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I am afraid of storms. When I was five I hid under my blankets until the thunder stopped and if my mother was awake she would come in and sing to me. It's raining now and my mother is not here. At my first foster home I lived with Martha and Sidney. But they were old and I had to leave them. I cried when they said good-bye. I was twelve when I moved to Riverlane 107.
Then thunder is loud and the rain beats against the bus windows. It's all quiet inside here except for the man snoring in the seat across from me. I wonder how he can sleep. I am trying my hardest not to cry.
This is the second time I was on a bus alone. When I was nine I ran away for the first time. I got caught very soon. I wasn't that smart back then. Now I'm wiser and I know how to get on a bus alone because I am tall and can pass for much older. I also have a reason for leaving. I am fourteen now and I am still running.
Riverlane 107 is way out in the country. There were five of us who lived there: Tom, Ranea, Skye, me, and Zoe. Zoe is almost five. I'm going to miss her birthday. Tom and Ranea were the best people I ever met. I wish they were my real parents but wishing is a waste of time for people like me. Things never turn out right. Skye is fifteen. He can run faster than me but he can't skip stones. A few months ago I tried to teach him how.
"Here, Skye, you have to learn to flick your wrist. It's all in the wrist," I said and skipped it six times across the pond. Skye whistled and shook his head.
"Kid," he said,"if you could make people fly like that you'd be a millioneir." Skye never called me by my name, Destiny. We spent the whole day out at the pond skipping rocks and watching the clouds. Skye told me the names of every different kind of cloud there is. He knows about everything. At dinner that night Skye told Tom and Ranea about my hobby. Tom said I should teach him too. Ranee laughed and said she had a surprise. She brought out a cake for dessert. It had been exactly two years I had been with them. Last week we went fishing at the pond. We went swimming too. But there wasn't enough room to fit us all in the boat. Ranea stayed with Zoe on the beach.
"I'm sorry," I said. "Don't be," said Ranea but I knew she wanted to come. I couldn't have stayed. It wouldn't work. I know it. Two years of Skye sleeping in the basement. Two years of me, the nonfitting puzzle piece. Two years too long. Good-bye, Tom and Ranea. Good-bye, Skye, Zoe. Good-bye, pond, stones, good-bye wishes. Good-bye.
"Excuse me, missy, can I sit here?" There is an old woman standing over me. She has a basket and a pair of glasses sliding down her nose. She's waiting for my answer.
"Yes," I say. She sits. I look at my watch, it's almost one in the morning. My watch was a gift from Tom last Christmas. I wish I could get them all out of my mind. I look out the window for a long time.
"Do you know how to knit?" The question comes out of the blue from the lady sitting next to me.
"If you're not going to sleep, I'll teach you."
Lightning aluminates her kind face. I jump, there's no way I could sleep.
She hands me two needles from her basket and a ball of yarn. I have never touched yarn before. It feels soft. She loops the yarn around one of the needles and pulls it into a knot.
"You can make a scarf," she says. She puts more loops on the needle and I watch her hands, they are wrinkled but strong. Loop, loop, loop. I count twenty then she stops.
She hands me the second needle and puts her hands over mine. "It's all in the wrist.Though the hole, around the lake, under the bridge, over the hill. Done. Through the hole, around the lake, under the bridge, over the hill. Done. Through the hole, around the lake, under the bridge, over the hill. Done. Now you try." The lady hands me the needles.
"Through the hole, around the lake, under the bridge, over the hill. Done." I chant. The lady smiles. Thunder claps again but I barely notice. "Through the hole, around the lake, under the bridge, over the hill. Done." The lady takes out more yarn and needles from the basket. She starts to knit. Then something goes wrong. It's all messed up. I wish I hadn't started and I hand the lady it back.
"Don't worry, hon," she says,"you just missed a loop. Everyone counts, who know." Her eyes scrunch up in the corners when she smiles. "Even just one missing loop makes everything go wrong."
Suddenly I get a strange feeling. I wonder if she knows I'm running away. She's not looking at me anymore, just going about her business and humming softly. She's nice, I think. An hour later the bus stops. The old lady starts to get up.
"Here's your stuff," I say.
"You keep it," she answers and winks.
Then she is gone. I didn't even know her name.
It's three in the morning. I'm hungry. I open my backpack to find the gronola bars I saved for breakfast. Something papery touches my skin. I pull it out. It's a note from Skye.
Destiny, it says, want to go to the pond tomorrow? Teach me how make stone's fly. It's all in the wrist, right?
All in the wrist...Through the hole, around the lake, under the bridge, over the hill. Done. All in the wrist...every loop counts... Just one missing makes everything go wrong. I put the note back inside and zip up my backpack. Half an hour later the bus stops again and I get off. It isn't raining anymore.
I am the second in line for a ticket.
"Where to, girly?"