Run Away

The road stretched on for miles; I knew this, yet I could not see it. The last time I checked the clock in his truck, it’d been 3:17. Due to the shadow of complete darkness still around me, I guessed it had to be between four and five A.m. but my lack of knowledge of the time was not the last of my worries, since I had absolutely not idea where I was or what was around me. In Jer’s truck, with that one trusty headlight making a skinny path to follow, I could see the never-ending dirt road surrounded by tall yellow grass without a place to go. I turned to where I knew the grass was now- we were in this together.
The last thing he’d said, or done, I should say, before he was gone, was throw the money at me. It was crumpled together in a ball, and later, I observed, it was made entirely of one dollar bills. The kind he left home thinking that was all he was going to need. It had no value now, just crumpled paper in my hand. A strong, heavy breeze blew my long hair into my face, and I could feel the glitter I had put on just hours ago sweep right off my skin. Goosebumps covered my arms and legs, and I wished like h*** I’d accepted his jacket in the beginning. But it was too close. We were only doing business.
I felt the sly music in my heartbeat as I did what I had to do. On stage, at the busiest night of the week, I felt nothing. I did my signature move and a man with a John Deer hat in the front whistled, while never taking his eyes off me. I should have been used to this, but his gaze literally did not leave my body since he had arrived, and it was making me uneasy. But it was dark, I told myself. He could be looking at Melissa next to me.
He might just be lonely. Everyone here was lonely; I had figured that out my first night here. There was an old man with overalls and reading glasses- through his gin-drenched breath he told me his wife had just died. He didn’t know what he was doing here, he said, and he just wanted to go home. He left, just like them all, with a charmed and confused look painted on his face. No one knew what they were doing here. Absolutely no one.
When everything was closing up, the man in the John Deer hat walked over to me, but he lacked the confused face most leave with. It read only as charmed. He mumbled something, and put his hands on my waist like they belonged there. This happened all the time, I told myself, and just kept walking to get away from him. As I entered the back, I took one more look to see him standing there, waiting, and that persistent gaze felt like it would never end.

I took off my heels. There was no point in wearing them now, I thought. Had there ever been? It was getting lighter now, morning, yet it did not give me hope. Morning wasn’t going to tell me my location. I started walking, but instead of turning back the way he had brought me, I walked the other way. The walk slowly started speeding up, and before I knew it I was running, fast as I could, down the road to nowhere.

We always took the stuff off before we left. I could feel the pounds of makeup boring into my skin by the end of the night, and it was the worst feeling. We took cold cream and wipes and sometimes we had to take whole showers to get it off, but just as long as it was gone, I felt relief. On this night, however, I did not feel that relief. I was in my corner in front of the mirror, and just like the whole place, it was pretty dark. I was one of the last to leave because I was looking for a jacket to borrow. Then he walked right in. It was starting to feel now as if I was the only one who could see him, as crazy as that sounds. I saw him, a tiny figure in the dark mirror, and did not turn around. If I couldn’t see him, I thought, he couldn’t see me.
“Hello” said a dim voice from the distance. He sounded younger than I had imagined; in his thirties, perhaps. I managed something about no customers allowed, and he just smiled that charmed smile. The confusion was nowhere to be found- his eyes said he knew what he wanted. His right hand curled around my exposed shoulder, and I finally looked around for some help. Melissa had just left, the only on that would have even taken a second glance. The rest just said “Give them what they want, and they won’t bug ya’ after that.” That was the last thing I was going to do.

Cold sweat dripped down from my forehead, and I felt it on the back of my knees as well. I had gone over two miles, I guessed, and a red and purple sunset was rising past the high grass. There was a town maybe tem miles away, and I could only see the outline of it, but it became my new destination. It looked safe and warm, like a place I had left so long ago. It reminded me of my old life, with parents and siblings and stability head to toe. It was hard to believe that was just over two years ago. Working crazy hours, dealing with furtive men like John Deer Hat had taken the place of family dinners and homework and movies with friends. I was a young then, and I knew I wasn’t quite an adult yet, even if the state told me so. I was just another kid who had run away from home, and right then, for the first time since I’d left, I wanted to drop my bags and run back. Problem was, I didn’t have a home to go to anymore.





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