The Runaway

October 9, 2011
By , Sioux Center, IA
“T.J.! I am worried sick. I haven’t seen Tommy since this morning!”

“He’s probably out playing. Did he mention going anywhere?” T.J. asked casually, not too worried about the situation.

“Uh, well, I don’t quite remember. He was angry with me because I was annoyed with him earlier. He told me that he was going to run away, but I didn’t actually believe that he would leave.”

Earlier on that cool summer afternoon, Tommy’s mother, Patricia, was getting upset with her son because he was practicing his bounce passes with the garage door. All Tommy wanted was to make his class basketball team. Before the school year even started, seven-year-old Tommy was following through with the “practice makes perfect” motto. He had been practicing his ball handling, passing, and shooting every day of the summer. All Patricia wanted was some peace and quiet, and Tommy practicing his basketball did not fit into her plans.
“Tommy, must you continue to bang that ball against the garage over and over again?”

“Mom, you don’t ever understand. This is important to me. I want to make the team; I need to make the team!”

“What I understand is that I am getting a migraine from that noise you are continually making.”

Tommy mumbled a few comments under his breath that he didn’t want his mother to hear. “Son, what did you say?”

“Nothing.” Tommy was sick of hearing his mom complain about his time spent getting prepared for the try-outs. He decided she must not love him anymore so he went to his bedroom and filled a little navy suitcase with his p.j’s and two candy bars. Flinging his fleece blanket over his shoulder, he then walked into the kitchen and announced to his mother that he was leaving. “Well, I’m running away, and I’m not ever coming back,” Tommy said, quite dramatically.

Patricia did not really think much of it, considering Tommy usually left during the day to play at the park with his friends. Tommy, disappointed with his mother’s lack of concern, hung his head and walked out the door. He did not make it any farther than the driveway, however, as he climbed into the backseat of the family car, a 1955 blue DeSoto. He curled up on the floor of the car, covering himself with his blanket. As he lay there with his eyes closed, he was hoping no one would ever find him again and that he would just disappear. Tommy’s imagination went wild. He pictured himself playing in the NBA, off on his own, free from his parents’ constant nagging.
When Tommy did not show up for supper that night, Patricia grew increasingly concerned. It was unlike Tommy to not call to let them know he would be late, and she remembered how she had brushed off his idea of running away. “T.J., do you think Tommy would run away from home for good?” Then she gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. “Or do you think he could have been kidnapped?”
“Honey, this is small town Aurelia. Let’s not overreact here.”

Still worried, Patricia had her husband whistle for their son to see if he would respond. Tommy heard the whistle, but he decided not to respond. Louder and louder the calls became until finally he heard the DeSoto’s front car doors open. His parents quickly got into the car and began driving around the neighborhood, looking for their young dark-haired boy. Unable to find Tommy, they drove back home and went inside the house, completely oblivious to the fact that their son had been in the back of the car the entire time.

Tommy, now both tired and hungry, decided that he had had enough of this running away business. He readily grabbed his belongings and walked into the house. As he closed the door behind him, he saw the faces of his two anxious parents. Their faces lit up as if they had just received a present. They were elated to see their Tommy standing in front of them. They opened their arms to offer their son a warm embrace. As he stepped into their arms, Tommy was convinced that they truly did love him after all. He now knew he would never run away from home again.

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