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In the Moonlight

The moonlight strolled along, captivating in its effervescence, as it gushed across the asphalt and stopped at my feet. It gaped up at me expectantly, and I shivered; not just at the bitter air swooping past my cheek, but at the feeling it knew a girl my age shouldn’t be waiting on a tattooed bench at 1:45 in the morning. I stared at the white glow making my legs look particularly pale, and guilt crept through my stomach and bristled my neck hairs.
Was this a mistake?
No.
I shook the ribbon from my hair and combed shaking fingers through it. The scent of coconut conditioner wafted towards my nose, the tip of which felt like a round, frozen cherry.
As my eyes began to close, I became startlingly uncertain of what had landed me here, next to this streetlight and overflowing wastebasket. What had convinced me to pack my clothes and accumulated allowance in the tote bag by my feet?
“You have nothing left in this town! Face it, Jory: your dad’s gone, your mom’s busy finding a rich guy to settle with, and here you are—lost.” Lost. In a town that barely existed; one that subsisted on nothing more than cheap bars and restaurants. Exactly. That’s why I was leaving. That’s why, any moment now, I’d be cruising away towards a new home. One with purpose. That’s why I was waiting in darkness, hoping against hopes my mom wouldn’t stumble upon the note I’d left her until morning.
Dear Mother, it began. Please don’t think of this as rebelling, or a cry for help. Please don’t think of this as a sign that you did anything wrong. If anything, view it as me finding my independence…just a few years before I’m supposed to.
Blue pen was scrawled across the page. I had written it in less than five minutes. Maybe even two.
But, it continued, whatever you view this as, there’s one thing you should know: I’m leaving. This place has nothing for me—Matthew was right. I’m sorry.
Love,
Your Baby Darling
Baby darling…Was it ironic to end a goodbye-note with a nickname that had held two people together for so long?
I looked towards my watch and squinted as both hands ticked towards 2.
Where was he?
What if he left without me?
If I was forced to stay….
I heard his voice, gentle and precise: “We can leave together; I have my uncle’s old van. We’ll drive away until we hit a city, get part-time jobs, and rent a cheap apartment. We’ll be happy.”
I could see the two of us squished together on an old sofa, watching TV, sharing some microwaveable meal in an apartment barely big enough for the two of us. Maybe I’d call home once in a while. Maybe we’d get a pet. Maybe we’d share midnight strolls when the heat of summer nudged us out of sleep.
I yawned. He must be on his way.

As the time clicked by, my head would slump as I gave way to minute-long naps. Whenever I awoke, the first thing I did was check my watch. Each time, the corners of my mouth would drift further down as my mind scolded me for what my heart wouldn’t yet admit.
He’ll be here soon…he’s getting his uncle’s van.
I tried to stay awake, craning my neck for the cloudy headlights I was so strongly wishing for. The moonlight remained awhile, calm and sympathetic, hugging my small white toes.
And then, as the last of my hopes extinguished, it left.




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