The wind whipped my hair across my face, making it even more difficult for me to see. I turned around and pulled my bedroom window closed. I took in the last image I would see of the house I had grown up in. The memories it brought back encouraged me to go through with the plan.
I used the sleeve of my sweater as a tissue and wiped away the stream of tears running down my cheeks. How could it have ever gotten this bad?
My hair slapped me in the face, seeming to discipline me for my negative thoughts. It reminded me of my mother, and I knew the long locks would have to go.
I shoved my hair out of the way, and my eyes locked on the beat up truck sitting in the driveway. I pushed against the wind, getting closer to my goal with every step.
I climbed into the truck and closed the door as quietly as I could, which was probably one step below slamming it. I waited 10 seconds in utter silence, fearing that someone may have heard.
When nobody came, I took a deep sigh. Maybe I’ll be lucky… Deciding it was time to give my luck another test. I fished the car key out of my pocket, the cold metal like ice in my fist.
I put the key in the ignition and turned it. The truck rumbled to life, sounding louder than an avalanche. That’s when the neighbor’s dog started yapping. When I saw a light flick on, my heart froze. They always seemed to be the gossips of the neighborhood, and I definitely didn’t want to be the next big topic. Or did I? I had been craving attention…
I tore out of the driveway like my life depended on it. It did, actually. If I were to get caught, my parents would beat me to a pulp. I have to get out of here.
Wiping my eyes once more, I drove down the street and headed towards the highway, repeating Glenda’s address in my head over and over again.
It took me nearly 10 minutes to get out of my town and on the highway. At the first stop light, I had taken in the innards of the truck. Beer cans were flung around in the passenger seat, cigarette packets covering every inch of the floor. I knew a carton of them would be in the glove box, and I also knew my father would have no others for the rest of the week; he would go crazy. Even more berserk than he was now. I had never been so thankful for not having siblings.
I pushed the thoughts of my parents to the back of my mind, and observed my surroundings. One more turn and I’d be on the highway. Excitement flooded my body. I’m doing it! I’m finally doing it! A grin took over my face, this had to be the first real happiness I had felt in months, maybe even years. I tightened my grip on the steering wheel, and when the tires touched the smooth pavement, it felt like I had crossed boundaries of misery to freedom. I felt like I was in the clouds.
7 more hours stuck in this piece of junk. The pessimistic side of my brain poked it’s way through my joy. I let out a huff.
I turned on the radio, wanting to rid myself of all thoughts and get lost in the music. The first thing that came on was the weather forecast. Probably the only normal thing about my parents.
I changed the station immediately, searching for a song that I recognized. Once that was done, I felt like a free spirit, traveling to a new life.
Time passed by faster than I had expected, and soon enough, I was nearly out of gas. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been an issue, but right now? Right now I was on a long stretch of road at least 20 miles from the nearest exit. I had little faith in the truck lasting that long. After passing 5 more miles, the truck was sputtering to a stop.
I pulled over to the side of the road and let out a groan of frustration. Why did this have to go wrong? Why do I have to get punished for trying to save myself?
I sat in the truck for a while longer, letting out my frustration on the steering wheel. Eventually, that got tiring, so I decided it was time to find a gas station.
I hopped out of the truck, landing on the hard pavement. I would give anything to have the sun come up right now.
It had only been 2 seconds and my paranoia already had the best of me. I couldn’t help but glance back every 30 seconds, getting more frightened the farther away the truck was. By the time it was a mere speck in the distance, I had started jogging, wanting to get somewhere safe as quickly as I could.
My whole life I had had a fear of the dark, and right now, it was only making things a million times worse. Why couldn’t the truck die in the daylight?
The whole time, my paranoia seemed to be chanting, “You’re gonna die, you’re gonna die, someone’s gonna pop out of nowhere and you’re gonna die.” I started running.
When I came across the first sign, it told me I had 10 more miles to go. I sat down next to the sign, leaning my back against one of the poles. The cool metal soothed my aching muscles.
I wiped the sweat from my forehead, then curled up into a ball and sobbed. It was all so stupid. How was I ever going to make it to Tennessee this way?
