The Day I Ran Away

I ran away in 8th grade. It all started when I met a boy named Ryan (we were 14). He liked my southern accent, I liked his jet black hair and blue eyes. He would walk me to and from school. The walk was fairly long, so I actually wound up spending quite a bit of time with him, considering we couldn’t actually date (my parents said I was too young).

One day, Ryan asked me to skip the first period of school with him. At first, I said hell no. Absolutely not. It wasn’t that I was such a goody-goody, but just a year prior, I had gotten in a lot of trouble for skipping school (My First Felony… And The L Word ). I was leary of repeating that mistake, because it had definitely not been worth the consequences.

Unfortunately, as men typically can (and he was no exception), Ryan was able to break me down (it was those damn eyes- I couldn’t say no!), and convince me to do it. He said he knew for a fact that the school wouldn’t call our parents about our being late as long as we got there sometime during 2nd period. Apparently, this was something he did regularly. As long as we physically showed up prior to 3rd period, our parents would never know. That sounded too good to be true, as I’m never that lucky, but I decided to take my chances anyway.

We picked a day, and we went for it. That morning we left our houses like we normally would, but instead of walking to school, we walked to some railroad tracks nearby and sat under a bridge. That’s it. Not very exciting, I know.

I tell you what, if I’d known then how all this would turn out, I certainly would have done something exciting- so that I could at least say it had been worth it! 

We paid close attention to the time, and made sure to sign ourselves in to school before the start of 3rd period. We even signed in at different times, so we wouldn’t raise suspicion.  We thought we were soooo smart!

Except that we weren’t. It was about midway through 3rd period when the principal called me into his office.

He says, “I noticed that both you AND Ryan were late this morning, so I called your parents. Your father said you shouldn’t have been late, and that you left the house on time this morning- he was very upset to learn you didn’t make it to school”.

OH CRAP! He called my dad?!?!

Yep, he sure did. He then went on to tell me that since my father’s reaction to my being late was so “strong”, they felt certain I would be properly disciplined at home. In short, he knew my dad was going to kill me, so he decided to give me a break, and not give me detention for skipping.

What a damn sweetie pie.

All I could think was, “I’m dead. That’s it, my life is OVER”. I explained this to the principal. I told him that his hands are not clean… that the certain death I’m facing when I get home today is all his fault. Seriously, I was going to be killed- for real this time.

I had but one option, because facing my father felt suicidal.

I am running away.

Where will I go? No idea. For how long? Long enough for my parents to worry so much about my safety that they stop being angry with me for skipping class with a boy. No clue how long that will take, but that’s how long I’ll be staying away.

So that’s what I did. After school, I wandered around my neighborhood for a while, but decided that was too risky- someone I knew might see me (not that I’d even been gone long enough for anyone to care yet, but still). I needed somewhere to lay low… but I had no idea where people go to do that. Usually when I want to get out of dodge, I just go to my bedroom and close the door. Clearly, that was not going to work today.

That’s when it came to me- THE LIBRARY! Shows what kind of criminal mind I have, right? I’m so dangerous, when I run away I head to library for some extra-curricular reading!

I hung out there until they closed. Lame, I know. It was about 9PM by this time, and I knew it wasn’t safe to go home. Not yet, anyway. 

I started walking again, just wandering around. I realized I was hungry- hadn’t eaten since lunch. When I was planning this running away thing, I didn’t even consider the fact that I may want to eat. I only had some change on me, so I bought what I could afford- a Three Musketeer. Yum.

Finally, after several hours of aimlessly wandering, I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was getting colder outside, and it was dark and scary. I was still hungry, and quite frankly, had stopped giving a damn hours ago about whether my parents were mad at me anymore. I’d take my licks, just as long as I could lay down in my own bed and sleep. Besides, I was no longer convinced that this was a good idea to begin with. It slowly began to dawn on me- now they have TWO reasons to kill me. One for skipping school, the other for running away. Great.

I didn’t want to walk home- I was too tired, and also a little too scared to just show up. What would I say? “Hellooooo! I’m home! Did ya miss me?” I think not. I decided instead to call a friend, and see if her parents would come and get me. I knew they’d call my parents to give them a heads up that I’d been found, so my hope was that they’d chill out a little before I actually walked in the door. I realize as I’m typing this, my reasoning made absolutely no sense, but hell, I was tired! No one makes sense when they’ve been left to their own defenses in the big bad wild (or in this case, the big bad upper-middle class suburbs of the midwest) for too long! 

I was almost to the payphone when a police officer pulled up, rolled down his window, and addressed me by name. Either this dude was psychic, or my parents had notified the cops that I was missing.

My parents WERE worried. They had called the police. I thought I would be relieved to know they cared that much, because that might mean they weren’t too angry. I wasn’t, though. Instead, I felt horrible…  

The officer told me it was almost 5 AM, and that I could either go with him to the station, or let him drop me off at home. I told him to take me home…

When I got there, I begged the officer to come inside with me. I told him I was gonna die if he didn’t… he asked if my parents were going to physically harm me, and surprised he’d ask such a thing, I told him of course not. They were just going to kill me- you know, ground me to my bedroom with no friends, phone or tv for the rest of my life. They were also going to take turns screaming at me, and worse, LECTURING. The officer didn’t seem too concerned. He left me to deal with my parents on my own. Personally, I think he was too scared to face them- hell, I know I was!

As I expected, my parents were more pissed off than I had ever seen them. Eventually, after they yelled for what felt like 3 days, they let me go to bed. They said I could stay home from school… since I would have needed to leave the house right then in order to make it on time. The catch was, they got me a babysitter, since neither of them would be home during the day. They said they couldn’t trust me to stay at home alone, so my mom called a friend of hers who happened to be home and had her come and watch me.

True to form, my parents did ground me for the rest of my life (well, three months, actually- but jeez, that may as well have been forever!). In addition, for the entire duration of my punishment, I was not allowed to stay home alone, under any circumstances. That was worse than any other part of it. 14 years old with a babysitter?

The absolutely inhumane part of it was that whenever my parents couldn’t find a babysitter for me, they would put my two younger (yes, I said YOUNGER) brothers in charge of me. 

Now THAT is cruel and unusual punishment! And I deserved every minute of it.

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