It was a really nice day, the one when I broke free. I took off the uniform and got rid of my braids and then I went out and I wasn't a cheerleader anymore. I was ready to steal the stars and make myself a crown out of it. I was ready for the world, and the sky. I had no map or money but I had the wind and a pretty smile and I thought maybe that was enough to win everything.
And it was. And it wasn't.
You know, when you run away with nothing but a pair of white converse to lead you, you better watch every step you take. There's nothing I can really tell you yet. You're going to have to find out on your own, the way I did.
Somebody once told me that life is a dream and you are supposed to make it a nice one and then wake up. I am not yet sure what waking up is but I am pretty sure I did wake up once and I remember that it made me cry a lot.
PS. I don't regret a thing.
PPS. Tears are good, too. But, please, save them for when they mean a thing. Save them for later and now smile.
Fall in love.
Soon, you are going to wake up.
You are going to cry soon.
I threw my uniform into trash and I lit it up. It felt nice, watching it burn. Like I was burning my old skin and dressing myself into a brand new one. Like I was breaking away.
I glanced at the burning bin for the very last time and then turned around. The wind kissed my face. That was the moment when I knew that I wasn't going to be alone anymore. (I was, though. Pretty soon.)
I felt like I had all time of the world but my watch was still ticking and my bus was still about to leave. I hurried. I got inside. I owned no ticket and barely had money to survive a week. Yet I was just so damn calm, like I could actually get by just upon a pretty smile.
That's one thing I guess you just need to know: I was vain. I just was, there's no point in arguing about that. The day I broke free I was still a cheerleader and a queen bee and I still thought I owned the world.
PS. I didn't.
Ever since I was a little girl, my favorite thing about every journey was pressing my head against the window and watching the landscapes pass by. Even though the houses never changed, even though the grass was just about the same shade of green wherever in the world I would be, even though it was totally clique and everyone did that, too. I couldn't help adoring that little pleasure of being around people and yet completely alone with my own thoughts. I felt safe. I had never felt safe back where I was escaping from.
I put my earphones in and kept my eyes wide open. As everything kept passing by, something in me started to rebel. I shouldn't had ran away. This was such a stupid idea and they were going to find out soon enough and then look after me. But then again, I couldn't exactly stay there either. Boarding schools had no point. Besides, I liked the idea of the looks on everybody's faces when they'd find out I was gone. Only Melanie knew the truth. I hoped all of the years of rehearses and school theatre bullshit would pay off and that she'd make a nice show out of my runaway. It had only been like five hours since our last talk and I missed her already. All I wanted was to call her. I promised her not to, though.
"Don't call me," she said. "The first thing they'll do when they find out will be checking my phone, so just don't. Promise me?"
"I don't believe you."
Then she took my phone and she deleted all of my contacts, one by one. She looked at me, her green eyes almost burning with tears and she kissed both of my cheeks.
"You're a big girl now. You're gonna be okay."
"I love you, Mel."
"I love you, Fee."
I wanted to both laugh and cry at once. Laugh, because it was child's play, this silly plan of mine. And cry because no one would ever call me Fee again.
Mel was right, though. I was a big girl from now on.
I took one last look at my room. I'd lie to say that I had never had fun in here. I'd had lots of fun. There was still a hole in the carpet that we had burnt while trying to call out ghosts on our first year and the window was a little bit cracked since I had climbed there and broke drunk into the room after all night of partying in the town. I swallowed all the nostalgia and walked out.
And here I was, those five hours later, at the verge of tears because maybe I was a big girl but I still was alone and it was too late to turn back and I felt like a coward. What I was even going to do if nothing worked out? What, would I become a whore or a stripper? Dear God, I had no idea about pole dance. I had only tried it once and though I'd managed to get Darren Smith's attention, I highly doubted I could make it for a living this way.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
I was fucked and I really needed to pee.
They said that in Skins once. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. Maybe they were right. Maybe I could just travel until I was dead and maybe there was no finish line. Maybe I could just never get out of this bus. Maybe it would just drive on and on forever.
The first stop was in some hole in the middle of nowhere. The gas station looked quite gloomy and the sky was oddly gray above. I checked my phone while waiting for my turn to the toilet. I had no idea why I was doing this. This was pointless, absolutely pointless.
Irritated, I took the SIM out of my mobile and I threw it away. I watched it disappear in this sad shitload of bloody pads and tampons and god knows what else and all I could think of was that ladies' restrooms were absolutely terrible. I promised myself this was the last time I had ever used one of them. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to only visit men' ones. But then at the other hand, some perverted dickhead could've thought that maybe I was a whore searching for occasion and then brutally rape me or something.
Ew. A bad idea. Peeing was a bad idea.
How come they never peed in movies or books?
Just before getting on my bus again, I bought myself some coffee. To be honest, I hated coffee. I was desperate for love, though, and drinking coffee was a little bit like falling in love. It gave you the power to keep your eyes open and then left you with a bitter aftertaste.
Mel was a coffee lover. She couldn't function without a cup each morning and she always smelt like it and I would always groan about how she stunk but in reality, I grew to adore this smell in the way that some people adore the scent of their home. There was something so familiar to it.
