When I woke up the next morning my back was killing me, but still, my plans from the previous night were glued in my brain, instantly taking over any other thought that I had in my mind.
I knew I'd have to leave when grandmother wasn't here, or at least when she was preoccupied so that by the time she noticed I was gone I'd be far enough away that she wouldn't be able to do anything about it.
I literally dragged myself out of bed and when I stood up I almost fell over, my leg was full of pricks and needles.
Great, my leg was asleep. I hopped around my room for a little bit, trying to get the blood to circulate, and when I was finally able to stand on it without wincing in discomfort, and started to get dressed.
As I pulled my shirt on over my head, an idea formed.
I didn't have to escape in order to leave. All I had to do was say I was going for a walk, but not come back.
My shoulders slunk. Did I really want to hurt Grandma like that? She would be devastated, thinking I'd gotten kidnapped or murdered or something.
I have too. I thought, and I knew I was right. If I didn't, then it will be all over for Leona. And, not only was she my sister, but she was also my best friend. I couldn't, wouldn't let anything bad happen to her.
By the time I was fully dressed-in my soft orange t-shirt and brown khaki shorts-I had completely talked myself into going.
I went downstairs, my feet making soft thud noises all the way down.
Grandmother was still in bed, and Leona was in her room with the door closed, and I did not want to know what she was up to.
I went to the drawer and pulled out a notepad and pencil, and wrote a note to Grandma:
I'm just going for a walk, I got tired of sitting around the house, I don't know when I'll be back, but, surely by lunch at the latest.
Lot's of Love,
Thinking again, I added:
P.S. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine.
I didn't know if that was too much, making it obvious that I wasn't going for a normal walk, but regardless, I wanted her to know that I was fine.
I ran back upstairs, knowing that I had to back a few things.
I grabbed a large green backpack and stuffed extra clothes in it, for warm and cool weather, a second pair of shoes, a hairbrush, my cell phone (thank goodness I had remembered to charge it last night), some perfume and deodorant and a pack of gum.
Then I ran down stairs and packed seven bottles of water, four bottles of juice, I quickly made nine sandwiches, I grabbed two boxes of granola bars and then raced back upstairs and grabbed my wallet. I had about one hundred dollars in there, and then I remembered my "extra" savings, the money I'd been saving since my ninth birthday. It was about three hundred dollars, meaning I had four hundred dollars in total for this trip.
I nodded my head in satisfaction, and walked back downstairs.
After checking around to see if I needed anything else, I walked into the bathroom and also packed my toothbrush and toothpaste.
Not wanting to waste any time, I grabbed the backpack and headed out the door.
Wait! I told myself, wouldn't it be better if I had the book? And the letter?
I dropped my bag at the door and went back into the house.
By now it was ten o'clock, I had to get moving.
I opened my grandmother's bedroom door, she was still snoring away. I spotted the book on the nightstand.
Yes! I thought, I walked over to the nightstand, grabbed the book, and just when I was heading over to the closet to look for the boxes, Grandma stirred.
Panicked, I ran from the room and right out the front door.
Forget the letter, I said to myself as I was strapping the bag to my back, I'd be fine without it.
I started down the driveway then started walking to the bus station. Uncle Henry lived twenty-four hours away-by car-so I knew I was in for a big trip.
When I arrived at the bus station, I bought a ticket that would take me as close to Uncle Henry's as possible, which still left about fifteen hours, but I'd catch another bus when I got to Ivestown (which was the farthest I could go).
When I got on the bus, I chose an empty seat near the driver, there was no one sitting beside me, so I put my bag there.
There was an old woman sitting across from me, she looked very frail, with white hair and wrinkly skin.
She gave me an odd look, "Dear...tell me you aren't running away, are you?" She asked me in a sweet voice.
I smiled, I didn't know what to tell her, I didn't want to lie to her, I wasn't running away, I was going to come back.
"No, I'm not, don't worry," I said.
"I don't mean to pry, but where are you going, then, dear?" she asked me, her words sounded so sincere, but then again, anyone could be a criminal nowadays.
I thought for a moment, "I visiting my uncle."
She eyed my bag, quickly, I thought of something to say, "He doesn't know I'm coming, it's a surprise, family rarely visits him, since he lives so secludedly."
"Ahh," She nodded her head then turned to face the window.
I did the same, but after a while it got a little boring since we weren't going anywhere yet.
Within the next couple of minutes, the bus driver walked on. He was an awkward looking man. With thin limbs and knobbing elbows. He had orange hair and moustache with nervous looking eyes.
Before he sat down he grabbed the speaker and turned to face the rest of the bus.
