Beatrice moved hurriedly down the hall reaching a stairwell and sprinting up two steps at a time. She reached the top, violently crashing into someone. Flailing her arms and on the brink of flying back down the stairs, she thought, I guess he lied, they’ll never let me leave. As she thought of her foiled escape, a firm but familiar hand grasped her shoulder and grabbed her wildly moving arm, pulling her back to the landing.
“Beatrice!” the being said in a hushed surprise. “Arthur?” she questioned. They looked at each other in disbelief.
“They said we could go”
“- He said I could go”
“Can you believe it?”
“Where is my mother?”
Tired of the unmoving banter, Beatrice gripped Arthur’s hand, dragging him forward. Arthur continued to blurt a series of questions, the same questions they had been contemplating since Janelle moved in down the street.
Half-way down the hall Beatrice slowed. She had a vague memory of walking up here as a kid. Uncle Gerald had the room two doors from the stairs on the right Grandma and Grandpa had the big room at the end of the hall. Her mother and father had the room on the eastern corner of the house with many windows, so her mother could see the sunrise. Of course they would keep her mother and Arthur there. When she reached the room Arthur had stopped babbling and looked at Beatrice with astonishment.
“How did you know which room? Did he tell you?”
“I remember this room as a kid.”
Inside her mother turned to them with her eyes wide; Pepe waddled – he really had put on weight – with excitement toward them.
“I need something to wear and then we need to leave. Now,” Beatrice demanded.
Arthur nodded in agreement, but said nothing. His face was blank, though Beatrice knew he was contemplating.
“They are letting us go for a reason,” he said solemnly.
“I agree, but I am not letting them know and I am leaving,” Beatrice declared, “We can figure out what their plan is once we are out of here and in contact with your colleagues.
“What did you dad say to you, Beatrice?”
“Your father is here,” gasped her mother.
“Yep,” replied Beatrice changing into a pair of purple tie-dye jeans, probably from Janelle’s teen years, which she found crumpled in the closet. “Good thing I lost weight,” she mumbled to herself.
“Anyway, he has been there the whole time, watching us. He said he ‘needs me’ for them to be successful again.” Fully clothed, she tosses her mom a coat, scoops Pepe off the floor, and walks to the door. Striding right up to Arthur, Beatrice says, “For three years, we had a marvelously stable life. The past several months have been insane, but I know who you are and what you can do. Get us out of here. Please.”
He stared, astonished by how much she had changed, knowing he would do whatever she asked.