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Fare Well

In the grimy trailer a fuzzy radio played "You are my Sunshine " while the signal faded in and out. My Pa slept on the recliner with a empty bottle in his hand and Ma's old sweater tightly to his chest. It was a hot day.. too hot in fact with sweat beads on my forehead and dead yellow grass crisping beneath my feet. Down the horizon on the dirt road a lone truck and trailer slowly crept by.. I wondered if there was another twelve year old boy without a friend.. Would he have a tv and water guns or better yet be a good poker player? The squeaky trailer stopped and turned onto the yellow field with us.. Sitting in the front of the rickety truck were a obese couple, that's when I lost all hope that their was a kid in there. There's no way a kid could even squeeze in between those two in the truck.. The woman had a faded red wig and wore a long sheet like dress .. The man looked like he just took a swim with how sweaty he was and was nearly bald with dirty teeth.

I walked up to the truck to take a second look to see if the kid was hiding somewhere melted to the plastic seats. No one in the front.. Nearly given up hope, I saw light red hair peeking out from a tarp. I slowly lifted the tarp up in the bed to make sure it wasn't a wig. When the tarp was unveiled I was shocked.. it was a girl.. and didn't even look my age. She had long skinny legs that were only covered by tiny jean shorts , a tied flannel and a pack of cigarettes poking out her shirt. I poked her wondering if she was dead.. She groaned and then said " Leave me the hell alone Linda!" She stood up and rubbed her eyes at me.. " Who are you squirt?" Squirt ! That was one of the worst insults to me , I scrunched my eyes "I'm not a squirt! And who are you? Why are you back here?" She laughed sitting on the side of the truck bed "You really think I could fit with my fat ass grandparents ? That's why I'm back here .." She laughed trying to spark a cigarette "Do you have a light?" I replied " Nah my ma said it makes people ugly." The girl sneered and she got in my face " Do I look ugly to you?" In fact she wasn't ugly.. She was beautiful with her flippy auburn hair and gray eyes.. I couldn't answer the question and she soon forgot when she took the first drag. "So how old are you squirt? " I hit the truck " I'm 12 and my name's not squirt it's Lee! " She jumped " Lee.. that's a dumb name." I was this close to yelling when her grandma at the nic of time yelled in a scratchy voice "Bryce !! Get yoself ina here now!!!!!!!!" I laughed at her as her shoulders tensed. " Bryce ! That's a boy's name!!! hehehe

Out of nowhere she punched me hard in the arm and smiled "See ya later Squirt the old hag needs my help.." I was glad that she was leaving but yet I didn't want her to go without answering this one thing. " How old are you!?" She was at the door with the cigarette hanging in her mouth " Sixteen " before slamming the screen door .

Never once in my life I did I know sixteen year old girl.. Let alone one that could ever be as crazy as Bryce. The weeks went by as she drank her canned beer on the lawn chair, or blasted loud rock music, and would sometimes yell out her window " Hey squirt!!!!" A thing I always noticed was at sunset she would go out to the tall grass in the yellow field barefoot and stand for what seemed like forever.. I had nothing better to do but watch Bryce .. My dad was always asleep or hiding in the bathroom with his drinks. One night Bryce stood in the field as usual but when the end of the sunset came instead of walking back to her trailer she went down the ground .. For hours she didn't get back up. I didn't even see the grass move around her. By midnight I decided to check on her . The sky was dark blue with lots of stars out and the summer nights were warm enough to go out in shorts still. I went to her and saw the spark of her cigarette as she rested flat on the ground. She snickered " So you have been worrying about me.. That's a first." I sat on the crinkly grass next to her silently. " No one gives a s*** what I do. My parents didn't , Linda and Earl sure as hell don't. Be happy that your parents care cuz it sucks bein alone" For 12 I sure did know how she felt.. " My Ma is gone .. Pa says it wasn't because I wasn't good enough it's because he wasn't good enough." Bryce's lips strained trying to think of something to say. " Your mom is a loser , If she really loved you she would've taken you with her. "

At that second I wanted to beat the crap out of her!! All my rage was going into my arms ready to swing and make her black and blue! I was above her about to punch her in the face with my fist mere inches away. . .Bryce's expression was stone cold as if she were used to this. " Go ahead Lee , I deserve it."
I couldn't do it.. I stepped aside and rolled in the dead grass next to her holding back tears. The smell of Bryce's cigarettes fumed in my head as she hummed "Yellow " by Coldplay. She blasted that song out her room enough for me to know all the lyrics . We hummed together all night and fell asleep at times. I didn't care if my dad woke up and noticed I was gone. I just felt that I need to be there for Bryce. Time blended together and before I knew it the sun was rising and the dead grass glistened like gold. She gave a gentle smile and turned to me " I'll be there for you. I ain't going to be your ma but I can at least make the days go by quicker." Oddly enough even with how blunt and mean she was to me I still saw her as a friend. I knew that deep down she was hurting and needed someone to take care of.. Something that wasn't screwed up. We watched the sun rise every morning after that and most nights she would tap on my window saying " Hurry up squirt ! I don't have all night!"

