They were adorable, but I did not want to babysit tonight, I had plans and I had to cancel them. I had no choice, if I wanted the car they promised to buy me when I passed my test. It was blackmail, and they knew it. I could not afford to buy one. I had saved up my money, from all the babysitting jobs I had done, to pay for my lessons.
The door opened, Mrs. Porter stood before me, wearing a tight red dress. Mr. Porter wore a suit and ushered his wife to the door.
“We need to go,” he said and turned to face me. “They can stay up for another hour and a half, but then they need to take a bath before they go to bed. If you don’t mind?”
“I can do that, have a lovely time,” I said as I watched them leave.
“We will, and thank you for agreeing to babysit, we know it was last minute.”
“If I am honest I don’t mind usually…”
“I had plans of my own tonight but my mum left me no choice.”
“Now I feel bad,” he said. “I didn’t know, this was last minute, maybe we should stay home.”
“No we are not, she is here now, let’s go,” Mrs Porter said, almost shoving her husband out the door. He apologised and allowed his wife to walk him to the car.
“It’s okay, I’m here now,” I said, closing the door behind them. It was true I was, my plans were not set in stone, but I had made plans for the first time in months to go out with the girls.
The children had not moved, I ran the bath, and set out there bed clothes. I came down the stairs to find the children gone. My heart raced as I searched the house, they were nowhere to be seen. They couldn’t have just disappeared, maybe they were playing hide and go seek. I had played it with them in the past, but every hiding place I looked they were not there. This was not funny, they were usually good and never played tricks on me. It was then I saw the backdoor open, and as I raced to it I saw the tank that I was not fond of. It was home to the newest addition to the family, a snake. I did not know what kind, I didn’t care. I realised then, the snake was gone, and the children I feared had somehow let it out and now were searching for the snake.
“Children, are you out here?”
I stepped outside, the cold air hitting me as if it was slapping me hard. There was a shoe that belonged to the younger of the two children. Had they been taken, or had they just gone in search of the snake. I was scared that they had been taken, should I call their parents or search for them, just in case I worried them for nothing.
It was then I decided I had no choice but to search for them. I closed the door and made my way out of the gate, into the dark alley. It was empty. I switched my phone to the torch app and allowed the light to fill the alleyway. It was empty, just a few pieces of litter and a teddy bear, which belonged to the children. I picked it up and hurried on. I came to the end of the alley and had a choice to make, left or right. Had the bear been a clue? I had no idea, but continued forward, moving at speed, ignoring the blast of cold air that bit at my arms, I had not fetched my coat before rushing out the door, now I regretted it.
I swallowed and scanned the street. I thought I saw two young children that looked like them from behind, but as I approached them, and touched one on the shoulder, the child screamed and ran away. It was not them.
It had been half an hour, should I go back, what if they had come back and I was gone, I had no idea where they were or what had happened. I turned and made my way back to the house. I was scared of the reaction of what my parents, and their parents would say. I had only left them alone for ten minutes as I did every time to run the bath, and set out there bed clothes.
I arrived back, entered the garden and then the house. It felt oddly quiet. I opened the door and entered the house. I tiptoed to through the house and swept through it again, calling out to them. Still nothing.
I walked to the front door and opened it, there was one more place I should check, one last place, maybe in hindsight I should have checked first.
As I made my way to the door, I picked the keys of the hook and walked outside. I may have overreacted because as I walked towards their fathers pick-up truck, there they both were in the car, as if nothing was wrong, making car noises as they pretended to drive the truck.
I yanked the door open and shook my head at them. I was to relieved to scream and shout. So many thoughts had run through my head, I lifted the younger of the two out, she had only one shoe on. She must have rushed out after her brother and the shoe came off in her hurry.
“Never do that again, you two, now bath, go.”
Neither apologised, just walked up the stairs, took a bath and climbed into bed. Neither had even realised how much they had scared me. It was then I realised that the snake was still missing. Had it got out when I opened the door, or was it somewhere in the house? I did not like snakes, and the thought of it being here somewhere I wanted it found. I made a choice and called Adam to come and help me, my girlfriends would not pick up a snake no more than I would.
He arrived in an hour, after I told him the whole story and he was patting my hand, telling me he would help me find it.
They arrived home, to find us on our hands and knees in a position that I can only imagine did not look great, because they yelled at him to leave and told me to do the same. I tried to explain, about the snake. They were to angry, saying I had let them down, bringing a boy to their house and doing what we were. They were wrong.
I hurried out of their house, Adam stood there at the corner waiting for me, apologising to me. Why was he doing that, he, we did nothing wrong. We never found the snake and now I was going to get into trouble. I told him not to worry, that it was fine, and thanked him for being a good friend.
“It was my pleasure, but you know I like you a lot more than a friend don’t you?”
“I don’t know what to say, but I like you to Adam.”
“But as friends?”
“For now, I think I need to sort out this mess first.”
“I can wait, I want to walk you home, but not sure that is wise, under the circumstances.”
“I would have loved that, but I can imagine they have phoned my mum.”
“Okay, be safe, see you tomorrow, maybe?”
I nodded and walked home, slowly, knowing what I was walking into. I had not even stepped one foot inside the house, when my mother screamed my name, and ordered me into the living room. Where she grilled me for an hour and told me the car was no longer an option.
I stood there, taking it all, because I knew she would not believe anything I said, not a word of it. Once she had said her piece, grounded me and promised me that I would never have the car she promised me. I was sent to my room.
I sat on my bed, my phone in my hand. I sent Adam a message and apologised. I knew that my parents would not believe me, that my mother would believe them over me.
He replied saying he hoped the snake turned up and had not escaped.
For three days, my mother ignored me, not even looking me in the eye. Until the fourth day, she sat opposite me and placed a small box before me.
“What is going on?” I asked.
“I should have listened to you, I know that now.”
“I am apologising, I should have known you were telling me the truth.”
“Don’t tell me the snake has turned up now and they believe we were searching for it?”
My mother nodded.
“Good, but I am telling you this now, I am never babysitting for them ever again.”
“But Adam wasn’t my boyfriend, but I do like him and maybe he will one day be, and if we were going to do what they thought we were, it would never be in the middle of that in some ones house.”
“Okay, but open your gift.”
I titled my head and removed the wrapper, and inside was a keyring.
“A key ring?”
“Well, it would have a been a car key, but you have not chosen one you want or passed your test, but this is my way of saying we are still buying you that car.”
“Yes, sorry just not seem enough to say, but it’s a start, sorry, I really am.”
A start it was, I thanked her, and said it was fine, I was still angry she believed them over me, but I would forgive her, she was my mother.
I invited Adam to come to tea, meet my mother, and when he arrived, I took him to my room and closed the door.
“You know you said you liked me.”
“Yes,” he replied, standing before me.
“Well, now that I am no longer grounded and that mess is sorted. Do you want to go out some time?”
“I would like that, but no more snake hunting!”
“I would never ask you to do that.”
“Good, because I hate snakes.”