“Go ahead!” America shouted. “Tell Daddy! See if I care!”
“What is wrong with her?” Martin said. “She’s going crazy.”
“You guys are just jealous because I’m Daddy’s favorite!”
Squanto grunted on the floor.
“We’ll see about that when he gets here,” Hidalgo chuckled. “He’s gonna whoop you!”
“Stop it, Hidalgo!” Harriet scolded him. “That’s not funny.”
Suddenly, they heard the front door open and shut downstairs. Daddy was home.
Harriet whirled to America. “Listen to me! If you apologize to Squanto, we’ll help you put your toys back and we won’t tell Daddy a thing.”
“Yes we will!” Hidalgo said.
“Shut up!” Harriet smacked his arm. She turned back to America. “Deal?”
But America crossed her arms and stomped her feet. “No!”
Harriet squinted at her and took a breath. “Fine.”
“I’m home!” they heard Daddy say. And the next instant, the door was opening and he was standing in the doorway. “What happened here?”
There was a beat of silence as they watched his eyes scan the room, the toys, and Squanto on the floor. He frowned and walked straight to his tied up son, pulled out a pocket knife and cut the ropes.
“Finally!” Squanto screamed. “I’m free!!!”
Daddy stood straight, crossed his arms and stared down at the children. “What happened?”
Harriet grabbed America’s arm and stepped up as America squirmed and tried to wriggle her way out. “America locked Squanto in the closet and took all our toys. She lied to us and said you told her she could do it.”
“And she punched Martin in the face!” Hidalgo added.
Daddy’s face tightened into a frown and he exhaled deeply. He stared down at America. “Is this true?”
America put her hands behind her back and looked at the floor. “Yes…”
There was a long silence. Then Daddy pointed to the closet and America’s eyes started to water. She walked over and pulled out a belt and brought it back to Daddy.
“Daddy, wait!” Harriet cried, holding his arm. “Wait, please! Let her go. I’ll help her be better. Give her a chance.”
“No!” Hidalgo shouted. “Whip her, Daddy!”
“Yeah!” Martin cried. “I mean…just a little.”
Daddy knelt down so he was eye level with the children. “Stop. All of you. America is going to be okay. But she has to learn.”
Harriet sniffled and wiped her eyes.
Daddy put his hand on her shoulder then looked all of them over. “But I want you to go to your rooms and cry for her.”
They nodded and ran out the door. They huddled together in Harriet’s bed and wept as they heard America’s cries in the next room.