My bag seemed to hold me down to Earth. Otherwise I might have floated away. Or puked. Probably puked.
I'd never been to Chicago before. Never been anywhere, really. And I never thoguht I was actually going to do it. I'd always thought of it, but then I'd remember Jasmine. She was on her own now. I couldn't help her anymore. I did my best when I could, and if that didn't lead her in the right direction, nothing would. Hopefully she'd do the right thing. But I wouldn't interfere with her. Not anymore.
I took a deep breath and walked down the streets quickly and quietly. There weren't many people left. I knew Chicago and other big cities were known for having crowded streets. But it was only three in the morning, so all that was left were drunk people and bar-hoppers. Everyone else was in bed, probably.
I hadn't given where I would sleep much thought. I'd broughten two thin blankets, and I figured I would use my bag as a pillow, but past that I was lost. It didn't seem important when I'd planned it all out. I'd also forgotten to pack seasonal clothes and socks. At least I brought enough pads and tampons to last me for a few months, and I had a small bottle of Listerene to use every now and then. It seemed reasonable, then. And I didn't know when it would come in handy.
There were a lot of alleyways, but I knew I had to find somewhere that wasn't easily seen or accessed. Something that the police would never think to check unless there were gangs running around. Which was always possible. But eventually I found one that seemed more like a plaza in the back of a few apartments.
The entrance was just a small dirt path off of another alleyway. I shuffled through the overgrown grass, and eventually found the small alley. There were no back-doors to access it, and there was onlya rickety fire-escape that looked like it had been rotting for years. The metal was orange and rusting. There was grass growing in between the cracks in the pavement, and there were four dusty old dumpsters that looked like they'd never been used.
I laid my blankets out in the cleanest looking area. I knew when I left that I would have to get rid of all of my qualms about hygiene, but for now, I could make do. Lose them little by little and let go in small doses. It wasn't like I'd never had a time where there wasn't running water in the house, or we didn't have any toothpaste or tampons or pads. That was actually kind of normal sometimes. But I made do with it when I could, and when we did have running water, I tended to take advantage of it. Now I'd just have to do the same general thing.
Propping my head on my "pillow", I stared at the pitch-black sky. There was no noise anywhere. No yelling or screaming. No glasses breaking. No dogs barking or police sirens blaring out. No crying babies or meowing cats. No drunken laughter or moans. No car horns or home security systems going off. No muffled sobs or sighs. No airplanes in the sky. No late night buses pulling up to the corner. No engines starting. Just silence.
It was the first time in my life that things were silent.
I can't say that I fell asleep quickly. As a matter of fact, I doubt I was ever completely asleep for at least two hours. My mind and heart were racing with excitement and worry. Would they find me and take me back? Would something happen in the night to me? Would Jasmine hate me now? What was going to happen next?
Once I fell asleep, it wasn't pleasant. My dream wasn't much of a dream, but more of a nightmare.
I was being chased by police officers. They shot bullets at me as I ran, yelling things like "Scum bag!" and "Skank!" and "Worthless son-of-a-bitch!". Tears streaked down my face. The wind wipped my hair in my face and stung my cheeks. Fire surrounded me on both sides. Pictures drifted by. They were of my family. Each one smacked me in the face as I ran, each telling Jasmine's life after I left.
The first one was of her high school graduation. I didn't wonder what had happened before. It wasn't a major thing since we never celebrated our birthdays. We didn't have the money to. And if we did, it was used on drugs or hookers.
The next was of her getting married. After that, her holding a baby boy with bright green eyes and dark brown hair like hers. She was smiling, but it was melancholy and empty. The next picture was of her pushing the boy on a swing. There are bruises covering her arms, and scars from razors on her wrist. But the baby boys is smiling and laughing like nothing is wrong. The next is of her sobbing over a yellow paper. Her husband was killed in Iraq.
After that, it shows a picture of her passed out on the ground, more angry red scars on her arms. She's clutching a bottle of whiskey. The baby is nowhere to be seen. The next picture shows her in a hospital bed, the melacholy look replaced with pure anger and hatred. Her eyes are red and bloodshot. I.v's run throughout her arms. The next picture shows her pushing her baby away in disgust. The scars on her wrist have healed, but now there are angry red welts from cigarettes and scars on her upper arms.
The picture after that shows the baby being taken from her arms. She's passed out on the kitchen floor again. And after that, it's just a picture of her lifeless body slumped against a wall, rotting. No one was there to call the cops or the ambulance. No one was there to help her get on her feet.
"You left her, Sage!" screams an officer. "You did this to her!"
"No," I sob. "No, no, no, no."
I stop running. Bullets shoot me in the arms, the legs, the back. Everywhere is oozing blood. But I don't care. "Jasmine," I cry. "I'm so sorry."
The officer stands over me and smirks. "You don't deserve to live anymore, bitch."
He holds a gun to my head, and shoots.
To be continued....