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©2019 by Brittany Tarkington

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The Autumn Leaf (Chapter One)

Chapter One

AUTUMN

It was a great day to become a teenage runway. As a trailer park resident, the statistics were believable. The police would look around locally; they may even throw up some flyers for good measure. It would end shortly, and they would assure my father that this was normal and that I would come back. I’d seen it happen, but he knew differently.

Where is it? Panic punched through me as I searched my room.

I ripped a drawer open, frantically. My anxiety was out to play, and she was an ugly bitch. He knew. He had to know. Why did I come back here? It was a trap. Twirling around the room, I brought my hands to my head. Unvoiced screams bottled in my lungs.

“WHERE IS IT?” I demanded. Only this time, I heard movement. I actually said it. Crouching down like an animal ready to attack, I waited.

Sunlight bathed through the cracked, broken blinds and my safe gleamed brilliantly. Of course. I crept over and twisted the combination. There it was, peaking at me under the silver revolver. I grabbed the picture, shoving it into my back pocket, and hesitated.

I didn’t know who I was when I bought the pistol. I wasn’t a violent person. My fight or flight instinct had kicked in the day I went underground and purchased the numberless gun. I closed the safe, securing it before I left. I had no need for it now. No one would hurt me again. I wouldn’t allow it.

“Autumn,” he slurred.

I tensed. Every fiber of my being revolted as I thought of him getting in the way of this. I threw my backpack on, only looking back to see that the door was locked. I opened the window, climbed on top of my table and vaulted myself from the musty room.

I ran. I didn’t even stop when I reached the edge of the woods. I kept on, branches slapping me in my face; twigs threatening my feet. I ran past my hiding place where I went as a child. When I was eight years old, I watched Forrest Gump with my brother. My parents had left us alone for the night, and it was the only thing we had.

After the movie, I found a meadow. I didn’t know who God was, and he didn’t turn Jenny into a bird, but I got on my knees and asked him to. After three times without anything happening, I gave up on the whole idea; although, I still hid in the meadow after that day. But I never flew off as a bird.

I busted through the forest on the opposite side of town. Looking at the busy road, I decided to keep walking by the tree line. My heart was pounding in my chest, but I tried to look as calm as possible. I didn’t want anyone to see a frantic girl, running beside the road. The last thing I ever needed is to be taken back to that place again.

Thunder clapped above me, I looked up, seeing the distant rain clouds. I could make it to the bus station before I hit. I picked up my pace, crunching on the dead leaves below me, spotting red ones in the mix.

When I was a girl, there were some happy times. My mother told me on the first day of fall, she had a dream about a girl with hair the color of autumn leaves. She was strong and confident. She believed it was a premonition telling her everything would be okay. I became her Autumn. Though the leaves fall, I will rise.

I wasn’t superstitious. I didn’t believe in anything. Hell, I didn’t even believe in myself most days, but something about my fierce red hair and the season I was born, made me want to believe that I was destined to be more than I was born into.

I saw the familiar building ahead. I had passed by it too many times to count, wondering when I would finally buy a one way ticket out of here. The parking lot was peppered with cars and buses. Just as I opened the door, the bottom fell out of the sky.

The sky was crying in August, a rare occurrence in Texas. The bus station was quiet, but honestly, no one uses the bus anymore. My torn backpack was glued to my feet, filled with thrift store finds. My purse was slung over my shoulder, secured to my side. The only content was a ticket and a wad of cash that would earn me a degree far, far away.

I left it all behind. I didn’t know what lengths those around me would go to in order to keep tabs on me. Somewhere deep down, past the paranoia, I don’t think anyone cares to find me. My past will be angry, but time heals all wounds. After awhile, I will have never existed to them. Just a faint memory of the girl who used to be.

I will always carry them in my scars, my tears I shed behind closed doors; my whole being. But one day, I’ll be someone else. Today, I’m Autumn Miller, teenage runaway. In three days, when I climb off my last bus, I’ll be Autumn Miller, college student, and resident of Seattle, Washington. The girl who left her monsters behind.

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