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She could feel the sting on her tears running down her face. They were hot and wet, sliding down her cheeks, past her nose, down her lips before plummeting onto her shirt. The steering wheel beneath her palms was suddenly the only thing keeping her from hugging her knees close to her. She glanced to her right. There they were, her prized possession that made her, her. She picked up the classic 80s frames that were as black as the tinted shades inside them. No one had ever seen her cry before, no one. This is the way she kept herself hidden from the world. She was hiding any emotion that might show weakness, she moved the trendy frames closer to her face.
Her car wound itself through the twisted path all the way until she hit the interstate. She didn’t know where she was going until she got there. All she knew was that she had to keep going to leave it all behind, the reason why she was wearing those sunglasses.
When Isadora was sixteen years old she finally got her chance to be free. Free from her mom and dad. Her father, it seemed, had done everything in his power to make her life miserable. Her mother would find out what he was doing and leave him; however in another six months when they ran into financial troubles she would go back to him crawling on her hands and knees. But now everything was different, she was moving on, and never in her life had she felt so safe. She was able to relax now, explore herself, and actually let others in. But that’s easier said than done.
When she moved to her aunt’s house on the beach nobody fully understood the story of her past. She wasn’t ready to open up yet. Her muscles automatically started to coil every time someone started to raise their voice or if she had done something wrong. She was tense in almost every situation, especially school. On her first day she didn’t say one word, keeping herself shut in. No one knew her story. Why she had come to live here or why she always kept to herself. The one thing people did know is that she always had her sunglasses.
“Yo Miller wait up!”
“What do you want Ricco?”
“You comin’ to the after party tonight?”
“For the last time Ricco, no. No, I’m not.”
“It’s none of your business.”
Why did everyone always want answers from me? Miller wondered. What’s the game plan Miller? What school are you going to Miller? What’s the plan for the rest of your life Miller? God only knew that he didn’t have any of these answers, especially to the last question. He was just done with everyone. He needed to calm down. He needed to run.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Repeat. One, two, three… This is how he calmed down. Running and counting. He was jogging to the beach. Not long enough. He wasn’t calmed down yet. Keep going, up the hill. Push it, push it. He was up at the top now. His breathing was heavy. He had never been here before. It was calming. The ocean’s salt air so thick you could almost taste it. The sound of the ocean was calming. But there was another sound, someone crying.
The crying stopped.
“Is someone there?”
He took a step forward, towards one of the dunes. There was a girl there. Sunglasses girl, her shades were down and she was picking herself up off the ground, brushing off the sand.
Miller was unsure of what to do. “I… uh… are you alright?”
“Yes, why wouldn’t I be?” Her voice was still noticeably shaky.
“Uh, weren’t you just…?”
“Wasn’t I just what?”She stuck her hands in her back pockets
He shifted uncomfortably. “Crying?”
“No. Why would you think that?” Her voice was now hostile.
“Um… no reason,” A thick silence settled between them. Man this is awkward. “Theodore Miller.” He stuck out his hand to shake hers.
Her hands didn’t move. “I know who you are.”
Another silence settled in.
“What’s your name?” he asked unsure.
“Well it’s nice to meet…”
“Oh spare me. Why are you here?”
“I was running.”
“Sorry to interrupt.” She sat back down. Who was this girl? And what was with her? He went over to where she was sitting, and sat down beside her.
“Can I help you?” she asked, not in a hateful tone, but more in an I-rather-you-not-be-here tone.
“No.” Yet another silence filled the space. “So is the cool new place all the kids hang out?”
“What’s your problem?” She asked now seeming annoyed.
“My problem?” She looked at him point blank. “Why do you come up here?”
“Why do you care?”
“I don’t… really, just… curious.”
“You know what they say about curiosity”
“It killed the cat?”
“No. It annoys the hell out of people.” Harsh. “Argh, you know what I’m sorry, okay? I just I don’t converse well with people I don’t know.”
“Then how do you meet new people?”
“I don’t.” She took in a deep breath. “Look it’s not like you want to know me any way. You probably just ran up here and found me by accident, and now you’re looking at me like I’m some charity case.”
“No I’m not.”
She stuck a finger in his face and said, “That is a look that screams ‘charity case’.”
“Hey, now I take that offensively. Maybe I do want to be your friend I just don’t know it yet.”
“Trust me, you don’t.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because you don’t know me.”
