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I stuffed the last book into my backpack. Its square shape bulges against the side. They make the pack much heavier but I’d rather die than leave them behind. I put about five dollars into the side pack just incase. I can thank Senor Burrito for the $200 in my wallet. I used a hundred of it I already used for bus fare, the rest for anything I might need like clothes, food, and maybe even a new book. Every detail was planned accordingly, to leave minimal room for suprises.
“CHRISTA!” his drunken voice yells through the small house. “Where’s d-d-dinner?” he stuttered trying to find the words for what he wanted.
“Uhh… hold on Dad.” Stupid! You should have had a story set in place! I can’t believe you forgot to make—or at least start dinner! “I’m about to start it after I take a shower.”
“Okay, but hurry up.” The TV goes on without another word.
Putting my gray bathrobe quickly over my clothes I walk over to the shower, pack in hand. You are so stupid! You had to buy the tickets in advance; you couldn’t just buy them when you got there in case something like this happened. There is no way I am working for another month at the mall and wasting 100 bucks.
We live in a two-story house, which we share with another family. They live above us so we are on the first floor. I think they go out a lot because they never complain about the noise. And if they do hear it, they never say anything. I always wonder what the neighbors think every time a dish cracks or a scream is let out.
Walking into the bathroom I look in the mirror. Was I really going to run away? This was crazy. I was crazy. I can’t do this! But, I have no choice. Its either I leave now or… I can’t do this now. I threw the pack out the shower window in frustration. I quickly locked the door. I took my bathrobe off and threw it on the floor. Carefully I squeezed myself through the wide-set window hitting the ground with a thump. I reached inside the window to turn the shower on to at least give the illusion I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I walk across the front yard to the sidewalk. I take one last look at my home. The brown shutters against the yellow windows, and the white double door I all saw for the first time. Just leaving the things I was used to. Knowing that the chances of me ever coming back was next to zero. No stop it. I turned away not looking back. A lone tear fell down my cheek.
“Mommy, where’s New York?” I ask my mother as I pulled out a ticket from her purse. I was in first grade and just learning to read. I wanted to know what everything said and what everything was.
“Nowhere.” she answers me quickly, “Put that back and don’t tell Daddy”
Confused I put it back and think nothing of it till later that night while I was in bed.
“JENINE!” he called her voice just as he does mine. I hear her soft anxious footsteps walk across the hall to see what he wants. Her soft calm voice tries to calm his loud angry one. Glass shatters and the deafening silence are interrupted by his stomping feet marching down the hallway. I tighten my blanket around myself and try to fall asleep, try to forget I heard.
She wasn’t there the next morning. I immediately understood why and knew not to say a word to him about it. He started after me within the next two weeks.
It’s a long way to the bus stop. I walk down the street where I have lived my whole life. Its not like I was leaving much behind. Hell when he finds out I’m gone he’ll probably yell a bit, hopefully realize that he drove me away himself, and then go out and drown himself in alcohol.
I had no friends other than the people I would causally exchange a word or two with, but none of them would miss me because no one cared.
“How’d you get that scar, Christa?”
“I dropped a plate and one of the shards hit me.” He threw it at me and then the shard hit me.
“What’s with those bruises?”
“Oh I fall down the stairs a lot.” There are no stairs in my house but they wouldn’t know that. They don’t care. They just take in the information and leave it alone. That’s it. Done. The mystery of the constant scars and bruises are solved. Christa is a klutz. That’s all there is to it. I just keep my head in my book and not say anything more.
Its 9: 30 and the bus will leave in half an hour
“One-way to New York, please.”
He hands me the ticket, and I sit down on the shiny blue seat. Thirty minutes till the bus leaves. I have some time to kill. There is a long line at the convenience stand. Getting on line, I take out my money and walk over. I stare at the wall while my feet absentmindedly move up in the slowly moving line.
A man cuts in front of me. I don’t say anything. He is joined by three more of his friends. Shuffling my feet, I wait on line. Naturally, it takes forever.
I am next in line when I heard “Boarding for New York, boarding for New York.”
Cursing under my breath, I head for the bus hungry. I didn’t come this far just to miss the bus.
