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I’ve always hated car rides. They’re especially awkward when the person you hate is driving the car.

My father, or as I like to call him the sperm donor, was hunched over the steering wheel, grumbling as he narrowly avoided running over pedestrians.

As we neared the location, my heartbeat started beating erratically. I looked down at Leila, my little sister. She was resting her head on my shoulder. She was quiet the entire car ride, seemingly oblivious to what was coming.

“Should charge for gas money... twenty-minute car ride for these idiots...” Father muttered angrily.

"You have arrived at your destination.” The GPS announced.

He glanced outside the window and then glared at me in the rear-view mirror.

“Imani, this is an airport, no? Where is the college advisor eh?” Father demanded.

“The advisor’s office is inside the airport. There are stores and chains inside the airport, and her office is one of them.” I said, trying to hide my shaking voice.

His beady eyes studied me through the rear-view mirror. His two brain cells were probably trying to figure out if I was telling the truth. He must’ve believed me because a second later he unlocked the car doors.

“Come on Leila,” I said quietly.

I shouldered my backpack, which held a couple of days worth of clothes for me and Leila. Leila silently held my hand and scooted over as I opened the car door.

“Leila stays in the car,” Father said sharply. “A college advisor does not care about a kid.”

Crap. I didn’t see how I could lie out of that-- but at the same time, Leila had to come with me. Or this whole trip would’ve been for nothing.

Suddenly, for the first time in my life, something good happened. A policeman on a motorcycle suddenly pulled up next to the car and tapped the driver’s side window.

“Sir, there’s no parking here.” The officer said politely.

Father rolled his window down.

“Piss off, I’m just dropping off!” Father roared in the policeman’s face.

It was terrifying how quickly he lost his temper. The policeman dismounted from his motorcycle. He was a short man with a stocky build.

“Then go park in the “drop-off” section genius!” The officer said, pointing to a lot in front of us.

“Shut the hell up, midget. What a sad excuse of a man.” Father shouted.

The officer retorted hotly, and they went back and forth.

I realized with a jolt this was my chance to get away while they were going at it. I tapped Leila, who looked up at me and nodded.

My heart was beating so hard I thought it’d burst out of my chest. I inched over to the car door facing to the airport. With a deep breath, I flung the car door open.

Leila flew out of the car after me. I grabbed her and attached her to my hip.

“HEY!” Father boomed so loud, I nearly dropped Leila.

I passed the airport doors to see him halfway out of the car, but to my relief, the officer was still telling him off.

Everything around me was a blur. People stared at me as I charged past, not even pausing to read the airport signs.

I whipped my head behind me-- so far no sign of Father. I knew he’d be charging in here any moment, so I frantically looked for my ticket out of here: Traci.

She had told us to look for a woman with waist-length blue hair, and that she’d be waiting in a glass office next to check-in. I didn’t see blue hair or an office.

“Flight NL998 to LAX departing in ten minutes.” An announcer said over the speakers.

My stomach churned again. That was our flight, and if we missed it... well, I couldn’t even think about what would happen if we missed it. We probably wouldn’t be alive.

Just that moment, I saw a woman with sleek vibrant blue hair. She was sitting in a glass office twenty feet away, an expectant expression on her face. Traci.

Behind me, I heard heavy footfalls. I turned around and saw my father, barreling towards us.

“IMANI! COME BACK RIGHT NOW!” Father boomed.

Everyone in the vicinity froze. His beady eyes locked in on me, and he was charging like a bull. I was frozen on the spot, but Leila’s scream jolted me back to reality.

I turned around and dashed. I’ve never ran that fast in my life. The book bag on my shoulder was crashing into Leila relentlessly as I sprinted to Traci.

Leila’s screaming told me he was gaining on us. Sure enough, when I turned around he was within arm-length distance of me.

Only a little more, I thought. If I could only make it to Traci, we’d be free.

I felt his arm reaching my book bag and I stifled a scream. I was a few steps away from Traci, whose attention was now on us. Everything would be over, we’d be over...


I heard a thud on the ground. I turned around to see the police officer from earlier intercept my father and take him to the ground.

“Sir, you are being detained for refusing to move your vehicle in an unlawful zone and threatening public safety.” The officer said. He placed handcuffs on him.

“MY KID,” He yelled. “She’s taking my kid!”

I turned around as the officer carted him away. Breathing hard, I opened the glass door and set Leila down. Traci, who watched the entire situation unfold watched me carefully.

“Nice to finally meet you, Imani,” Traci said.

“I couldn’t get her passport,” I said completely disregarding her, still panting. “My mother hid ours. I need her to get out of here. Even if I can’t go, she needs to.”

“No worries, we will make it on the flight either way,” Traci assured.

“But I’m perplexed as to what’s going on...” Traci said.

Her eyes flickered to my father, a curious expression on her face.

“He- he changed his mind about us going last minute.” I lied lamely.

“I see.”

Traci laughed, but it was a polite laugh. Maybe she’s seen this scene unfold many times as a talent manager. Whatever it was, Traci gazed at me as if I was a diamond she’d just discovered amongst heaps of coal.

“Imani, you would do anything for your little sister?” Traci asked suddenly.

“I....” I began.

I looked down at Leila, the sweetest girl whose life has been nothing but a living hell.

“Yes, I would,” I said meeting her gaze squarely.

Her features looked gleeful for a second, but she quickly returned to her polite smile. Something about that really creeped me out, but I knew better than to comment. Traci was our way out.

“Perfect, let’s get to going children. Your new home is waiting for you.” Traci said. She turned around to leave the office.

I paused to look behind me. I could see the lights of a police car; back-up was probably called to take father away. Beyond the airport, I visualized my city: my school, my horrible fast-food job, and even worse, home. I shuddered thinking about mother.

We could leave all of that behind now. Start entirely new, and hopefully heal.

“Imani?” Traci said. She paused to look at me.

“I’m coming,” I promised.

I held Leila’s hand. Together, we marched to the airplane with Traci.

We didn’t look back once.

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