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He sat on his sofa, leg bouncing up and down like a jackhammer breaking into concrete. His palms were slightly sweaty and he was sure his heart was about to beat out of his chest. “Fuckin Patricia,” he mumbled. Trying to will himself to calm. 

Deep breath. Count backwards from one hundred. Ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven….

What the hell did she even want that day? Was his ‘no’ worth all the fallout? 

Patricia was consistently petty. Their little spat when they were kids got worse when they found out they were cousins. Now she could bully him whenever she wanted. At least when parents weren’t around. He had tried and failed to figure out what her issue with him was. It got worse when she started hanging out with Mom. She played the “Daughter you never had” role way too well and now she had her fake claws in his mom. She was the sister he never wanted. 

Ultimately her pettiness cost him. Or maybe he’d asked for it. 

What did she say again? Karma is a bitch. Cousin. 

Funny. Cause Dru had played Karma Police thinkin he wouldn’t guess it. Aman shook his head, half laughing and sighing at the irony of it. All because he didn’t help her with whatever bullshit she wanted him to do. 

Ninety-six, ninety-five, ninety-four…..

Now he was in some deep shit. Which sucked. So much good had come out of that party. Freedom, bonding with friends old and new. A chance to be himself somewhere other than in his room. It had kicked off the best couple of weeks he’d ever had. School had been a breeze, all of his classes were interesting and challenging. Dru was now a part of the crew and things had been chill. It had all been perfect.

Now? Aman knew he was likely to be grounded forever. At least until he was leaving for college. If he even decided to go. So maybe longer than that. Maybe he would live here well into his 30s, with a 8pm curfew and guests only over during “visiting hours”.

Ninety-three, ninety-two, ninety-one, ninety.

He was waiting, for what felt like an eternity but had really only been about five minutes,  for his parents to show up. The whole scene at the dinner table was surreal. Like everything was moving in ultra slow motion, with a crazed man laughing in the background. Like a chopped and screwed remix; sluggishly moving in some parts, glitching in others. Sometimes unbearably loud and sometimes barely audible. The rappers voice deep and drowsy. Except it was Dimitri’s, anger seeming to seep out of his body in slow heavy waves. And mom sounded heart-broken like he had betrayed her deeply. Which he probably did.

Eighty-nine, eighty-eight, eighty-seven….. He could hear two sets of footsteps coming up the stairs. 

Eighty-six, eighty-five, eight-four……

The door swings open with some force, startling him slightly. The cool air of the hallway rushed into his room sending a chill down his spine. Dimitri and Heather entered. Dimitri’s eyebrows were knitted tightly together, like he had a migraine he was trying to get rid of. Heather trailed behind, her eyes cast down to the floor, darting to his occasionally. Filled with a mix of betrayal and sympathy.

A deep sigh filled the air, otherwise the room was eerily quiet. It unnerved him. Usually Dimitri would yell, get loud and tell him off. Now he just stood there, looking in his direction but not really at him. He could feel his father’s eyes boring through him almost. As if he had x-ray vision and he was trying to figure out just by looking at him, why he had decided to disobey the house rules.

“Was it worth it?” he asked, his voice deep and low.

Yeah, it was, that’s what he wanted to say. But saying that would get him slapped or worse, so he said nothing. 

Dimitri finally focused his vision on him, sending a shiver up his spine. “That red haired boy who was here the other day. Was he droppin’ somethin’ off cause you left your shirt, huh?” his eyes fell to Aman’s pile of dirty laundry. The pink “feel good” shirt laid right on top, its motto screaming at anyone who looked at it.  Aman still didn’t answer.

“You know the rules boy. Why did you willingly break them?” he laughed bitterly, ”I been tryin to think and figure out why you would go behind our back and do this. But. I can’t. So your gonna give me an answer. And you better open your mouth and speak this time,” his voice was veiled with threat. 

Aman sighed, it was now or never. This would be the only chance he had to stay what he felt. So fuck it. “I’m tired of being in this fuckin’ house all the time. I wanted to go out. So I went out. I knew ya’ll would say no but–”

Hearing himself say the word fuck made him flinch. But whatever, dad told him to talk. He was gonna talk. No matter how hard his heart was beating in his chest. 

Another bitter laugh escaped Dimitri’s lips, “You have the audacity to be tired of this place? Huh Aman? You know how much we sacrificed for you boy?” It sounded like a rhetorical question but he answered anyway. 

“Sacrificed what dad? We live in this nice ass neighborhood, in this nice ass house. You and mom both have good jobs. We live comfortably. Like what is there to sacrifice??? Why you gotta sacrifice stuff for me dad? I ain’t ask for that.”

