I forced my palms against the hallway's double doors, forcing them ajar, revealing the effervescent wall of sunshine that my eyes had longed to see. It was 5pm and even though I'd been hiding for an hour or so, the smell of exhaust fumes from departing school buses still flourished in the parking lot. I wondered what it must feel like to be care-free on a cheap leather seat, next to someone else, being driven to your doorstep, while I'm evading schoolyard beatings.
I started running home to keep the window of opportunity for Johnson to find me to a minimum. My knees clicked and buckled slightly between each step, sore from the extended crouching, while I looked around frantically for Jink and his goons.
"I can't let them sneak up behind me or I'm screwed," I said to myself in syllables as I awkwardly tossed my arms up and down while I ran.
Only a few adrenaline-filled moments passed before I found myself heaving for air on the floor of my room, gripping handfuls of blue carpeting. I raised my head, still breathing like I'd ran a marathon, and searched for an opened water bottle that I often left wasted around my room. I crawled across the floor to a lonely water bottle that rested on my bed among the bulk of my bedroom.
Two heavy maple bookshelves, surrounding my tiny bed, were covered in stolen documents hung by tape, a blue ribbon someone else had won, various shirts of friends I've known and lost, and family photos I've taken from their houses. The shelves were stocked with school library books I smuggled during fire alarms, cookbooks from my grandma's kitchen, and a ukelele that my father bought me.