could unlock the doors from the outside.  When the hands on the clock hit midnight, Sherrie turned off the outside motion sensors.  Cindy popped up by the kitchen window.  She gave Sherrie a big grin and waved.  Five minutes went by.  The green light on the security keypad next to the doorknob flickered, then lit up again.  The knob turned and the door opened.  Sherrie slid out through the screen door, closed both doors, then turned and threw her arms around Cindy.  She had on a really short skirt with fancy leggings and a purple blouse with spaghetti straps and streaks of color in her short blonde hair.
     "You're here!" Sherrie whispered.  "You're really here!"
     "I'm here!"  Cindy took her hand and pulled her toward the street.  "Sherrie, this is Dave.  He's got a car."
     "Hi, Dave.  It's nice to meet you." 
     The tall shadow behind her spoke.  "Hey."
     Dave had a black Chevy Camaro.  Sherrie climbed into the back seat.  Cindy sat up front with Dave.  She twisted around so she could spend the whole drive laughing and talking.  Sherrie watched the stores and gas stations and all the neon signs flash by.  At the beach she took off her shoes and socks and ran barefoot through the surf.  The stars were so bright.  As pretty as they were, they made Sherrie think of Momma.
     "Maybe I should go back now."
     "No way!"  Cindy laughed.  "Let's go get something to eat."
     "What, at this hour?"
     They drove to an all-night diner where Gina and Dave seemed to know everybody.  Now Sherrie could see Dave.  He made her nervous.  Black jeans, black T shirt, black leather jacket.  He had a long black ponytail.  When he took off his jacket Sherrie saw his tattoos.   Up and down both arms, even on his neck!  Cindy didn't look like her picture online.  Her clothes were too tight and she had on a lot more makeup.
     Sherrie at her last French fry and finished her Coke.  "That was great.  Thank you.  I really think I should go home now."
     Cindy looked at Dave, who just stared back at her.  Cindy turned that big grin on Sherrie.
     "We can't go back yet!"
     "Why not?"
     "Well, I mean, it's Saturday night!  The clubs are still open."
     "Cindy, we talked about this.  I don't have a fake ID.  I want to go home.  Now, please."
     When Dave turned onto Sherrie's street, she saw three police cars pulled up in front of her house.  An ambulance parked in the driveway.  All the red and blue lights streaked across the other houses.  Dave jerked the wheel and the car slewed over to the curb.
     "Get out."
     Cindy sprang out and yanked the seat forward.  She grabbed Sherrie's arm and dragged her out of the back seat, then jumped back in the car.  Dave made a U turn and sped away.  Paramedics wheeled a gurney out through the front door.  Momma lay there with an oxygen mask on her face.  Sherrie didn't even know she was running until a policeman caught her and held her back.
     "Please!  My mother--  Is she all right?"
     "You're Sheryl Ann Carson?"
     "Yes.  What happened?  Momma!"
     A man in a suit walked up to Sherrie.  "I'm Detective Ross, Miss Carson.  Where have you been?"
     "At the beach.  I went out with my friends.  Then we stopped to eat."
     "What are the names of these friends?"
     "Cindy and Dave."
     "Last names?"
     "I--I don't know.  They never said."  Sherrie pulled free of the policeman.  "Would you please tell me what happened?"
     "Your house has been robbed.  Your neighbors called 911 when they heard your mother screaming, trying to find you."
     How could this happen?  And on the one night she'd finally gotten out....  Then the awful truth hit her, and she started to cry.
     Now Sherrie sat at the metal table on the metal folding chair, waiting for the detectives to come back and ask her all those questions all over again.
     Momma was right.  The world really was full of bad things and bad people.