“Clunk! The books fell into my bag one by one. I put in some clothes and put the bag on my back. I quietly opened the window, took a deep breath, and started to climb down. I stepped onto the window ledge and leaped to the nearest tree, which seemed a foot or two away, perfect for climbing. From stepping onto the ground I started to run.”
Most people live a normal life…
Some people’s lives are more extraordinary and adventurous…
I… for one live an extraordinarily abnormal life.
“Ms. Leo Bongores!” Yes, Leo, that’s my name. You don’t need to yell it in my ear. “Ms. Bongores, look up at me young lady.” I put down the book I was reading and looked up at Dr. Joel. “If you look at that book again, then I’ll send you to the office!”
I sighed and looked out the window. “Why did I let Mrs. A make me go to this school,” I whispered. I looked back at Dr. Joel. He was pacing around the room, back and forth, clip clop, clip clop.
“Your teachers just don’t know what do with you, always being a disruption in class, always causing problems.” He shook his head. “Sooner or later, we’ll have to call your mother.”
I burrowed in my arms on the desk. “Foster mother,” I said. My mother, Jane Bongores, died five years ago in a car accident. I had been living with a foster family since I was 12, and it didn’t help the fact that I was stuck living with two other kids. It was exhausting.
“Yes, foster mother.” He looked me in the eye. “Do you have anything to say to me, Ms. Bongores?” Dr. Joel asked.
“Then you may be dismissed.” I stood up and grabbed my bag, and silently bid the yellow room goodbye, and cherished the fact that if my plan went well, I’d never have to be in this room again.
Stepping out, I saw the blinding lights of the hallway flash into my eyes and prayed that life would finally calm down for me and just leave me be.
But I could say that nothing went the way I hoped it would.
Chapter One: Backspace to hell
“Leo, what took you so long?” Mrs. A asked when I got back to the house. “I was worried sick!” She ran into the yard and started to guide me up the steps.
“I had art club.” I lied. Art club was only on Mondays. It would never be on a Tuesday like today.
Mrs. A frowned, deepening her wrinkles. She was a small, petite woman with a bundle of curly red hair covering her eyes, which were a dark shade of blue. She walked like a model which with the way she looked, made her look like a penguin walking away.
“Well, hurry up. Dinner is here.” She started to walk into the house. “It’s pork and chicken shumei. I ordered some vegetables too.” The door slammed on my face.
“At least it’s not ramen.” I sighed. I hated ramen. The soup part was disgusting.
“How was your day, Dave?” Mr. A asked. We were sitting at the dinner table, stuffing our faces with food.
“It was good. I played basketball with Sam and the other guys,” Dave said. Sam nodded in agreement. He was the only real child that was living with Mr. and Mrs. A.
Oh no, I thought, they are going to ask me next. I started to bite my nails, a habit of mine.
“So, Leo.” Sam cracked his knuckles. “Why were you at the office today? Did you get in trouble?” He smirked impishly.
“You little brat!” I stood up and started to chase him around the living room, jumping over seats and the table.
“That is enough, you two!” Mr. A slammed his fists on the table, and we stopped moving, dead silent. “Samuel Arnold Arson, we have raised you better than this young man. Snap out of it! And, Leo.” He shook his head. “I don’t know what to do with you anymore. You have been sent to the office five times this week, skipping classes, leaving the school to get lunch.” He sat down. “Why do we even put up with you, you aren’t even our child,” he whispered, so quiet I strained my ears to hear.
I ran to my room and slammed the door. You aren’t even my father, I thought. I guess the feeling is mutual.
I jumped up onto my bed. I had been living here for four years. They hadn’t bothered to decorate my room for me yet. It felt like the house would never be my home.
I rolled on to my back, looking at the glow in the dark stickers I placed on the ceiling when I moved here. They are forty cents per packet, or were. I used to collect them all those long years ago when I lived in San Francisco. On the harbor, there was Mikey’s Drug Store.
Mikey was a good friend of my mother. He would always be saying things like, “Y’all lookin’ fine today, little Leo. Ya look more like your mother each day” and “Where is Jane today, Leo?” And I would always answer, “At work” or “ I forget.” He always would greet me with a warm smile. I missed him. He was the only person that I had left.
“Don’t forget to take lunch with you.” Mrs. A waved as we walked to the school bus. “Have a good day.” Dave waved back at her.
“Hurry up, Dave,” I said.
He turned around and scurried after me, probably hoping that the bus would wait for him, or that he’d still have time to play Nintendo before the bell rang. When we got off the bus, he trailed off behind me.
“What are you following me for?” I asked.
“There are these two boys who beat me up, and all the boys are afraid of you, and I thought — ” He stopped in mid-sentence, pushing back his black bangs back from his forehead, which looked exotic against his pale skin.
“Boys, afraid of me?” We finally got to my locker. “Yeah right.”
“Oh.” Dave looked at his watch. “It’s time for class. I gotta go, bye.”
