I had never really been one to leave when things were starting to look rough.
But in my defense, this had gone on for an entire lifetime. It wasn’t like I was going to affect anyone by leaving; I was damn sure that no one would miss me when I was gone. They would carry on exactly as they had before, and I doubted that anyone would even give me one thought after they realized I had left this place.
I was more than aware that my sad excuse for a letter wouldn’t be enough for any of them. They might not even read it, I thought to myself as I placed the “letters” on the dining room table. Every one of them, even my husband of two years, Jack, would scoff at the fact that I had used a ballpoint pen and a few drive-thru napkins to pen my farewell letters. But then, I had never really been the classiest of people, so it somewhat suited my personality to use something so cheap, so worthless, to write my goodbyes to everyone.
Of course, the little ones wouldn’t understand at first. My little sisters, my nieces and nephews, none of them would know why I left. Not the real reason, that is. My sisters and brothers, my mother, they all would make sure of it that I sounded like a coward, like some force of evil against the family. None of them would ever know the true reasons for why I was getting the hell out of this dump. But they never really had a chance of knowing that now did they?
I was perfectly fine with being disowned from my family because of my actions. My whole life, I had been an outcast and a disgrace to them. It was as if I was never really a part of it to begin with; being removed, well, that was not as big of a deal to me as it would have been for everyone else, if they ever were in this situation.
Ha. That was a big if. None of them would have even half the guts, even the tiniest bit of courage to do this. They were cowards, every damn one of them. I knew them all well enough to be able to say, without a single doubt, that none of them would ever do anything to provoke the elders of our family, or do anything to defy the ever-present rules. I was the only one who seemed to have my own mind, and even then, in some points of my life, I had questioned that.
In frustration, I snapped the ink pen in half and threw the broken plastic on the floor. I didn’t care if it stained the linoleum. If anything, that would be my last act of defiance against these people. I still had control over myself and there wasn’t a damn thing they could do to try to stop me from leaving.
I laughed at the thought of them waking up tomorrow and seeing the ink stains, seeing the letters for each one of them. It was a bitter, spiteful laugh, but still a laugh. It was probably pretty bad that I was taking pleasure in the thought of them getting angry, maybe even having a few brief moments of sadness because I was gone. But that was something I doubted; it would more likely be them getting worked up over the linoleum rather than them losing a daughter, aunt, sister.
Terrible people, I thought as I returned to my room for the last time. They all deserved to rot in hell, every last one of them. What they did to me, it was not right. I never got the justice I should have been given due to my goddamned grandfather being the county judge. His view on the entire situation had already been tainted by my parents; by the time the trial came around, I wasn’t even given a full minute to speak before he closed the case and decided that it was best for me to be given intensive therapy for my “compulsive lying problem.”
Thinking about the bastard made me scowl out of hatred. I had proof enough that my husband was beating me. Along with abuse from my parents, which had been going on since I was old enough to walk and talk. And yet he denied me my chance to get out of that hell hole, then made a fool out of me by saying that I was lying. Because, you know, it totally makes sense to lie about large welts and bruises all over my body, the constant black-eyes, and the busted lips.
I angrily shoved my two other pairs of clothes in a bag that I had stolen from one of my nieces earlier in the afternoon. I had a few other outfits, of course, but I didn’t need them. They would only be more pieces of my past to bring with me, of which I was not about to do. I didn’t want any more memory of this hell hole than I already had, and even then that was way too much for my likings.
At the bottom of the bag were too large bottles of whiskey, something I knew I could take solace in on my way out of here. I had my one-way train ticket to California in my back pocket of my jeans, my bag, and all of the money I had emptied out of me and Jack’s bank account, which was just enough for a month and a half’s due for a cheap motel somewhere. I had checked, several times, and almost went so far as to reserve a room, but I didn’t figure that would be necessary.
I slung the bag over my shoulder and looked back at the room before me. Jack was out of town, on a “business trip,” otherwise meaning, he was going to go see a few of his favorite hookers and have a grand ole time. My parents had decided that even though I was 25, and completely old enough/capable of taking care of myself, I had to stay at the family ranch until Jack returned from the trip.
This room had been such a damn awful place, I thought to myself. All of the things that had happened in here, it was insane. There were so many nights were I would lie awake, crying because my father had taken advantage of me. As that time passed, my uncles joined in on it, too, but at that point it became sort of normal to me, and there was no point in crying anymore.
There were so many times that my mother would stumble up here, drunk out of her mind, and beat me with my father’s leather belt. I winced as the memories of the welts and lashes from the belt left resurfaced. I had long, puckered scars all over my back from them, and many more painful recollections of the ones that hadn’t ruined my skin.
