Rising out of bed, she flipped her pillow over, hiding the smudged eyeliner and mascara streaks that reminded her of her silent sobbing the night before. Having slept in her father’s threadbare Nirvana concert t-shirt she had swiped from his apartment years before, she quickly dressed, pulling on distressed jeans that had belonged to her last boyfriend. She didn’t need a mirror to know how she looked. As hard as she tried to use her appearance as a barrier, her youth and wide set eyes always invited unwanted attention.
She had been waiting for today, it was day number 6570, her 18th birthday. She had actively started counting down the days somewhere around day number 4327 when she was almost 12. Her formal escape plan had been hatched on day number 5057 closer to her 14th birthday. She would never forget that day, because although life had been a challenge up until then, everything had changed when her alcoholic Mom had yelled at her to, “Get the fuck out you useless bitch.” After she slept it off, the apology never arrived, another thing forgotten to the night.
For the last 4 years she had been fighting a losing battle. She managed the house, her little brother and her mother. Her friends had no idea how she spent her time; hiding the empty liquor bottles in the bottom of the recycling bins, watering down vodka, checking on her Mom again and again and again to make sure she was breathing, she had long ago gotten used to the smell of vomit. These were the normal days. Then there were the days where the gates of hell would open, barricaded in her bedroom with her little brother, dresser up against the door, the police on the way. There was also the war she fought alone, her Mom’s “boyfriends” whispering at her door, the long glances, the drugs and booze she could no longer resist, numbing her own pain. Sleep was a luxury that just didn’t exist and her days would often begin shortly after the previous night had ended.
She rested her forehead on the cold rain stained window as she closed her eyes, Linkin Park ringing in her ears, “Easier to run, replacing this pain with something numb, it’s so much easier to go, Than face all this pain here all alone…”
She didn’t need to take a last look around her room, like a prison cell, every detail would remain and be remembered. She took what she needed; cash she had been pilfering for the last 4 years, a few clothes, her camera, one picture of her as a child walking hand in hand with her parents on a beach and her passport.
She emerged from her room to an empty house. Her brother recently placed in full custody with his Dad, his laughter no longer filled the house. Her Mom was missing in action, this was nothing new. She left a copy of her airline ticket on the kitchen table along with a letter from the group sponsoring her volunteer efforts abroad. She also left a handwritten note, simply, “Day 1.”