“We can finally be successful again.” Beatrice had no interest in her father’s definition of success and refused to play any role in him achieving it. Beatrice was suddenly aware that she needed to get out of that room. She needed to escape, to find her mother and Arthur. Before, she’d been safer in the room by herself, separated from the cousins. But now, she wanted out.
Her father was standing on the side of the bed closest to the door. She was standing opposite him, contemplating her options. Beatrice examined her father, wondering if he would try to stop her if she left. He was tall, but slim. His shoulders hunched over him, and there were dark circles under his eyes. Still, Beatrice had learned long ago not to underestimate a person based on his appearance. After all, Gerald Jr. used to wear tape on the arch of his glasses and had an assortment of pocket protectors- one for each day of the week.
She refocused her attention. Her father was saying something, “…can you believe it, Birdy?” He looked at her expectantly, but she said nothing. He continued to ramble and reminisce, and Beatrice continued to ignore him. She moved a step to her left, testing to see how he would react. He angled his body to face her, but didn’t move from his spot. She moved another step. Again, he didn’t move. One more step. Her father stopped talking, but again, he didn’t move.
Were the cousins waiting outside the door? Is that why he wasn’t trying to stop her? Did he think she wouldn’t actually try to escape? Was he testing her?
“You know, you’re about as subtle as your mother with a bullhorn.”
“You don’t know anything about me.”
“Beatrice, I know I wasn’t around. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t keeping up. I know more about you than you could ever imagine.”
Beatrice stood silently, resolved not to give her father the satisfaction of getting to her. For a split second, she turned her attention to the door, and wondered if she’d ever escape.
“I won’t stop you,” her father said, as if reading her mind. “If you want to walk out that door, I won’t get in your way.”
Was he tricking her? What was on the other side of the door?
“It’s not a trick, I promise,” he added, placing his hand over his heart. “Turn right. Go up the stairs. Your mother and Arthur will be there.”
Again, Beatrice had the nagging suspicion that something was very, very wrong. Why would her father just let her go after going through all that trouble to get her there?
“I’ll even sit down, if that makes you more comfortable,” he said, sitting on the edge of the bed.
Beatrice walked cautiously out the bedroom door. To her surprise, no one was there. She looked to her left and then to her right, debating whether or not to trust her father. She flipped a mental coin, and turned right.