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In my personal opinion, I think running away is an option people should explore more often. People say it’s a bad thing that it’s something we shouldn’t do. Running away in our society is known as something cowardly. The only ones who run are weak, but in my defense, we have legs. Those gangly things must be good for something and I put them in to good use by running away.
I’m running now and I feel fantastic… well I guess I am more satisfied than anything. No, that’s still not the right word. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m glad I left, although I’m really just sad. Not miserable, gloomy, or depressed, simply sad. Being sad is heavy, this feeling anchors us down to where we can feel the weight pull down our face into a frown and we no longer feel like moving. Sadness is numbing…
Actually forget all of that, I’m in pain. My breath is being cut short as I find myself wheezing and in need of an oxygen tank. My poor scrawny sides are squeezing and collapsing inside themselves, almost making me want to vomit.
Except I don’t stop running, my legs just keep going and my arms continue to swing while I try to distract all the pain I’m feeling because I have to. If I don’t, it’ll catch up to me. All my problems are racing after me. Its bitter iciness is quickly creeping up behind me, reaching its claws at me, scratching at my spine. It makes me feel like a child, only knowing one way to react to all of this and that is to be afraid.
Pitifully, I should still be considered a child, not only because I’m young and still a teenager, but the littleness I sense I get in my chest. The whole world is a million times larger than I am and it seems everyone around me has lived life twice over already. I’m just a child.
Even more so, I do as I’m told. Everything I’m told to do, I do—well except for this one time—and I’ve never actually noticed. It’s habit forming now.
I find myself halting, recklessly stumbling as my running dies out. There’s a stop sign at the end of this street, so I stopped. For a moment I take in my surroundings, noticing the worn out road surrounded by grass, weeds, and daisies. Some houses are sprawled around randomly, supplying random discarded furniture and children’s toys in their front yards.
The stop sign itself is rusty… wait. My eyes squint as I move closer to make sure I’m not seeing things. What I see is a little note painted in white under the word “Stop.” The letters are running, but what I can see is “Take a right.” Curious, I glance to the right as the road goes on and then realize I could go straight or even left.
Why not go right? I take a step, heading for the right, but I stop after it.
“No,” I chuckle and shake my head, finding how stupid I am. I’m not going to do what some note tells me to do. I probably seem silly even considering it. What I should do is turn back and away from this odd place.
So I swing around, only to be stopped again. Staring me right in the eye is another note, “What are you doing? I said go right.”
In disbelief, I look around for a hidden camera or a friend to be giggling and pointing their finger at me, but it’s only me. The world around me is pure silence, at least until I laugh. I laugh at the note, the adversity in the pit of my stomach and this whole scenario.
The road note makes my eyes move with crudely made arrows, which point to the right. This makes me sigh. I rub my forehead, wondering if this is the universe’s version of a joke on me, while I glance from direction to direction…
Finally I make another a sigh, though this time I feel the side of my mouth rise, eagerly “Why not?”
Just as the weird notes say, I make a right. Now I feel like I’m in my own scavenger hunt. Carefully as I walk down the road I look around, to the ground, some trees, more signs and I even checked the cars… I wonder what I’m really searching for.
“Ah ha!” I spout excitedly, finding it in the window of a house.
This note is made out of letter book stopper that read out, “Come behind me!”
Getting pumped, I grin and run to the house, going behind it and I see more grass, but in the distance I spot a woodsy area after a creak with a red little bridge. Glimpsing around this backyard for a sign, I come forward and notice a banner to the side on a clothes’ line “Over the bridge you go.”
I nod, having a conversation with it and break out running again. The earth is soft, making it harder to run, though I don’t really care. That happens sometimes when people focus on something, they become a radar, only detecting that one special target. Everyone has something like that, modest or not. Some could call them dreams.
I had dreams. Cute thoughts that drifted around my mind, raising it higher until it reached the clouds. Soon after I reached cloud nine, gravity caught up with me and I was forced back to Earth. Certain people have taught me that practical thinking is what I should be practicing. They always tell me that. It seems like that’s all we can talk about. How I’m doing in school, if I did my homework, am I studying hard enough? Then there’s that horrible question that gets under my skin, “do you want to graduate on time?”
Of course I do, it p*sses me off that you’d even ask that. It doesn’t help me when they ask me that. I’m only pushed down to Earth deeper until I find myself six feet under in a grave of my own hopeless… time like this I feel pathetic.
Swiftly in a fit of frustration I huff and shake my head. Let me focus on this right now, I tell my mind and make my way pass the bridge to a sign with a hand pointing into the woods, so that’s where I go.
In the woods, I find myself in another world. The trees are painted. I even stop to take it in, the checkered tree, stripped and polka dotted ones, and the ones just painted in neon colors. These trees are lined up together like a gate, refusing me the entrance behind them. And on the ground there’s the same note every few feet away from each other, “keep going. You’re on the right track.”
