The young teacher walked up and down the isles of the classroom, took one more look at his watch then spoke. “Pens down everyone!” Around the room there were sighs of relief, silent cursing and heads buried in hands. “Come on class, your essays couldn’t be that bad!” The teacher said as he walked around picking up the various essays off the desks. He glanced down at the sheet he was holding. “Tanya you forgot your name.” He said as he placed it back on her desk. She scribbled her name and handed it back to him. “Paul you honestly couldn’t think of anything at all to write about?” Asked the teacher as he spoke to one of the boys at the back. The boy was leaning back off his chair laughing with his mates. “Mr. C I couldn’t, seriously, this old war crap, its hard.” Spoke Paul as he ran his hand through his hair. I couldn’t help it; I let out a grunt of distaste at his remark. Mr. Cooper turned to me. “Grace, I see you do not agree with Paul, do you think it was a hard essay?” Asked Mr. Cooper inquisitively. “Of course four-eyes wouldn’t, she has no life except for school!” One of the guys from the back commented. “There is a lot you don’t know about me you little shit!” I said to him. “Grace, watch your language. However, you deserved that Ryan.” Mr. Cooper said as he cleaned the whiteboard which had algebra all over it. Finally the end of day bell rang and I gathered up my books. I hadn’t realized but I was still packing up when I was the last one left. Mr. Cooper turned to me. “Grace, you don’t have to put up with that you know.” He said, referring to the guys. “I know that, but I only have one more year of it, then I never have to see them again, and I really can’t be bothered because immature people like them will always have something to say. See you tomorrow Mr. Cooper.” I turned on my heel and walked out of the classroom. Once at home, I walked up to my pretty pink bedroom and wondered when my parents would ever let me grow up. I had a canopy bed; it was every little girl’s dream bed, but not this adolescent. From my pink bed sheets, to the lace trim on my curtains. It was the bedroom of a 10 year old and I was stuck in it. Seventeen, well through my puberty stage, yet still pretending that I am mummy and daddy’s’ little angel. I went over to my window as I heard a car pull up. It was dad; his black shiny BMW gleamed in the sunlight. He got out of the car and walked up the driveway, he waved to me as he passed my window. I waved back smiling through my tears caused from the pain that I felt every single day. Feeling an urge to write down my feelings, I pulled my journal out from my mattress and sat at my desk. I skimmed over my last entry. It was smudged with tear marks; I could barely make out the words. I slammed the diary shut as I heard my mother call me from downstairs. I plastered a smile on my face and went downstairs. “Hi honey, how was school?” She asked from the kitchen bench where she was busy doing her usual crossword in New Idea magazine. “It was ok.” I said, as cheerfully as I could. “Daddy is taking us out to dinner tonight!” She said with a smile, looking up from her crossword. I silently wondered: how old do I have to be before my parents stop referring themselves as mummy and daddy? “That’ll be good, where are we going?” I asked, fiddling with a tassel that was on the bench. My mum must have been making cushions or something; she always left tassels lying around when she had been sewing. She put down her magazine and looked at me. “Sofia’s I think. Gracie, you would tell me if something was bothering wouldn’t you?” She asked, taking my hands in hers. I wanted to scream in her face, “Yes, I would, but only if you were human enough to accept me for who I am and treat me like an adult!” But instead, I lied again, “of course I would mum.” She squeezed my hand and tucked my hair behind my ear. I hate it when she does that. I just feel like yanking my hair back the way I had it, but I don’t. I stared at my mum. She was beautiful. Shiny shoulder length chestnut brown hair, tanned skin, green eyes and a mouth full of sparking white teeth. She barely looked 40. I had my father’s looks. Mousy brown hair, brown eyes, pale skin. I’m not attractive but I wouldn’t say I was ugly. The clothes I wear don’t really do me any justice. My dad walked through the door whistling. He was manager of a bank in Melbourne; he really raked in the money. “Hello darling.” He said as he kissed my mum on the cheek. She smiled at him. I couldn’t get over how perfect they were. Never fought, never even got angry. I suppose it was because they had money. Money is the route to all problems. If you haven’t got it, you’re bound to have problems, and if you’ve got it, it will cause problems. “Hi Gracie, how was school?” He asked as he poured himself some juice. Once again, I felt like telling him how I really felt, instead I would lie again. “It feels good to be back.” I said through clenched teeth. The tassel I had been fiddling with had come apart in my hands. I went over and placed it in the bin before my mum could notice. “Alright I am going to have a shower.” I announced, as I turned and walked