I put away my bag and started to head to class. “See ya.”
“So I, like, said, ‘Who do you think you’re talking to.’ And he was like, ‘A random girl?’ so I said… ” Britney, the Barbie girl of the class, chatted away with Harley.
“Carman claimed that they, “are as annoying as a chipmunk pretending to be a baboon,” and I believed her.
“Can you two please stop.” I covered my ears. It was Max talking. He was always the one to tried to stop them.
“Oooh,” Britney teased. “Maxie waxy doesn’t like noise. It wakes him up and scares him.”
Harley laughed. “Do you need a bottle to stop your pouting?” She held her canteen up in the air. “Drink up, boy.” I couldn’t help snickering to that, because as much as I hated them, their jokes cracked me up, and also because otherwise they’d drag me into this.
“I would appreciate it if you stopped teasing me as well,” he said, his face turning red. “It’s very irritating.” He looked at me. “Right, Leo.”
“Does Maxy waxy have a girlfriend?” Harley asked. “Is Maxy waxy’s feelings hurt, so he had to bring in little Leo?”
“Arghh!” I felt my nails digging into my head. “You just had to drag me into this!” Max looked as if he was going to say something, but I spoke first. “Really, Max? Really.”
“Oh, little Leo’s crying, wah wah.” Britney started to rub her eyes. “I’m Leo, and I’m a baby. Wah.” She grinned at Harley.
“Then you must be the first braindead blond to step on the planet!” I stood up and turned to Harley. “And you must be the only redhead to ever catch on fire!” I slammed my fists on my desk and ran to the girls bathroom.
I looked into the mirror and saw a girl. She looked like she was 15 or so, and she had long blond hair that trailed down to her hips, she was wearing a black T-shirt with words written on it saying I don’t go down without a fight, and baggy jeans. That girl in the mirror was me, or the person they saw.
I shut myself in a stall and started to cry, not because I was sick of the bullying, but because I couldn’t stand being here, here in this school, in this place, in this town. There was nowhere that I could go that would leave me be. Every day, it was the same thing over and over and over again. I’m sick of it! I thought. I can’t do this anymore! I’m leaving! That’s when I decided to run away. I couldn’t just stay at this place anymore. I’d stayed there for too long.
I walked out of the bathroom and thought to myself. Give it one day, I thought. One day until I’ll leave this place forever. Just finish today.
Chapter Two: Run Away
Clunk! The books fell into my bag one by one. I put in some clothes and put the bag on my back. I quietly opened the window, took a deep breath, and started to climb down. I stepped onto the window ledge and leaped to the nearest tree, which seemed a foot or two away, perfect for climbing. From stepping onto the ground I started to run.
“Goodbye, the Arsons!” I looked back at the yellow house and grinned. When I looked forward again, I smashed face first into something. I felt gravity push me into the ground, like a imposing force that was not to be reckoned with.
“God that hurt,” the person said. Their voice was deep, low just like…
I rubbed my eyes. “Max?” I backed away. “No, no. It can’t be. You have parents, nice parents. Why are you here?” Max didn’t move, and a chunk of his brown hair fell onto his face. “Max, are you okay?” I shook him. “Max!” I felt a hot tear run down my face. “Wake up!” I shook him harder.
“Ow… ” His eyes flickered open. “Leo?”
I sighed in relief. “Oh, thank goodness. I thought you were dead.”
He started to laugh. “Why would I be dead?” Then, he saw how serious I was. “Leo, were you crying?” He leaned in, examining the tear on my cheek.
I pushed his face away. “Stop it!”
“Sorry,” he said. “Why are you out here, Leo?”
I sighed. “I ran away from home.”
His eyes widened. “You’re running away?”
I felt a drop of rain fall on me, and I stood up. “Oh, it’s going to start raining soon,” I said, avoiding his comment. I started to walk away, but I felt a tug on my pants. I looked down at Max.
“Leo… ” He let go of my pants to my relief. “So am I.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You, yourself, are going to rain? Who are you, Aquarius? Yeah right.”
“No,” he sighed. “I’m running away, too.”
“What.” My eyes went to the men’s purse he carried with him. “But your parents, they’re so nice, they get along so well. I don’t understand. Why?”
“They are getting a divorce!” He stood up and stared at me, his eyes on fire. “Dad’s cheated on Mom, Mom’s sick, and we are not sure she’ll live.” He started to cry. But I couldn’t feel sympathetic. The same thing had happened to me, and no one was there to say anything to me, to help me, no one to reassure me, no one to say…
He looked up at me, surprised I said anything. I plopped down beside him, raindrops falling onto the concrete. Drop drip, drop drip.
“We’ve had it pretty bad, haven’t we,” he whispered.
I looked away and nodded.
But I’ve had it much worse. Much, much worse. Don’t you forget.