When the colorful trees end, I stop in front of a long wooden pole with four arrows, one points up, then down and one directing me to the right while one is motioning to the left. They each have one word and are spoken clockwise from twelve-o-clock, “It is your choice.”
My choice… no one has ever asked me for my choice. Inside my chest, my heart beat quickens. Again I chuckle at my own pitiful nature. This shouldn’t make me so nervous or maybe it should. My choice will decide which way I go, what I’ll see, even if it’s the right one or not. And that’s just the problem.
What if I make the wrong choice?
They’ll be disappointed in me. They could stop caring about me, stop loving me. It happens. Lots of people abandon those who let them down, who have made them sad and heavy. I don’t want to be their burden… but at the same time just in a different mindset:
Can I say going by their decision makes me happy?
They may have brought me into the world and taught me all I know, but they can’t live my life for me. I’m the one standing here. I’m the one taking the breaths, blinking, feeling, and moving, not them.
Taking in a breath, I exhale “Let me take a left for once.”
And like that, I turned left and dashed off.
The left took me to an open clearing. The grass is yellowish here and the sky is a perfect clear blue. The only thing I see is a tree. One gigantic tree… with something in it? On the branches?
Quickly, I run closer and as it grows in my view, I see shoes. Dozens of shoes, all colors, sizes and brands, while on other branches I watch balloons waver in the air adding more quirk to an already amazing sight. I can’t help but smile and laugh.
Then I see a sign nailed into the belly of the tree, “Good Choice,” with a little yellow smile underneath it.
Now I want to cry. Never in my life had I ever thought I could feel serenity and here it is, getting me all warm and emotional, making my laughs shake almost in a sob. I want to always have this feeling…
I contain myself to keep a firm hold on my feelings and instead take my green converses off. Their worn out, turning yellow and the lace have began to unravel. I still take those laces and tie them together in only my white socks.
With a deep grunt, I pull my shoes back and then sling shot them in the air and into the tree. They land like a grappling hook, embracing a branch… Guess this is when I leave.
It took me a while to get back to where I had been running from, my school, the principal’s office. The school’s cool air sends goose bumps up and down my arms, which by no means gave me any encouragement.
Carefully and feeling a bit guilty, I step into the office and see my parents sitting on two plastic chairs. They look up at me instantly, my mother is the first to gush, though I can see from both their faces they were worried. “There you are!”
She gets up from her seat, tangling me into a hug. After she grunted and pulled me tighter, she let go and smacked my father lightly “I told you he would come back.”
“Sorry,” I say repulsively.
“ What happened there, son?” My father asks, his brow narrowing the way it does when he’s confused. “We were trying to have a conversation with you, about your future and then you just ran off like that?”
I opened my mouth to say “sorry” again, but I just couldn’t. That tiny word was caught in my throat and I know exactly why. This leaps from my tongue, “I can’t apologize for running.”
It pains me to disappoint them, to see their stunned faces staring at me. This is just something I have to do, though. I tell them, trying to sound more confident, “I needed to run… to clear my head.” My eyes spot the boarding school broachers still left on the table. “There was a lot for me to think about.”
“Of course,” Dad mumbled awkwardly, scratching his head “We did throw it at you.”
“So you’re okay with it?” My mother raised filled with hope.
I dashed them, “No. I don’t want to go away.” I could sense they wanted to rebut, so I continued on, louder, stronger. “You guys have to realize that I’m not going to be a lawyer or a doctor and I doubt I’ll be an astronaut. And that doesn’t bother me, because that’s not what I want to do.”
“We’re just thinking of you for your benefit. We want you to succeed sweaty.”
That sent a pang of guilt in my stomach. My voice grows calmer from it. “I know and thank you… you just have to realize this is my life. You guys won’t be the ones going abroad or going to school. You are not going to be the ones living through it, I will and I want to live it my way…”
Both my parents eyes glance towards each other and then to me and back to each other. It makes me incredibly nervous, but I hold my tongue. My father breaks the silence, his brow melting into softness, “Maybe we should talk about a plan for your future, your choice of your future.”
“Yes!” I say instantly with a smile plastered across my face.
He stays stern though, “But you have to promise to work hard. I won’t let you slack off.”
“Deal! Deal!” I almost shout for joy and hurriedly go for the door, before he starts a lecture.
Firmly, I press my hands against the door. Nothing happens, so I push hard but it’s the same result. It didn’t move. Baffled and getting irritated, I read the sign on the door that says “push” and all I can do is sigh.
“Oh sorry,” The receptionist speaks, “it’s actually a pull. The sign is wrong.”
I stand back and chuckle, “Guess I’m just a sucker for a sign. Call me Mr. Gullible.”