Chapter Four - Leaving
I was happy, really. Maybe a bit jealous, but happy. I watched as Danny held hands with a beautiful twenty one year old woman. A real woman. I sat against my tent and watched them laugh and smile. I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy, ever. Robby had been repeatedly telling me his offer was still available ever since Danny and I broke up. It was for the best that we split up, and what I had always wanted.
And I couldn’t be happier that he was happy. But I wasn’t ready to move on yet, much less with Robby. I was waiting for love again, and I knew I might not ever find it. I went back inside the tent. Everything was ready. I was eighteen, and everyone had forgotten I’d ever run away, except for me. I still wrote to the town. And tonight, after everyone was asleep, I was going back.
I’d already called Mrs. White and she said she’d be more than happy to give me my job back. Mrs. Smith said she’d let me board again. I could go back, and no one would stop me or come after me. And I was sure I’d be happy. I didn’t have father to worry about me, Danny had finally found someone his age, and I have hardly spoken to any of my friends. So I doubt they’ll miss me. I was finally free. And I know Robby will recover, probably after about five minutes.
I hid my bag so no one would get suspicious. I didn’t want to say any goodbyes. I just wanted to go. I don’t think anyone will know for a while. Like I said, I hardly talk to anyone anymore. Even Danny and I haven’t spoken in well over two months. I would miss them all no doubt. But it was time to go.
Without Danny, there was no reason to stay. I wouldn’t join the army, my cuff was off, as well was my brace. I was, as the doctor told me, as healthy as a horse. I don’t think anyone really knew I was alive. I made sure the letter was ready to go. It seemed everyone was still pretty ticked about the almost dying thing. A mystery that still hadn’t been solved. I sighed happily, everything was ready. No more death, no more Danny, no more war. It was surly time to go.
I’m glad I can finally tell you where I am going, because this time I know I can stay. When I ran away, I went to a town, and when the officers came and got me, I promised to return when I was eighteen. I already have everything set up. I have two jobs, and a house to sleep in. I’m starting my life over. If you wish to visit, you may. But don’t feel obligated, because I know you may not want to. Scratch that, I know you don’t want to. Danny and Jane, I wish you two a happy life. I’ll stop this letter, so you can get back to your lives.
I couldn’t figure out how I’d memorized it. But I had. I went over the letter again in my mind. No, it was fine. It was perfect actually. And no one would probably find it for a while anyways. They’ll probably notice I’m not around after a week or so. I’d miss them. I had grown up with them after all.
Danny had been my best friend for six years. So yeah, it would be a little hard, but I’d move on. Eventually, I’d forget all about them.
I rung up the items quickly and placed them in the grocery bags. I smiled at the elderly lady Mrs. Daniels as I handed her credit card back.
"Have a nice day. By the way, I love that shirt." I said to her. She smiled back.
"Thank you dear." She said then took the card.
"Would you like some help with those?"
"No thank you sweetie, I’ve got them."
"Of course dear." She said. I laughed and she pushed the buggy out of the store. No one else was in line, so I opened up the cash register and started counting the money, making sure it was all there. I was very thorough. My boss really liked me. I’d been here for three months. I was happy, still.
"Hey, is this check out open?" someone called. I closed the cash register.
"Yes, sorry…" when I looked up, I saw a familiar face.
"Oh, hey." I said to Jerry. He was a kid I’d met. He kind of liked me. He’d asked me out a few times, but I politely said no, and told him I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. He’d told me he understood.
He set some items down and I quickly rung them up.
"So, I’m cool about you not wanting to date, but I wanted to know if you wanted to hang out as friends. It would just be a couple of kids being friends, I swear." He said. I was thoughtful, then nodded.
"That sounds nice. I’d love to. Where should we meet?"
"How does bowling sound?"
"That sounds like fun." I’d only been bowling a couple times before, when I was eight. But it would be nice to get out and do something fun. "But I’m not very good."
"That’s okay, I’ll go easy on you."
I arrived, very nervous. I could hardly remember how to hold the ball. I paid for shoes then saw Jerry.
"Hey!’ I called out as I came near. I was surprised he had invited other people, only about four, but I was still surprised.
