2001 Anne Horton Writing Award
"A Broken Promise"
The first rays of early morning sun crept through the torn and battered blinds, and hiding nothing. The light only made me more aware of the damage that had happened the night before. The floors appeared to be a sea of dried mud and grass and all of the rooms reeked of cigarette smoke. I rose from my place on the kitchen floor where I was relentlessly scrubbing and looked out the window to the horror of an ocean of bottles and cans in the yard, and the still-saturated. early-spring lawn to he nothing more than a labyrinth of wheel ruts and tire tracks. I slumped to the floor with a sigh, half from frustration, and half from trepidation, as I knew that my parents would he returning home soon from their weekend getaway.
Leaving only two days prior to the incident- my parents went over the endless list of rules that my sister and I would have to follow while they were gone that weekend. My mother sat me down in the kitchen and recited the same verbose commands that I had heard the last time they were out of town. Her words began to sound like a monotone humming when all of a sudden she stopped. I snapped out of my daze and she stared me straight in the eye and said, "You know Sarah. Your father and I trust you, and we think that you are old enough to stay at home by yourself with your sister now. We want you to keep us thinking that way, so we don't want to conic home to find out that there had been a wild party in our house." She meant every word she sand I reassured her that I could be trusted. I had planned on having a couple of my close friends over. But nothing that would need to he brought to her attention. They walked out of the door with their bags in- hand and she once more made me promise her that everything would be okay. I told her that I would call her ifanything went wrong and she seemed to be a little lighter on her feet as she walked to the car.
I had planned on having a few of my friends over the next night but I had to work and I would not be home until later. I called a few of them to let them know that my sister would be home and they could come over and wait for me to get there. I was so excited to get home that night and have all of my friends waiting for me that 1 practically' tripped over myself to get out the door and into my car. I was on the road to my house, which was bordered by tall grass and weeds, when I noticed something unusual. Living in the country means that I never see many more cars than our neighbor's or our own. But every time that I saw my house through a break in the tall grass I could see more headlights pulling into our driveway. Getting nervous, I sped up and I was soon witness to what could have been a scene out of an after school special. Twenty or thirty cars were taking up the vast space that used to be my yard and I could already see that I was going to be in trouble. I parked my car out in the barnyard and hurried into the house praying that it would not be as had as I was imagining it.
Opening the door to my porch, I was greeted by a cloud ofcigarette smoke and perfect strangers. I was completely speechless and remembering my mother's words, I immediately began cleaning up the spilt beer cans, picking up cigarette butts, and searching for my friends to find out what was going on. A few moments later I spotted them in the mass of people and over the thumping of the loud music asked them what was happening and where my sister was. They could not answer my first question, but they pointed upstairs to my parents' room to show me where Rachael, my younger sister, had gone. I made sure she was okay, and then I made my way down the stairs to begin the dirty work of kicking people out of my house. I breathed a sigh of relief all too soon, because before I knew it, there were Lee County Police coming through the door.
As if a bomb had gone off, the masses of people ran through every opening in my house available. Scampering like frightened deer, they were going through the front door, back door, and even through the windows. I stood in the midst of all the chaos and explained to one of the officers what exactly was going on. By this time they had arrested a few people and were on their way back to the police station.
The only people let now were my sister, my best friend Lindsey, and myself. We started to clean up what looked like a landfill and before we knew it, the sun was coming up on a new day. I knew that it would take a few days before the smells of stale beer and cigarette smoke to be aired out, but I only had one day to do it. We tried our best to wash down the mud-crusted floors and deodorize the stale- smelling rooms. I thought that we had done a good job and when my mom called later that day I told her that everything was fine.
Later that afternoon I left for work. Not long after I had gotten there, I was told that I had a phone call from my mother. As I hesitantly approached the phone, I knew that it was not going to be good. I answered with a meek hello and by the tone of my mother's voice I knew that she had found out what happened. She became angrier and angrier, and I could almost feel her hot breath through the phone lines. I was terrified to go home, because I knew that they were not happy.
Only the night before all I wanted to do was get home. But now I found myself doing anything I could to stay away. Eventually, I pulled in the driveway and saw what had given away my secret. I had forgotten about the tire tracks in the yard that would have been the first thing my parents saw when they pulled in the driveway. I walked in the door and the looks on my parents faces were of pure fury. I sat down at the kitchen table and they began what would end up being an endless, two-hour lecture on responsibility.
Although my parents were very disappointed in me and it took them a long time to regain my trust, when everything was over. I guess that I had learned a valuable lesson. I will make sure that I am home before my friends come over, because I never quite know who is going to think that they are invited.