We were being tailed by the police.

They probably decided to follow our car the moment mom and I pulled out of the police station. Especially after mom and Mrs Graves, got into an argument over bail.

"Luanne is not a thief!" Mom had raged at Mrs Graves, aiming a pointed finger into the woman's chest.

"Well it's not my girl's fault!" Mrs Graves raved back as she tugged her daughter, my best friend Jessica, closer into her body as though trying to physically shield her from the accusation.

It wasn't until I tugged on mom's sleeve, (my urgent whispered reminder letting her know the CCTV camera's now focused on us), that she began to calm. As soon as mom remembered camera's were watching – the way the governments network of camera's everywhere were always watching — she grabbed my hand dragging me out of the station, as she left a still ranting Mrs Graves behind.

Guilt clawed at me as we made the long drive home. As we left the station mom made a point of telling me that she'd used up what little gas rations our family had left, to come pick me up from jail.

Mom checked the rear view mirror, casting a nervous glance back at the car shadowing us. "Why Luanne". My mothers anger had long since drained away, her voice strained. The tired expression on her face made me feel even worse, and for a moment I preferred when my mother was shouting.

"I dunno". I shrugged folding my arms tighter. I tried to drop further down into the passenger seat, eyes glued to the floor. For a second I glanced into the side-view mirror. The black car behind us kept its steady distance.

"You must know why you broke in". I resisted the impulse to answer, shifting uncomfortably. "Why on earth would you and Jessica break into a gas station?" Mom huffed with irritation. "When I got the phone call I said, 'no Officer Richards' ". My mom comically mimicked herself, "No way would my little girl be responsible for a break-in". She turned to face me, pinning me with a stern look. "Was it Jessica? Did she make you do this?"

My gaze stayed drilled to the floor. "No", I mumbled, "It was my idea".

My mother fell silent. After a few long moments, just as I'd begun to relax in the subdued hush of the car, she spoke her voice sharp. "Luanne. I need you to be honest with me." I raised my eyes to find mom's worried ones trained on me.

"The hospital needs more gas for the generator". I dropped my eyes back down to the floor. "Jess and me heard you talking before, about how the hospital would have to close". Our small town's only hospital, where my mother worked as a doctor, survived on little besides local townspeople's gas donations.

Ever since the government made it illegal to buy or stash away oil, (forcing everyone on to gas rations a couple of years ago), nothing seemed to work anymore. Yet somehow those big city government buildings never had a blackout, or went without heating, or ran out of gas to travel around in their big fancy cars.

I figured they wouldn't notice if a couple canisters of gas went missing. "I was just trying to help".


Writers Digest Prompt : You are 16 years old and you and your friends have just been caught breaking into the local gas station. After your parents post your bail, you must explain why you did it, since this is not something you would usually do. What your parents—and others—don't realize is that you did it for heroic reasons.

Authors Note :: This story was difficult for me in terms of trying to find my characters voice. I think the inner voice of the character sounds too mature for a 16-year-old, but sounds about right maybe for a girl living in a dystopian type future. However that world isn't fleshed out enough in this story. If I had a bigger word limit, I'd expand on the story to show why the character has had to mature quickly.