“Have a nice trip.” The ticket collector says as I walk on the bus.
“Thanks.” I reply taking my ticket stub from his hand. My seat is I32. All the way in the back where it is nice and quiet. I will probably read till I fall asleep. Sitting down on the soft seat, I take out my newest book and begin to read.
The ship tossed and turns and John holds on to whatever he can find.
“Dad!” he yells begging for his father.
His father makes his way over the raging waves knocking him off balance.
“Go back inside. It’s not safe here!”
“No! I want to help you.”
“You can help me by staying inside.”
“I am 14 now! I can help.”
A crack of thunder and wood splitting broke the--/
“Excuse me.” I startled and looked up from the page. A man stood there. Perfect! The ship is about to sink in a hurricane, and he has to interrupt me now.
“I am sorry. I was wondering if I could have your seat. You see, I have a lot of work to do and it’s so quiet back here, and every other place is full.”
“Oh, sure. Go ahead.” Yeah go and take my seat while I’m in the middle of reading. What do I care?
“Thank you. I am in C9.” I got up and he sat down in my seat. I took my books and my bag and headed toward C9.
It was a middle seat. Next to the window sat a woman with a crying baby in her arms, and in the aisle was a guy with headphones around his ears who seemed to be trying to sleep.
“Excuse me,” I said pointing to my seat.
He squeezes his legs tight so I can get through. I settle down in my seat and take out my book and try to read.
The waves crash down on the deck like –
“Waa! WaWa ehhhh.”
This had to be the noisiest baby I ever heard.
Closing my book I lean back in the seat and close my eyes. I could get through this. I’ll just wait for the baby to fall asleep and
“Hey lady.” Don’t you have a pacifier or something?” It was the guy. I stared amazed at what he was doing. I wish I could be that brave.
“Why yes. Why didn’t I think about that before?” She pulled out her baby bag, digged through it until she found a pacifier. She stuck it in the baby’s mouth. Miraculously the baby stopped crying.
Satisfied, the guy next to me put on his earphones and closed his eyes. He was probably a couple of years older than me. He had dark brown hair and a 5 o’clock shadow on his face. He was wearing a back T-shirt with a name of a band I’ve never heard of. He had on dark ripped jeans with a chain. I tried to hear the music in his headphones to see what he was listening to. All I heard were voices mumbling on. Confused, I opened my book.
I stood on the sandy shore, looking out into the ocean. It was huge. It seemed as if nothing else in the world existed except this island and this ocean. Maybe the world would be better this way. I wouldn’t have to worry about school or homework. There are plenty of animals here. But my friends and my family. What am I supposed to do without them? How long will it be before they realize I am gone?
A low, growling noise interrupted my thoughts. A brown flash moved past the bushes. “Who are you?” I yelled. “Can you help –?
“What are you reading?”
Once again I am interrupted. It was the guy sitting next to me. He was leaning over my shoulder looking at the page.
“Oh. It’s called ‘Trespasser’.”
“Can I see?”
“Sure.” I folded the top corner of the page and handed him the book. He took it from my hand and turned it on its back. I watched his eyes moving back and forth reading the summary and reviews.
“Wow,” he said, “Sounds interesting. I have to remember that one.” He handed it back to me, “So,” he started “you like to read.”
Of course I like to read. I’d rather read now than talk to you. “Yeah. Do you?”
“Yeah. I can’t read in cars though. Get massive headaches. Right now, I am listening to books on tape. Not as great as the real thing though. Know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I know. I can barely see what is happening if I listen.”
“Exactly!” If you read with your eyes, it is more visible that way. Right now I am listening to a book called ‘Darkness’. So there are not many visual details.”
“That sounds interesting.” Is this someone who might understand me? I wonder if he reads the book I do. Now that I think about it, he is kind of cute. Wait. What am I doing? I am just smiling at him. Oh, crap! He must think I am some kind of freak now. C’mon say something Christa!
“So… what kind of books do you like?”
