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I knew I was dead if they caught me. But their was no turning back now. My pockets were already filled with my father’s money, and my backpack stuffed to the gills with food.
I crumpled the train schedule in my back pocket. The train to Phillips Wisconsin was due to arrive in 15 minutes. My plan was, after I reached Phillips I would either take another train or bus all the way to Ashland, where my sister resides.
In the train station, I sat on the other side of the bench, next to a woman frantically rocking a crying baby. She looked to be in her 20’s. The bags under her bloodshot eyes told me she hadn’t slept in days.
On every corner was at least one homeless person. One man’s clothes were ripped and tattered. His grimy beard and greasy hair looked like they grew together at his chin. He smiled at me, reveling his rotted teeth. I had been on a train when I was 5 years old. My mom and I were visiting my grandma in Beloit Wisconsin. When my mother was with me to protect me, I thought the homeless people were neat, now they were just creepy. Then again, I shouldn’t need my mommy with me, I was a full grown, 17 year old women.
I stood up as I heard the train wheels screeching. The women rocking the baby stayed seated.
The conductor tipped his hat as I paid the large fair. I took a seat close to the conductor, possibly because I was nervous. I tucked my hand deep into my pocket, in search of the comfort of $250.00 I took off my father’s dresser. For a tiny second I felt a pang of guilt, but it was soon washed away by the memory of the past year. Argument, after argument, fight after fight; my home was like a war zone, every man for themselves. It was like we were on opposite sides of the spectrum, on different planets, different worlds!
I wasn’t sure what I would do once I got to my sister’s house. How long would I stay? Would she be mad? Or worse, would she call my mom and dad? Reality came at me full speed and knocked me out. My lips went dry, and I frantically chewed the stub of my finger nails.
Recognizing the signs of a panic attack, the conductor asked, “Something the matter?”
Caught off guard, I said, “What?”
“You look worried about something, is everything all right? It’s not everyday a teenager comes on my train, with a pocket full of money, and back pack full of food.
I jammed my hands in my pockets, and pushed the money sticking out of pocket back inside.
“I’m just visiting my sister, that’s all…”
“Visiting? Huh, it looks to me like your running away. But I’m probably wrong…” I noticed the smallest sign of a smile; or was it a smirk?
I spilled everything. He seemed a tiny bit surprised I was so easy to break, but he kept on listening, not that he could leave.
After I was finished talking he said, “Your poor parents…”
I crinkled my brow, “Excuse me? Were you listening to me at all?”
He laughed, “Yes I was. Their only daughter ran away, their worried. Not to mention their own flesh and blood stole from them. That must hurt real bad.” I looked down at my sneakers; I never even gave it a thought. “But hey, their losers, how dare they not let you stay out late, or let you go on a road trip with your boyfriend. Their horrible!” I picked up on the tiny bit of sarcasm in his voice.
“I can’t go back now, I already stole their money, and I can’t stop a train.”
“Honey, do you honestly think that if you run away to your sister’s house you will never see your parents again? You’re being quite selfish. Your sister just got married, and has a new born baby and now she has her little sister to take care of. To be totally honest, probably right when you get to your sister’s house she’s going to call your mom and dad. Your sister is an adult; she has to be responsible. She isn’t going to cover up for you like when you were 10 years old.”
I sat their, letting it all soak in. I didn’t say anything, because I was scared, scared that he was right.
As the train came to a halt, and people started to pile off, I stayed seated. The conductor smiled at me and whispered, “No charge for the way home.”
As the train came to the familiar train station, I thanked the conductor and called a taxi to take me home. I was almost an adult, and should start acting like one, this was a start.