“Because your my son. That’s why. How dare you question why I would do what I needed to do to keep you safe.”

“Keep me safe from what though? We live in one of the best neighborhoods in Del Sol! What’s there to keep me safe from?! Our neighbors leave they doors unlocked and shit, we ain’t had cops rollin around the neighborhood and shit. Your idea keeping me safe is keeping me locked up in here–”

“Aman, sweetie, when you have kids you will understand. You will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.” Heather interjected, trying to satiate the tension in the air.

This made Aman grow even more frustrated, “But I don’t even know why! Every time I ask ya’ll give me this same excuse,”

Dimitri’s nostrils flared, his eyebrows nearly touching each other, “Watch your tone boy. We do it because we love you and we don’t need to explain the details. You need to trust we will do what’s right by you at all times. Even if you don’t like it or agree with it.

It was the same thing his dad said every time. Usually it was the final nail in his coffin. But not this time. Now? It was senior year, he was taking risks. Living. Breaking out of the shell he’d been confined in for years.

“Whose Violet, ma? And Dad, why ain’t you wanna talk to Uncle Ken about your family. Matter fact, you ain’t told me anything about my grandparents or nothin. All I know is my hatin ass, fake ass cousin Patricia, and Uncle Ken. Why we never talk about my cousins on your side, if I even have any? Or ma, why we never talk about when you was growin up? Why Uncle K and Patricia the only family we got?” All the questions he had been mulling over for years finally bubbled up to the surface. Spilling out of him like a washer overloaded with detergent.

Dimitri flinched, he saw his mother suck in air and place her hand on her father’s back. Almost like she was keeping him from tipping over from the shock of the questions, even though she seemed to be swaying on her own feet.

“Don’t ask questions you don’t want the question too boy. We ain’t talkin’ bout that, we talkin’ about you ignoring the rules of the house, and the fact that you actin like you grown.”

“I’ll be 18 in a few months! I am almost grown! Ain’t no other 17 year old at my school gotta be home by 8 dad. You know how lame that is? I can’t go hang out with my friends after school and if I do I gotta text my folks first? You dunno how much shit I get from my friends…kids at school. But I respected it and I been a good fuckin’ kid. I do my homework. I listened to your rules and the one time I break them you act like I—I–”

“Aman. Baby. One day, we will tell you everything. But right now you just need to trust we are doin’ the best we can to keep you safe and that’s all you need to know.” Heather’s tone was light, but wavering like she was holding back tears.

He nearly rolled his eyes. Closing them instead. “Whatever.”

“Whatever huh. Then I guess that’s gonna be your attitude for the next 2 months while you think about your “grown” decisions.”

“2 months!? How are you even gonna ground me? I don’t even fuckin go anywhere or do shit.”

“Well apparently you do if you goin’ out partyin’. Your curfew is now 6PM. You come STRAIGHT home. No Alex or Naoki or anybody better be comin’ by this house. Especially not that redhead boy. I don’t like the looks of him and he got a smart mouth. Your game station-whatever it is you always playin’ on is mine. Only reason I’m lettin’ you keep your computer is ‘cause you need it for school. Otherwise, I better not catch you playin’ nothin’. You can spend your time thinkin’ about why you chose to act grown and not listenin’ to the rules. You better be grateful your momma don’t believe in whoopins’.”

“K,” Aman mumbled. What else was there to say. His father was stubborn and no matter how much bitchin and moanin he did, he would never change his mind. Heather stood uselessly behind him like a deer in headlights. Shaking her head slowly, her grip on Dimitri’s shoulder tightening as if keeping him from leaping forward or to keep herself from collapsing.

“Can I just go to bed now please,” he asked. Itching to be alone. 

“You can. But first give me your phone,” Dimitri extended his hand palm up.

“For why?” Aman shrunk back, securing his cell in his pocket against the plush seat of the sofa. 

“Now. Aman,” Dimitri said with some force. The room seemed to shake with the reverb. Aman reluctantly reached in his pocket pulling out his cell and handing it to his dad.

“Password,” he shoved it back in Aman’s face. 

Aman swore he would faint at any moment. All his texts were saved, he had all kinda shit on there he did not need his parents to see, and he had no idea what Dimitri was after. 

Dimitri started scrolling and typing on the phone, nearly causing Aman’s heart to stop. 

A moment later he handed it back to him. 

“There is a GPS tracker installed on your phone, if you go anywhere I will know where you are. The only reason I am telling you is so that you can redeem yourself. This is me being fair.”

Aman was flabbergasted. 

“I will know if you take that app off your phone. I advise you to leave it.” 

There was absolutely nothing he could say. He stared at his phone in shock. Mortified. 

What now?

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