The News of the Runaway School Girl
David was lying on his side when I approached the bed. I got under the covers quickly and turned away so I couldn’t see his face.
“Do you want to watch some TV, Milly? I usually watch the news at this hour to get a glimpse of what is going on in the world.”
“Sure. Just stick it on.”
The TV was positioned at the front of the bed on the wall. David flicked to the channel, and we began to watch the news. Then I realised, watching the news was probably the worst thing I could have done all night.
“Welcome back. I am Mark Johnson,” the reporter said. “Welcome to National News Sunday. Tonight, before we cover any small story, I would like to grab your attention, as recently in the world a young lady, Mildred Shortstreet, has escaped and been lost somewhere in this world again. We would appreciate it if people who have heard or seen this woman would please contact their local authority, as this matter has become extremely tense, and she needs to go to mental care.”
The picture of me flashed across the screen. It had been taken the first day of boarding school because I never had an I.D. picture or a proper identity since my parents were careless. It was one of the first photos that had ever been taken of me and I wasn’t impressed with it. I looked like a sad little teenager. My looks hadn’t really changed since then either.
The reporter continued. “We have seen many stories of her in the recent years, and we need to know she is okay. She has recently suffered another death in the family and is not old enough to be classified or be able to live by herself following her own rules. She is now lurking homeless, and until she is found, the police won’t, I repeat, won’t stop looking. And, Mildred, if you are watching, changing who you are won’t be the way to solve this issue. We know you need help, and we are here to help. Thanks. Now we will continue with the sport.”
Without any thought as to what was about to happen, I jumped out of bed and ran out the door of the caravan, with David following. He was faster than I was and mildly stronger. He picked me up and carried me back into the caravan and stood at the door, blocking me from any escape.
“Please let me go. Or grab a knife and kill me. I don’t deserve to live. I want to die. Please. I don’t like it when people look for me in a huge search party. I beg you to let go,” I cried.
“Mildred, please stop and calm down. There is obviously something bigger that is bothering you, and I am not going to let someone take you because you ran away. Please let me help you. Just tell me everything. I’m not going to kill you. Just lie down on the bed and we will talk,” he said in a calm voice.
“You don’t understand. Please, you have to let me go. They are looking for me. I don’t want to be locked up again. Please …”
“Let me get this straight: have you been locked up more times than the bread and water incident when you were younger?”
I flew onto the bed bawling. What was going on with me? Nothing had ever been my fault. I was set up, or I simply had no way to get out of things. David jumped into the bed beside me and curled his arms around me. I tell you what: cuddles are the cures to everything.
I told him the whole story about Jonny and how he set me and Luke up. I told him how Mrs Lowry sent us to the dungeon downstairs at the bottom of the school, and then told him about the date Jonny was supposed to go on. I told him about the blue book and how it killed my twin sister. I told him about the trial and how my old teacher, Mr Humble, witnessed me writing about my hellish life at home. I talked for hours. I didn’t leave one thing out. We cuddled the whole time. By the end of the story, I was exhausted. My eyes were dropping, I was yawning heavily and my body was growing heavy and tired. David turned out the light, and, within seconds, I was asleep.
The next morning, I found myself alone in the caravan. I began calling David’s name. A reply came from outside. I looked out the window. David was cooking up a storm for breakfast.
“Morning, dear. Come out. I have a delicious surprise for you.”
I ran outside and jumped into his arms.
“Why are you so happy this morning? You had a good dream, didn’t you? Please tell me it was about rainbows and unicorns,” he asked as if I was a child.
“No. I didn’t dream at all last night. As soon as I let everything out, I felt great. I slept like a baby. Hopefully, I didn’t snore.”
“Oh, you were snoring. But I think it’s adorable. I’m glad you’re happier this morning. I made us a good breakfast before we hit the road again.”
After breakfast, we packed up the chairs, the table, and the portable barbeque and went on our way.
“No sleeping in the car today, Milly. We have a whole day ahead of us. You cannot afford to miss any of it.”
“No, I have had enough sleep. Where are we going today, by the way?”
“Now don’t get angry with me, but we are going to Sunvalley High. Your old school. After you fell asleep last night, there was a story on a blog about you by your stepbrother, Luke. His number was displayed, and I rang him up for you. And I have child locked the doors so you can’t get out.”
I gasped. “What! Let me out. You betrayed me. You little liar! That’s why you cooked breakfast this morning. Far out. LET ME OUT or I’ll smash the window with my bare hand.”
David laughed hard. I slapped him on the arm.
His laughter died. “I’m joking. I’m sorry. I wanted to see your reaction. Can you stop hitting me now before we have an accident?”
“Arrrrh, you little … Gosh, you are good! Do you think that was funny? Ha!”
“No, and I’m sorry I did that. Why wouldn’t you want to go and see a guy who proposed to you?”
“Because I cannot. It will cause more trouble, and then I will be sent away to a mental institution.”
“It’s okay. Calm down. Take a deep breath in and out. Chocolate is in the glove box if you need it. As I said, we have a long trip to make today.”
“Where exactly are we going?” I asked.
“Nowhere in particular. Isn’t this the reason for this whole journey? To keep travelling every day. And, by the way, you cannot run away forever. One day we will grow old, and we will be in care homes.”
“I don’t care. That is ages away. I’ll have wrinkles and grey hair by then, so no one will recognise me.”
“Yeah, I suppose. But you will still be beautiful to me, no matter what you look like. That picture on the news last night was hot.”
“No, it wasn’t. That was me on the day of the trial. Well, before all the crying and stuff. It was a horrible picture.”
“Well, I must say, you looked like a supermodel.”
“I don’t care. Next topic, please.”
“I’ll put on the radio then. We can listen to songs.”
David flicked through every channel, and every time he did, I felt as if I were a dragon about to breathe fire onto an innocent victim. Every channel was talking about me, and I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t famous before, but now the whole world knew me. There was nothing left to do but drive on and never stop.
David turned the radio off.
“Well, there go the music channels. I don’t own any CDs or devices with music on them, so we are simply going to have to make up our own songs. Any ideas where to start?”