After weeping for a while, I decided that it’d be better to stay on the move than just sit in one spot. I pushed myself up off the ground, wiping the dust from my clothes and the tears from my eyes. I took in a shaky breath and started dragging my feet across the beginning of 10 miles.
The first car I had seen in ages drove past me, throwing pebbles across my legs. At least it wasn’t mud. The optimistic side of my mind tried to cheer me up, although it didn’t do much.
The journey to the exit seemed to drag by, and I was beginning to think that the exit didn’t exist. That’s when I saw a sign in the distance. I picked up my pace, taking on a power walk. In 5 minutes, I learned that I had 5 more miles to go. I let out a loud groan. Why does the world hate me so much? Why can’t I just magically teleport to the stupid gas station? I just want to get to Glenda’s house!
I closed my eyes, taking in deep breaths to calm myself. After a few seconds, I opened my eyes, and took off at a jog. During that time I did a great deal of thinking about my future plans. First of all, I will never let the gas get so low again. Second of all, I should probably get something to eat. Third of all, I may need to call Glenda to get directions. I could stop somewhere and get a map, though. That would probably lower some unnecessary risks. Map it is then.
15 minutes later, I was back to dragging my feet across the ground. I should’ve worked out more. My regrets showed through my sweaty back and heaving chest. Who would’ve thought running away would be so difficult?
Finally, I had made it to a gas station. I pushed my way through the door, finding a tall, middle aged man behind the counter.
“Good mornin’ ma’am.” He nodded at me, and I forced out a smile towards him.
“Do you happen to sell gas cans? I had to walk 15 miles to get here because my truck ran out of gas.” It would’ve been impossible to keep the distress from my voice.
“I do believe we may have some over down the 5th aisle,” he pointed towards a row of maps and miscellaneous objects, “but if we don’t, I can lend ya one, Miss, and a ride back if ya need.” His southern accent somehow made the offer seem less like hitchhiking and more like a ride with a friend. I knew I’d be taking him up on his offer.
“Thank you so much. I would really appreciate that.” I grinned at him as I made my way over to the aisle the cashier had pointed me to.
I grabbed a map of Tennessee as a state and of each of the most popular cities, one of which my only hopes resided in. I then scavenged the aisle for any gas cans, finding absolutely none. I let out a deep sigh. I hated having to ask people for favors, it always made me feel like I was in debt to them.
“Hello mister uh,” I searched his shirt for a name tag, “James?” He looked up at me, or rather down seeing as he was much taller than me.
“Do you think you could, uh, possibly give me a ride to my truck and, um, let me borrow a gas can? I would really appreciate it.” I stuttered my question, glancing around the room.
“Of course!” he smiled at me, “Just let me go an’ get ma gas can real quick, I’ll be back in a jiffy.” With that, he sauntered out the door and to the only vehicle in the parking lot, retrieving a red can and returning to the store, “I’ll be in here while you get yourself some gas.”
I quickly left after giving him my thanks. Soon enough, I had payed for the gas and we were back to my truck.
“Thank you so much James.” I told him as I poured the last of the gas into the truck.
“Anytime.” he replied with a short smile before heading back to the gas station.
Now perhaps I can get the rest of the way to Glenda’s house without anymore unnecessary interruptions.
I climbed into the truck, started it, then headed on my way, taking a look at the maps at nearly every stop.
It took me nearly 7 more hours before I ended up pulling into Glenda’s driveway, including my short nap and stops for food. I let out a sigh as I parked my truck. I sat there for a moment, thinking about what was to come. Will she really let me stay or was that just the dreamer in me hoping? I’d have nowhere else to go…
Nervousness creeped through my body, eventually filling all the nooks and crannies. I took in a deep breath and then climbed out of the vehicle.
I made my way to the door on wobbly legs, my arms crossed in front of me to stop them from shaking. What if she tells me to leave just like everyone else? I shook my head, trying to remove my negative thoughts. She’s my best friend, she’d never do that to me.
With that in mind, I marched up to the door and tapped one, two, three times. I held my breath as I waited.
After what seemed like an eternity, someone answered the door. Someone that was in baggy jeans, a flannel shirt, and short hair accompanying it. Someone that was most definitely not Glenda.
