Deeper than Fathomless wrote a 55 Fiction piece - the goal being to write a story with only 55 words. She wrote about a teen running away called Left to be Found:
"My route ends here, Miss."
Joanna nodded and got off the bus.
One tear slid down her cheek.
Moments later, a driver stepped out of their car.
"Joanna!" the woman exclaimed. "Thank God I found you!"
"Don't ever do that again!"
"I'm sorry! I won't!"
She wrapped her arms around Joanna. "I'm sorry, too."
Deeper than Fathomless gave me permission to use her story as a writing prompt. The following is the result. (The opening line is hers too).
Left to Be Found (Dedicated to Deeper than Fathomless)
Have you ever thought of just picking up and leaving? I have dreamt of doing this my entire life, and I just wanted someone to come after me. I wanted us to hug and apologize; I wanted us to sit in a warm car, damp from the rain, listening to music (maybe Don McLean, the Beach Boys or Kind Harvest) as we drive home.
Okay, so it's a cheesy thought in a goofy romantic way and maybe it's even kind of stupid when you think about it. I mean, why should I be spending my entire life dreaming about leaving when I have a great home and a wonderful family? Maybe it's just the free spirit in me or being the youngest in my family and always wanting to be noticed and taken seriously. If I ran away somebody would have to come after me, right?
Being the "baby" (hello, I'm seventeen!) has always been annoyingly frustrating. I'm a prisoner of family memories – of the cute little girl saying silly things, of being watched after – the last one to achieve all the milestones – especially now that my brother Bill is graduating from high school. And my older sister Carly is getting married soon too. Oh, and my grandparents celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary the weekend after that. And then my parents have their wedding anniversary coming up – and Grandma turns 80 soon too.
Needless to say, the house is in chaos mode as all these events loom on the horizon. I'm the only one without some sort of activity to worry about or plan for so I've sort of fallen off the radar. I could walk into the kitchen for breakfast naked and nobody would notice – that's how invisible I've become.
So Cameron is a guy in my class who has taken notice of me lately. We flirt and blush and goof around and its fun but who has time to notice any of that around my house with all the other stuff going on? I want to tell Mom about Cameron but she's too distracted by everything to pay attention. Carly this and Bill that and Grandma this and blah blah blah. Gag with me a spoon!
"Oh, that's nice, Joanna," I can just hear my mother saying, patting my head in a condescending placating kind of way if I even mentioned the possibility of maybe I was about to have a new boyfriend – as if I was talking about getting a new puppy or something stupid like that.
I know I should be happy for Carly and Bill and my grandparents and everything – and I am deep down – but on the surface I can't help but feel offended resentment that I have to be the forgotten unimportant one during all this excitement for everybody else. Maybe I'm being oversensitive or spoiled and bratty – but I don't care. I have a life too and it would be nice if others would realize it once in a while.
The house is a mess. Bill's having his graduation party here and Carly's having her wedding and reception there so Mom's having rooms cleaned and painted and the backyard looks like a football stadium is being built out there. The bridal party is over all the time for dress fittings and planning and all the rest of it. Dad is 'getting to know' his future son in law by golfing with him almost every day and my parents are having dinner with the soon-to-be new in-laws just about every weekend. Also, my mom is trying to find a cruise for my grandparents' wedding anniversary so there are brochures all over the place. I can't even bring my friends home anymore.
We live in a nice house in the Hilltop section of Hillsboro. It's a huge Victorian with a wraparound front porch, neat circular windows, second floor balconies and a circle spiral in the front of the house (I called it the tower when I was a kid). The house is painted pink (not my first choice!) so it stands out. The house is big enough to get lost in. I inherited Carly's room when she moved out – it's a huge space on the second floor overlooking the backyard with a small boxed balcony outside the window (no door though, so I literally have to climb out the window to sit on the balcony! I like to go out there and I read sometimes).
My parents were kind enough to get me a car when I got my license (exactly on my 16th and a half birthday!) so I'm fairly independent in that way – but it's not as if I can drive all over the place with unlimited freedom. I still have curfews and expectations and as much as I would sometimes like to get in the car and drive forever, I usually show up when and where I'm supposed to.
I came home from school to the usual pandemonium that is our family life these days – my mom was explaining to one of the painting guys the color she wanted for the front foray (some sort of ugly purple!) so I escaped to my room, turned on my music, and fell onto my bed to think about Cameron.
My friends (Nancy, Willow, and Barbie – my three amigos) – think I come from a perfect family – but, hell, does anybody really come from a perfect family!? Don't' get me wrong – I'd take mine over the Kardashians or any of those other reality TV bozos any day of the week – but my parents can be distracted and clueless. Carly is Little Miss Princess who would like people to think she never goes to the bathroom and Bill is the popular lady's man Super Athlete at school but he's still the guy who still picks his nose and farts in front of everybody at home.
As I tell the amigos, "My family isn't perfect – they just think they are!"
My family is well off so we can afford to deal with most issues that come up. My parents have certain expectations that can be frustrating (good grades, good behavior, honoring the family reputation by not doing anything embarrassing in public – that sort of stuff). Most people like us. Hell, I like us! My mom has always been around for us even as a career woman. She brought us to dance class, little league, soccer and whatever else we were involved in growing up. Now we have our own cars and ATM cards ("We trust you, Joanna," is my Mom's continuous catch phrase – make me feel guilty much!?).
We are members of the County Club. My dad sits on all sorts of boards and belongs to various clubs and organizations. My mother helps with the town elections Friends can stay over whenever things are tough at home. Maybe we come across as a little snobby and marvelous – oh well.
So, you're probably wondering what my major malfunction is complaining about my near perfect family and fantasizing about running away. Don't I know how good I have it? Don't I realize how lucky I am? Don't I understand how really miserable other kids and families are? Yes, of course I do. Sorry for being human. Sorry for having feelings. Sorry for having my own reality. Can't I just have the freedom to whine a little bit?
Cameron likes me and nobody notices! Or cares! It's like being invisible. I'm seriously considering showing up for breakfast naked just to see if anybody notices! Or maybe I'll run away instead – just to see how long it would take to be missed.
Anyway, Cameron. That's who I should be thinking about – not my pretend perfect family! I'm around them all the time anyway. It's only been lately that Cameron's been paying special attention to me. He has a great smile and he makes me smile.
Okay, the truth is we really have nothing in common. Cameron doesn't take school very seriously. I'm not even sure if he's passing his classes. He's not the smartest guy I've ever met so there's not a lot of educational discussion between us! He plays the guitar and he's into weird music - stuff I never listen to. He dresses in black. His hair is long and messy (and it's streaked with purple). He has a nose ring and an eyebrow earring.
I know what you're thinking - I'm attracted to him just to get a rise out of my parents and maybe there's something to that. But I also find myself laughing when I'm around him so that can't be a bad thing, right?
It was my amigo Nancy who pointed out the obvious when I was complaining about nobody knowing or caring about me and Cameron.
"Bring him home," she advised.