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“Where did I go wrong?” I said aloud, pretending someone would hear me. I relaxed, letting myself fall up against the fence as I sat back and fired up a cigarette. I closed my eyes and took a long drag. I pictured my thoughts as words spiraling in my head, like they were the clouds of smoke floating out of the cigarette. It had been almost three weeks since I left home, and a month since I had talked to my family. The closest thing I had was my dog, Dante.
Maybe it was a mistake to have walked out like my father had. The thought kept swirling and hovering over my head almost to the point to where I thought I could just swat it away. As much as I tried to forget the conflicts, they just wouldn’t go away.
It was my junior year and I had just turned seventeen, but still no freedom to drive. I try to remember the exact date, but everything was so unclear, all I can remember was it happened in mid October. When I got home from school that day, I opened the door, and as I walked inside, and unusual feeling swept over me.
“I’m home!” I shouted, walking down the hallway to my room. After stepping into my room, I closed the door and slumped down in the dark green beanbag chair, grabbed the remote to my stereo and put on some music to block out the worries from my day. I sat in my room for what must have been at least half an hour, when I decided to get up and walk to the kitchen. When I got there, I found my mom cooking as usual.
“How was your day?” she asked
“Could have been better,” I quickly replied, trying to avoid conversation.
I tried to grab a bag of chips and quickly leave the room before my mom could reply again but it was no use.
“ It couldn’t have been too bad, considering I got another notice from your school. You missed your first three classes again,” she stated.
It was far too late to get away now. I knew this was the last straw, but she didn’t understand. I was not like other kids at school. I never got along with anyone. The only people who I had ever become good friends with lived so far away. So I avoided class and everyone around me.
For the past three months, there had been constant belligerence in my home, mostly between my parents. I should have seen it coming sooner, but I was in denial. That night my dad never came home from work. When my mom came into my room before dinner, she had a concerned look on her face and tears welling in her eyes, and I knew something was wrong. I was already having trouble at school, but my parents’ plan to divorce was more than I was able to handle.
“I’m really sorry Jason,” was the last thing I heard my mother say. After that point, I was in another place in my mind, totally dead to the world. I could see her lips moving as she tried to explain, but it was useless. It’s hard to remember when the thought came to me exactly, but I knew that I couldn’t stay home any longer. That night, after my mom had fallen asleep, I emptied my backpack, put in a few pair of clothes, what money I had, and headed for the door.
As soon as I made it down the hall to the front door I had the feeling of someone watching me. I turned around to see Dante, his usual happy self, sitting down wagging his tail. I stood there staring at him for a long time. He had always made me smile when I needed it most, so I grabbed his leash off the hat rack, placed it around his neck, and headed out the door.
I didn’t know where I was headed. With no plans, little money, and a dog, the thought that I wouldn’t make it very far, lingered in my mind. It was only a matter of time until my mom would wake up and realize her son was gone. Strolling down the street holding on to Dante’s leash, my backpack strapped to my back, a thought occurred to me. Most of the time in movies, when people run away, they seem to turn back and look behind them one last time. This was different. I had no desire to look back.