Ain't Nothing Nice About Missouri
Drip. Drip. Drip.
I could hear the leaky faucet in the kitchen over my own damn thoughts. How is that even possible? I lifted my head off my pillow. Just in time to see my phone light up from a text. I half hazardly picked up the phone to see Kelly’s name. I shrugged and dropped the phone on the floor.
I could care less.
I groaned loudly and sat up. I could hear dad shouting something from the living room. “Dad, I’m coming!” I shouted back. I dragged my jeans up my legs and headed out of my bedroom door.
A waft of smoke hit me in the face, “Oh fuck!” I shouted as I realized what was happening. “Dad, you can’t just make breakfast whenever you want!” I complained, taking the pan that was on fire and throwing it into the sink.
“I thought it was pancake day.” Dad acted innocent.
I took a deep breath, “Yea, I make the pancakes.” I looked back at him. I gave him a smile. I couldn’t be mad at him. It wasn’t his fault. None of this was his fault.
After mom had died, he tried his best. When the accident happened at the factory, Dad wasn’t the same. Of course he wasn’t. Who would? He lost both of his legs in one day. One of the presses had broken and they had hired someone to come and fix it. Dad said he was the only one who could fix that particular press. The large four-hundred pound handle had come tumbling down and crushed his bones to dust.
“You want them extra fluffy?” I tried to cover the anger. I threw the water and mix in a bowl and put my aggression into mixing them together.
“You gonna break that spoon girl.” Dad laughed. He pushed himself around the kitchen and set the table for two. I flipped the first two pancakes on dad’s plate and then, like a magic trick, he switched my empty plate for his. “What’s the plans for a beautiful Saturday morning?” He looked at me as if I were the activity coordinator on a cruise ship.
I couldn’t help but to smile at the fact. “Kelly texted me. I assume she has some dastardly plan to wreak havoc on the town.” I joked.
Kelly Arneson. She had been my best friend since the third grade, even though we were complete opposites. I drank beers with the boys after a long shift. Kelly spent a whole day at the salon in the next town over. I wore my hair plain and she always had something going on with hers.
Kelly had texted me, ‘Let’s get some lunch?’ but never gave me a location. It didn’t really matter. We only had three places in town and Kelly wouldn’t be caught dead in two of the three.
After I had finished breakfast with dad I quickly brushed out my hair and headed out. In the restaurant, neon colors from the back of the room, caught my attention. It was Kelly, waiving her hands at me like I couldn’t spot her ugly outfit a mile away.
“What the hell are you wearing?” I choked on my words as I got even closer to her. It was like the more you stared, the worse it got.
“All the latest fashion my dear!” She chimed. She stood up and twirled for me. “Like the nails?” She flashed matching neon acrylics in my face.
“Ah, yea. They’re great.” I said in the most unconfident voice. Kelly rolled her eyes.
The waiter had come to collect our order, Kelly flirted awkwardly and ordered my food in the process. Two lemonades with lunch specials. Once the waiter had left, Kelly was right back on track with all the gossip about so and so. No one I really cared to remember after we had left high school, but I had to cut into the conversation with herself.
“Kelly.” I interjected, “I’m leaving tomorrow.” I ripped off the band-aid. Kelly gasped, almost dropping her lemonade. “Oh fuck, here we go.” I said out loud.
“Mo!” Kelly yelled, disturbing the rest of the restaurant. “You can’t just leave again.”
Kelly was right. There was something wrong with me. No one just up and leaves their responsibilities like I did. It was unheard of, in our town. Something in me just screamed. I needed to be free. I needed freedom from everything and I never knew how far I wanted the freedom to go. I gave up on a nursing degree when dad lost his legs and went to work full time at the factory that had taken his legs.
Kelly’s childish whine caught my attention, “Ugh fine. But you’re coming over after this...Oh, and I got you a gift.” Like a magician, she pulled a giftbag from under the table.
“If it’s makeup, I’m just gonna toss it in the trash.” I grumbled. I pulled the tissue paper out of the way and pulled out a small box. It was a knife with a holster. “Oh wow.” I was stunned by how much thought Kelly had put into the gift. I stood up.
“Ohmygosh. You’re not going to put that on in here!?” Kelly looked around nervously.
“You bet your sweet ass I am!” I slapped the holster on right in the middle of the restaurant. I was shocked by the quality. “Wow, I think this is the nicest thing you’ve ever given me! Thank you!” It felt nice to have Kelly actually care about this trip.
After we had finished up our lunch, I followed Kelly back to her house. Her parents were quietly tucked away in the tea room, reading from the bible. “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Arneson. Good bye Mr. and Mrs. Arneson.” I said quickly, not even trying to show eye contact. Kelly’s parents had always been like that. Our town had their own beliefs and then there was Kelly’s parents who believed in Jesus.
Once I had at least acknowledged her parents we rushed up the stairs to her room and for a brief moment, it felt like we were little kids again. We threw ourselves on her bed and laughed, taking in the moment.
Kelly didn’t let me rest for very long. She cleared her throat to get my attention. I opened my eyes to see her standing in the doorway with her fathers clippers. “You thinking what I’m thinking?” She asked in a devious voice.
Kelly had forced me to play ‘Hair Salon’ with her. I sat down in the chair that faced her vanity and snaked a towel around my neck. “Do I get to at least pick out the style?” I grabbed her wrist before she could touch my head with the clippers.
My once long black hair had been completely chopped off. When the last bit of hair fell from my head, I ran my hand over my bald head. In our town, no one ever cut their hair unless there was a death. If someone asked, I would say there was. The death of me.
Kelly snuck me out of her bedroom window, so her parents wouldn’t see my hair. I kept the hood of my coat up all the way home so no one would notice. I was even able to sneak past my dad once I got home.
At home, I tucked myself behind my bedroom door and packed my bags. I stuffed it completely full and slung it on my back. I took on the full weight of the bag as it would be rested on my shoulders for two weeks.
My alarm jolted me awake at four in the morning. I wasn’t ready for that. I knew that the earlier I got on the road, the better. By five, I was on the road and already screaming at the GPS. Thankfully, the interstate was clear, so I was making great time. Then, at nine, I arrived at the parking lot for the Cliffside Monument. I passed the sign that clearly stated that hiking was only allowed until six at night. No camping was allowed.
Before I started my adventure, I made sure to grab everything out of the car. I strapped the holster that Kelly had given me to my leg and secured all the straps on my bag. I stood in front of the parking lot sign, right where the concrete stops and the grass begins. I was ready to throw myself all in for this.
The first step onto the grass was exhilarating. It awoken all my senses and eventually, I caught myself running to the first marker on the trail. All together, the hiking trail had ten markers. Each one marked how many miles you had hiked up the cliff.