Wanna know something about me? I absolutely love Melanie Lynch. She's my full time bestie ever since we met in the very first grade of boarding school. The first day I saw her, I knew I was going to be her friend. That's how it is, I guess. Sometimes you just meet someone, and maybe it's about their voice, or maybe it's the way their eyes sparkle in the sun, or maybe there is just no reason at all, but you just know that you are meant for them.
Some guy started walking around, checking our tickets. At the sight of me, he narrowed his eyes, like I had the word RUNAWAY tattooed on my forehead.
"So LA, sweetie?"
I looked at him, surprised. I swallowed, dressing my voice up in some strength.
"That's what's written on the ticket, isn't it?"
"Ya travellin' completely on your own?"
"It's none of your business," I snorted out. I felt irritated.
"Perhaps it's your daddy's."
He let out a laugh and shook his head, as if it was the funniest conversation on earth. I felt the burning urge to tell him to fuck off but I didn't want to get kicked out. I was desperate to get to LA.
What else you should now: my older brother lived in LA. He was a rebel kind of guy, you know. He ran away from our rich doc family only to live alone with his girlfriend and work on a gas station, and have no money at all. He was everything that I thought freedom was and I wanted to live with him, even though I had no idea if he even remembered me.
"You seem quite cocky," the guy went on. I hated the way he talked to me, like he was some sick sort of alpha male and I was a girl just waiting for his attention. Not to sound narcissistic or whatever, but I still felt way too pretty to be hit on by this piece of ginger shit.
"Screw you," I said, annoyed.
I was just about to slap him, when the actual driver approached and grabbed his shoulder.
"What is this, Jake? You're not here to flirt with girls, for fuck's sake—"
Jake's smile dropped and mine lit up my face again. I watched the driver pull him forward to check other tickets. He must had been his son. They had their hair exactly the same shade of ginger and were just as skinny.
I reached my backpack and put my notebook out of it. I used to have this one where I'd always write my best thoughts or best quotes that came out of people's mouth during whole day. It was quite messy and some things made no sense but I always found myself a little bit attracted to words. I'd always fall easily for them. I was also caught into an eternal struggle of finding a boy—a man rather—who'd know how to speak. Let's be honest—if a guy wasn't good with words, he wasn't probably good with anything.
I always found that annoying about all those boys around me. Their talk was usually cheap and the compliments just awful (oh, Faye, …. [insert whatever you like] is beautiful but not nearly as beautiful as you!). Seriously? Who on earth would have ever gone for that? To say nothing about sex talks that were always rather turning off.
I was born in wrong generation, I had decided once after breaking up with Jared Voyd. What frightened me the most was that after all this time I still couldn't find myself in this era of raised on cheap porn teenage boys with empty heads and thoughtless minds. I wanted more and more, and there was this old song where the lyrics went like girl, you'll be a woman soon/soon, you'll need a man and I couldn't remember who sang that but I always found that quite relatable.
Anyway, I reached out that notebook and a pen and just when I was about to write something down, I heard a voice.
"Excuse me?" It said and I looked up to realize that it belonged to a child. The girl standing right in front of me had two blonde plaits and wore a violet dress that brought out sparkles out of her dark brown eyes. She reminded me of someone and I just couldn't figure that particular person. The girl was so petite and beautiful that I was shocked seeing her in this godforsaken bus all by herself.
"What's up, sweetie? Do you want to sit here?"
She nodded and I grabbed my hoodie and put it on my lap.
I tried not to stare but failed. She stared back, her brown eyes challenging my own. Her face was blank, emotionless, as if she was really bored. She reminded me of a statue, a stone and this wasn't what children usually reminded you of.
"Where are you going?" She asked after an eternity of silence. I looked down, now studying my own palms. I bit my lip.
"I don't know."
That was that bus's destination. That was where my brother lived. That was were those roads would eventually lead me. That was where I was going to end up but I had no idea if that was also where I was going. No idea at all.
"I'm going to Los Angeles, you know?"
I took a deep breath. I hated children.
"My older brother lives there. If he lives at all."
"He used to, for sure."
So did mine, so did mine, so did mine.
"He never looked for me. Never called me. I don't know who he is anymore but I know that he ran away and that I am his sister and I know I can do the same."
"You're too young for that. You should go home."
"I don't have one."
I looked at her.
"Yes, you do," I said. "Everyone does. Even I do."
She smiled sadly, her eyes so big and shiny, almost too cartoon for a human being. When she spoke, her voice didn't belong to a child anymore.
"No, you don't. You are cold, so cold. They say that home is where your heart is, now don't they? I guess then you can't find a home until you find your heart, now can you?"
When I opened my eyes, I could barely breathe. Some woman sitting in the opposite row looked at me alarmed. I faked a smile, ran a hand through my hair and tried to calm down.
It hadn't really been a nightmare but there had been something so realistic about that dream. That girl who I'd been talking to, she'd looked exactly as I had as a child. And the quote she had quoted? It had almost sounded like music.
I reached out my notebook, this time for real, and I wrote down the words until I still remembered them. They say that home is where your heart is, now don't they? I guess then you can't find a home until you find your heart, now can you? They say that home is where your heart is, now don't they? I guess then you can't find a home until you find your heart, now can you?
It was just a stupid dream, I told myself. I knew very little about physics but I did know that universe didn't send people crazy messages. And even if it did, you had to be super brilliant to figured it out and in that moment, I wasn't brilliant. I was just lost. And kind of bored, I guess.