Katherine was close to her parents until she started dating Joel. But they constantly broke up and got back together. When he went missing, her mother never expected to find him in Katherine’s room. But then, they discovered what happened.
Katherine and her parents, Jackson and Melinda Ballard, lived in the peaceful city of Boise, Idaho. They had a close relationship because their daughter was not the most outgoing person. She had friends but preferred their company.
They played board games every Friday night and went to brunch on Sundays. Katherine stayed at home while attending college and didn’t have plans to leave just yet. She never understood the idea that you had to move out as soon as you turned 18.
“Oh, honey. That was probably propaganda by the media or something,” Mrs. Ballard said when she asked them what they thought about it during one of their board-game nights.
“Your mother is right, baby. Honestly, I never understood. We only moved out at 18 because we got married. You could get better jobs back then, and financing for a house was easy-peasy. Nothing like today,” Mr. Ballard added.
“I guess I see all these other people moving out, and I don’t want to leave at all,” Katherine murmured.
“You’ll leave when you’re ready. But we’ll always welcome you at this house,” her mom replied. They continued playing Scrabble then watched something on Netflix.
But months later, Katherine met Joel online. They had a lot in common and started hanging out constantly. Katherine started missing out on family time, and Mrs. Ballard started to worry.
“Don’t worry, Melinda. She’s in her 20s. It’s the perfect time to start exploring and dating. She’s an adult, and you didn’t expect her to be here forever,” Mr. Ballard told his wife after she communicated her worries.
“I know that. It’s just so weird not having her here. But this is her first boyfriend too. I’m worried that she might get her feelings hurt if she dedicates her life to him,” Mrs. Ballard added, concerned.
“Katherine will figure it out. She’s so smart. I doubt there will be any trouble,” Mr. Ballard finished, and they continued with their peaceful night. However, trouble was brewing, and they would soon start worrying more.
Katherine and Joel broke up and got back together almost weekly. Katherine would often come home in tears after breaking up, then would soon take Joel back almost immediately. Mrs. Ballard was worried that Joel might be emotionally abusing their daughter.
“Mom! It’s not like that at all. We’re just passionate, and we’re working through our issues together!” Katherine exclaimed when Mrs. Ballard asked her what was going on. Therefore, the Ballards decided to give her space.
Everything seemed fine over the following weeks until Mrs. Ballard saw Joel’s name and picture on the evening news. His parents had reported him missing. “Katherine, what’s going on? How did your boyfriend go missing?” she asked her daughter.
“I don’t know, Mom. We broke up like a month ago, and I haven’t seen him. Are you sure it’s him?” Katherine asked nonchalantly.
“I might not have met him officially, but I know what he looks like and his full name. It was him on the news. But honey, aren’t you worried about him?” Mrs. Ballard inquired.
“I’m not worried. He didn’t have the best relationship with his parents. He probably left the state and cut them off,” Katherine answered and continued watching TV as if nothing was wrong.
Mrs. Ballard let it go, but even Mr. Ballard agreed that her reaction was odd. “She really liked him. I don’t understand why she is acting like it’s nothing,” he mumbled.
“I know. It’s strange for Katherine. She’s so kindhearted. Maybe, she knows where Joel is and doesn’t want to say anything. Regardless, we should stay out of it,” Mrs. Ballard concluded, and they went to sleep that night.
However, Katherine continued acting weird. She stayed in her room all the time and didn’t allow Mrs. Ballard in. “Mom, I can clean my own room. Please, I need my privacy,” she whined when her mother tried to get the laundry.
Once again, Mrs. Ballard backed off, but her daughter’s behavior was too suspicious. She refused to play board games or go to brunch with them, even though she was home all the time.
“Our daughter has changed so much in the past months…I…don’t know what to think anymore,” Mrs. Ballard expressed to Mr. Ballard once again one night and he tried to comfort his wife to no avail.
That night, Mrs. Ballard couldn’t sleep so she got up and left her room to go to the kitchen. She saw that someone had locked the hallway bathroom door, and the light was on. But then, she heard a noise from Katherine’s room. OH MY GOD! Someone’s in there, she panicked.
“Jackson! Wake up! Wake up! There’s someone in Katherine’s room!” Mrs. Ballard yelled at her husband. He came out, rubbing sleep from his eyes, as Katherine exited the bathroom in a rush.
“Mom! Why are you screaming?” Katherine asked, hurrying to try to block her bedroom door.
“I heard a noise from your room! Open this door right now!” Mrs. Ballard screamed at her daughter while knocking on the bedroom door.
“There’s nothing there! Stop!” Katherine shouted and tried to stop her mother.
“COME OUT RIGHT NOW, OR I’M GETTING MY HUNTING RIFLE!” Mr. Ballard interjected loudly and was about to get it when the door finally opened. They rushed in, and Mrs. Ballard’s eyes widened in shock.
“JOEL! What are you doing here?” she exclaimed.
“Mrs. Ballard, Mr. Ballard, I can explain,” Joel said, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.
Joel explained that his parents were abusive, but he stayed with them to protect his little sister. A month ago, his little sister finally left for a college far away. Joel wanted to leave too, but he wanted to be with Katherine. Then his parents stole all his savings, and he had nowhere to go.
“That’s when Katherine offered me a place here. But we didn’t know if you would approve. It was supposed to be temporary until I figured something out. I almost have enough saved for my apartment,” Joel revealed.
Mrs. Ballard breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh Jesus! Thank you! I admit that I never imagined I would find Joel here, but I guess that’s better than a thief,” she said, relieved. Mr. Ballard laughed too.
“I’m so sorry I had to lie. You guys were not so happy with us, and it all just happened so quickly. We also thought you would rat him out for sure,” Katherine added apologetically.
“Don’t worry, honey. But you should always tell us the truth because our imagination is worse,” Mr. Ballard comforted her.
Joel moved out a few days later, but Katherine’s parents got a chance to know him more. Most of the original problems he and Katherine had were due to stress caused by his parents. Everything was perfect now that he was free.
What can we learn from this story?
Let your kids figure things out. Good parents will worry about their kids no matter their age, but you need to let them make mistakes and figure things out.
Don’t lie about the big things. Katherine should’ve been honest with her parents about what happened to Joel, but luckily, everything turned out alright.