by Kelly Brookbank
I am always in awe of the beautiful landscape before me when I look up to see the majestic trees above. The sun peeks through the trees seemingly to wake the woods like the infant game of the same name. The dew glistens from the sun shining as if the leaves have had their morning shower. The chorus of sounds from the pulse of nature are in complete harmony. I imagine the forest yawning to wake up along with me. It is bliss…except that it is my home.
It was a peaceful night in the woods on the outskirts of the city so I was able to get a good night’s sleep. It’s the crack of dawn but I have a lot of things to do before I can go to school. My sleeping bag is packed up and tucked in a space in a nearby hollow and then cover the sides with the moss that I use as a pillow. Grabbing the clothes that I have hanging to dry I quickly change and pick up my backpack. Slowly, creeping out of the woods, I make sure that no one sees me escaping my “home”.
My first stop is breakfast. The delicious smell of bread baking instantly sends a guttural roar from my stomach. I have a deal with a bakery that the bagels are free if I deliver last night’s leftovers to a near-by homeless shelter. The owner caught me going through their garbage one morning and took pity on me. He noticed how young I was and me a deal instead of running me off. Mr. Rumovski basically saved my life. Some days all I’ve had to eat was those bagels.
Next stop is the bus station. Everyone is invisible at the bus station. I could probably walk around naked and nobody would notice. The bus station is my washroom. I wash my face and neck. I hide my washcloth and essentials under the sink in ziploc bags. I brush my hair and put some make-up on so I feel like a real person. I take some extra time…today is a special day.
I had a shower last night after my swim at the YWCA. Memberships at the Y are really cheap and it helps me in a couple of ways. It allows me to shower and, if the weather is really bad outside, I can hide there overnight without anyone seeing me.
At this time in the morning at the bus depot, the tables are always vacant so I can sit and eat my bagels while finishing homework and studying. Today I don’t have any homework or studying to do, but I am going over the list of things I need to do.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but if I ever need something (women things, clothes, make-up, perfume…anything, really) I just break into the bus station’s lost items area. I go through the suitcases – you would not believe what people leave in there! I only take what I need, I don’t take valuable items and sell them, I just take essentials. I’m not an ass-hole, like my dad.
I have a job, I’m a waitress after school, but I can’t afford to waste my money. My boss allows us to eat for free when we have our breaks, which is awesome! I know I don’t live in the best situation but I am pretty fortunate considering…
It’s time to go to school. Today is very important to me because my father said I would never do it, but I have proved him wrong. There’s nothing more in this world I would rather do than prove my father wrong. I don’t think this silly grin will leave my face the entire day. It feels like my heart is going to explode I’m so proud of myself.
The school is a virtual anthill. Everyone is running around in different directions seemingly without purpose. All I can think about is going across that stage and receiving my diploma. My insides feel like Mexican jumping beans I’m so excited.
Finally we all go outside and take our seats. Time stands still until my name is called, but my heart sinks when I hear it. The feeling that comes over my body begins at the tip of my skull and carries down to the soles of my feet. My entire body feels like a cloud. It is euphoric. When I go up to receive my diploma, I feel like yelling out, “Do you have any idea what I have gone through to achieve this? Do you want to see where I have been living? Do you know what my father did to me?” But I don’t. I just walk up with my head held high, smile as wide as my entire face and receive it proudly.
Walking across the other side of the stage, I look out into the crowd and see my sister standing up applauding me. I am thrilled to see her! We have kept in contact this whole time but I wasn’t sure if my parents would allow her to come. I am so pleased. There is a tie that binds two sisters that simply can’t be broken.
After the ceremony my sister and I run to each other and embrace. “Thank you so much for coming!”
“Of course! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! I am so proud of you!” she says.
I hand her an envelope. “I know you can’t stay long, but this is for you.” We hug again. “Thank you again for coming. I will text you soon.”
We had kept going to the same school after I ran away. My parents didn’t alert anyone that I was missing because they pretty much disowned me and I them. We saw each other at school all the time and kept in touch through cell phones. She would let me know when my parents weren’t at home so I could go do laundry or grab some of my things.
When I ran away, my sister didn’t know what was going on because she was too young. But now she’s coming to the age that she needs to know. That was what the envelope was for. I saved all my money from waitressing to give to her.
Along with the money was a letter of explanation. Two years ago I finally told my mother that my father was molesting me. He had been molesting me for years. My mother didn’t believe me and took my father’s side. I couldn’t believe it. What kind of a mother would do that? I left and never looked back. My father said that I would never amount to anything, I would be a slut on the streets just like I am a slut now. I had to prove him wrong and I did. But I couldn’t allow him to do that to my sister. My sister is about the age that my father started to molest me.
I told my sister to buy camera equipment with the money. She had to be smart and get some evidence on that creep, then make a copy of that evidence. First, take the evidence to the police. Second, show Mother, but make sure to follow these steps exactly! I don’t know what Mother will do, but make sure to go to the police first.
I told her I loved her.
For once in two years I took a long walk around the city, not running somewhere. I wished I had done this more often because this city had beautiful sites and sounds. But it wasn’t a problem when my eyes were open, it was when they close that the torment begins.
Every night when I close my eyes my senses take over. I see his shadow coming into my room, feel him on me, try in vain to push him off, hear him whisper threats in my ear, smell his disgusting body odor, feel the tears stream down my face and feel my heart tear in two when my Mother doesn’t believe me.
The nights that I do fall asleep I wake up screaming from the horror of reliving the nightmare. Last night was the first night in years I actually slept because I knew it would be over soon.
Walking around until dark, I’ve ended up at the city train station and walk to the edge of the platform. It would have been easier if he beat me, then there would be physical scars, but no one can see the scars they left on my heart. It will be all over now. I can’t take it any more, but my sister will get the redemption for me. I hear the train coming, I close my eyes and step my foot out to jump.
The hand I felt on my arm pulled me back. “No, we will fight them together.” My sister and I embrace.