My eyes widened and my heart beat sped up. Oh my god, what am I gonna do? Am I at the wrong house? That’s impossible, I followed all the right directions, didn’t I?
“What do you want?” The stranger snapped at me. That definitely did not help with my panicking.
“Um…” c’mon, just ask if Glenda lives here, it’s as simple as that. The thing is, it wasn’t that simple. My tongue felt like separate from my body, and there was no way I could possibly form a sentence with it.
“Sometime today.” The man standing in the doorway said impatiently. I felt my neck heat up, god, just say something useful! Stop wasting this man’s time!
“Does, uh, Glenda live here by chance?” I squeaked out, glancing down at my shoes as I asked.
“Glenda? Glenda Lee?” He finally lost the snarl, a shocked look replacing it.
“Yeah.” I confirmed, hope beginning to erase my nerves. Maybe I got the right house after all.
“I’m a friend of hers from college and I’m watching her house while she’s gone.” The guy informed me.
“Gone? What do you mean gone? When will she be back?” I asked in a rush of panic. What am I supposed to do if she’s not here? Where am I supposed to go?
“She’s visiting her family ‘cause of an emergency. What’s it to ya?” Back to snappy.
“Um… She’s a family friend and I was going to surprise her by visiting for the weekend.” I spit out the first lie that I could conjure. He seemed to buy it, thankfully.
“Well, she won’t be back for a while. You should’ve called her before deciding to show up randomly.” That’s when he started closing the door, and my desperate mind made it’s final decision.
“I need to stay here,” I forced the words out as I grabbed for the door before he could shut it, “I, uh, I wasn’t really trying to surprise her…”
“Any idiot would’ve been able to guess that.” The stranger rolled his eyes at me, his harsh humor igniting a temper I had inherited from my oh so lovely parents.
“Listen bud,” I began, my anger only rising when he began to laugh at me, “not all of us can get lucky and have the perfect little family and the perfect little life. Some of us have real problems and don’t have the energy to deal with ignorant people like yourself. Now, either let me inside, or let me borrow a phone to call Glenda so she’ll tell you to let me inside.” I let out a huff when he just leaned against the door and smirked at me.
“That was a real nice speech you made up there, but there's no way I’m letting you inside my friend’s house, especially with a psychotic attitude like that.” He easily denied me. I couldn’t believe he was just going to leave me to my own defenses out here on the streets.
I should’ve known that anything I could possibly think of would actually work. I was stupid to think things would actually work in my favor. Tears started to well up in my eyes, and I looked down in hopes that he wouldn’t notice. Nobody can ever see just how weak I am.
Against my feeble attempts, he had obviously noticed that I was about to cry. Why else would he have suddenly had a change of attitude.
“Listen,” the stranger began, rubbing the back of his neck, “I’ll lend you my phone, and you can call Glenda. If she says you can come in or stay or whatever, I’ll let you…” He finished reluctantly.
“Really?” I sounded, and probably looked, like a child that had just realized their parents were finally taking them to Disney World. He then pulled his phone out of his pocket, dialled Glenda’s number, and handed the phone to me.
The next few moments consisted of me explaining everything to Glenda, and her telling the guy, who I found out was named Ryan, to let me stay as long as I needed. I had never felt so happy in my entire life.
Ryan eventually hung up the phone with a sigh, then surprisingly offered to help me bring my things in.
“Um, thanks, but I only brought one small bag. I can handle it.” I declined.
“Whatever.” he replied, turning away from me and walking back into the house. He left the door open, and I closed it behind me after I retrieved my bag. Ryan then showed me around the house, it was very modern yet quirky, just like Glenda. It felt like home.
Soon enough, I was settled in and in the guest bedroom that I’d be staying in for who knows how long.
“Thanks, Ryan.” I told him as he walked by the doorway.
“Uh, yeah.” he replied, probably having no clue why I was thanking him. I’m not even sure I knew why, I was just thankful to be there.
The moment passed as soon as it appeared. I walked over to the doorway and closed the door, wanting to change into more comfortable clothes and sleep forever.
I quickly changed into the only pair of pajamas I had brought and dragged myself to the bed in the corner of the room. I climbed into the bed in a sleepy stupor, falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.