My mind was racing that Friday afternoon. I normally would have paid attention to Mr. Mury’s effeminate, raspy voice as he dissected physics to the group of sophomores. Instead, I continuously looked for any miniscule detail that would hinder my journey.
My thoughts lapsed to my parents. It wasn’t their fault that I was leaving. No, what compelled me to run away from home was my biological mother. She had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and it affected her to the point where she relied on a cane for support. My two younger siblings lived with her and they needed my help as much as my mother did. When my stepmother and father prohibited me from visiting what looked to them as a forlorn Indian Reservation, my mom’s gentle reminder of my obligations was enough for me to run away.
â–ºhonorable mention 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
With the burden lying heavily on my shoulders, a one-way trip from Georgia to South Dakota didn’t seem so taunting. I worked at the local grocery store and was able to save about $200 within three weeks. I had a coworker, Michael, who had shown an interest in me for some time. With little convincing, he agreed to drive me to a train station in Tennessee for gas money.
So it was that Friday after school that I had gotten a friend to drive me to work to cash in my last paycheck. I went home and grabbed the duffle bag that had been packed for weeks and sprinted out to the car awaiting me. I slid into the passenger seat as I handed Michael the MapQuest directions. I focused on his idle banter for the next five hours and avoided the fact that my life was changing in a way I had yet to grasp. I yearned to tell my parents that I was safe, but I heeded my mother’s warning and took the sim card out of my cell phone so that it could not be traced.
We reached the small town around midnight, where Michael dropped me off. The train station was vacant, and I felt alone. While waiting, I re-read the itinerary. My heart dropped as I realized that I mistook Saturday at midnight for Friday. Not knowing what to do, I walked sluggishly to a McDonald’s nearby. I intended on watching the news there for as long as they allow, but a girl on break started talking to me. It was then that I broke down and told her the whole situation, unsure of what to do. She patted me on the back and said, “Come with me.” She took me to her home, where she set up a bed of blankets on the living room couch. I felt a sense of security, and the exhaustion that I had been suppressing came pouring on me in a rush.
When I awoke, the girl’s mother wanted to speak to my mom. After a long conversation, the woman was set on doing everything in her power to make sure I made it to the reservation safely. The two made sure I had enough food and a warm coat. They took me to the train station that night. I stood waiting, literally shaking, with a mixture of fear and anticipation. After safely passing the police and boarding the train without question, I looked out the window at the two strangers who were willing to help me for nothing in return. I have no way of thanking them, for not only did they help me get to my mother’s house, they taught me an invaluable life lesson.
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