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Last night the moon seemed to say something.
What was I doing here, lying in this bed that wasn't mine?
I dropped out of high school months ago and ditched home.
This wasn't the way I wanted to live my life.
I turned my head to the side. He was still knocked out from all the alcohol. Good, I didn't have to do it with him tonight.
"Kenzie, go home." The moon seemed to say.
I looked at whoever that was staring back at me in the mirror. The dark circles, the shriveled hair, her body covered in hickeys.
"Your family needs you."
I left a month after mom had a miscarriage. I was the oldest of three. She didn't need anymore kids so why was she a depressed mess?
I stood up on my shaking legs. I looked all around the messed up room for where he threw my bra.
I met Dylan on the bus the first day of my Junior year, at the point where nothing was going right. Dad left during the summer, Mom started drinking, my brother was picking up fights in school, and my sister, who had down syndrome, was trying to understand the world.
"Your family are the ones who love you."
I gave up on trying to find my bra, so I just threw over a shirt that smelled like an animal wretched all over it. I had no idea how long it had been, but I think tomorrow was the first day of February.
"People never mean half the things they say."
I ran away with Dylan only a week before Christmas.
Christmas was the time of year where everyone was happy, so why was everyone in my house sad?
The day I left, we got a call from my Dad. It was the first time he contacted us since he left. My mom asked for him to come home, like some beggar woman. I had to escort Jimmy, the youngest of my siblings, from the room when words he wouldn’t understand were being shouted.
"I hate you." I whispered to Dylan as I flipped up the hood of my jacket.
I wasn’t going to take my eyes off of him as I backed up to the door. Slowly as possible I turned the doorknob of the sleazy apartment. I just kept it open and suddenly found myself outside. I walked so quickly I didn’t even notice. The place he made us live in was an old, abandoned, once comfortable home for all.
The snow was falling. My mom loved snow. Every birthday she wished for snow to fall. Her wish came true this year. It hadn’t come true in the last three years.
"Talking makes everything better."
Dylan said he could take me away when I ran, sobbing, to his place that night. I don’t know why I ran there. My best friend, Suzy, said to run to her house when I needed someone to talk to, so why on earth did I run to the person who would make it worse?
Maybe because I thought sex would change everything.
I screamed when a bunch of cats knocked over a couple trash cans. Was he only faking sleeping? I stood still for the longest time, looking everywhere to see if a person was there. As soon as I’d get to the busy side of town I’d feel a lot better.
It may have only been close to 10, early for people who lived in the city.
My jacket barely kept me warm. I only raced out of the house with a paper thin jacket which didn’t do much to keep the cold out. Snow was on the ground, filled with ice patches. I don’t know how I became the athlete, but I ran like there was no tomorrow. My mother was shouting my name, but I couldn’t make out anything she said...
I sat on a lone bench at the train station. All the others were crowded with people. I didn’t know who’d be taking a train so late at night, but maybe ones who needed to get somewhere.
"The past doesn’t mean anything."
My first report card came back in November, close to Thanksgiving. The only thing I didn’t have an awful grade in was English. Of all subjects, I’m not sure why. I guess because the teacher liked what I wrote about. I liked the books we read. I could relate to a lot of the characters in the stories.
"Your hair looks pretty."
I looked up and saw a little girl standing in front of me.
"Your hair looks pretty." Dylan said to me.
I looked up to meet the eyes of someone who looked older than me. He sat down next to me.
"My name is Dylan. Are you new to the high school?"
"My name is Kenzie. Yes."
"Don’t worry, just stay under my wing and you’ll be fine."
What did my hair look like that day? Why was it the first thing to start up a conversation? It’s grown since that day. It was over my shoulders. I didn’t know what she liked about it, because it was greasy and unraveling. She was a little girl, so she was just trying to be nice.
"Come along, Molly. You need to stay with Mommy."
I saw the woman gave me a strange look. I remembered when I didn’t weigh eighty-nine pounds, Dad would cook the best steaks, especially on the Fourth of July. I missed having his steaks that July. Mom went to a bar that day and stayed out all night leaving me to listen to my stomach gurgle. I made sandwiches for my siblings, who didn’t seem to care. I missed that age, not having a care in the world.
"You were what kept your family together."
I heard the train coming. I stood behind the yellow lines. If you stood any closer, it was possible that the train could hit you. My dad was the one who taught me that lesson. I taught my siblings this as time went on. My Dad always thought about my safety and how I felt. Why couldn’t he think about me when he was cheating on Mom?
Everyone got on quickly, but I was slow. The man behind me groaned when he swept past me down the aisle to get to a seat. I bet he ate every day this month. I bet he didn’t slip and hurt his knee on the ice. I bet he had life together better than I did.
I sat in the one seat all the way in the back. Nobody liked sitting in the back of a train. Probably because the row of windows ended before the last row. They wanted to be able to see where they were going.
I was going to get off at the last stop.
The day my Dad left, I followed. I knew he wasn’t going to work. He always drove. As soon as I saw him be the last one to get on the train, I called to him. He looked back, but quickly vanished. I never saw him in any of the windows as the train past.
