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Based on the book, "Can’t Get There from Here", by Todd Strasser
“Ryan, wake up!” I scream to the 18 year old boy that’s lying motionless in my arms. “Please don’t leave me; Ava’s gone and so is Kyle. You’re the only one I have left; please don’t go, at least not without me!”
The sound of the ambulance starts to come into focus, but I don’t look up. I don’t look up when three Paramedics climb out of the ambulance and start heading toward me. I don’t look up when one ask me to release the boy in my arms. I don’t look up when they start to pull me away from Ryan. I just stare at his motionless body knowing that all my friends I’ve met and lived with while on the streets were all dead. My friends, who’ve become family to me for the last three years are all dead. Ava, who died from starvation; Kyle, who died from the diseases; and now Ryan, who also died from starvation; I’m the only one left that’s still alive. I don’t bother to wait for a Paramedic to tell me my best friend is dead because I know. So I just stand there, even after the ambulance had carried Ryan away. I stand there, wondering continually in my head. “Why me? Why couldn’t I be the first one to die?”
Three years ago, if someone were to suggest to me to run away from home and come live with them on the streets, I wouldn’t have paused for even a second before accepting it. Now, if you ask me the exact same question, it would be just the opposite. The day I left my parents, all I could think about was how great it was to be free. Free from it all. We had a nasty fight that day because I had come home past my curfew. Before that, we had a lot of fights that was related to me not following my curfew or hanging with the wrong group of friends. The fights, it became more frequent, one after the other. It wasn’t always like this though, there were good times in my life and in the past, I did follow my parent’s rules. But with all the school work high school teachers gave us and pressure on trying to maintain free of drugs while everybody in school were doing it just made me snap. I couldn’t handle all the stress; especially when my parent started yelling at me because I didn’t follow their rules. They didn’t understand the hardships of high school life, and I had enough. I decided to run away onto the streets thinking it was better than being trapped at home having to deal with all the hassle. But now, I realize, I was wrong. Horribly wrong. Now I wonder are they moving past it all, pretending that I’m dead. Imagining that none of this actually happened? That I don’t exist?
The day I met my friends, it was one of the most blissful times of my life. They understood me like no one else ever had. I finally had friends that shared the same problems with me, some even had worse ones. But now, they were all gone, free from all the problems they had to face. I remember the first time we met, they were already a group and I was just wandering the streets.
It had been two weeks since I’ve left my parents and I was on the look out for any cops that my parents had sent to bring me home. I had bumped into Kyle while I was turning the corner because I had seen a police car. He said the most unanticipated thing ever though. He said to me,
“Running away from home or did you just see a policeman/woman?”
I was bewildered not knowing how a stranger knew what had happen to me just by first glance.
“How did y-“I ask stunned speechless.
“Well, you’re dress like you’ve been sleeping on the streets for a few weeks and you look very tired,” he replied before giving me a chance to finish my sentence. “Let me guess, you hate your parents or you hate your life at home and you decided to run away from home?”
“I hated my life,” I answer slowly still not grasping how he knew all this when I haven’t even said a single thing about my life.
“Join the club,” he replies stretching out his arms like he was going to show me a club. “By the way, what’s you name?”
Figuring life couldn’t get any worse I gave him my name and he brought me to Ava and Ryan.
Since then, I stuck with them and thought of them as family for the last three years until there death.
I snap out of it as a hand grasps my shoulder and I turn, thinking it was my father. Instead, it turns out to be a police officer. I blink a few times, trying to blink back the tears that had started to pool in my eyes.
“Little girl, are you lost?” he ask me with a concern expression on his face.
I stare, pondering over his words. Yes, I’m lost. I’m lost, homeless, and absolutely hopeless. My friends, they’re all dead. My home on the streets feels like a ghost town now that everybody I knew and loved were dead. I shiver, not from the biting cold, but because I’m frightened and befuddled. I don’t want to die here; not because I can’t survive living on the streets, but because it’s an appalling death; knowing that no one in this world knows or even cares that you’re dead. No one wants to die this way, that’s why there’s so few of us street kids, who chose freedom over the safety and comfort of their family.
Now, as I think it over, I wonder just for a moment: “Should I head home?” But the thought disappears just as fast as it came. Of course not, they would never forgive me and take me back in. It’s not like I’ve only been gone for a day. It’s been three long years since I’ve stepped foot in my house. For the last three years, I’ve learned the hard way the true meaning of survival and the difficulties of it. It’s still a shocker for me to know that I’m still alive when everybody else isn’t.
“What’s your name?” the police officer asks bringing me back to the present.
“Trish,” I reply automatically not paying any attention to him.
“Trish, where do you live?” the police officer question again looking down at my bedraggled body and clothes. “Where are your parents?”
I sigh, not wanting to tell the policeman my life story. He would definitely take me home if I told him. So I stay silent, ignoring the officer.
“Trish, where do you live?” the policeman asks for the third time, now getting suspicious.
“Here,” I reply in a low voice and start breaking into a run just after I saw the police officer’s confuse look.
When I turn the corner, I start to run faster, ignoring his calls to come back. It’s too late, no matter how badly I might want to go home, I can’t. It’s been three years since I’ve chosen freedom over my family and now, it’s too late to turn back.