Chapter Three: Out in the Real World
“Nghh.” I sat up, rubbed my eyes, and looked around. Where am I? Was it just a dream? Where is Max? Thoughts rushed through my head, so many questions I thought I wouldn’t be able to bear it! Footsteps, I heard footsteps. I stood up. I was in an… apartment.
“Oh, did I wake you, dearie?” An old woman stepped into the room. She was very small and had a long nose that looked like the spike of the knife. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be so loud.” She walked over to me and awkwardly patted my head and said, “Tee hee,” and walked out of the room.
I was flustered. Besides the fact I was in an apartment and why the woman patted my head, where in the world was Max?
Thousands of words swept through my brain as the sea swept the sand off the shore. I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t settle on what to ask. Should I just look around or should I ask where Max is.
I heard snoring, and I swirled behind me. I saw Max sleeping on a blow up mattress. I looked down and saw the same mattress under me. It was long, about three meters long. Come to think of it, I was not even sure if it was a mattress at all, more like a long layered yoga mat.
I sighed in relief of finding him and collapsed on my half of the mat. I hadn’t realized before how tired I actually was. It was nerve-racking. I felt my head get drowsy and sleepy and let myself fall into a waterfall of dreams, and how could I forget, some nightmares too.
Chapter Four: The Old Dumpling Lady
Max and I were sitting at a small table, aghast, as the woman put a buttload of food on the table. As I looked closer, I realized that all the food was Chinese food, dumplings and rice. It was like we walked into a free restaurant.
It was amazing. She gave us clothes to change into while saying, “I used to have a son and daughter who were once your age. They moved out a while ago. I kept these clothes for their children.” She walked me to the bathroom saying, “Ladies should always get to change first.” I felt like at any moment she was going to lock the door and keep on repeating that line until the day I die. I shivered at the thought.
After we changed, she gave us back our clothes and bags.
Outside the building, she handed us two one hundred dollar bills and two MetroCards.
“Wow, thank you,” I said, breathless. This lady had just given away 200 dollars to two strangers, I thought. Wow.
“Good luck,” she bid us farewell and walked back into the building.
I felt a hand touch my shoulder and turned around in surprise. I kicked Max in the shin. “Stop it, alright!” I yelled. He backed away. “I’m not going to help you. Just because we’ve been in similar situations, doesn’t mean that I’m the person you go to for reassurance!” I kicked down a trash can, feeling as if I was about to burst into flames. “I don’t need help. I’ve escaped from an orphanage before. I don’t need you to help me!” I handed him a MetroCard and a 100 dollar bill, and I start running.
“Where are you going?” he yelled to me.
“The subway!” I yelled.
“To where?” he yelled back.
“To Mission Bay, San Francisco.” I ran down the steps. “Or anywhere besides here!”
I swiped my card through and ran to the first sign saying to San Francisco. The train was there, and I jumped on it and found a seat. I knew that the ride would take all day, so I wasn’t that worried.
I looked out the window as the doors closed and saw Max running to the door, out of breath and panting. I was happy that he didn’t see me looking out the window. It would have broken my heart.
I took my iPad out of my bag and put on some headphones and started to hum a jolly tune. My plan had worked after all. I highly doubted I’d have to see that yellow room again, or the yellow house, or the yellow school bus, or the yellow school that the yellow room resided in. So much yellow in such little time.
Chapter Five: San Francisco
I looked outside, the city’s view flashing by my window. I was so excited. It was five minutes until we got there, and I would see my hometown again. It was an amazing feeling, one I hadn’t felt in a long time, not since I was ten. I couldn’t wait to see Mikey again.
Chapter Six: Away
I stepped off the train and ran to the harbor. I saw a small shop, and I ran to it, hoping to find the place I loved for the people inside were so nice. I stopped in front of the shop and read the sign. Peter’s Pizza Palace. I stepped back, confused.
“I excuse me, ma’am, are you lost?” a man asked me.
“This shop used to be Mikey’s drugstore, right?” I asked.
“Yessiree. Mikey moved away with his fiance four years ago, why’d ya ask?” the man questioned.
“Just wondering,” I said.
I look at the ground. Mikey moved? No more drug store? Fiance? I was so confused. Since when did Mikey have a romance with anyone.
My mind couldn’t get any sense out of it, so I just sat down on the dirty floor in a big city.
“How could I forget?” I whispered. “Mikey and Mr. Frank were in love. They told me they wanted to adopt a kid last time I was here.” I wanted to run away from this town. It held more bad memories than it did good. I wanted to…
“Leo!” I heard a voice call to me, and it was Max, running toward me, waving the MetroCard in his hand.
I stood up in surprise. “How?”
Before I could finish, he ran up to be and hugged me, but to his disappointment, I pushed him away. He was hopeless.
I spent the day showing him the city and walking around and getting candy. It was a nice day. We jumped onto the train and went back to Tahoe, with posters, merchandise, and anything we could get our hands on.
When we got back, we got grounded for a week, but it was worth it.
And the rest… I forget.