Chapter one: Grayson
“What the hell?” I say as I rub my eyes and scramble out of bed.
Who would be knocking at my window at two in the morning? A serial killer? No, this town is too boring for a serial killer. Wait… Maybe that’s exactly what this serial killer wants me to think. Damn. Mom was right I do need to cut back on the cop shows.
I slowly creep towards my bedroom window and…
“Emerson!” I roll up the blinds just as she is about to knock again (this time a little too strong by the looks of it).
“What are you doing here?” I whisper as I crack the window.
“I have a proposal!” she exclaims, barely able to stand still.
Oh god. The last time she had a proposal we ended up in detention. “Ok I’m listening but make it quick or I’ll fall asleep.”
“Ok. Here’s what I’m thinking: You. Me. Epic road trip before the start of Junior year!”
“Emerson!” I whisper yell
“This couldn’t have waited til’ morning!”
“Technically no. We have to leave now.”
“Are you kidding me! It’s two AM. Are you trying to get me grounded until I graduate!” I whisper scream this time.
“Of course not! You can leave a note!”
“A note?” I stare at her.
“Yep.” She stares back.
“But…… you are interested right?”
Ok. I can’t believe I am even entertaining this lunatic girl whom I call my best friend.
“Ok. Pros and cons. Cons: I’m grounded for life, my parents will board up my windows Harry Potter style and I will be going on a roadtrip with a crazy person who bangs on people’s windo-
“Hey I knocked gently.”
“And Pros: It sounds fun.”
“So you’re in!”
“Only if you promise to bust me out of here with a flying car if my parents become the Dursleys.”
“Would my old Jeep work?”
“I guess I’ll make an exception.”
“Yay, yay, yay, yay-”
“Don’t you need to pack or something?”
“Oh… you’re smart. I’ll be back in 30!” She calls as she runs towards her house.
She’s crazy. This is crazy. Ok so what to pack..? Oh shit! The note. Ok so I guess this will do:
Hey Mom and Dad,
I know what you’re going to say. “You are grounded for eternity son!! 😠 But Emerson and I want to make the most out of the last few weeks of summer before junior year. We decided to go on a road trip.
Please don’t consider the death penalty,
Flash forward to 30 minutes later and I’m finishing packing up my things when Emerson arrives.
“So, my jeep is shit.” She says, with frustration in her voice.
I don’t answer, a twinge of disappointment pulling at my heart.
“What’s the percentage that you’re parents won’t notice your mom’s car missing?” She asks, giving me a pleading look.
“Um. LIke a one percent, not even one actually. Like point five Emerson, jesus.”
6:30 in the morning, wind in my hair, and not a care in the world. The sun gleaming on the horizon, as careless as us. It’s one of those moments that makes you feel… alive. Like, not just ALIVE, but really living. One where it’s suddenly clear that THIS is why you’re here, THIS is why you’ve decided to wake up another day. As we crossed the state line in my mom’s Tahoe, I looked over at Emerson, and she smiled.
Well, it didn’t last long. We’re not THAT crazy. We drove right back to my house and made it back before my mom was done with her issue of Vogue, and Emerson was down the block and around the corner before you could notice the cottonwood tree near the driveway. Maybe it was for the best. Always better to take fewer risks.
“Coffee run?” My mom interjected into my thoughts, bringing me back into the moment. Was it a question? A statement?
In my apprehension, I blurted out the truth - the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Just like the murder tribunal.
“I, uh, I was with Emerson. We went out on a morning drive! But not TOO far, no, um- just to the Kansas border!”
My mom was out of the room and the door slammed without a response.
I sighed then walked to my room, not daring to make a sound. But as I tried to sneak past mom’s room the foundation of our old house shifts creating a loud creaking noise. I freeze, and her door opens. Just a crack, and it’s slammed and locked once more.
The day was a blur. Or maybe it was the longest day of my life. I’ve heard that those feelings can be pretty similar. I functioned on autopilot, not wanting to think about what happened. I don’t think I heard my mom leave her room either. I guess this was just as hard for the both of us. I heard the clock ticking as I rose from my dozing state, and saw the hands just creeping past 9:00 PM. This time, I hear the house creaking, it’s foundation settling under our old house.
Her door opens and I stand to look at her.
“Grayson, honey. Every time I think you’re over this…” She doesn’t dare to finish her sentence, just look at me, her eyes wet and red.
“I just don’t see what the problem is.” I protest as I decided that this conversation isn’t worth it.
“Grayson. Don’t just walk away from me. Grayson!” But I don’t stop. I don’t look back. I don’t even breathe. I just got ready for bed, said a short goodnight to mom and then fell asleep instantly.
My alarm goes off at 2 am, the time I set it for, and this time I was wide awake. I was ready to leave. My bag already packed, my clothes stuffed in a messy pile, all of my most valuable items hidden behind the clothes. This time, our plan would work. I text Emerson and she responds instantly with a simple “Let’s do this.”
Then we’re off.
I grab my mom’s car keys out of her purse, and sneak out to the garage. As I turn the keys in the ignition I have a feeling of doubt.
What the hell am I even doing? Leaving home without mom, is that even okay? I am definitely not going to win the son of the year award am I?
“Bye mom.” I say quietly.
Then I put the car in reverse, back out and shut the garage door, quietly humming to the radio as I drove straight to Emerson’s house, not daring to look back.