Lexy’s mom was sitting on the sofa when Alexis entered the house. “Hi Mom,” Lexy said easily. Glancing at her mother’s face, however, was enough to tell Lexy something was wrong. “What’s wron–?” she started to ask before she spotted the object in her mother’s hand. Lexy’s face blanched.
“Where did you get this?” her mom demanded, holding up the pencil. Lexy didn’t know what to say and just stood there dumbfoundedly looking at the piece of wood that would change her life. “Alexis!” her mom raised her voice. “What is this about? I want to know where you got this.”
“Calm down, Mom. I can’t tell you where I got it, but I can show you what to do with it.” Feeling bold, she picked up the pencil from the table and wrote slowly and purposely. “A-l-e-x-i-s. Alexis,” she said. Her mom was incredulous.
When she found her voice, she yelled, “I demand an explanation Alexis Ryan! You must tell me where you got this. I’m not asking you.”
Alexis stood her ground. She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Mom. Please understand–I made a promise. I can’t tell you.”
“A promise?! To whom?” shouted her mother. “You tell me, Alexis. This is a serious offense. I need to know what’s going on. It’ll be easier for you if you just tell me how you got this.”
“I really want to Mom, but I just can’t break my promise. I’m sorry. Please try to understand,” Lexy pleaded.
“Hmmphf,” her mother grunted. “I’ll talk to you father about this. We’ll see about a promise.” She left the room in a fury. Didn’t her daughter know the seriousness of her crime? She could put the whole family in jeopardy. Breaking the rules was considered a family problem. How could she have learned to write? Cynthia wondered. She’s been monitored since birth, never been exposed to anything from the old times. And now this. Her head pounded. What were they going to do?
Alexis bolted upstairs and checked for her book. It was still there. Then she sat and thought. She was sure something major was going to happen. She didn’t care what happened, no matter what, she would not tell them about Wynn. I just don’t see why it’s so bad, Alexis thought. Why such a big deal? So I learned how to write. She lifted her face from her hands and listened. She heard her parents arguing downstairs. She moved closer to the door so she could make out what they were saying.
“A pencil!?” she heard her dad yell. “Where would she have gotten a pencil?”
“That’s what I asked her, Jerry, and she said she made a promise to someone that she wouldn’t tell us where she got it.”
“This is crazy, Cynthia! What kind of a mother lets her child get involved with this?!”
“Why are you blaming this on me? I’m just as surprised as you are!” Cynthia shouted back at him.
“Well, you’re her mother!”
“And you’re her father!”
“Yes, and I’m going to do something about this. That girl will tell me where she got this damn thing.”
“Jerry, that’s not all–she knows how to write with it too,” Cynthia told him in a quiet, serious tone.
Jerry looked sick. “How could she? How? When? Let’s get to the bottom of this right now. Get my belt!” he ordered. “We’ll do this the old-fashioned way,” he declared.
“Now Jerr–wait a minute! Let’s remain in control.”
“Shut up Cynthia–go get my belt. Now!! Alexis!!!!” he screamed.
Alexis grabbed her duffel bag and stuffed her book inside; she didn’t notice one of the pages fall to the floor. She lunged the window open and hastily stepped through it onto the roof. Inching carefully down on her butt, she reached the edge of the roof and stretched her leg down to the drainpipe. Swinging herself around, duffel bag around her neck, she quickly climbed down, being careful not to tear the pipe from the side of the house or to make too much noise. She half slid, half jumped down the pipe and touching the ground, she ran through the backyard and cut across the neighbor’s yard, hiding herself from view and ducking behind the garage before her dad could spot her. She could hear him calling her name. “Alex—isss!!! Lexy, come back here right now!” he yelled out the window.
“Damn!” Jerry cursed. He couldn’t believe his daughter had jumped out the window and was now running across the neighborhood. No sense chasing her, he thought. Eventually she’ll be back. Deal with her then. Cynthia came into the room with his brown leather belt.
“You’re too late. She took off out the window,” Jerry told her. “For now, we’ll search her room. Maybe we’ll find some answers.” He flung open the closet door and started digging through boxes. “You look under the bed, then check the dresser drawers,” he directed Cynthia. She silently obeyed.