And there were quite a few times when my older brothers and sisters would come up here and throw glass at me. They’d take whatever they could find; glass coke bottles, vases, cups, plates, everything there was that could be breakable, and they would chuck them at my head until they shattered into thousands of tiny pieces. The noise would attract my mother’s attention, at which point she would come up and scream at me. Only me, though, she would never, never scream at my siblings.
As a young child I had always thought that I deserved these things. Hell, I always believed that a little. It was one of the reasons I had been so afraid to try to divorce Jack; I knew from experience that if I ever tried to reveal something that goes on behind closed doors, there would always be repercussions. Finally, I would learn that it was useless trying, but with that, I gave no warning sign to it. I filed the papers and waited patiently for the trial.
Of course, by doing that I was only beat more. I was given quite a few verbal beatings, too, by several people. Be it my aunt, my mother, my father, everyone. They all had their shots at wounding me in some way or another, making me feel even more worthless than I had to begin with.
What was funny about it all, I thought, as I opened up my bedroom window, was that if this had happened anywhere else in the world, to someone else, it would have been caught up by the media quicker than a starving dog would steal food from someone. The entire family would be unable to reach the child after that, and then the kid would become some advocate for abused children of the world, forever some public figure and idol. But me? Nope.
No, I didn’t want to become famous off of my pain and history of abuse throughout my life. I just wanted all of the sons of bitches to get what they had coming to them already! I wanted them to be punished in some way; I wanted them to feel a little bit as I had when they would beat me and use me! Yet, by the looks of that, it was never going to happen. They would never learn that lesson, never be hit by reality.
The whole thing disgusted me. I hopped out of my window and landed in the bush below it. I was hit with a brief sting of pain from the brambles and branches, but compared to other things I’ve dealt with in life, that was nothing.
I adjusted my clothes and tried to make it look like I hadn’t just fallen out of a window. Well, it was more like escaped out of a window, if you wanted to be accurate. But that wasn’t exactly what I was focused on; just because I had gotten out didn’t mean that I was free yet. They could still catch me in some way or another, and it was completely my luck that they would.
Hiking my bag back on my shoulder and pulling up my pants, I looked around to make sure there was no one out. There were several people in the family that smoked, and so it wouldn’t be unnatural for someone to be outside in the middle of the night, smoking those god awful menthol cigarettes, the very same ones they would use to burn me with when I was a little girl.
The darkness of the night was a good cover for me, but it didn’t seem like it was going to be enough to get me out of here. The entire ranch had surveillance cameras, and motion activated lights. I wasn’t sure that leaving in the middle of the night was such a good plan, now, but I knew damn well that I had to take my chance before I missed it.
I was tired of failing all the time. I was tired of being the runt of the family, the punching bag and whipping girl. Everyone had taken all of their problems out on me for my whole life, and now it was my turn to reclaim what was rightfully mine. This was my only other escape plan, other than suicide. And I didn’t want to die here, didn’t want my body to reside here for all eternity. I didn’t want this place or these people to have any more of me than they already did.
Without thinking, I took off running into the pitch blackness. There was no point in trying to conceal myself anymore, if I was going to be caught, then so be it. At least it would have been done in a blaze of glory rather than me hiding in the shadows like a scared child who wasn’t able enough to leave already.
For a few seconds I thought I had heard someone calling my name, yelling for me to get my ass back here. The sounds echoed in my mind.
“Avery, you worthless piece of shit, get back here!” I thought I heard. “You good for nothing bastard, get back here now!”
It sounded like my mother, or my father. Sometimes their screams blended in together and sounded as if they were one joint unit of hatred and anger. Those two were perfectly matched, I thought as I pushed myself to move faster. This whole damn family was perfect for each other, but not for me. No. Definitely not for me; none of them would have any claim on me ever again.
I didn’t stop running until I got about four miles away from the ranch. By that time I was beyond tired, but I had run more than that before. This wasn’t my first attempt at escaping, but by the looks of things, this would be the one that was successful. My last try, I had run about eight miles in the middle of winter, but then my father and uncles hunted me down in their rusty old pick-up trucks and tied my arms and legs with rubber cables, threw me in the back, and took me back to the ranch. That was six years ago, though, and they had all probably long forgotten about that.
I could breathe easier once I was far enough away from the ranch, and it had been long enough with no one coming to get me. I knew there was still a chance of it, but I was trying to be optimistic on the situation. It was my last ditch attempt to calm myself down, otherwise I’d have to break out the bottles of whiskey that were so damn heavy, it felt like they were weighing me down now.
Still, I kept on going. I got to the train station just in time, and there wasn’t a single person there to stop me from going. I thought, for a few seconds, that I saw Jack in the crowd unloading off of a train, but I turned my back before I could be sure of it.
I boarded the train and sat in a corner by myself. Opening one of the whiskey bottles, I put the bottle to my lips and drank in the burning liquid until the train pulled out of the station. Then we were off and running.
I was finally free.
I never looked back.
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