The Almost Runaway
Looking out the car window watching the houses go by made me want to cry. That is a place I called home for three years now and just as we started to fit in, we had to leave again like before. As I looked through the rear-view mirror at my daughter, I couldn’t help but get even sadder. How could we tear her away from her friends and boyfriend of two years, Alex? I’ll never forget the day we told her about the job offer and the move.
It all started like any ordinary day Bella got up and got ready for school and then came down the spiral staircase; she saw her mom and me sitting at the table. She froze on the stairs once she saw me. “How come you aren’t at work dad?” She asked once she collected herself and finished coming down the stairs.
“Your mom and I have something to talk to you about.” I answered.
“You see I’ve been offered this job in Lakeshore, Maine that I can’t pass up. So, I’ve taken the job and we are moving there at the end of the week.” Her mom added.
“What! I can’t believe you’re telling me that I have to leave my friends and Alex.” Bella shouted as she turned her back to us in the chair.
“I know that this is going to be hard, but I feel that in the end it will be the right thing for this family.” her mom calmly said, trying to help calm down our daughter.
“How can this be right when I have to leave my friends, and Alex? I can’t tell Alex this; it will tear him and us apart.” She screams as she bolts out of her chair and runs upstairs.
“What about breakfast?” I holler up to her.
“I’ll get it at school.” she shouts back.
Time passed as her mom, and I sat at the table and waited for Bella to come back down. Finally, we see her racing down the stairs and fly out the door without a single kiss, hug, or has much as a goodbye. We moved to the window in time to see her give Alex a hug and kiss and then jump into the car that pulled out of the driveway and drove off down the road. Watching her interaction with Alex and head off for school tore us apart. Were we doing the right thing with moving, how was she going to tell Alex and her friends, and would she get through this okay?
All day long, I was thinking about the move and how Bella was doing. Finally, I arrived home at about five thirty to find out that Bella hasn’t come home yet. It wasn’t surprising but disappointing to find out she wasn’t home because I was hoping to talk to her about the move. I figured that she was probably hanging out with Alex and her friends and telling them about the move. I went about my daily routine of helping out with stuff around the house for about fifteen minutes until the phone rang. “Hello, the Brown residence.” I answered the phone.
“Hi Mr. Brown. It’s Alex. I was wondering if Isabelle was there.” The person replied.
“No, Isabelle isn’t here; we thought she was with you.” I responded.
“She was with me till about three thirty at the park. She was acting all clammy and weird and when I tried talking to her about it she would just shut down and say nothing was wrong. I kept pushing and that caused us to fight. She just got up and started leaving when I offered to take her home. She said that she was all set with walking home.” Alex said in a hurry.
“Bella should have been here by now. Maybe she’s at a friend’s house trying to cool down.” I said, trying to reassure Alex and myself that everything is okay.
“Thanks Mr. Brown. If you don’t mind, I’m going to try calling some of her friends to see.” Alex said not to be fooled by what I had just said.
“Thanks, Alex, for the call and if you find anything please give us a call back.” I said before I hung up the phone.”
Before I could finish hanging up the phone, my wife came in and asked, “Was that Bella on the phone?”
I wanted to lie but instead I answered “No, it wasn’t Bella on the phone. It was Alex.”
My wife looks at me like I was playing a joke here “Where’s Bella?” she asked in a horrifying panicked scream.
“Relax dear, Bella and Alex got into a fight. So, she’s probably at a friend’s house cooking off before she comes home.” I say trying to fool myself and my wife that everything is okay. At this point looking into my wife’s eyes, I couldn’t help but feel guilty about the situation tonight. Three years ago, when my wife got the job in San Francisco. I left and went to my brother’s house for a few weeks before coming back to my family, who were in San Francisco.
We go about the rest of the routine until dinner, hardly speaking. We sat down for dinner and started at the empty spot where Bella would have been. After dinner we did dishes and then sat down to watch the movie “Remember the Titans.” I have to admit that watching the movie made us forget the time and the fact our daughter wasn’t home yet. After the movie was over, we went upstairs to say goodnight to Bella. We opened the door to her room and noticed the made bed but no Bella. We also discovered that most of her things were missing. I quickly turned around and bolted down the stairs to call the police. Once I reached the phone, it started to ring. I quickly picked up the phone and blurted out “Hello, Brown residence.”
“It’s me Alex, and no one has seen her since this afternoon at school.” said the voice on the other end of the phone.
“Most of her stuff is missing as well. Do you have any idea on where she could have gone?” I said barely breathing with my heart racing.
