Johnny had his hand on the front doorknob when the sound of a crash echoed through the hacienda. He flung the door open and scanned the great room, searching for the cause of the sound. Determining that it must have come from the back of the house, he ran past the long dining table and into the kitchen.
His heart skipped a beat when he saw Teresa on the floor, until he realized she was merely squatting down picking up crockery shards. She was also talking to herself.
“…treats me like a child…” she muttered angrily.
He stepped closer. “Teresa?”
She stood up holding the broken pieces of a mixing bowl. “Hi, Johnny. Did you need something?”
“Did I…?” He motioned to the pile in her hands. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she slammed what was left of the bowl onto the counter, breaking it even more. She picked up a towel and started jerkily sweeping the fragments together.
“That’s good. I’d hate to see the kitchen if you were mad. ”When she turned and glared at him, he decided teasing was not the best strategy this time. He made sure his tone was gentle this time. “So what’s going on?”
She waved her arm toward the great room, evidently indicating something that happened there. “Murdoch and Scott don’t think I can do anything?”
Johnny frowned. “What are you talking about? Everyone knows how much you do.”
“Oh, yes, I cook, and clean and mend clothes…” She huffed out an angry breath.
“So what is it you want to do?”
“I don’t know!
“Then how do they know you can’t do it?”
“Because they won’t let me try!”
Johnny’s brows drew down even more. “Try what?”
“The things I want to do!”
“But I thought you said you didn’t know what you wanted to do?”
Teresa made another frustrated sound, turned away from him and threw the towel on the counter. After a second the anger seemed to drain out of her and she slumped.
Johnny came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. “Like Scott says to me sometimes, I know this makes sense to you, Little Sister, but it doesn’t to me. Make me understand.”
Teresa looked like she didn’t want to give up her mad, but she had to smile. “He calls you Little Sister?”
Johnny smiled back. “He can try.” He guided her to a chair. “Here, sit. Tell me.”
They sat for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. “I want…”she began, then took a breath. “Sometimes I feel like I’m just one of the workers. Like Maria or Juanita. Murdoch says I’m part of the family, but you and Scott just get on your horse and ride off whenever you want to. I practically have to ask permission to ride my own horse! And he never lets me ride alone anymore.’
“When I was little, my father used to let me ride my pony all over the place. Now I’m older and Murdoch doesn’t let me go anywhere by myself.”
Johnny leaned back. “And that’s what’s got you all riled up?”
She pushed her chair back and started to get up. “I knew you wouldn’t understand.”
He caught her hand and pulled her back down. “Now hold on. Who said I didn’t understand? Who are you talking to? You think I don’t understand about needing somebody to give me some credit that I know what I’m doing? You think I don’t understand about needing freedom?”
Teresa brought her other hand up and clasped his. “What do I do?”
Johnny thought for a minute. “Why do you suppose he don’t like you out on your own anymore?”
“I don’t know. I’m not a little girl anymore!”
He looked her in the eye very seriously. “No, you’re not. Your grown. And beautiful. And he’s probably scared to death about losing you.”
“He’s not going to lose me just because I go for a ride now and then.”
“I reckon it’s not really so much about riding your pony as it is you growing up.”
“I can’t stop growing up.”
“No, you can’t.”
“Maybe…”she began hesitantly. “Maybe if I show him that I will always love him and need him. That I’ll never completely leave him. But show him that I’m responsible, too.”
“Maybe so,” he agreed. He touched her cheek. “You okay?”
“Yes.” She leaned over and hugged him. “Thanks for understanding. And for taking me seriously.”
“De nada.” He pushed his chair back and started to leave. Then he turned back. “And remind me to get you a new bowl. Can’t be a kitchen worker without things to cook with!”
“Oh, you…!” Laughing, she grabbed up her towel and flipped it at him.
Dancing out of its reach, he took off down the hall before she decided to chase him with it. Rounding a corner, he practically ran into his father.
“Oh, hey, Murdoch, I was just heading back out to catch up with Scott.”
“That’s fine. He hasn’t been gone long.” He watched his son open the front door. “ And Johnny?”
He cocked his head innocently. “For what?”
He nodded towards the kitchen. “For understanding.”
“No problem, Murdoch. Sometimes folks just get riled up.”
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment. Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here. You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email MaryB directly.