WE are the runaways

December 23, 2008
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The back of his hand made a loud thwack! When it connected to my mothers’ cheekbone. Tears tumbled down my face, stinging my swollen cheeks. This happened often, my dad becoming angry, and then taking it all out on Cheyenne. But never before, did they fight in front of me. I collapsed to my knees no longer able to handle the pain, the anger around me. He pushed her, hard, and she tried to steady herself on the rim of the stove but burned her hand on the unoccupied burner. She cried out, grabbing her hand and thrusting in into the dog’s water bowl. It wasn’t Cheyenne’s fault. I thought as I crawled behind the wall that separated the kitchen and the dining room, rose to my feet and ran to fetch the band aids and Neosporin for my helpless mother. It was mine. I was the one who had taken the Camel cigarettes from his leather coat pocket and thrown them in the trash. I was the one who was supposed to be punished. Not mom. Dad knew it, but he was yelling and screaming that it was Cheyenne’s fault that my mind and body worked the way they did. The bruises made my eyes fill with hatred and make Cheyenne’s’ co-workers at work become suspicious. I knew that they didn’t believe she had tripped on an uneven patch in the sidewalk outside her office complex like she had said, but still they didn’t ask about it. It wasn’t fair. Not the tiniest bit.

I woke up the next morning to a shy red sun casting golden rays of sunshine in between the screen on the window and on my bedspread. It looked like a fireball in an ocean full of cobalt blue, for it had not risen completely from below the horizon. My room was congenial. Tea green walls covered in hand painted sunflowers; their petals the color of Tangerine peels. My summer quilt was draped on the edge of my bed. Colorful socks were cut into rings and tied together to make that quilt all shades of yellow. A project I had helped my Aunt Lorelei with when I was eight. My mirror was covered in doodles and quotes I had written on it with a Window marker. Somehow I felt that keeping all my things straight and my room in order would make my family straight, too. If only life were that easy.

As mom drove me to school that day, my stomach rumbled, apparently not satisfied with the meager breakfast of chocolate Pop tarts that I had eaten that morning. When she slowed our beige jeep at a stoplight, I took the opportunity to look at her. Recently she had been stressing about if our plan will work, no doubt the cause of the dark grey rings underneath her eyes, poorly hidden by the ivory foundation she had applied. Even though she showed obvious pain and fatigue, you couldn’t possibly look at her without gazing into her bottle green eyes rimmed with dark reddish auburn eyelashes caked with purple mascara. Her hair, usually in soft ringlets that fell upon her shoulders without grooming, was wavy but frizzy, the result of a sleepless night. At least her mouth was plump and not dried and cracking. I could see the remaining gloss that had been caressed onto her lips with a plastic wand with grace and carefulness. No matter what she actually looked like, her life was beautiful to me. Forget my scarceness of a family.

“Cheyenne, you look very pretty today.” I said. Mom turned to me and smiled, surprised by the sudden compliment.

“Thanks honey. That means a lot to me.”
I smiled back at her and our eyes met. I took her burned hand, and nodded. The bright traffic light changed to green and she turned the car around, and headed toward the interstate. She and I both knew what she was doing. All of my stuff was in bags in the trunk. Hers were in suitcases. Gracie and Cameron, our dogs, were in the back seat with their silky golden heads out the window. Soon, our happiness would match theirs. Maybe for once, we were going to be safe, and possibly live life the rest of our lives the way we should have lived the first part.
We will be okay.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

MADIE the author said...
Jan. 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm
hey, alicia? from writing club? you have a teen ink? cool! thanks for the comment!
AliciaDog said...
Jan. 4, 2009 at 3:25 pm
Madi(e?), that was amazing! See you Monday!
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