upstairs. Once upstairs I stood behind the corner and listened to my parents. “What is wrong with her?” Asked my father quietly. “I don’t know Nick, I don’t know if she is rebelling or if something is on her mind. She should know that she can talk to us about anything!” Said my mother as she turned on her stool and faced my father. I rolled my eyes and went into my bedroom. Apart from the pink and prettiness about my bedroom, I really like it. It has an ensuite with a really nice spa bath. I turned on the taps to the shower and jumped when I heard my phone ring. I loved my ring tone; it was the Sex and the City theme. I was about to pick it up when I noticed who was ringing it. Shaun. I had met Shaun at this underage club thing I had snuck out to with some friends and he had been calling me ever since. I threw the phone under my pillow and let it ring. By the time I had my shower I picked up the phone. Nine missed calls. “This guy is desperate!” I exclaimed out loud. I opened my draw and tried to find the most boring clothes I could, which wasn’t hard because all of my clothes are boring. Not like my friends’ clothes. Their parents buy them all the latest trends and my parents by the latest clothes for grandmas. I combed my hair and put on some fruity lip gloss and went downstairs. “Gracie, what’s that on your lips?” Asked my mother in shock. Were these people serious? A girl can’t even wear lip gloss these days. “Just lip gloss mum, my lips are dry.” I said, forcing a smile. “Alright guys lets go.” My dad said as he came down the stairs. My dad always smelt like Calvin Klein, it was the nicest smell in the world. Once in the car, there was an awkward silence. Finally my mother broke it. “Gracie, I forgot to tell you, Jacinta called for you while you were in the shower.” Said mum as she applied lipstick in the glove box mirror. Jacinta was one of my best mates and the coolest girl in school. We had nothing in common but each other. People couldn’t believe that she even hung out with me, we just happen to get along so well. My mum spoke again. “You know, I don’t approve of you hanging around that girl, I saw her at the mall yesterday and she was smoking!” My mum said in shock horror. I rolled my eyes for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. “Mum she is eighteen and old enough to make her own choices, if she wants to smoke cancer sticks then that’s her problem, it’s not going to change my opinion of them or her.” I waited for my parents to speak. This was the first time I had spoken my mind in what seemed like forever. “Gracie it’s not like you to have such a strong opinion.” My father said as he looked at me in the rear vision mirror. I fought the urge to say “my name is Grace not Gracie, I am nearly eighteen, and I have an opinion on everything” but I just kept quiet like always. We arrived at the restaurant and it was packed. I loved this restaurant. It had so many artistic paintings and sculptures. The meals were always served on huge plates to make it look like you had more food than you actually did. I Walking in I noticed a group of girls I went to school with. They were the snobby girls who thought everyone loved them, but everyone hated them. Once at the table, my father started talking. “So, Gracie, have you decided what University you would like to go to next year. Deakin offers a very good law degree.” My dad always spoke so knowingly. It was as if he knew absolutely everything. Come to think of it, he probably did. I finally decided to speak my mind. “Well, the course that I want to do isn’t an option at Deakin dad, in fact I would like to go to Tafe.” My mums jaw dropped. “Grace we cannot send you to tafe!” My mum exclaimed. “But it’s the best graphic Art course around.” I explained, staring down at the table, dreading what came next. “Grace, lets get one thing straight, you will never get anywhere in life in graphic Arts. Maybe doing a little bit of freelance stuff, but it’s not a proper job!” My dad’s voice turned very stern. I knew by this point it was time to let it go, why should I do what I want, I never have I may as well not start now. Once at home that night, I crawled into bed. I sat up when my phone started ringing. “Hello?” I said with a yawn. “Gday dickhead.” It was Jacinta. “Hi Jac, what u doin?” I asked through my yawn. “Well, I was just going to ask if you wanted to come out, but it sounds like you are buggered.” I heard her blow a bubble into the phone. “But not you, you sound like you’ve just woken up after 2 weeks of sleep, why you so hypo?” “Coz I’m excited!” Jac said with a giggle. “So do you want to come out or not?” she pressed. “You know what my parents are like; I’m barely aloud to go out during the day… But I suppose I could sneak out my window again.” I said, staring at my window. “Ok cool, meet me at the end of your street in 15 minutes, tonight is going to be wicked!” She hung up before I got to ask where we were even going. “I had only gone out with Jac twice and both times were great. She had this way of making boring things so much fun. I had a few items of Jacinta’s clothing at my house that I could wear. Her clothes were nothing