Tigger is kicking my ass, thanks for asking, Jeff. She’s in the seven thousands while I’m at a pathetic 5,873 words. Even Little Bit is in on the act. She’s been typing away at a gripping unicorn/fairy story. Since she’s only seven, she set her goal at 1,000 words. Today she hit 820.
Well, without further ado.
When classes let out on December 21, a stampede of students headed for the drive-thru. Their gray-suited daddies and coiffed mommies picked them up in SUVs and away they went for the holiday.
Left behind—the kids with no place to go, and me, the kid on restriction.
I sat on the front steps with Marjorie, hugging my knees. “I’m skipping out you know.”
“I figured.” She dug into her hip pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. “Here. I won’t need it. Nobody’s waiting for me.”
“Oh. I… I mean, why don’t you come with me Marjorie? You can meet Roman and hang with us in Portland.”
“No. This is your journey, not mine.” She dropped the money next to me and walked back into the school. I stuffed it in my jeans.
That night I sat on my bed and waited. My roommate, from whom I’d, ahem, borrowed enough dough for a bus ticket, had left with the crowd. My backpack stood ready by the door. I listened for the footsteps of the Security Dork. His name was Frank, but Security Dork suited him better.
Every night SD walked the halls of the dorm twice. Then he locked himself in the closet he called his office and smoked dope until his shift ended. After a few tokes SD didn’t much notice anything.
So I waited until he’d walked by twice, and then I waited another hour. He’d be good and stoned.
On my way out I stopped by Marjorie’s room, tapping softly on the door.
“You out of here?” She pulled her robe shut tighter. The thermostat in the hall read 58 degrees.
“Yeah,” I said. “For good.”
Marjorie’s eyes opened wide. “What… you’re not coming back after break?”
“No. Screw this place. I want to travel. I have to find…”
“Find myself,” I said. “Self-actualization or something, you know.”
“Sure,” she said. “Whatever. Write me a postcard or something, ok?”
“Wait,” she said. “Anastasia, don’t you think Chummy will track you down?”
“Nah. She’ll be glad to be rid of me.”
“Dude. I’ve been working in the office all semester. I can tell you for sure–Chummy never forgets about anything.” Marjorie closed her door.
The guy at the ticket booth looked me over. Asked for ID. Wanted to know why my parents hadn’t picked me up. Blah blah blah. How come adults are only interested in me when their concern is getting in my way? Strangers never offer to help me when I’ve got a real problem. But if I’ve broken some other adult’s stupid rule or I’m acting like I’ve got a right to walk the planet, they’re jumping all over me.
I gave him a song and dance about how my dad’s car broke down and I had to take the bus home to Portland in the middle of the night because I’d been helping a friend who had a sick puppy and… forget the rest. It makes me sick to repeat all the lies.
He finally sold me a ticket and I grabbed a back seat on the Greyhound. As the bus filled with red-eye travelers, I hoped that no one else would want the bumpy seat near the bathroom. But just when I thought I’d get that bench all to myself, I saw a guy speeding down the aisle, heading my way.
He was an old guy, with white hair and a bushy beard. He wore a coat of red velveteen with white fur trim, and big black boots. A red hat with a white fluffy ball on top covered his ears.
My heart began to pound as he came closer. He carried a brown and red striped suitcase, monogrammed with his initials: