Run. That's what you do when you're trying to get away, right? Okay, so I run.
I throw on a pair of shoes. I hope I'm doing this right. I'm not used to getting away. I'm used to staying trapped.
I feel my way around the hallway. It's dark and I can't risk turning the lights on. He might wake up.
I've been here for three months. I made it a priority to memorize every inch of the house. Stairs in two feet. Creaky board in five feet. I might make it.
The house looked like a shack. It was one of the smallest ones on the street. The outside was crumbling faded brick. The roof desperately needed to be redone. The window panes were barely hanging off their hinges.
I was to the door now. The hardest part. I left it unlocked and slightly open last night. This man must be really oblivious not to notice.
I slid through the thin opening. The only thing between me and freedom. Finally, I was going to make it.
The hinges creaked.
I stopped cold in my steps. Maybe I just imagined it. I was so paranoid lately. Then I heard the worst noise.
Rustling sheets. And the groan of an old bed frame.
I ran. This is what legs are for. Leaving. Going away. Disappearing. I don't ever remember running like this. But then again I don't remember anything past last week.
"Willow, come back!" I heard his voice. That dreadful voice. It was laced with worry for the neighbors to hear. But I heard the anger underneath. I wondered if anybody else could hear it. Or if that tone was special for me.
Run. Don't look back. He's old, he can't come after me. Run to the road. Get in a car. Don't look back.
I got to the main road and bent over, panting, to put my hands on my knees. I watched people out the window when they were running, and I saw them do this. So I thought I'd try it out. My pulse slowed and I regained my breath. I fell back on the rough, dead grass. This whole neighborhood was horrible. Garbage everywhere. Screaming. Hitting. Shooting. Small houses falling apart by the seams. But grass was nature. And nature was not that apartment. Anything was better than there.
I ripped up the grass and sprinkled it across my stomach. I saw little kids do this. Then adults would cone and yell at them. I wondered why it was bad to do. The grass was dead anyways, pulling it up was just making it dead in a different place.
A car pulled up beside me. A hideous noise sounded and I covered my ears and gritted my teeth.
"Ten bucks for that," the man inside said. He had a thick accent and stubble along his jaw line. His clothes were dirty and ripped.
"I don't have any money," I replied. I heard the man in the house talk on the phone and picked up words and phrases. I learned that "bucks" is another word for "money", which is a method of payment.
"Damn you're a stupid girl. That's okay, I'm sure you can make up for it. Now get in." His voice was harsh and rude. His last words were a demand, not questionable. It frightened me only slightly, but I needed a way to get out of this place.
I slid into the backseat of the car. The man gave me a strange look but didn't say anything. The car's interior was covered in dirt and smelled of old alcohol. I choked and gagged a little bit. I tried my best to hold any bodily fluids that threatened to escape down so I didn't offend him.
The man looked middle aged, much younger than the man in the house, but older than the boys I saw running frantically down the street at night. The boys that ran always cried. I watched them as they pulled out guns and waved them around. No one else saw when they returned to their houses, they sat and wept for hours. Humans are so fragile. I don’t particularly like them, I’ve decided.
Twenty minutes later the car started to slow down. I had been laying down across the moldy and faded leather seats in the back. When I felt the car slow down and turn I lifted my head up to see where I was. I peeked just my eyes out over the window, hiding from the world.
The house that I saw didn't look much different from the houses on the street with the man. It was dirty and run down, the driveway was long enough to hold the two cars that were parked there. There were patches of green grass, and a few bright yellow flowers that looked like suns bursting from the ground. This house felt so much more safe. Though still not safe in a general sense, because this man driving the car was a complete stranger.
The vehicle eventually slowed to a stop. The man turned around in the front seat to face me. I examined his face for the first time. He looked to be around twenty five, with darkly tanned skin that led me to believe that he spent a lot of time working outside. His eyes were dark and sunk far into his thin face. I felt smewhat bad for him, since he looked so tired and worn out. A flash of pity went through his eyes as he examined me as closey, if not closer, than I examined him.
"How old are you?" he asked in a curious tone, not treatening at all like he had been earlier when he told me to get in the car.
"I don't know," I responded. Which was the honest truth. I had no idea how old I am, or how I am, or anything about myself. But I recently learned that I enjoy flowers.
"How can you not know how old you are. Are you some kind of stupid-" His voice grew louder and louder until he was shouting at me. I felt my face contorting in a natural instint of fear. He must have noticed and caught himself before scaring me away.
"Sorry. You just seem like one of those weird girls wandering around. Can never be too careful, right?" Again, his fatherly tone was used.
This young man seemed to know a lot about this place, and since there was no one to tell me about myself, I might as well learn about my surroundings. "What weird girls?"
"Do you live under some kind of rock? The weird girls who stand out on people's lawns chanting things. No one can figure out what they're saying, probably some weird foreign language. But we can't get rid of them either. When they're not standing around being weird, they're just gone and no one can find where they went."
I had hoped any new information would spark some kind of memory in my mind, but nothing happened. But the news stuck to me and made me wonder further about these strange girls.
"Has anyone been able to talk to them?" I tried to look menacing so he would tell me, but he just returned my stare with a quizzical look.
"Why would anyone try that? This neighborhood is full of cowards. Anyone who isn't a coward brought out their shotguns."
"Shotguns? Isn't that a little harsh?"
He snarled, I guess it was meant to be a laugh, but his face was so contorted it only made him look more hideous. "That’s how this town works.”
I didn’t understand, but dropped the topic. "Can you bring me somewhere else? This house is ugly, and I don’t like it.”
The man frowned. “You haven’t paid me for the ride yet.”
“I already told you I don’t have any money. I don’t know what else you want from me.”
“You really are that stupid.”
Then the man in the front seat lunged at me. His movements were sharp, but predictable. His hands lashed towards me at the same moment I grabbed for the car door handle. I didn’t know exactly how to react to the situation, on account that I had no clue what he planned on doing to me. But I could guess it wasn’t very nice.
I rolled out of the car and hit the gravel hard. My shoulder and thighs burned where they scraped against the ground.