like my clothes, she had the best taste and so did her mum, who continually bought her things. Jacinta’s family was the complete opposite of mine, she were comfortable but not rich. She lived in the same neighborhood as me. But her parents were so easygoing; she was pretty much aloud to do anything she wanted. This is fair enough because she is eighteen. I slipped on a pair of her jeans and a nice Billabong top. I grabbed my phone, and bag and went out to the balcony. There was a tree that could get me to and from my window very easily. I eased my way down the tree and jogged across the lawn, carefully dodging the sprinklers. Once at the end of the street, I spotted Jacinta’s little VW bug parked on the side of the road. She motioned for me to hurry and I jogged up to her car. “Hey, I like your top.” She commented sarcastically, clearly knowing it was hers. “Oh, and the jeans too, very nice!” She said in a posh voice. “So, where are we going Jac, it better be somewhere good because my parents would have me taken away if they knew I wasn’t home right now!” I explained, clearly concerned about what I was doing. “Grace cool it, you’re eighteen next month and your parents treat you like a bloody 5 year old, it’s a bout time you were aloud out of your cage!” Jac said as she lit up a cigarette. She offered one to me and I shook my head. “I think its coz I’m all they’ve got and they want to keep me young for as long as possible.” “Or, they are just mentally ill!” Jac said as she ashed her cigarette in her overflowing ashtray. “Jac that’s disgusting!” I said, pushing the ashtray back in. “Oh, here we are!” She turned her car into a driveway of a house I had never seen. “Jac, where are we?” I asked worriedly. The house looked like everyone was awake. Every light was on, and there was loud music coming from the garage. “Tristan’s house silly, his parents have gone away and he is having a party!” She opened the door and stepped out of the car. Not before checking her reflection one last time. I felt like telling her that her make-up couldn’t possibly have wiped off from her house to here but I didn’t. We walked up the driveway and I suddenly wondered why I had come here. Tristan was Jacinta’s’ new boyfriend. He was pretty nice, extremely good looking and filthy rich, what more could you want? Tristan answered the door with his shirt off. He had a thick gold necklace on and his hair was wet, as if he had just got out of the shower. He scooped Jacinta up in his arms in one easy scoop. He put her down when he noticed me. “Tris you remember my friend Grace.” Jacinta said in a voice that didn’t sound like hers. “Cant say I do, but any friend of Jacinta’s is a friend of mine!” He said as he put out his hand to shake mine. He and Jac walked off together and I was in a house that wasn’t mine and I really didn’t want to be here. “Grace is that you?” I turned as I heard a guys voice speak from outside. I squinted to see who it was. Shaun. “Oh, hi!” I said as I walked towards him. I expected to see a whole group of people outside, but to my surprise it was just Jacinta, Tristan and Shaun. I suddenly realized that Jacinta had set this up. “Oh, wow, I see it’s just the four of us.” I said, giving Jacinta an evil look before turning and smiling at Shaun. I couldn’t believe how good he looked. Nothing like what I can remember at all. He seemed taller, and thinner. He had blonde tips through his hair and his blue green eyes seemed to sparkle. Jacinta stripped off to her bikinis and dived into the pool. Tristan was in not long after her. He was splashing and dunking her and she was laughing like a little girl. I hadn’t seen her so happy with a guy before, it was good. “So why haven’t you answered any of my calls?” Shaun interrupted my thoughts. “Sorry I’ve been busy.” I lied. “Are you kidding, Jacinta gave me the low down on your folks, apparently your not aloud to go anywhere1” He jumped up and grabbed a beer out of the esky. He offered me one and I took it off him. I didn’t really like beer but I didn’t care. I just wanted to feel the feeling of being tipsy and not worrying about anything, and especially enjoying every minute I was away from my parents. Before I knew it Shaun had come and sat behind me. He put his arms around me and spoke quietly in my ear. “I like you Grace.” He whispered. I thought about this for a minute. “Why would you like me, you could have someone a lot better than me.” I whispered back. “But I don’t want anyone else; I have been watching you for a long time. You’re not like other girls, you aren’t afraid to speak your mind and you don’t care what other people think. You’re really talented too. I’ve seen some of your art work in Mr. Smogers’ classroom. It’s really good, artistic and different, just like you.” He rested his chin on my shoulder. I was thrilled. I thought I was invisible at school, I thought no guy would ever notice me, but Shaun had changed all that. “The truth is Shaun, I am a seventeen year old girl, trapped in a ten year olds’ body. I’m not aloud to do anything, go anywhere. I’m not even aloud to wear make-up.” If something was a turn off, that would be. I waited for