“No, I don’t know sir. Wish I could help. What is going on that would make her run away?” he said, puzzled.
I froze just as Bella did this morning. Should I tell him or shouldn’t I tell him. “Nothing that I think I should tell you. I think Bella would prefer to tell you.” I said hoping I made the right decision.
“Okay, sir I’ll respect that because it’s respecting Isabelle.” He said before hanging up the phone.
As I hung up the phone, I noticed my standing behind me. I gently grabbed and pulled my wife to me as I repeated to her what Alex had told me. While still holding onto my wife, I picked up the phone and called the police, who were here in a matter of minutes. They asked us questions about what happened and took a recent photograph we gave them. Before they left, they informed us that they couldn’t do anything until twenty-four hours after the teen had been reported missing. After the police left, I sat down and cried. Why did I agree to this? Where was my daughter? Will she come home safe? Those were some of the questions flowing in and out of my mind. It felt like time stopped when the police left but at the sound of my ringing phone it started back up. “Hello, Brown residence.” I said in an annoyed voice.
“Daddy, it’s me Bell,” says the voice on the other end.
“Bella.” I sigh in relief, “Where are you and are you okay?” I add rapidly.
“Yes, dad I’m okay and I’m at Alex’s house,” she said in a reassuring tone.
“Okay Bell. Take your time and come home soon.” I said before hanging up the phone.
At this point my wife is standing beside me trying to take the phone away from me. I got the phone hung up and took my wife into my arms and gently said “Give her some time to talk to Alex because if we make her come home now, she may hate us even more.”
“I know but I just wanted to hear her voice because I would like to help. Instead, through the past two years she has been going to you.” she said, starting to cry.
“I know darling, but she’ll be home soon enough. I’ve told you that it’s because she’s scared, I’m going to leave again. Let me help you to bed because I would like to speak to Isabelle tonight and you can try tomorrow.” I said as I dragged my wife off to bed.
After fifteen minutes of helping my wife get into bed, I come out of our room and go downstairs. I go to the kitchen and make a pot of coffee. While waiting for coffee to brew, I sat at the kitchen table and looked out the window. After several minutes slip by I get up and pour myself a cup of coffee. As I drank, I gazed out the window just thinking about the day and got lost in my thoughts. I’m brought back from my thoughts by the sound of a car pulling into the driveway. I watch from the window as Alex and Bella come up onto the porch to the door. They say I love you to each other and give each other a hug and kiss goodnight. Bella comes into the house and over to the window. She watches Alex leave until he and his car are out of sight.
I glance over at the clock, and it reads midnight. Before having a seat at the table, she gives me a hug and says, “I love you daddy, but I don’t like having to move.”
“I know Bell,” I said, hugging my daughter closely, unsure of what else to say.
She goes and gets a cup of coffee and comes back over to the table. She tells me about the fight with Alex and how she wanted to tell him but couldn’t. She then went into how after the fight she just wanted to get away. So, she came home, got some things and went to the bus station to go to a relative’s house. She told me about how at the bus stop she froze because she didn’t know where to go and didn’t want to hurt her mom and me. So, she just sat there thinking. Then before she knew it, it was late at night.
“I’m sorry if I made you guys worry, I told Alex about the move though dad,” she said shyly.
“Oh! So, you did tell him tonight. That must have been hard. How did it go?” I said, trying to hint that I talked to him earlier.
“He took it well, it hurts both of us, but we will talk, email, and send letters. Hopefully for college, I can come back out here, or he can come out east. He’s also going to help me in telling my friends about the move. He told me about how he asked what was going on and that you said that I should be the one to tell him. Thanks, dad, for respecting me and not telling him,” she says and finishes with a big yawn.
I was taken back by her words for a few seconds but was able to say “Not a problem Bell, that was something I knew you needed to tell him not me. I’m glad things worked out and as for college I would be okay with you going to school but out here.”
“What about mom, will she be okay with it?” she asks nervously.
“I think she will be Bell but you should ask her. Just know she loves you and wants you to be happy.” I said, trying to reassure her and build a bridge over the gap between my ladies.
“Okay, Night dad I love you.” she said as she gave me a hug before heading up stairs to her room and bed.
“Night Bell, sweet dreams and I love you too.” I respond before she leaves my side.
I then turn around and pick up the coffee cups from the table and bring them to the kitchen. I put the cups in the sink after rinsing them out and shut off the coffee pot that is almost empty. I look at the microwave clock and it says 6 am. I go upstairs and start getting ready for work.