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Runaway

By , Peaks Island, ME
The longest I ever ran away from Home:

It is the middle of February my junior year of high school. My mom and I have been at each others throats for several weeks now. It’s nothing new really, just the constant struggle over power control. I come home late one monday night after taking a walk with my friend Julia. It has been a long day with school, detention, and working on a project at Julia’s house. Her mom had offered me dinner and I ended up staying the whole night. Julia and I took one of our usual night time walks around the whole outer edge of the island to chill out and talk about everything. This is one of my favorite times of the day. Linking arms with my friends and braving the cold sea breeze to get a look at the ocean at night. It’s especially freezing cold out tonight and I am exhausted as I trudge up my front steps. I am already thinking about falling into my warm bed and listening to my ipod as I fall asleep. As I turn onto my dirt road I can see the only lights still on in the house are in the kitchen where my mom is working on her laptop at the counter. I come in the door and try to walk straight up stair but she calls out to me.

“Max come here!”

“What?” I walk into the kitchen and lean up against the counter rubbing my cold hands together.

“You can’t just walk in this house and not tell anyone you are here. It is rude, especially because clearly I am waiting up for you.”

“Whatever, sorry,” I say. My mom goes back to looking at her screen but as she types she says,

“Can you take out the recycling?”

“No.” I start to walk out of the room.

“What?” My mom looks up at me from her computer. “I wasn’t asking you, I was telling you.”

“And I said no.” I walk out of the kitchen and quickly up to my room. I hear my mom get up and follow me up the stairs. She bursts into my room behind me without asking.

“Are you kidding me?” she asks hands on hips. “You use this house as you need it and don’t contribute whatsoever. You come here to sleep and wash your clothes and thats about it. I am sick of this.”

“Mom, shut up. I am sick of hearing it from you all the time. I have a lot of stuff to do, not just chores for you all the time.”

“You are being incredibly disrespectful right now. I expect you to go take out the recycling right now.” She stands in my doorway not moving. I am starting to get so angry.

“Fine” I say, “if you don’t want me to come here at all, then I wont. I’ll just leave. You are a pain in my ass anyways.”

“Stop being so ridiculous. Obviously I want you here, I just need some help around the house.”

“And I said no.” At this point I know I’m just being difficult and picking this fight, but it’s my mom who is annoying me to no end lately. It’s constant. I walked in the house after a long day and the first thing she does is bombard me with work. She’s always on my back about something lately. She is always suspicious and I always seem to be in trouble.

“Now!” She leans over and is all up in my face. Her face is bright red and her pretty blue eyes are angry. I can tell that we are about to start screaming. I grab my school backpack up off the floor where I had just dropped it. I throw in the pile of clothes nearest to me on the floor.

“Don’t worry about me. I don’t need to be your problem.” I rush past her and run down the stairs throwing my backpack onto my shoulders as I go. I slam the front door behind me for added effect and hurry back out into the cold. For a few minutes I’m actually running down my street I’m so angry. How could she be such a b****? I was cold and tired and just wanted to sleep. I have hot tears in my eyes. My cellphone says it’s eleven already and I have school in the morning. I know I need to sleep. I go on auto pilot to my uncles summer cottage about three streets over. I grab the secret key from inside the tin mailbox. Inside the house I reach for the light switch but it doesn’t work. I’m reminded that the electricity and heat are turned off for the winter. Duh. How could I have been so stupid as to forget that. I grope through the dark to the living room and lay down on the sofa. Yep, it’s way too cold to sleep on. My cellphone rings and it’s Julia.

“Hey babe, I heard you ran away. Your mom is worried because you’re not at my house. She already called my mom. Where are you? Please tell me you are not at Mason’s...”

“Let her worry. Don’t tell your mom we talked if she asks. I’m fine, and no I’m not at Mason’s.” Julia chuckles.

“Okay whatever you say crazy.” Her phone clicks off. She’s probably distracted watching the O.C. on her school laptop.

I have to leave, it’s just too cold. I re-lock the front door to the cottage and walk down the street to where Julia’s house is. I can see in the big front window that her parents are still awake downstairs. I walk to the back of the house, pick up some snow in my bare hand, and throw a snowball at Julia’s window. A few seconds later she climbs out onto the porch roof, crawls to the edge, and peers down at me.

“Oh hey my little badass. I knew you would come here. Just climb in my brother’s window and from his room you can go upstairs without my parents seeing you.”

“Okay.” I take off my backpack and tuck it under my arm. I crunch through the snow around the bushes beside the house.

Jacob’s bedroom is on the first floor next to the kitchen. I push open his window and tumble in onto the floor pulling my backpack behind me. He looks over at me on his floor only mildly annoyed.

“What the hell?”

“Oh hey Jacob.” I put back on my backpack and walk out of his room and up the stairs. Julia is on her wooden floor in her underwear, painting her toenails, and listening to Shakira. There is incense burning and her space heater humming.

“I swear you never sleep,” I tell her as I lay down on her bed. I am suddenly remembering just how angry I am. I am still fuming mad. I want to vent to my friend but Julia is a bit preoccupied studying the nail design she is trying to copy in her Nylon magazine.

“So tell me what happened?” she asked hardly paying attention. “Same old, same old? Mom was being a b****?”

“Yes!” I launch into my complaining session, “she never gets off my back. I am so sick of it. I am seriously done this time. For real.” Julia isn’t listening at all anymore. She is now sorting through a pile of sweaters next to her on the floor.

“I know it was sort of a waste of money but I spent $40 dollars on this sweater. I have been waiting for the perfect outfit to wear it with. I think I am going to wear it tomorrow with these jeans.” Julia points at a pair of Jeans hanging on her bathroom door. “What do you think?”