Shaun to say something. “Grace, your parents aren’t going to ever change unless you tell them to. If you wore different clothes, and maybe put foils in your hair, you would be gorgeous. I mean I think you are now, but you would be really hot then. Just tell them, because if you don’t, you are going to be trapped forever.” Shaun said as he took a swig of beer. I thought about the possibility of having it out with my parents. My mum would start crying, and my dad would be disappointed, I would be in hell, not to mention grounded forever. But Shaun was right, I couldn’t keep being so unhappy for them. He went over and dived in the pool, it took him ages to come up, I started to get worried. He finally came up and went down again, as he came up to the surface, I heard him say “Grace help me” I slipped off my shoes and dived into the water fully clothed. Once in the water I concentrated on pulling him up. Jacinta and Tristan were watching from the sides. I brought his face up to the surface and Shaun opened his eyes and spat water in my face. He then broke into a fit of laughter and so did the others. “See what I mean Grace, I don’t know any girl who would dive in a pool fully clothed!” He said, through his laughter. Tristan and Jacinta were cracking up. Tristan pulled her back into the pool, now it was all four of us, but I was the only one fully clothed. “Jac, I’m sorry if the chlorine ruins your clothes.” I said, swimming up to her. “What do I care, their just clothes.” She said as she dived under water. Shaun swam over to me. “So, Grace, what are you doing tomorrow night?” He was so close; I could smell the beer on his breath. “Sneaking out to see you.” He smiled and dunked me under water. A couple of hours past and before I knew it the sun was coming up. Tristan had lent me a shirt and a pair of his shorts, as my clothes were soaking from the pool. “Oh shit, I’ve got to get home; my parents are going to kill me!” I said as I jumped up off the couch. I am the only person I know who actually says that and means it. I always hear people at school saying their parents would kill them, but mine actually would. For the past few hours we had lounged around inside, watching movies and eating popcorn. The last movie we watched was some horror movie which was more humorous than scary. I laughed pretty much the whole way through it. I couldn’t believe that once upon a time it used to frighten me. “Ok Grace lets go!” Jacinta said as she breezed into the room. I couldn’t believe how good someone could look after having not one minute of sleep. “Alright wonder woman!” I said as I jumped off the couch. Shaun pulled me back down. “So will I see you tonight?” He whispered. “Yes.” I answered. I scruffed up his hair and walked out of the room. Once in Jacinta’s car, I suddenly felt extremely tired. “So are you up for tonight?” Jacinta asked in her usual bubbly voice. “I’ll tell you in about 6 hours, that’s if I’m still alive. With my luck, my parents will be waiting in my room for me. My mum will be crying and my dad will be angry.” I said with a yawn and a significant feeling of dread. “Well, I think it would be a good thing if they knew.” Was this girl kidding, my life would be over. Actually, I don’t really have a life to end anyway. “And why is that Einstein?” I said sarcastically. “Well, you would finally be able to be yourself around them and they would realize you have grown up and if they don’t like it, you can come and live at my house. We have a spare room and my parents like you.” I thought about this for a moment. It would destroy my parents if I moved out, so they would have to accept me for who I am. We arrived at my house, my dads car was parked in the driveway. I checked my mobile for the time. “6:45am”. My mum would still be asleep and my dad was probably in the shower, getting ready for his morning run. “Message me to let me know that you are still alive.” Jacinta remarked as I got out of her car. I gave her a half smile as her car pulled away. I took a deep breath and made my way across the front lawn to the tree next to my window. I eased my way up the tree. I scraped my leg on a branch and winced with pain. Once at my balcony, I climbed over the railing and slid open the door. My bedroom was empty; I sighed with relief and closed the door. I slipped off my clothes and put my pajamas on. It was Saturday, and I couldn’t wait for a day of no school and a lot of sleep. I jumped into bed and pulled the covers over my head. I quickly messaged Jacinta to let her know I was “still alive”. She sent back “Shaun’s lookin’ good…” I smiled to myself and drifted off to a deep sleep. I awoke with my mum standing at the end of my bed. “It’s about time you woke up sweetie, its noon!” She said as she opened my pink curtains. I rolled over and yawned, I could have easily slept another few hours. “I’m tired from study I guess.” I lied as I sat up. My mum sat on my bed. She looked like she was searching for something to say, finally she spoke. “Grace, I want you to talk to me if something is bothering you, I won’t get mad. It’s your father you have to worry about.” I thought about the possibility of telling