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My mom’s a meanie. My brother Christopher called me dumb, so I pushed him over. Somehow, she concluded that I should get in trouble. She wouldn’t let me have dessert that night at supper, so I stormed to my room and slammed the door. It was totally unfair.
Before I closed off, I made sure that my mom would hurt internally. I shouted, “I’m not gonna come out for one hundred years!” That sounded pretty good to me. Her conscious would eat her soul until she apologized.
I sat in my room fuming for hours. Finally, my mom knocked on the door.
“Grandma’s here, and she wants to talk to you,” she said in a patronizing tone.
I wasn’t a little kid. I knew that she was just trying to make me feel better.
“Well, I don’t want to talk to her.” I snapped. My grandma had done nothing wrong; she was just collateral. I was sorry that she had to be caught in the middle of this conflict, but it had to be done.
The sun dipped below the horizon and darkness fell. My mind buzzed with anger and regret. It didn’t take long for me to detest my decision to not talk to my grandma. I loved chatting with her and to turn down a conversation just for leverage in this feud with my mother was simply a waste.
Maybe I can still talk to her, I thought. I had heard her leave, but not much time had passed since then. She might still be in her car. It seemed like a long shot, but it was a risk I was willing to take. My bedtime had passed long ago, but one must be willing to defy in order to beat the system.
I threw on a pair of warm wool socks and grabbed my most important possession—my yellow blanket. It was a tattered piece of banana-colored cloth that had been mine for as long as I could remember. It’s time to go.
I meticulously opened my bedroom door. Peering through the tiny crack, I scanned the outside. I had a simple route. I would exit my room and creep down the hallway. This should go by without issue. I would have to pass by my parents’ room, but from my understanding, their bedtime wasn’t until much later in the evening. They should still be active.
Next, I would enter the living room. This was the most difficult area. My parents were most likely in there. I would have to sneak through with relatively no cover. I could use the couches to hide behind, but they weren’t large enough to conceal me all of the way through the enemy territory. I would have to be fast.
Finally, I could find my way to the door by traveling through the kitchen and the laundry room, which were connected and out to sight from the living room. As long as I could open the door quietly, I would be fine.
I sucked in a deep breath and held it. This is it, I thought. I could feel the tension as I worked my door the rest of the way. The soft creak of the hinges echoed in my head. I created an opening just big enough for my five-year-old body to squeeze through. Exhaling, I stepped into the open.
The hallway felt 100 miles long. I could hear the TV up ahead as I tip-toed over the coarse carpet. The living room loomed before me, and only got bigger as I approached. Finally, after an eternity, I arrived.
Peaking around the corner, I gazed into the room. Sure enough, my mom and dad were sitting on the far couch watching the Television. They were on the opposite end of the area and could easily spot me if they looked in my vicinity. I would have to charge for the other couch as quickly as I could to duck behind it before they noticed me.
Setting up on the floor like an Olympic runner, I prepared to launch. Three. Two. One. Now! I rocketed as quickly as a bullet toward my target. My parents were engrossed in their show and didn’t even spare me a glance. I moved to the far the edge of the love seat that I had made my cover.
I was easily ten feet from my wardens, and I still had one more push to make before I could get to the kitchen. The sofa that had kept me concealed was at a 90-degree angle to the one my parents were camped out on. The kitchen was directly in front of me. I would have to run through the peripheral vision of my dad to make it there.
“Here goes nothing,” I murmured as I got ready. Just like my previous experience, I counted off and bolted. It went off without a hitch. It’s smooth sailing from here, I thought. I could smell my freedom.
Traveling through the kitchen, I made it to the laundry room. The gate to liberty stood before me. My grandma had to be through that door. Darkness filled the room. I had only enough light to navigate over the piles of footwear. Looking around, my shoes were nowhere in sight. I must have left them at the back door. That’s okay, I told myself. A true adventurer doesn’t require common comforts like shoes.
Relief filled me as the door slipped ajar without the slightest disturbance to the silence that filled the room. A crisp spring breeze ruffled my hair. Moving my foot cautiously forward, I stepped over the line.
I could see the driveway in front of me. It was illuminated by the pale glow of a half-moon and complemented by the shine of a billion stars. For a brief moment, I was frozen in awe, but the wonderment quickly died. It had been murdered by the feeling of hopelessness that accompanied my epiphany that my grandma’s car was gone. She might be at the end of the driveway, I concluded.
Determination filled me as I set off.
The black asphalt was damp and rough on my woolen-covered feet. It didn’t take long for my socks to be torn and soaked by the unfamiliar terrain. Pebbles would jam themselves into my toes and send streaks of pain up my legs. I wish I would have worn shoes, but I still pushed onward. If I could just reach the end, I would see my grandma.
Time began to blend. This land that I had traveled over so many times before seemed to stretch on and on, with no end in sight. I tripped. I’m not sure how, but I remember the ground racing towards me. I didn’t even feel the pain. Fatigue filled my body. All I wanted to do was go to sleep.
I rolled over onto my back and stared at the starry heavens. I should turn around, I told myself, I should quit. Ready to give up, I turned to my side. Then, from nowhere, my will kicked me. No, it scolded, you’re not going to quit.
I nodded with a fresh feeling of motivation as I forced myself to my feet. The end of the driveway was near. I can do this.
Again, I marched. One foot after another. It was so close. I could smell her peanut butter cookies. The sounds of my family filled the air as I saw a Sunday lunch at my grandma’s house.
With one final step, I reached my destination.
“Grandma?” I called, with no answer.
Dread rose through my bones as I realized my mistake. Of course she wasn’t going to be there. I had just hoped for nothing. I sighed and headed back home. Oh well, I thought, my mom isn’t that bad.