I talked about our parents, the field, I rambled on about new toys I saw in the catalogs as she sat quietly with her smokes or slowly sipping a beer. She didn't do most of the talking and preferred to leave out details of her life with her real parents. In the mornings I would hear Earl and Linda cussing and glass breaking. Bryce often turned up her cd player to drown out the fight and would dance. Once she caught me watching and yelled " Do you like the view?!" laughing loudly and waving two peace signs at me. I slammed my window and hid ,pretending that never happened.

At times I hated her and she made it obvious when she found me to be a pain. Yet we kept meeting up and hanging out as much we could those slow days of summer. Pa never noticed how much I was gone and never left the trailer except to get his catalogs. I never once thought that this would ever come to a end..

On this particular night Earl and Linda fought so loud even Pa couldn't sleep. Glass always broke and the trailer rocked as if two rhinos were head to head in a cramped cage. I was surprised the walls weren't ripping from all the force. I saw into the window as Bryce froze and opened the door to the bedroom. She went out of my sight but I could hear the trailer shaking more and large things being thrown around as Earl yelled so hard and fast that I couldn't understand him. More things shattered and I heard Bryce trying to make her way to the door. I heard Earl yell " HOOLLEED UPP" slurred and a loud crash. Bryce screamed and my heart skipped a beat... The seconds ticked away and I was running out the door to save her when she stumbled out holding her head. Something dark and shiny seeped down her arm and the side of her face and tears fell on her cheeks. Bryce ran into the field and I chased her to only end up our usual spot. Her hands were shaking and the shiny dark liquid turned out to be blood all over her hands. She stuck her head into her knees and sobbed.. This was a side I was not used to seeing. What happened to the tough as nails Bryce who punched me for even tearing up? I didn't have the words to say for this instead I trusted on action. I grabbed her hand and she followed behind without a fight wiping her eyes. I took her to my place and cleaned up the gash on her head. We didn't say a word to each other but I don't think it was needed.. She plopped on my bed and hid under the blankets while I slept on a pallet I made on the floor. My vision blurred and I wondered if this was all my imagination, a dream that I had absolute no control over..

Early morning came and I woke up to tapping on my window. I looked around and saw my bed was empty.. I wobbled to the window to see Bryce with a backpack, her shorts and hiking boots way too big on her. On her head was my bandana covering the bandage. " Put on your clothes sleepy head !" I met her outside on the dirt road.. "Thanks for helping me out squirt! Hope you don't mind I stole your bandana." I saw the bag crammed full of cd's, photos, clothes and covered in buttons of bands I've heard throughout knowing her. "Are you running away?" She looked the other way as if she couldn't look me in the eye. " Yeah .. I got no other options." My eyes started watering up when I thought of the night my mom left. " You can't leave!! I won't let you leave like my Ma! Stay with me and my Pa and things will get better I promise !!!" She looked down at me .." I ain't leaving you like your Ma did. That's why I want you to go with me.."

At that point I had a choice.. Leave my broken father or lose a friend.. The sun beamed on us and the dust swirled in the blaze. Barely choking out a answer she leaned down and gave a kiss on the cheek. " I won't make you choose .. I'll never forget you Lee and you gotta know that we'll see each other right. Just be there for your Pa because he needs you to help like you have for me..

Fare well Lee " as she rustled with my hair. She walked down the road as her boots echoed "CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP" I watched till she faded away as a tiny dot .. several times I wanted to stop her but I knew this was right..

I took her words to the heart and ran to my Pa and woke him up. He rolled over and was listless, " You know I love you Pa." His eyes welled up and he gave me the first hug in a long time..



A year has gone by and Pa stopped drinking. Earl and Linda moved away and never sent out a amber alert for Bryce. The yellow field is still as dead and crisp as usual and life has gotten slightly better. I got a letter from Bryce telling me of her adventures in the city.

"Dear Squirt!

Things have been great up in the city. Right after I left I took a bus to the biggest city in this state and started working at a record store with this cool chick with bright purple hair. I bet that blows your young mind! I haven't heard anything from Earl or Linda but I was hoping for that so mission complete. I'm still looking for my parents to tell them a piece of my mind but I've got better things to do for now. I met a guy who reminds me a lot of you with how caring and cool he is. He saw that picture we took together and asked me if you were my brother. I lied and said you were. It's not too far from the truth..

How is you Pa doing? Tell him I say hi! Someday I'll have enough money to have you come down here and stay over. I think you would really like it here..

I hope you have a great summer and I'll write soon

Love Bryce..




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