My Next Journey
I didn’t want to take it anymore. I must run away. Run into the dark woods. Run far and never return. I must pack tonight. There was no time to waste. I grabbed my small knapsack and put some toiletries and spare clothes into it. I pulled on a coat, took some fruit out of the fruit bowl and made my way into the hallway. I then ran out the front door of the boarding school. There was no turning back. If Luke and I were destined for each other, then his love for me would be proven when we met under the stars once again in a distant place. I knew what I was doing was completely insane and that soon I would run out of food. I had no water with me, and I knew dehydration was around the corner. It was morning, so I had hours before sunset, which meant I would take no break until my journey was done. I would be incredibly fit and healthy after this journey, and I wouldn’t let anything stand in my way. If I got killed on the way, I would simply rest and die in peace.
Hours passed, and my muscles ached. Where on earth was I? After running into the woods at the back of the boarding school, I hadn’t stopped since. I couldn’t stop now. I had to keep going in a straight direction, otherwise I might end up going around in circles and returning to the school. There was no turning back now – I had come so far. I kept running. Sweat poured down my body as the sun lit its way through the teeming darkness of the forest.
At last, I saw the light at the end of the forest. I was coming closer to a clearing. Soon, I would take a break. As I came closer to the clearing, I realised something was not quite right. I heard rushing water, and in the distance, there was a small stream of water. I stopped at the small ten-metre cliff as I reached the glade. It wasn’t a far jump, and I wasn’t going to take the risk of turning back and getting caught. If I jumped, I would lose everything I’d packed, and then I would starve myself to death. So I sat down and ate two apples and a banana. I placed the knapsack on my back and removed the long black coat. This would drag me down, so I had no choice but to leave it behind. There was no current in the stream, so it would be safe to jump. On the other side of the stream lay another cliff. Except the cliff was taller, and I had to look higher to see its end point.
I made one quick prayer to the Lord and jumped for freedom into the stream. It was surprisingly shallow, and I could walk in it. I began making my way down the stream. As I walked, I grew thirsty and drank the fresh water in little handfuls. I was all drenched now, and a shiver crawled down my spine. The sun was setting, and I hadn’t reached a camp spot yet.
The good thing was, I hadn’t been hurt when I jumped. I didn’t receive a single scratch or mark, but my legs cramped from having travelled so much today.
The cliff beside me gradually became smaller as I passed through the creek. Moments later, I found myself walking through lush scrub up into a small cottage. I knocked on the door. There was no answer. No one was home. I opened the door. It seemed like it had been abandoned for years. It wasn’t a flashy hut either. It was small, and cobwebs were everywhere. Not my type of luxury, but I’d had worse when I was in kindergarten.
I sat down in the rocking chair beside a small table with no drawers. These were the two items in the whole room. I wanted to cry. Now I was living like a poor person, and not one day had passed. I was hungry, tired, and sore at the same time. With no other choice, I rested my head on the wall and fell into a deep sleep.
Morning arrived, bringing another huge day, and, once again, there was no time to waste. If I squandered one second, people might find me, and I could be in bigger trouble than I already was. I stood up, my clothes dry now, and left the cottage. A small path, not too far away from the cottage, was my next route to take. However, I knew this may lead to a road, which could lead to the town, which would then make it easier for someone to catch me. Luckily, I had my nail kit handy. I needed to change my appearance, and my first task was to cut most of my hair off. Goodbye, my luscious red locks. With no second thought, I pulled out the nail scissors and started to cut off my hair. Then I pulled out clothes bleach from my wet bag to change my hair colour. I never really knew why I had this in my bag, but today was the day that I realised its cause. I got the idea from a camping magazine once that I was reading. Five minutes later, I looked like a boy with bleach blonde hair. And how did I know this? Who wouldn’t carry a mirror with them? I always had one handy whenever I knew I was having a bad hair day. And today I was giving myself the worst hair day ever.
I continued down the path for some time, until I found myself at a small caravan park. There was one caravan here at the moment, and the place looked deserted. I ran up to the caravan to see if anyone was inside, knocking on the door vigorously. A young man replied from inside. I stood back from the door as a young man opened to see who it was.
He gave me one sharp look and then carefully began to circle me.
“Hi, I’m David. Sir, are you all right? Seems you are running from something,” he said, giving me a horrendous stare.
His voice was soft and sweet. Like an angel. I fell in love the second I heard his first words. My mouth dried up, words evading me.
“I could offer you some water and food if you want, but if you don’t speak up, I’m afraid that I will walk back inside and carry on with my puzzle.”
“I’m … sorry. Mildred … I’m Mildred Shortstreet. Or Hostile. Um ... I’m a girl ... and I’m running away ….”
“I’m sorry for calling you a boy. But you see …. Oh, never mind. Please sit down. I will get you something to eat. You can tell me anything.”
Was I falling in love with this young man with bleached blonde hair and a perfect smile? He was so kind and nice. He was welcoming, and he seemed very smart as well as very peculiar. He wasn’t the normal type of guy you would meet on the streets. He was enchanting and lovable. Could he be the one that sweeps me off my feet? Luke’s name flew through my mind. I shook my head. No, I was with Luke.
David returned with a bowl, spoon, a small packet of cornflakes, and milk. Before I could say anything, I had started scoffing down the cornflakes without any consideration that I was embarrassing myself. I ate the whole bowl of cornflakes before a word was spoken, and then the rest of the packet. I could tell David was quite surprised by his raised eyebrows.
“Well, well, my dear. I think we must start from the beginning. Are you happy to tell me anything?”
“Sorry that I ate all your cornflakes …”
“No problem. The shops are down the road. Didn’t cost much to buy! Seems like you needed the whole packet. You don’t have to pay me back. Just tell me what you have been up to.”
“You see, the problem is –”
“Mildred, I am not going to ring the police on you. You seem like a sweet girl. Why don’t I ask you questions and you answer them? And then if I miss anything, you can tell me the rest, okay?”
“First question: why are you running away?”
“Hahaha. David, seriously. I already told you that is a complicated and very long story. We could be here for days. I don’t want to waste your time. I must be on my way.”
He grabbed my arm as I stood and pushed me gently back into the chair.
“You are not wasting my time. I am interested. It’s not every day a beautiful woman steps into my caravan area looking like she is a man and has run a marathon.”
I blushed. He was sweet. But I still didn’t want to tell him the whole story. It was too complicated, with too many details. If I did tell him, where could I possibly start? Nothing was going to be easy, and judging from the look David gave me, there was no way I was leaving anytime soon.