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She replayed the conversation they had so many years ago; what once was such a playful conversation turned true in their minds. “Alaska?” “Yes. It’s better than Washington. We can live by a forest, have a house of our own. And you can go hunting all you want.” She laughed at his remark. “Which part?” “Anchorage I believe. Anchorage University.” “When do we leave?” “I don’t know. Two, three years?” “Perfect.” “Perfect.”
She closed her eyes and leaned up against the wall. The cold from the tile below her calmed her as she slowly faded away into the darkness that encompassed her. Gone were the yelling parents and the flying fists. Gone were the friends who meant nothing and the parents who didn’t even try to pretend they cared. Gone were the feelings of hatred and loneliness. Nothing was left. Her soul stripped clean. Stripped of anything of importance and washed clean.
She woke up the next morning with a throbbing head and picked her small frame slowly off of the ground. She quickly popped an aspirin and walked quickly into her bathroom. She turned on the shower and waited on the toilet as the shower heated up. She stepped into the shower carefully and let the warm water travel down her body, washing away the sweat and the grime from the night before. She toweled off quickly and got dressed, leaving before anyone had the chance to tell her anything of importance.
Half through her walk to school her phone began to buzz quietly in her pocket. She picked it up carefully and ducked down behind a big bush, covering her body from view of the street. She opened her mouth to say hello and was caught by surprise when she heard the voice on the other end. It said he would be home tomorrow and that tomorrow was the day. Without thinking, she replied yes and they made plans to meet tomorrow morning. She closed the phone and hurried back on her way to school, not wanting to be late yet another day.
She sat through her classes anxious for the day to end and for night to fall. One more night of hell she kept thinking to herself. One more night of hell and then she was free. To be with him. To love him. It was all she ever wanted. When the last bell rang she hurriedly ran out the building and down the street to her house. She opened the door and quickly ran to her room. She took out the trash, made her bed, and was washing the dishes in the kitchen by the time her father got home. He grunted a hello, grabbed a beer, and walked into the back. He must have had a good day at work. She quickly finished cleaning the kitchen and called out that she was going to go to homework. She walked into her room and closed the door quietly. She knew that whatever she was going to take with her had to fit into her school bag so she grabbed the essentials, her journal, leather-bound and tattered, a bra, two pairs of underwear, socks, a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and mascara.
She didn’t really have any attachments to objects. Anything she owned could be replaced at the nearest mall. She lifted up her mattress and pulled out the square chunk she had cut away so many years ago. Inside it she had stashed any money she had ever gotten. She counted it quickly, the total coming to around nine hundred dollars. She smiled to herself and shoved the small wad of twenties into her bra. He’d never check there. She then quietly sat down and began her homework. Though she wasn’t going to school tomorrow she had to keep her mind occupied, so she dove into the countless pages of math problems and history questions. She worked until the sun set and the clock by her desk rung eleven. She closed her books quietly and placed them in her school bag along with her clothes. She walked out of her room and quietly and into the kitchen. She gently cleared the dishes in the sink and put then softly in the cupboard. Then, she walked into her room and fell asleep, not waking until the next morning.
She opened her eyes quickly and ran a brush through her hair. Without trying to look too excited she brushed a swipe of mascara over her eyes and picked up her slightly heavier school bag. She walked slowly to the park, trying to keep the tears that were threatening to fall down her face inside. She walked a few yards more before making a sharp right and running through the oak trees that had yet to be trimmed.
She slowed her walk as she neared the pond that was connected to the park. She saw him sitting on a bench, waiting listlessly for her to arrive. She smiled and continued to watch him, not meeting his eye until a twig that snapped beneath her feet triggered to him that she was there. He smiled, a smile that crinkled his eyes and lit up his face, and ran up to her, encompassing her deeply into his arms. She dropped her bag and let herself be held together as she breathed him in. Aftershave and cigarettes, the smell, especially now that she was with him, brought comfort to her tired and anxious body. She let herself fall further into his chest and closed her eyes. Letting herself in this moment be completely content.
He released all but her hand and slung her the bag around his shoulder as they walked to the car. It wasn’t until they were safely inside the car, with the doors locked around them and quickly driving out of town, that he asked what upset her. She just smiled and told him quietly that the past was the past. He said nothing; instead he simply stuck out his hand and swiped his fingers gently down her cheek. He intertwined his hand in hers and they sat quietly on the seat until the state line was a thing of the past.
They stopped at a motel in Utah, no one would dare look for them there, so far away from the big city they lived in their entire lives in Nevada. She waited in the car as he paid for the room and then came back, gently lifting her from the car and walking with her slowly through the cool night air. She dropped her bag on the floor and went and lay down on the bed. He began talking about how they were sending a cot in for him to sleep on for the night, but she interrupted, by saying how he couldn’t leave her, and could he please just lie next to her tonight so she wouldn’t be alone.
When the cot came he thanked the manager and closed the door, gently pushing the cot up against the wall and placing their bags on top of it. He brushed his teeth and changed into a pair of boxers. He gently slipped under the covers and wrapped his arms gently around her. She pressed her body tighter to him and made him promise not to ever let her go, so he didn’t. The entire night they slept connected to one another, sleeping soundlessly.
She woke up first, but didn’t dare move. She liked the security of his arms around her; the serenity that she felt deep inside when she realized there would be no more yelling and abuse. He stirred quietly in front of her and cracked his eyes open slightly, smiling immediately at the sight of her staring back up at him. He whispered softly that he though he must have been dreaming. She whispered back that if they were that they should stay sleeping forever.
As the sun rose they got out of bed and quickly got dressed. They headed back into the car just as the sun had finished rising, and by nine am they were back on the road, their destination unknown. The talked occasionally during the drive through California, but about an hour into the drive she fell back to sleep so he drove in silence, listening the radio and staring at the scenery around him while gently tracing fingers on her exposed abdomen.
