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Runaway (Part 1)
Running away from home seemed, to me, like something that only happened in stories. Why would you run away from a place where you had warmth, food and clothes? Even if you didn’t like the people who lived with, at least you weren’t going to die of cold or be shot in some dark alley.
All this made sense… until my mom passed away last year, and I had to go live with my awful Aunt Vin.
Maybe I should back up a bit.
I was born in New York, New York on December 12th; the same date as Frank Sinatra and Cathy Rigby. My mom and dad were a happy, young couple and they spoiled me rotten for the first years of my life. I got everything I asked for and was sent to an expensive private school, paid for by my dad’s job as the CEO of some big computer company. We spent loads of money on countless vacations. I’d traveled to Paris, London, Egypt, Italy, Greece, Japan, and about fifteen other major places by the time I was ten. Then mom decided we should settle down for a while.
Lavender walls, sky blue ceilings and an oak floor transformed our Manhattan flat into a dreamland. I even had a canopy bed with pastel pinks and rich green shades draping around it. Some nights when it was cold, my parents would snuggle up in the bed with me and we would tell stories, laughing until our ribs hurt.
I had the perfect life.
It ended on November 3rd, the same date Annie Oakley and Bob Kane died on. It ended when dad was late for dinner and mom and I sat watching the rain, trying to pretend we weren’t worried. It ended when the phone rang late that night. It ended when we arrived at the hospital in time for us to watch as they threw a blanket over his cold, mangled body. It ended when they told us the other driver involved had hung himself in guilt, the shame of killing another man in his drunken stupor too much to bear.
The weeks following drudged by in a blur of darkness, smudged charcoal on thick, heavy paper. We never celebrated my fourteenth birthday- it didn’t feel right without dad. Mom and I didn’t really do much for the remainder of the year- mainly we sat around hugging or crying, or performing the two simultaneously.
On New Year’s Eve, we made a resolution to start anew. Neither of us really wanted to, but hey, it had to happen.
My way of making a fresh start was to convince mom to let me switch schools. I started mid-term at a public school where no one knew about my dad. I didn’t want sympathy. Slouching around with headphones slipped into my ears, I shut my doors and turned out my lights. I retreated far, far into my shell.
Mom, on the other hand, threw herself into life. It kept her busy, I think. She didn’t have to think if she had no time to. She got a job as an event planner. Two years later, she remarried.
It wasn’t that Scott was mean or anything. He was great for my mom. It was just that I couldn’t accept a new father yet. I couldn’t tell mom that, because I knew she needed him.
Around that time I stopped speaking. I will always regret that. My last words to her were, ”Yeah, okay,” spoken weeks before… Well, before she went. Anyways. Mom and Scott couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Eventually they decided my silence was probably just a phase.
One night they were at a coworker’s party. They never came back. Some friend of theirs had gone crazy, shot up the entire place. I think drugs may have had a hand. Three people died. My mom, her boss and Susie, a girlfriend of hers. Fifteen others were ‘seriously injured’ and seven received ‘minor injuries.’ There was an article I the paper about it- you might have seen it.
I didn’t go to school, didn’t answer the phone. I lay underneath my tattered canopy, curled up in bed until I was hungry. Then I would nibble on some bread or something and sleep again. I existed like this for a month, nearly out of food, tired of people knocking on the door, until one woman broke it down.
Enter dear old Aunt Vin. I had met her once, at some family reunion in Seattle when I was nine. She was crazy then, and she never changed. She slapped me on the face directly after meeting me- because I looked at her funny, she claimed.
Aunt Vin dragged me to her house, kicking and screaming. She wouldn’t let me bring anything from my home, just sold the whole flat and everything in it. All I had in the world was the locket with my parent’s faces pasted in around my neck, hidden under my shirt.
Are you wondering where Scott was after his wife was killed, his stepdaughter stolen away by his sister-in-law?
Yeah. So was I.