Miranda tried to muffle her cough, but it wasn’t enough to avoid detection.
Two steps inside, the parents were aware of her arrival.
Trouble wasn’t new to Miranda. Far from perfect, she knew the routine: lecture, two days of being careful, and then all was back to normal.
But something was different: relatively patient, The Levites appeared uncharacteristically tense as opposed to mildly irritated.
“We need to talk,” Jo told her daughter.
Miranda already decided to deny all. The only evidence was merely circumstantial. And in sixteen years of living with dad the litigator she learned speaking with authority often moved mountains.
“Yes,” Miranda replied, placing her backpack by the door and taking a seat in a living room chair. “Ms. Norwood totally slandered me and I am concerned as to why she would do that.”
“Slander you say,” Miranda’s father replied, lowering the newspaper. “What part is false?”
“Daddy,” Miranda pleaded. “I have no idea why she thinks I’d steal Layla’s English project.”
Had it not been a mere four days since Miranda used the term “Daddy” to innocently explain away misreading her cell phone time, thus making her an hour late for curfew, he might not have so quickly written off sincerity.
“You didn’t answer my question,” Mr. Levite replied, now peering over his reading glasses. “Slander means to purposely tell an untruth. What did she say which was untrue?”
Typically these conversations didn’t put Miranda in a position to out and out lie, just bend reality a bit. But now she had to make a choice: come clean, deceive, or continue the course of ambiguity.
“She has no proof I did anything,” Miranda repeated.
“That’s why you weren’t punished at school,” Mr. Levite explained. “But I’m concerned about the circumstantial evidence.”
Miranda wasn’t sure how to make her case anymore. But again, they couldn’t prove anything.
So Miranda in her adolescent wisdom stuck to the story.
I’m sorry, I just don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“And that’s the problem,” Mr. Levite replied, folding his newspaper. ”So I’m going to explain very clearly the problem and what will be changing.”
Suddenly Atticus Finch possessed her father’s entire being, as he began this speech about character and what she seemed to be lacking as of present.
And then he asked for her cell phone.
And car keys.
And, apparently, Jo already picked up Miranda’s laptop.
“Indefinite,” Abe told his daughter as a tear ran down her cheek. “Child, this is the end of such ridiculousness. But don’t cry— I’ll probably revisit the arrangement in five years or so.”
After confiscating the lifelines of 21st century teenagers, Mr. Levite explained in detail what the last ten days of school would look like, as well as the following ten weeks of summer.
He would drive Miranda to school each morning. Jo would pick her up at three in the afternoon.
“I can get a ride,” Miranda offered.
Alas, her father preferred this arrangement. She would be expected to read a devotional book after school for a personal quiet time with God, which would be discussed every evening at dinner. Then, as a family, they would have an evening devotional.
“We go to church already,” Miranda pointed out. “I don’t understand what God has to do with any of this.”
“And that’s the problem,” Mr. Levite continued, not even blinking. “This summer you’ll do a morning and an evening quiet time and in the middle I’ve created a labor schedule because you will be cleaning out the garage and taking care of some yard work.”
“Seriously?” Miranda said, suddenly angry.
“Seriously,” her father replied. “Oh, and first thing in the morning you need resign your cheerleading position for next year.”
The desire in Miranda’s soul to scream, “But nobody proved I did it” ran head to toe. However, she knew the argument wasn’t effective with Abe and Jo any more than it was with Ms. Norwood, really. The difference was the high school principal wasn’t responsible for Miranda’s moral upbringing and her authority was limited to school law legalism.
Mom and Dad operated in a different sphere. They answered to another authority and took their job quite seriously. As parents they observed their youngest child approaching adulthood, evolving into a person they, honestly, didn’t like. Thus, it was their responsibility to consider navigating a new course for Miranda, ending the phase of mean girl mentality and starting fresh on a new page to write a different story.
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