“Ya thats cute” I say without looking. I’m just staring at the ceiling thinking about my house. What if I didn’t go back? Ever. I’d run away from home several times before but only for one day maximum. It was always during an argument with my mom, same as tonight, but this time for some reason or another I am feeling different, I am just done.

Several hours later as Julia and I are snuggled up under her big comforter falling asleep, I hear Julia’s mom open the door to the room quietly. She is whispering to someone on the phone.

“Yes she’s here. I have no idea how she got here, but she is here.” F*** my mom. Her concern just makes me more pissed off and determined not to go home.

In the morning Julia and I wake up ten minutes before the boat to school, we throw on clothes, and run out of the house. The rest of Julia’s family is only mildly surprised to see me appear in their kitchen grabbing an apple on my way out behind Julia.

First block during chemistry class my friend Jesse asks me if I brought her the book I was going to loan her from my house. Julia snorts from behind us before I can respond.

“This winner,” She nudges me jokingly. “She climbed through my window in the middle of the night, she wasn’t even at her house this morning.”

“Ya it’s true, sorry Jesse.”

The day goes down pretty normally. My mom doesn’t call me after school to inquire about my plans like she normally does. I take a blunt cruise with two girls I was friendly with from my last block elective but I don’t smoke. I am not in the mood at all. Instead I just watch them get high from the backseat. I end up bumming around in the city for a while. I still can’t decide where to stay for the night. I want my mom to really worry, I want to show her.

I have recently ended things with my boyfriend James. Mason is my rebound, for lack of a better word, but he is...kinda sleazy. I know he will gladly let me sleep at his house but I’m not totally into it. Is it wrong to make out with him for a place to stay? I finally decided it’s okay. I text him and he responded within five minutes.

I go in his back door so I wont see his parents. He lives in a nice big house and I have to walk around his covered pool to get to the back door. We lay on his bed listening to music for a while. He keeps asking why I wont go home but I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t sleep well. It feels really wrong to be here. I lay awake next to him on this skinny bed watching him snore and imagining his clueless parents down the hall.

I slip out early in the morning so as not to see his parents. I sit on a bench by the boat dock just watching the white caps in the bay. I watch the ferry cross the water quietly towards me. I think about what it would be like not to live on the island. I have lived on an island my whole life so far. What if I lived in Portland by myself? It would be so different. What if I didn't ride a ferry to school? I am first on the boat that morning when it docks. I can’t look at Mason the whole boat ride.

After school. It’s now day two. I walk to the bank. I explain to the chubby teller I want to freeze my mom out of our shared bank account.

“You can’t do that here,” he explains. “At this bank you must be 18 to have an account without a co-signer who is over 18.”

“Okay then I would like to withdraw all but one dollar,” I say. He hands me an envelope stuffed with cash and a funny look.

“Don’t spend it all in one place.” I smiled at him and walk out the door and straight across the street. I open up a new bank account at a different bank.

Sitting on the boat I call my ex boyfriend, James. We are still good friends and I think maybe he will understand.

“James, I know this is a weird thing to ask but I really need to stay at your house tonight or maybe for a few nights. I can sleep on the sofa or something but I just need a little time to figure some stuff out. I want to move out on my own.”

“Of course you can.” He says without hesitation.

James, his roommate, and I watch a long boring movie that night sitting awkwardly far apart from one another on the sofa. As I am doing my homework much later I realize I am missing a textbook I need for the next day. It’s at my house. S***.

That night James couldn’t find any extra blankets in the whole damn house so I end up having to sleep in his bed. We lay with our backs to each other. He tells me I am welcome to stay as long as I want. It’s nice of him but all I can think about as I fall asleep is how it will be the last time I will ever sleep there.

In the morning I wait until I know everyone in my family has left my house and then I run inside to grab my school books. I pause in my room thinking for a moment about what else to take. I grab some more clothes off the floor, some make up on my night stand, and my notebooks. It feels like silly random things to take. I glance around my house on my way out and am surprised I miss it a little bit already. Then I leave for school.

During second block one of the socials workers called me into her offices. I figured right away my mom must have called the school but I am not sure what she told this woman.

“Are you alright?” I don’t know what to say. This is the first thing the social worker asks once we are sitting in her plush office chairs. She repeats herself. “Are you alright? Your mom is really concerned about you and she wants you to go home because she loves you and misses you. Is there something bigger going on here that you want to talk about? Why don’t you want to go home? I work with kids in this school all the time who don’t live at home, but is that what you really want?” She finally pauses.

“I’m really fine,” I say calmly. “But you can tell my mother if she calls you again that I will not be coming home and she should mind her own business.” We sit in silence for a minute.

“Where are you living?” she asks finally. Without warning I suddenly begin to cry. I am not even sad, so I’m not sure why theres hot tears are rushing down my face. I am thinking of all the people who really can’t live with their parents. How many kids in my school alone have lives way harder to deal with than mine. That is honestly what is making me cry in that moment. I am mad about how easy I have it. “Also,” she begins gently, clearly ignoring my crying fit, “what did you spend $2,500 on?” Hearing her say the dollar amount out loud embarrasses me. I am not an adult. I don’t have a ton of money.

“I’m done,” I tell her. She lets me leave.

After school I don’t hang out with my friends. I sit on a bench by the beach for a very long time. I do not mind the cold. I do a lot of thinking. I don’t want to go home and I am not sure if I will leave again, but leaving like this is not the right way to do it. It is a struggle to gain the maturity to give up, get up, and go home. I wanted so badly to prove I could really live on my own. I know I could but I guess it isn’t time yet. I finally pick myself up and walk to my home. My family is eating dinner when I quietly open the front door and let myself in. At first nobody says anything to me, they all just stare at me blankly.Then my mom said,

“There’s food on the stove. Join us at the table please.”




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