"I'm, uh, Bruce and I'll, uh, be, uh, driving this, uh, bus today, and, uh, I hope, uh, you'll respect me, so I, uh, may respect you," he said nervously, then he sat down.
Just as he was about to close the doors, a guy hopped on. He looked young, about seventeen, and he was pretty cute. Sandy brown hair cut into a short-almost-buzz-cut style and from where I was sitting I could tell that he had intense brown eyes that were almost black. He was wearing faded blue jeans and a light green t-shirt. Since his arms were bare, I could see that he was rather muscular. But something else that I noticed about him was that he was carrying a bag just like mine.
"Excuse me, uh, sir, do you, uh, have a, uh, ticket?" Bruce asked the guy.
"Yup," he said solemnly in a low voice and handed the bus driver his ticket. Then he looked around for a place to sit, there was one empty seat beside me, and one beside the old lady across from me
Since I had my bag on the seat next to me, he sat down with the old lady, who gave him an odd look, eyeing his bag and launched into the same conversation she had with me.
"Dear, are you running away?" She asked him, as the bus pulled away from the station and started on the road.
He looked at her, "Yup."
His answer surprised me, why was he running away? I didn't have to wonder for long, the old lady had that covered.
"Oh, dear, now why would you go and do something like that?" She asked him.
"'Cause, my mom left, my dad's abusive and I can't stand it anymore. I'm almost eighteen; I'm entitled to go wherever I want." He said flatly. Only know did I notice that he had a bit of a western accent. He also looked annoyed.
I moved my bag to the floor and pushed into the window seat, so if he decided to move away from her, he could have as much space as he wanted, if he sat with me.
I was right, while the old woman was still babbling on about something he obviously didn't care about, he got up and sat in the seat next to me.
I couldn't help but notice that he smelled good, like cologne, expensive cologne.
He looked at me, "Please, I'll jump right off this bus and hitch-hike somewhere if you start pestering me about why I'm running away," he looked at me, obviously expecting an answer.
I shook my head, "I-I won't," I said. Then I instantly regretted making myself sound like a scared push-over.
His hard eyes softened, and his lips cracked a smile, "Well, now, I didn't mean to scare you!" He laughed lightly.
I faked a smile, this guy was weird.
He held out his hand, and I shook it, "I'm Branson," he said.
"Rinoa," I said, then regretted not making up a fake name, Rinoa sounded stupid all of a sudden. I noticed something else, I was regretting a lot while talking to him.
"Rinoa," he repeated, "I like it, has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"
"I guess?" I squeaked. As much as this guy was weird, I felt myself being drawn to him.
Crap! I do that a lot. I don't even know the guy.
I saw him look at my bag, "Are you running away, too?" A sly smile crept upon his face, "We could run away together," Branson winked then laughed, "Just kidding," his laughter quieted.
I nodded with an uncomfortable smile.
"So, seriously, where are you going?" He asked.
I decided to play his game, "Not that it's any of your business," I made sure to smile so I didn't off as a snob, "But I'm not technically running away, I'm going to go back, once I get what I'm going there for," I said.
Before Branson could say anything, the old lady piped up.
"Dear! I thought you said you were visiting your uncle?" She asked me, perplexed.
Crap, again! I had no idea what to say to that.
Fortunately, Branson answered that one.
"Excuse me, miss? Yes, well, I do believe it isn't your concern as to where she is going," And with that, he turned to face me again.
"Are you actually going to see your uncle?" He asked.
"Yes," I said.
"Then how come your running away?" Branson asked.
"I'm not, I'm going to go back afterward," I said.
"Still." Branson persisted.
I sighed, "I technically am running away because my grandmother and sister don't know that I left this morning. I wrote a note saying I went for a walk, but really, I'm not coming back for a while," I explained.
He whistled, a low sound that reminded me of an airplane falling out the sky, "Jeez, that's harsh, for your grandmother, I mean, she'll be frantic when you don't come back. You must be determined to get whatever it is that you're going to get," Branson smiled, then winked again, "I like that in a girl," he said.
I sighed again, this time it was longer, more exasperated.
"Really?" I asked, not believing he was actually pulling this.
His shoulder's slumped, "Sorry," he said softly, I was about to feel bad for him, until he turned it into a joke, "If you really want me to, I guess I can go back and sit with Ms. Nosey," He pointed his thumb to the old lady.
I lightly hit him in the arm, "No, you don't have too," I laughed.
Man, I thought, Why is it so easy to talk to him?
And it was true, just sitting here, talking to Branson, made me forget about Leona and that giant weight of my sister's condition on my shoulder. It was relieving, to have the stress gone for a little while.