“Now that’s kind of defeating the purpose now isn’t it? Why don’t you let me decide whether or not I want to be your friend?”
She sighed. “It’s your funeral.”
“Miller!” She jumped it his arms. She was so glad he was home.
“I love you”
“With all my heart”
He leaned down kissing her softly on the lips. Miller was back from school. He had found his answers, his way, by telling everyone to give him the space he needed to figure it out. Isadora had been a great help in figuring out the hard stuff. They had gone nearly three months apart since Miller was going to a school three states away.
As Miller laced his fingers with hers they made their way to Isadora’s shiny black Sudan waiting for them in the parking garage. They drove back to her aunt’s house. But nothing could have prepared them for what was inside.
“Mom! What?... What are you?...” Then she saw her bags by the door. “No!”
“Isadora it’s time to leave,” her mother said completely emotionless.
“No. I’m not going. You know what happened last time you let him come back!”
Tears began running down her face. “Mom how could you? You promised you wouldn’t let him come back. Do you even remember what he did to me?”
Her mother walked right up to her and slapped her across the face. “That is enough Isadora! You will not contradict me again.”
Isadora took a step back. From behind the stairs came her father. The one man she truly despised. “YOU SON OF A B****! HOW DARE YOU EVEN COME NEAR ME? I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU EVEN CONSIDER YOURSELF A HUMAN BEING, YOU LOW LIFE! AND YOU MY OWN MOTHER YOU’RE NOT ANY BETTER LETTING HIM COME HERE! THAT’S IT I’M LEAVING!”
“ISADORA YOU TAKE ONE STEP AND YOU’LL PAY!!” He said his voice echoing through the house.
“I’LL CALL THE COPS!” She then whispered something to Miller, “Run!” In a matter of seconds they were in an all out sprint. But she was too late he’d caught her by the hair and he was dragging her inside, his hand over her screaming mouth. Miller knew the only thing he could do was run for the cops. He got in her car and floored it out of there.
Seventeen minutes and still they were too late. She was gone and so was that son of a b****.
The pain, the physical pain wasn’t as bad as the psychological pain. He had violated her more now than he had ever done before. The beatings were especially bad when she didn’t say what he wanted her to or when she cried. But it didn’t matter anymore she didn’t have any more tears left. She knew she was going to die there rotting. She had no hope for rescue; Miller would have no idea where she was. Her only hope now was that he would make a mistake like he did before.
Three weeks later is when she got her chance. He left the keys on the dresser and he went to take a nap. She knew she had to act quickly. Willing herself out of the chair she stood silently taking the keys and all the cash and sprinted for the door. She had no shoes, her dress torn and soiled with blood. She was filthy from not having bathed since he took her. Her hair matted, and skin bruised so bad her skin looked like the midnight she was in. She ran for the car not stopping to see if he had woken up or if he was following her. She needed to run. She didn’t know where the car was. She set off the panic button finding it right away. She unlocked it and climbed in right before hearing him call from the balcony of the two story motel, “GET BACK HERE YOU LITTLE JERK!”
She started the car and floored it getting away as fast as possible. She headed for the interstate. She glanced down beside her and noticed a familiar shape. Her precious sunglasses were missing a lens and bent beyond repair. She turned away from them and kept her eyes on the road, not wanting to admit to herself that was just one more thing he had taken away from her.
Impatiently waiting for a light to change she realized she had done this plenty of times before, although not under these circumstances. Then she had always been looking for some time to calm herself down, to forget him. Now it was all back. She was running from him. She had a flash back of a conversation she had had with Miller.
“Why do you run?”
“Mainly either to forget my problems or to run away from them”
She knew now that distance wasn’t something you could just measure. It was a place to lose things, or to forget them. It was time to heal, and to find yourself. Be yourself. Discover something new. She drove miles and miles. She was tired, but she had to keep going. Keep forgetting. She needed to be closer, closer to that person who helped her forget it all and to be herself, the one person that got her, the one who could help her, and be the place that kept her safe. Time and distance melted together. She drove and drove, and then she was there, slamming the car into park and scrambling out of the car. Beating on his door hoping he would be there. She couldn’t stop. The tears came, burning her cheeks. They were hot and wet, just sliding down her cheeks, past her nose, down her lips before plummeting onto her dress. Finally the door opened. She could see it then, his blurred but perfect face. She fell into his arms. And he was there for her holding her, keeping her safe, protecting her, and hiding her from the troubles of her world.