She was almost 19 and it was time to leave and make her own way in the world. She lay in her bed, anxiously going over her plan and wishing she could see her watch in the dark. As the house creaked and bedsprings squeeked, she waited. She didn’t dare make her move before she was sure her siblings and parents were sound asleep.
After years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather, she had finally found the courage to get away from him. At first she had contemplated escape through suicide—oh, how she longed to escape—but she didn’t have the courage to cut her veins. He took blood pressure medicine but if she took more than two pills out each month, he would notice; and there was no guarantee they would do the job. As much as she hated the pain it would cause her mother (she doubted her siblings would care), running away felt like her only option. If she failed in getting away, the punishment would be severe; if she failed to get away this time, she would never have freedom.
When she finally felt it was safe, she slowly, and as quietly as possible, climbed from her bed and crept to the bedroom closet, where she had tucked away money in the pocket of a small suitcase for months, praying it wouldn’t be discovered (her siblings were nosy little brats!) before she was ready to leave. In addition to the money, the small case held a copy of “The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe”, given to her by her mother two Christmases past, two changes of clothes and undergarments, her favorite pair of “chicken” earrings, a small flashlight, and a map. She knew she really needed more money to insure her escape, but her instincts told her that now, in the quiet of a summer night, was the time to leave.
Her heart was pounding so loudly she was sure it could be heard like the tell-tale heart in the story by Edgar Allan Poe. Step by painfully slow step, freezing in place and holding her breath at every creak of a floorboard or the groan of a bedspring, she crept from her bedroom at the back of the house to the front door. It seemed like an hour before she finally reached the front door. But she wasn’t safe yet.
Holding her breath one more time, she carefully turned the doorknob and inched the door open far enough to slip through and closed it quietly. She was careful not to let the screen door slam, then haltingly crossed the wooden front porch and walked towards the road. Now that she was out of the house she started trembling, whether from anxiety, relief or fear that someone would wake up and sound the alarm before she could get far enough away that he wouldn’t be able to find her. It was a beautiful, clear night and as she stepped on to the road, she took a long, deep breath of the clean country air. She risked a moment to stand still and listen to the sounds of the night and look at the stars.
With a backwards glance, a slight hesitation, she strengthened her resolve and started walking down the road, kicking up dust with every step. When dogs started barking and howling, she almost lost her nerve out of fear they were really coyotes. Could she really do this? She shuddered at the thought of what waited for her if she returned to his house and knew the only answer was to keep moving forward. With only the moon to light her way she continued walking. It was a long way to the main road.
TO BE CONTINUED . . . . . .in Part Two