Jenna hovered at the top of the stairs, looking down the hallway to her parents’ bedroom. The door was ajar, and she could just see the edge of her mother’s comforter through the opening. She glanced over her shoulder down the stairs where she could hear her mother in the kitchen cleaning up the breakfast dishes. She slowly inched down the hallway, barely breathing.
Her mother’s room was a place of wonder for the five-year old. There were flowy curtains that Jenna liked to pretend was a veil or cape. The bed was big and covered with fluffy pillows; Jenna loved to burrow into the softness. And over in the corner was her mother’s dressing table, covered with a rainbow of makeup, perfumes, and other feminine trinkets. For Jenna, this forbidden bedroom was a dream world of grownup glory.
And this week, the room held even more temptation. Her birthday was Friday, and they were going to have a party; she was going to have party hats and a cake with Cinderella on it. And she was going to get the best present she’d ever received.
She’d been asking for a bicycle for weeks. She’d seen it at the store: a pink two-wheeler with training wheels and handle-bar streamers. She had mentioned it regularly to her dad, her mom, to both parents. Surely they’d heard her. Surely they’d gotten her “the bike.”
Then, the night before, she had overheard her dad tell her mom that he’d picked the present up on the way home from work and that he would put it in their closet after Jenna went to bed. Her present was going to be in her parents’ bedroom.
She’d barely slept all night. Now, though, her dad was at work; her mom was downstairs. She had waited as long as she could. She had to go see that bike.
As quietly as possible, she crept towards the door. She reached out and gently pushed it farther open, not all the way but just enough to squeeze her little body through. Then, suddenly, she was inside. For a moment, she froze again, the excitement of her success revealed in her short breaths.
She glanced towards the closet. For once, the curtains, the pillows, the dressing table held no interest for her. She stopped to listen for her mother’s footsteps before moving across the room. Slowly, she approached the closed door. Cautiously, barely daring to breathe, she reached for the door handle. Closing both hands on the knob, she stopped again to listen for her mother. Still nothing. Ever so slowly, she began to turn the knob.
Suddenly, the overhead light flipped on and her mother pushed the door open, entering with her arms full of folded laundry. Jenna swung around with her back to the door. Her mother looked at her over the laundry, her left eyebrow angled up.
“What are you doing, Jenna?”
Glancing at the floor, the little girl shrugged and didn’t answer.
“Did you need something from my closet?” There was humor in the question. Jenna shook her head.
“Well, why are you in here, then?” Jenna shrugged again.
“You know you shouldn’t be in here, don’t you?”
Finally, Jenna found her voice. “Yes,” she whispered pitifully. “But I wanted to see…”
She trailed off.
“What did you want to see?” Her mother dropped the laundry on the bed and turned to face her daughter.
“My bike.” Again, the child’s voice was barely above a whisper.
“Well, then, if you can open the door, you may look at your present.”
Jenna looked up, shocked, at her mother’s offer. Was she playing a joke? Her mother only looked at her with an amused face. Jenna spun around, gripped the knob again with both hands and spun it as hard as she could.
The door was locked.
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