my mum how I felt about being an adult trapped in a little girls’ body. I took a deep breath and started talking. “Mum, I don’t know how to tell you this. But I have to. I feel like I can’t do anything I want, I can’t wear the clothes I want to, I can’t even wear make-up! Look around my room, it looks like I am still 10 years old and I hate it. How much longer are you going to keep me young before I go insane?” By this point I had tears rolling down my cheeks. My mum sat in silence, clearly in shock from what she had just heard from me. “Well, Gracie, I had no idea you felt like this, I thought you like that we baby you. I didn’t think you liked make-up or going out.” Mum said, looking confused. “Then why did you comment on my lip gloss the other night!” I exclaimed. “Because I was shocked, I have never seen you wear anything like that.” My mum looked at her hands. We sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. I realized that it was mainly my dad who wanted to keep me young. “You see Grace; dad had a different up bringing to you. Everything he did, he had to pay for himself. They had no money; he only got to go to university because he got a scholarship. I guess he just doesn’t want you to go off the tracks.” My mum put her hand on mine. We sat in another long silence, my mother looking very deep in thought. She spoke again. “Grace, I’m sorry for keeping you young.” She gazed around my room and smiled. “All this time, I guess I still did think of you as a little girl with pig tails.” She smiled and stroked my face. “Well, come on, get up, let’s go shopping!” My mum said as she jumped up. “What for mum, I really don’t feel like grocery shopping.” I said with a tired yawn. “Not grocery shopping, Gracie shopping. We will redecorate your room, get rid of this pink, and buy you a new wardrobe!” I couldn’t believe my ears, was she serious? I sat up in bed. Just a dream, it had all been a wonderful dream. I looked at my bedside clock. 12:47pm. I had slept for a few hours. I suddenly realized my head was throbbing. “Welcome to the world of hangovers.” I said aloud as I lay back down. I thought about my dream. If only talking to my mum was that easy. If only one shopping trip would change everything, if only my parents would redecorate my bedroom. I pulled the covers over my head and tried to go back to sleep. But the dream was stuck in my mind. It felt so good to get it all off my chest, even if it was just a dream. I sat up as I heard talking outside my door. “I don’t know Nick, I mean, don’t you think we should be calm about this, she is nearly eighteen, and boys were bound to come on the seen at some stage!” My mother said. What were they talking about? What boys? How did they know about Shaun? And suddenly, like a ton of bricks falling on me from ten stories up, I collapsed. The feeling was like being in a room with thousands of people staring at you with unmistakable hate in their eyes. Shaun had called my house. How could he do that knowing what my parents would do to me? Then I realized. Obviously, he was saving me from telling them. But not this soon. I waited for my parents to continue their conversation. “Calm, Tiffany, I will not let my only daughter run around the neighborhood with a boy when she is at her peak in her high school career. This is the most important year of her schooling life and I will not let her stuff it up!” My dad sounded really angry. I could imagine what he looked like. He would’ve broken out into a sweat and his face would be bright red. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. The guy only called my house. I imagined what would happen if he came over. My dad would probably tie him up and lock him in the basement until I finished high school. I pictured Shaun in one of those cages that hang from the roof, like what Hansel and Gretel were in. I imagined my dad fattening him up preparing to eat him. Even though I was about to be blasted, I couldn’t help but chuckle at my crazy imagination. Finally there was a knock at my door. “Gracie, can I have a word?” My mums’ voice sounded so tiny from the other side of the door. “Yeah sure.” I said as I dreaded what was next. My mum walked in. I could tell she was stressed. She looked very withdrawn and sick. “Mum are you ok?” I asked worriedly. “Yeah I’m fine.” She wasn’t fine. She sat on my bed and grabbed hold of my hand. “Gracie, a boy called for you this morning.” I felt like screaming. I was about to explain to my mum that he was just a friend when she started talking. “Gracie, I know you are growing up, I wont hold it against you. All I ask is for you to please keep your mind on your study. You only have a few months left and its over.” My mum looked so tired when she spoke; it was like I was watching her talk in slow motion. To my surprise, she got up and walked away, looking back and smiling at me before she left the room. Was that it? Was that all I was going to cop? Was that all my parents would say for committing the horrible sin of giving a boy my phone number? Where were the groundings? And then I remembered. I am already grounded full time so they couldn’t really do anything to me.