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Perfect Suburbia

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I stared out of my second story window in our small suburban home. Rows and rows of similar houses intertwined around each other. There are at least a hundred houses in the suburb I live in. I turned away from the window to face my room, and walked over to the mirror and pinned up my long brown hair into a tight bun. Then slipped on my blue poodle skirt and white silk blouse and went downstairs to help my mother prepare breakfast for my brother and father. Everyday is the same in this penitentiary; wake up, get dressed, help mom, school, homework, family time, and then bedtime.

There is almost no time to do anything besides be with family. I am sixteen years old and I fell as if I am suffocating. I look around at everyone else and I can see how they paint the pretty smiles on their faces to cover up their misery. It’s all a lie. No one is happy. I descend the stairs slowly, knowing that my mother will already be expecting me. I take a deep breath. Same routine everyday; I find her standing in the kitchen next to the stove. She is cooking eggs this morning with bacon. The smell drifts through the air, its delicious, but to repetitive. We have a schedule for what is made each week so there is no confusion. Tomorrow we will have waffles and fruit. Great. I think sarcastically.

She looks up at me and for a brief second I can see her boredom with this custom, but she quickly masks it and smiles at me. “Good morning, Josie” she says happily. I smile warmly back at her and take the plates and silverware out of the cupboard.

Breakfast goes the same as always. We end up talking about how school is going for my brother. He goes to the University of Tennessee and plays basketball for them. He has always been the perfect son. Good grades, handsome and athletic; what more could a father want? I sit quietly as my father and he discuss football strategies. My mother watches my brother proudly but does not speak. A good woman in the fifties knows when to be quiet after all.

Breakfast finally ends and I help my mother clear the table as my brother retreats to his room to work on some homework. As of right now, he is on spring break. My father grabs his suitcase and goes to work at the local bank. My mother begins to wash dishes and I grab my school bag and head out.

I walk around the twists and turns of the boring suburbia, I live in. The school is just outside the boundaries of the development. Everything is familiar. I have walked this same path ever since I was a child and attended school. I can see the school in the distance now. The tall brick building looks like an asylum. I see the other teens walking into school. All the girls are dressed the same as me, just different colors. I walk slowly up the steps not wanting to get inside.