My mother couldn’t even see the signs. She blamed me and I blamed her. It was her fault that she was pregnant once more. It was my fault for not telling her that I witnessed Dad kiss another woman a month before that.
"Two way or a one way?"
I looked up at the conductor, maybe in his early thirties. He actually saw me in the back.
"One way." I said and gave him the money he was looking for.
"Are you alright, Miss?" he asked.
It didn’t help that I got sick earlier in the afternoon or the black eye and cut lip. I just noticed my shirt was ripped, right below where my nipple may poke through. Without trying to cause alarm, I slowly hid my chest with my jacket and said I was fine.
"Do you need me to sit with you?"
"Just leave me alone!"
An old woman turned and looked at us. Everyone else didn’t listen or just cared to ignore, not wanting to get into the situation.
The conductor left. The old lady eyed him, looked at me one last time, and returned to her knitting.
"You control your own life, not someone else."
Dylan was repeating his Junior year, but was just about ready to quit. I cut classes, pranked the freshman, and stayed out past my curfew with him.
"I can make you happy again. Let me take you somewhere, just the two of us."
That’s all I said and he carried me to his car and we drove, through stop lights and around traffic just to get to the place he knew we’d be able to be alone.
The sex felt good that one time. It felt so right being there with him on top of me as all my problems went away.
But I knew there was something wrong when he hit me.
It was three weeks later when I wanted to go home. It was after I stared at the vomit swirling around the toilet, that I knew this was wrong. I was saying goodbye to my diploma, my future and my family if I kept going on like this.
He slapped me when I put my hand on the door knob.
"You said you’d promise to stay with me forever. And you’re going to stick to that agreement. Otherwise, you’re taking a one way ticket to the heavens."
My head burst up. I had fallen asleep.
It was only 20 minutes.
It was only the first stop.
The last stop.
The stars were showing that night. I remembered when my whole family would go out and stargaze. When I was four my Dad just took me up on the hills to look at the stars. That was the best night ever. That’s when he promised he’d always be here for me. This became a tradition as I brought my siblings up to that hill. It was so quiet as there was nothing much to say, but, feel happy to be together as a family. After my Dad explained it to me, I explained to my sister what the stars and moon did for us. They were here to light the way if we were ever trapped in the darkness.
"Family are the ones who understand you."
I told my Mom everything. I’d come home from school and tell her even the little moments that didn’t mean anything. And she’d tell me what happened during her day.
I refused to tell her what happened the first day of my Junior year. I didn’t think she was interested.
She knew something was up when Dylan touched my breast. He just rubbed his hand smoothly across it. Did I like that? Maybe I did.
"What are you doing?" I said whacking it away.
"I thought you liked me. You’re so beautiful, you know that right?"
He stumbled my words there. His dreamy eyes distracted me when he bent down and kissed me. It was right after school, only a few hours after we met. Fireworks leapt through my body and from there I was hypnotized under his wing.
I just told my mother to stay out of my business and disappeared to my room.
My room had become my lair, filled with secrets. Only my siblings were allowed to pass "the danger line." I was hiding from myself. I didn’t want to admit to myself that Dylan was an awful person. I locked myself into the shadows of the world.
I was shaken awake.
The only thing I could think of was that everything was all a dream and Dylan was waking me up.
It was the old lady.
"This is the last stop, dear."
I didn’t know what to say, so I just gently smiled and walked in front of her. She rested a hand on my shoulder when I grimaced in pain at going down the train steps.
"It’s awfully cold, would you like a ride somewhere?"
"No, ma'am, I’m just going home."
"Is it far from here?"
"No." It felt like I hadn’t even left. I knew every store, house and restaurant since my childhood. Nobody could ever forget where they grew up. All the memories made the town stand out.
"Here, take this."
She threw her scarf over my neck.
"Don’t want to catch cold."
I watched her leave.
She was willing to do one little thing for someone who she didn’t know. When was the last time someone did something nice for me? Was it when Mom made home cooked chicken pie to make me smile? That was the night I ran away.
It was getting close to midnight. The streets were empty. Every step I took it left a print in the fallen snow. My siblings would always follow my footprints when we walked through the snow. And then I showed my sister how to make a snow angel. She smiled so big.
I made the wrong decision to leave. My mom was not in the right state of mind at the time I left. How was she handling everything? Who was explaining the world to my sister? Was the reason why Jimmy was having those tantrums in school because he was bipolar?
There it was.
Just three more houses from where I stood, was my house.
The lights were still on.
The lights were usually off at this point.
Maybe this is what everyone was doing since I left. They were staying up to see if I returned home.
It continued to snow as I slowly walked up each step to my front door.
The living room light turned out.
I knocked. Only a guest would ring the doorbell.
The light turned back on.
The door opened.
"Happy Birthday, Mom."
As I lay here in this bed that I knew was mine I thank the moon for helping me find my way. My Mom slept with me again that night, after our trip to the doctor. One by one my siblings came in and joined us. We were a family again.
This must have been the first time in while that I could see the light.