"Hey, come join us." He yelled back. I felt good, I felt normal. I walked over to the group. I smiled and sat down. All of the kids introduced themselves. Eric, Sarah, Manny, and Tyler. They were all nice kids. We started bowling, and I felt my stomach flip. I was third. I stood up uneasily. I got a ball. I looked at it and turned it until I found the holes. I bit my lip.
"Is something wrong?" Jerry asked.
"I haven’t played this game in ten years. I don’t know what to do."
"Let me help you." He stood and walked over to me. He stood behind me, and took my hand. He showed me how to stand and showed me how to swing my arm. Then he stepped aside and let me try. I did exactly as he showed me, and I got a strike! I cheered and jumped up and down in excitement. Then I ran over to Jerry and hugged him.
"Thank you so much!" I cheered. He squeezed me back then picked me up and spun me around.
"That was awesome!" he shouted. As we waited for the others to take their turns, we talked. I got to know him very well. And I started to really like him. He drove me home and walked me to the door. We stood in front of the door and talked some more.
"Oh, I’ve got to get some sleep. I have to get up for work tomorrow. Thank you for inviting me, I had a lot of fun." I said.
"Thanks for coming. We should hang out again."
"We should, and next time, let’s make it a date."
"That would be awesome." He leaned in and kissed my cheek. I waited until he drove off then unlocked the door. I entered quietly and closed and locked the door. Then I smiled the whole way to my room. I lay down on my bed. I loved it. I loved being normal. I closed my eyes, and I suddenly couldn’t wait to see him again.
I rushed down the stairs when I heard the doorbell.
"I’ll get it!" I called as I flew down the stairs. Mrs. Smith laughed at my excitement.
"Hot date tonight?" she asked.
I winked at her. "You bet." I opened the door. Jerry stood there dressed up, like me, and was smiling. Like me.
"I’ll be back later." I said.
"Not to late I hope." Mrs. Smith said.
"It depends." Jerry and I had been dating for a few months now. I’ve been living here for six months now, and I was happy. I never knew it could last this long. He took my hand and led me to the car.
"Have fun!" Mrs. Smith called.
"I love this restaurant, it’s my favorite." I said as we sat down in Ethan’s House.
"Mine too." Jerry agreed. We chatted for a few minutes. I really liked talking to him.
"And I thought I had…" I couldn’t finish because I was trying to figure out what two army officers were doing here.
"What is it?" Jerry asked then turned around in his seat. The officers were talking to the host of the restaurant. I decided to ignore them; they probably weren’t even from the same camp. Even if they were, what would it matter? Maybe they were here to eat. That seemed very probable.
"Nothing, I just thought for a moment that I knew them." I said. He turned back around and shrugged. We continued talking. I was taking a drink from the water that had been brought to the table then they turned around. The faces were familiar, and ones I hoped to never see again.
I choked on the water, and started coughing violently. Jerry stood up and patted my back. It drew a lot of attention, including Shaun’s. He smiled when he saw me, I glared back. I guess I never did explain exactly what happened to him. I had no evidence that he’d tried to rape me. So father just simply moved him and the others to another camp. I finally stopped coughing.
"Are you okay?" Jerry asked.
"No, let’s go somewhere else." I said then stood. I pulled out my wallet to pay for the already ordered food.
"No, I’ve got it."
"I already have my wallet out." I said then threw some money on the table without counting it, but I was more than sure it was enough. Then I quickly pulled him out of the restaurant. I avoided Shaun’s eyes on the way. But as we left the place, six other familiar faces were outside. Would it never end?
"Hey, Rachael." Chris said. I ignored him and pulled Jerry away from the group.
"What the hell are they doing here?" I muttered.
"Who are they?"
"Some kids I used to know. We didn’t get along well."
"Are those the guys you shot at?"
"Don’t be, it’s not your fault they’re here."
"I know, but I am sorry. If it makes you feel better, you can stay with me until they leave."
"I think I’ll be fine."
"It would make me feel better knowing you’re safe."
"Please." He said, looking concerned. I sighed.
"Okay, but Mrs. Smith will be wondering where I am."
"You can tell her in the morning."
"What if they don’t leave tonight?"
"You can stay as long as you need to."
"Thank you Jerry."