She woke up around noon and they stopped for lunch before heading back onto the road. They hit a small town in Idaho around eight at night and decided to stop for the night. He went inside once again and paid for the room before coming out and getting her. He placed a gentle kiss and swept the hair off her forehead gently, almost brotherly, out of her eyes. Hand in hand they walked into small motel and into the bedroom where they both collapsed on the bed, they extremities intertwined with each other.
He got up suddenly and contorted his body on the bed so he was facing her. Without any hesitation he gently kissed her lips, parting them slowly. She smiled and kissed him back and then laid her head on his chest; letting the pounding of his heart relax her nerves and calm her fears. He kissed her once more on the forehead before getting up and walking through the small motel lobby to get something to eat out of the vending machine. He came back with Twizzlers and Doritos, her favorite foods, and watched her face light up as he placed them on the cheap comforter in front of her.
He laughed as she talked and ate, and finally an hour or two later, when her mouth was sticky with the licorice and her body dizzy from the happiness around her, they climbed into bed. He wrapped his arms snuggly and firmly around her waist as she buried her head deep inside his chest, falling asleep to the rhythmical pattern of his breathing.
They woke the next morning and slipped out the worn out door hand in hand and into his car. They drove like this for the next two weeks. Hand in hand, stopping at motels each night, and waking up and leaving in the morning.
Two weeks later they arrived at a small motel on the outskirts of Washington. They walked the short distance from the car into the motel hugged up against each other, with the cold icy wind beating at their backs. They made it inside quickly and paid for the room. They walked up the small set of stairs quickly and inserted the metal key into the door frame. They walked into the quickly and stole underneath the covers. He wrapped his arm around her, trying to stop the shivers that made her teeth chatter and her cheeks bright pink.
He kissed her slowly underneath the cheap polyester sheets, and though the air around them was hung with a chill; their clothes slowly began falling around them. They lay naked, entangled in the now sweaty sheets, before making the decision that would change their lives forever. One moment, she was a girl, lost, scared, and alone. The next, she was a woman, found, confident, and part of a whole. They woke up the next morning and stole kisses from one another, remembering the night before, and thinking ahead of the nights that were sure to come.
The got up slowly, and took showers separately, then left for yet another small road trip, still not knowing the route, instead, only knowing in their perfect that they world end up their together, the problem was they were only two-thirds of the way right.
The crossed the United States boarder, on their way to Alaska. They found a dingy motel in western Canada and quickly paid for the room. They sat on the grimy comforter and talked until she fell asleep in his arms.
Two months went by and they ended up in a small town in Alaska. Sure it wasn’t Anchorage, but they were there. They made it. They were in Alaska. Neither of them new anyone there, so this was the perfect place to start their lives over; and slowly but surely, they did. It wasn’t until a few months later that she noticed her belly looked swollen and quickly walked down to the local mini mart.
She took the small stick to the bathroom and read the directions. She went to pee on the stick but got nervous and went and reread the directions again, not wanting to mess this up. She sat on the small porcelain seat and took a deep breath. A moment later she stood up and walked toward the light, where a faint blue line was darkening. She gasped as she tried to steady herself as the room spun around her. She called out faintly to him before crumpling to the ground into sobs. He ran into the bathroom and scooped her off of the floor and walked her into their newly acquired bedroom.
He asked her twice what was wrong before she responded with a small whisper, her voice breaking on the last word. We’re pregnant. His face broke into a large grin as he tucked her close to his chest. He placed a kiss on her forehead as her breathing slowed to match his. He suddenly pushed her gently off of his lap he went and rummaged around the small burlap sack by the door to their bedroom before retrieving a black velvet box and dropping to his knee. I had this whole thing planned out. He murmured quietly. But now seems as good of a time as any. He grasped her left hand firmly before clearing his voice and opening the box. Ericka, I love you, and I promise to love you every single day for the rest of our lives. Will you marry me? Tears welled in her eyes and she shook her head, unable to speak. Of course she replied breathlessly, tears spilling down her cheek.
He placed the silver ring on her finger and then kissed each of her fingertips until he came to the small diamond that was now placed on her hand. He brushed it gently, letting it gleam in the sunlight, before pressing his lips to it lightly. I love you he whispered, his lips moving lightly against her hand before moving them to press a kiss to her belly. I love you too she said quietly, stroking the top of his head.
The next day she woke excited, her hands clutching her newly pregnant belly. She listened to him get ready for the job he acquired a few weeks ago, working as a mechanic in a local auto shop. The pay wasn’t what he was used to, but the job comparatively paid well to his other options in the town, and the home they we’re renting was relatively cheap, though had a certain charm that drew them to it in the first place. Along with the money they both had saved up, they were secure financially, with enough money left to spare for her to buy some curtains and begin to acquire baby accessories for the new addition to their home.
She got out of bed when she heard him the kitchen, clinking coffee cups around the kitchen. She waited at the threshold of the doorway and stared at him as he walked around the kitchen getting ready to go. He noticed her a minute or two later and stepped forward to place a gentle kiss on her lips. He murmured quietly that he’d see her later that afternoon, and with a last caress to her stomach he stepped out of their front door and down the walkway toward the center of town where the auto shop was located.
She sighed as she watched him go, though only eighteen, she had been used to running and cleaning a household for years. She stepped into the kitchen and rinsed the leftover coffee out of his cup and placed the wet ceramic mug in the dishwasher. She stared out the kitchen window and stared at her new neighbors, an older couple with three children all under the ages of twelve. Her neighbor saw her glancing at her through the window and motioned for her to come over. She nodded her head slightly as she got up from their small wooden table and walked out her front door, over to her neighbors’ porch.