We seemed to talk forever. He read so many books. It was impressive. I’ve read some of the books he’s read and heard of other. We talked about whom his favorite authors were and all the characters in the books we’ve both read. It was as if I was talking to my clone. We didn’t just talked about books though. He said he was going to New York to work with his uncle. He is only 17 and he dropped out of high school. When he asked why I was going, I didn’t lie. In fact, I trusted him so much, I told him everything. I just sort of slipped out. I am such an idiot. I told him about my dad, school, how my mom left. Why did I do that?
He just sat there, staring at me. “Wow,” he said after what seemed like an hour. “I am so sorry.”
“No, no. It's okay. Don’t be. It is my fault really.”
“What? How is it your fault? He is the one who drove your mom away. He is the one who hit you?” His voice was so angry, so defensive.
“No. It is. I never did anything. I never told anyone till now…”
“Why not? He hits you and you never told anyone? That’s stupid.”
Okay. He hates me now. This is stupid. Why did I even start talking to him? I looked out the window. The sun was just about to rise and the dark sky turned into a deep purple.
I couldn’t look at him. It is just too embarrassing. I don’t think I can go back to reading after that. The only person I ever told hates me. God. I am so stupid! I should just find the darkest hole and jump in.
“Hey, look. I’m sorry.” His voice sounded soft and forgiving. “I just hate it when people don’t stand up for themselves.”
“I don’t like to bother people with my problems. I’d rather deal with them on my own. I don’t want to get in anyone’s way.” An excuse. My only excuse.
“That’s bull!” I looked down not daring to meet his eyes. “What are you going to do when someone steals your purse? Will you not want to bother the cops with your petty problem and let the thief get away?”
“Well, no… I…”
“You have to stand up for yourself.” He looked at me softly and said, “I know what happens to people who never do anything, and its not good.”
I looked up at him questioningly and he just gave me this look and I understood everything.
“Listen” he sighed. “The only reason I care so is because that’s exactly what happened to my older sister. I’m not going to New York to see my uncle. I’m going to find her, to help her. Because I know she needs it.”
He was right. There’s no way I could handle this b myself. Okay, from now on I’m going to be more assertive and not be afraid to ask others for help.
The bus stopped at the rest station and everybody slowly trudged off with sleep still engraved deep in his or her eyes. He walked somewhere near the men’s bathroom, obviously fed up with me. I decided to buy a candy bar to keep myself busy. The lady at the counter looked like she was in her late 30’s and had too much make up on. I walked over to the counter and realized she was talking on her cell phone.
“Yeah…no way!” she babbled paying no attention to me. “Oh my gosh, that’s horrible!”
I waited for her patiently to finish. She didn’t. She just kept babbling on. It never seemed to stop. I couldn’t wait any longer! Right now all that mattered to me was paying $1.20 for this candy bar. “Uh excuse me.”
“I know right! She’s crazy. I can’t believe it though”
“Excuse me, ma'm.”
I could feel him staring at me from the back of my head. What did I just say? Okay I can do this. I know I can. Well here goes.
She looked up. “Sorry sweetie. I got to go. We’ll talk later, okay? Okay. Bye!” Hanging up her cell phone she looked at me. “Yeah, can I help you?”
I looked back at him, amazed that it actually worked. He was smiling and then he walked away. Almost forgetting why I yelled in the first place, I quickly said, “Oh yeah. Umm just this,” And placed the candy bar and money on the counter. She took my money and put it in the cash register. Giving me my change, I saw her reach back for her cell phone. Annoyed by this, I walked back to the bus. I looked for him but he wasn’t there. The lady with the baby wasn’t there either. All of a sudden the bus started to leave. Scared that we left the two behind I walked up to the bus driver with my new found confidence
“Hey. There were two people who were sitting next to me. They aren’t here now.”
“That’s not possible. When everyone got off there were ten people, and now there are still ten people.”
“They were there! I was talking to him”
“Honey, you must have dreamed it. There were no other passengers that aren’t on this bus right now”
“You’re right. I am really tired. Thank you anyway” I walked back to my seat confused. I couldn’t have dreamed it. It was all too real to be a dream. I was talking to him he was really there! Maybe I’m crazy. After all these years I’ve finally cracked. Or maybe…maybe it’s something else…