To my right I hear a loud and unfamiliar laugh. No one laughs like that in suburbia. It sounds wrong, too loud, to happy. I look for the source. Standing along the side of the school is a boy. I look at him and he quickly looks away. He looks my age maybe a little older he has extremely dark hair and completely crystal blue eyes that somehow look familiar.
However, his eyes are what catch my attention the most. He is not dressed like the other boys; in fact, he does not look like any teenager I have ever seen before. His hair is slicked back in a fashion I have never seen; he is wearing a leather jacket with a white shirt underneath and his jeans are rolled up. I gasp aloud astonished that he is wearing jeans to school. I look around to see whom he was laughing at but I do not see anyone. Feeling self-conscious, I reach for the handle of the door and I hear him laugh again.
I turn back towards him and again he quickly averts his eyes. “Excuse me?” I say.
“Sorry,” he says with a big smile, “I was just admiring your skirt.”
I look down at my skirt. My skirt looks like it always does, familiar and boring. “Well you’re doing a lousy job admiring, is there something you would like to say aloud about my skirt?”
His smile grows significantly bigger. “Wow, that’s the best reaction I’ve gotten out of anyone down here.”
I raise my eyebrow at him because I have no clue what he is talking about.
“Why don’t you come and chat with me for a while?” He asks somewhat politely. I look through the windows on the school doors at the clock inside.
“Class starts in three minutes, don’t you think you should get to class?”
He chuckles “I hardly ever go to class.”
I look at him with somewhat of awe. No one I have ever met would ever dare to skip class, let alone wear the outfit he is wearing. I look up at the clear sky that covers my small town. Its always blue I think to myself, never a cloud in the Tennessee sky. In that moment, I realize that I need to go with him. “What do you want to do?”
His smile turns sly “have you ever been out of town?”
“Out of town?” I repeat. He grabs my arm and leads me away from the school; I can hear the bell ring for class and I pick up my pace. In a matter of minutes, we are driving in his beat up old car headed north.
“I know this swell burger joint, its only twenty minutes outside the borders of town.” I nod nervously.
“What’s your name?” I ask thinking that should have been something I knew before I got into a car with him.
He does not answer for a minute. “I’m Jay,” he finally answers.
“Where did you come from?” He laughs again, the same loud obnoxious laugh from before. “I’m serious, I have never seen you before, and I have lived here my whole life. You don’t just go around picking up girls and taking them to burger joints do you?”
“Actually, I’m from here, I just haven’t been here in a while.” He cackles at my dumbfounded expression. “I moved here when I was 10, and I ran away when I was 12. You were in my sixth grade class.”
I tried to think back, sixth grade I had a teacher named Mrs. Gene. I tried to think about where students sat and what they looked like; I had a rather large class. That is when I though of him. “Jacob?” I said surprised. “I thought you moved!”
“I was hoping you would remember me he said, we use to be pretty good friends. Nah, I did not move, that is just what my parents did when I ran away. They did not want everyone to know we had a dysfunctional family.”
I understood. If you had a dysfunctional family, you were shunned; it was not popular to be different, these days everyone conforms. “Where did you go when you ran away?”
“I went north, started to hang around with a bunch of street kids. We made money by playing rock’n roll at some underground parties”
“Rock’n roll?” I asked confused.
“You do not know what rock’n roll is?” he sounded appalled.
We spent the rest of the day telling stories and listening to rock’n roll. Mostly he told the stories because nothing interesting ever happened in suburbia so I had nothing to say. When I finally realized the time, it was already seven o’clock. “Oh, no my parents are probably worried sick.”
“I’ll drive you home.” It took us a half hour to get home. When I he pulled in the driveway, It was already dark and I was expecting my parents to be on the phone alerting the neighbors or calling the cops. Instead, they were all sitting on the couch.
“Well, I guess they’re not worried,” I said stunned.
“Oh, they’re worried; they just don’t want the neighbors to know you’re gone.” I looked at him with complete understanding. My parents would not even admit that their own daughter was missing so they were not treated as if they were a dysfunctional family. “When will I see you again?” He asked as I opened the door to the car and stepped out.”
“I’m not sure,” I said blushing and I walked up the pathway to my house.
After a long fight with my parents, I put on my nightgown and laid down in bed, but I could not sleep. Finally, I started to drift in and out until I heard a slight tap on my window. I got out of bed and walked to the window. Outside Jacob was standing in the backyard.
I pushed up the window. “What are you doing here?” I said quietly.
“Come with me” he said in a low voice without hesitation.
“What? Where?”
“Anywhere” he smiled mysteriously. I thought about it in about a second. I hated this place, and it was clear I was an outsider in my own home. I knew I needed to go, things needed to be shaken up. Perfect suburbia had to end.
“Okay” I said timidly. “But I have to grab some things.
“Wait” he said as he picked up a small bag off the ground, “catch” he said throwing the bag up to me. I just barely caught it. I looked inside; there was a pair of jeans and a plain white shirt.
“Why did you give me your clothes?” I asked.
“They’re not mine they are for you.”
“Oh” I said pulling them out and noticing they were quite small. I slipped them on and looked in the mirror, it felt great. Quietly, I opened my door and crept down the stairs. Things will never be the same I thought and a smile spread over my face.
I walked out the door and quietly shut it. When I turned around Jacob was standing there. He grabbed my arm and kissed me on the cheek. I blushed so bright I was sure the light from my cheeks could be seen from a mile away. Then we tiptoed to his car.
As soon as the car started, I never looked back. I just let my hair out of its pins and let it fly in the wind. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I could breath. I laughed as we left conformity behind, it was loud and obnoxious and wonderful. Then, just as we hit the towns borders, I felt the air shift, and rain poured down from the sky cleansing suburbia of its normal ways forever.





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