I ordered a dress online and then it didn’t come in the right size so I had to take it back. Then I went to St. Charles to look for a dress – I found a dress there – but it wasn’t in my price range, so I couldn’t even get it. So now I am in between looking for dresses or just not going to prom. My ideal dress is a royal blue color with African print around it, fitted around the body with a mermaid tutu flare at the bottom. I have to look better than everybody else at prom.
Finally I couldn’t stand it that I didn’t have a dress. So I decided I had to take some action. I was staying with my cousin Tina because my mom went out of town. Tina lives in Bell Fountain – it’s a three-story house with brown bricks, a garden in front of the yard, and a bright yellow mailbox. I wasn’t that close to Tina until my mom asked Tina if I could stay with her. I, Crystal, was forced to live with Tina. I really wanted to stay with my cousin Ashley, but Ashley had to work a lot and Tina lived closer to my school.
Tina had a lock on her front door – I guessed it was the same code as the one on her safe. It was the day of her anniversary, 07/28/2015. I came home from school, poured myself a bowl of Cheez-Its, and watched Love & Hip Hop on TV. I knew Tina wouldn’t be home until 6:30, so I made my move fast. I sauntered up to the safe, my fingers trembling slightly, and tried the code. It worked. Inside the safe I saw five stacks of neatly pressed green bills in 100 dollar increments. The outside of the safe said “Bill Money.” Will she know I stole the money, or how much is gone? I thought to myself quickly. Then I quickly reached in the safe, grabbed a stack, and made a plan so Tina wouldn’t know that her money was stolen.
The plan was this: first, I put the money in a shoebox under my bed. Then I started tipping over chairs and messing up drawers and broke the back door window with a loose brick so Tina would think someone broke into the house. I opened the safe door wide and tousled up the cash to make it look like someone was stealing.
As soon as Tina got home, I ran to the door and yelled, “I called the police already! Chelle broke into the house and stole your money, Tina! I didn’t know what to do!” Tina looked like a bundle of nerves. She started crying immediately. The first thing she did was to go check the safe. She started counting the money, her cheeks coated in mascara, and I watched silently, wondering how I would be able to tell Tina that it was me who stole her precious bills.
In a panic, I decided to call Chelle and see if she would cover for me. Tina and Chelle had fought before – they stopped being friends a week ago because Chelle took Tina’s baby’s piggy bank. What Tina didn’t know was that Chelle also stole something bigger: Chelle stole Tina’s wedding ring, but Tina just thought she had lost it. Chelle was jealous of Tina’s husband, Tee, and wanted what Tina had. I thought I could convince Chelle to confess because she was already feeling guilty about the wedding ring.
The phone rang once.
“Chelle?” I said, nervously.
“Hello? Who is this?” Chelle said, as if she had just woken up from a nap.
“I got to tell you something. We both did something really wrong. And I need your help. We need to find a way to get Tina her things back without her knowing. You know I know you stole her ring, and today I took $1000 from Tina’s safe….”
Chelle screamed. “You did what??”
Then I got angry. “You did something worse, Chelle, so you might as well help me get out of this.”
Chelle let out a big sigh. She was kind of a push-over. “Okay, so what’s the plan?” she blurted out.
My eyes narrowed. I said in a firm whisper, “Chelle, you have to meet me tomorrow after school on the corner of Grenshaw and Pennsylvania. Bring Tina’s ring and I’ll bring the cash. I’ll make sure Tina ‘finds’ the ring if you pretend you stole the money.”
Chelle felt like Crystal was trying to put all the blame on her. With angry tone, she started going off on Crystal. “Girl, you think you’re so slick. You think just because you have something on me that I’m protect your ass? I’ll do this for you just once this until Tee and I work things out but after that, you’re dead to me.”
Little did Crystal know, Tina was listening to the whole conversation. For the rest of the night, Tina was really quiet. She went in her room and laid down. Meanwhile, Crystal went back to her room and counted the money over and over again. That she dreamed about her perfect dress and how Tina would feel. In her dream, she was wearing a princess-cut gold dress with glittery slippers. She was swaying to Rhianna’s “Needed Me” with her friends Brittany and Tyra when suddenly Tina, dressed in all black, runs into the middle of the dance floor and screams, “My cousin is a thief?” When she tried to run, the dress split down the middle.
Crystal woke up in a cold sweat at 3:00 am. When she realized it was just a dream, she ran into Tina’s room and shook her awake.
“Tina,” she cried, sobbing, “I’m the one that did all that. I broke into your safe this afternoon because I just want to look good for prom. And there’s more. You didn’t lose your wedding ring, Tina. Chelle stole it.”
Tina was eerily quiet. She stared at Crystal long and hard. Finally she said to Crystal, her eyes full of tears, “Honey, you didn’t have to steal that money. I was gonna make sure you had a dress for prom.”
Crystal started crying, trying to explain that she didn’t want to take the money. All of a sudden Tina’s phone started buzzing. It was Chelle. Tina picked up like a reflex.
“What is it?” Tina answered.
“That little cousin of yours,” said Chelle. “She’s trouble. Listen to this: She was telling me that she wanted money for a prom dress and she went into your safe and stole $1000 and played like somebody broke into the house.”
Tina acted surprised, playing it off like she didn’t know anything.
“Okay, thanks for telling me Chelle,” she said softly.
Meanwhile, I sat on the bed, seething with anger
They all met up with each other the next afternoon. When Chelle saw Tina and Crystal get out the car, Tina brought a gun with her. Chelle tried to explain her side of the story and I tried to explain hers, even though I already tried to tell Tina. Tina shot Chelle in the stomach and that was that.