Melissa was of the opinion that her parents were far too strict. The rest of her classmates were allowed out on Friday and Saturday nights to the cinema or to each other’s homes, but she was expected to be home before dark like a little kid. No matter how much she pleaded, ranted and cajoled they simply would not budge, her father in particular.
So she found a solution to her problem. She still put up verbal resistance, otherwise her parents would have become suspicious. But regularly on Friday and Saturday nights she would plead tiredness and retire early to her bedroom, where she would stuff her bed with jumpers to look like she was asleep. She even put her sister’s wig on the pillow. Then she would open her bedroom window, carefully so it didn’t squeak. She would climb out down the drainpipe, leaving the window open just a crack, enough to open it on her return. Then she would shin down the drainpipe into the garden. There was a flower bed right under her window that provided a soft landing.
Carefully she would creep round the side of the house, over the low gate at the end of the drive, and off down the street like a shadow, hugging her secret close to her chest. Some of the girls had to be home by midnight, but now Melissa had discovered the art of sneaking out she could party as long as she liked. Sometimes she went to the next town with older friends, doing the rounds of the clubs. With her face made up she looked older than sixteen, and she was fortunate to be quite tall.
Melissa didn’t go out every week. Her allowance and the money she made helping her sister at the hairdressers on Saturdays didn’t stretch that far. And she didn’t want to push her luck too much. But she loved the freedom and power of knowing she could go out if she wanted.
The second time out she overdid it a bit on the alcopops at Robbie’s place and had a bit of trouble climbing the drainpipe in high-heeled sandals. But by trial and error she developed a method of climbing down in trainers and old jeans, then changing into her party gear in the shadow of the garden shed, leaving her jeans and trainers for the return climb in a bag stuffed under the shed. Apart from learning how to escape the house she was also learning how to handle alcohol and escape the clutches of amorous lads.
Melissa realised it was bitterly cold one Saturday night as she climbed out of her window. Cold enough for snow, she thought, scanning the cloudy skies. But her friend Jessie’s older brother Matt and his band were playing at the Bunch of Grapes, and there was no way she was going to miss it. She hurried into town, and once in the pub went straight to the ladies to repair her makeup and windswept hair.
The band played brilliantly, and Melissa felt at the heart of the ‘in crowd’. It was a fantastic party night, but she was careful not to drink too much. Matt even gave her a lift back to the end of her road, albeit with Jessie present. But it seemed he liked her, as he said he hoped she’d come to their next gig.
Melissa was cold and tired by the time she’d climbed back into her bedroom and crawled into bed around two a.m. However she was soon warmed by thoughts of Matt, who was almost a rock star.
Her father fixed her with a frosty stare when she emerged from her room after nine, yawning and rubbing her eyes.
‘I met Jessie’s father in the paper shop just now. He asked how you enjoyed the music last night. Jessie was allowed out as a special treat because Matt’s band was playing and he was surprised to learn you were there. What have you got to say for yourself, girl? Did you take my keys from my coat?’
Melissa feigned surprise. ‘Of course not, Dad. He must have got me mixed up with another of Jessie’s friends.’
Melissa’s dad narrowed his eyes. ‘We’ll soon see. It snowed last night, and you would have left footprints in the garden.’
Melissa relaxed, knowing there hadn’t been any snow when she’d returned home. Fortunately it must have fallen later.
She stood behind her father in the doorway as he looked out over the pristine snow-blanketed garden, unspoiled by footprints of anything larger than birds.
However she didn’t realise that she’d dropped one of her best shoes while climbing the drainpipe. For now it was hidden under the snow, but who would discover it first when the snow melted?
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015