Two runaway teens struggle to make it together on the streets, facing obstacles and adventures. They go from city to city with the constant fear of being brought in by the police.
Feeling frustrated and alone, Christy, a restless young teen, strikes out on her own. Fleeing a town and family she can't seem to fit into. Christy hitch-hikes to Denver to hide out at her uncles' house. A short lived freedom when in the middle of the night her parents arrive to drag her back home. Despite their efforts, she barely escapes by hopping a train in the dark.
Fate lands Christy in the arms of a boy named Bon, another runaway. She introduces herself to him as Echo, and soon a romance buds between them. Determined not to return to their previous lives, they head for the coast, getting by however they can. Pan handling, hitching on the open highways and enduring every conflict and adventure together.
After years the two runaways realize that sometimes life is about making hard choices. Bon and Echo vow that they will find each other again one day-but only time will tell what fate has in store for them.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.38(d)|
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By Patricia Runyon
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Patricia Runyon
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Chris!" A female voice cut through the stillness.
I was ripped from a comatose sleep in a panic. It wasn't a fire or family brawl—it was worse. It was Wednesday, and I had to get ready for school. I allowed my pulse to return to normal while I lay there and wondered about my mother. Can you believe that woman used to sing me awake?
"I'm up!" I called as loud as my sleepy vocal cords would permit. I pulled off my torn blankets and readied myself for a more vertical pose, but every muscle failed me. I just lay there. I kept my eyes closed, refusing to let reality in.
My mother was chemically depressed, among other things. A psychiatric oddity who smoked cheap ultra-light cigarettes, she was just your average barrel of dysfunctional monkeys all on her own. I could've elaborated on that subject at some length, but I was anticipating the inevitable.
Ah, there it was.
"Yeah, okay, I'm getting there," I said, pushing my legs off the bed to rest my feet on the floor. My name wasn't really Chris, it was Christy, but you couldn't tell I was a girl by looking at me. To my shame I was going through puberty. I hid it desperately by dressing like a boy, hence everyone called me Chris. The other girls my age were, in my opinion, excessively excited about developing boobs. I thought mammary glands were overrated and a stupid thing to obsess over. They would be practical, but I didn't understand the intrigue.
I picked out an outfit that left all flesh to the imagination and stumbled into the hall.
"See, I'm up," I said to my mother in the kitchen before entering the yellow cubical bathroom. I closed the door, and to my horror found myself looking right back in the mirror. "God, I wish I hadn't gotten all the shitty recessive genes." I turned my back to the mirror and began to brush my teeth.
I lived in Canon City, Colorado, a growing town of drunks and Holy Rollers. The majority of the population was incarcerated in the neighboring correctional facilities.
I rinsed my toothbrush and then washed my face. There was a sudden drumming on the door.
"What?" I yelled, quickly getting dressed.
"Get out! I gotta pee!" my older brother David whined from the hall.
David was seventeen and took after my father, with dark hair and eyes, a little short but good-looking. He had a new girlfriend at least every three months, and my mother was always giving him safe-sex lectures. My brother was a genius. I knew this because everyone told me about it and then, in soft, concerned voices, asked me how I was doing in school. I had to tell them that I thought I was passing, maybe. David was a cocky jerk, and for the most part, I didn't like him. Was I jealous? Probably.
When I opened the door, David rushed in, threw me out, and slammed the door.
"Christ!" I exclaimed as I struggled to find my balance. "What a freak!" I stood there for a moment, kicked the door, and moved into the bedroom I shared with both my siblings.
Brittany was still sleeping soundly when I entered. I loudly shoved my school books into my black backpack and fought with the broken zipper. Brittany was seven and took after my mother, with delicate blond curls, baby-blue eyes, pale skin, and soft features. She looked like a porcelain doll and acted accordingly, as if she were in a Hollywood horror movie. She was more manipulative than a big-breasted gold digger. Did I mention she was also a genius? I must have been left on the doorstep as a baby.
"Get up!" I said, pulling her blanket off.
She just growled and pulled it back up over her head. "Leave me alone, transvestite!"
I laughed, shrugging off her hearsay insult, but knowing it wasn't far from the truth. I wasn't a lesbian; I just hated myself, although my parents' suspicion concerning my sexual preference had saved me from being included in safe-sex lectures. I had short, medium-brown hair, eyes that wouldn't pick a color, and I weighed more than I should. I wasn't naturally disposed to getting the grade. I had to work to get that C-plus, and at the ripe age of thirteen, I had no hope of achieving prom queen.
Aside from my overly publicized faults (thank you, family), I did have some things they didn't. I could write. My world in ink set me apart from the rest of my family, and I prided myself on that. I could draw and paint too. What I lacked in social expectation I made up for with creativity.
I walked into the living room and sat on the outdated, brown couch next to my dad. The morning news was on the box in front of us. Through the hollow cheer of the TV anchors, my father asked, "Did you get your homework done?" in his demeaning manner designed just for me.
"Yeah," I replied, half lying.
"Dan, don't forget to take out the trash again!" my mother's disembodied voice hollered from somewhere in the house.
"I told you already that I will get it when I leave for work!" my dad yelled back impatiently.
My parents fought constantly. They would pick at each other, explode, and break the furniture. I often listened in amazement. That's what it'll be like to be grown up? I thought. I rehearsed with my stuffed bear for the retarded arguments I'd save for when I was grown. In the meantime, I'd amuse myself by accusing Mr. Bear of leaving the toilet seat up. I always felt like I should break something just to get the full experience of it all.
Looking at the clock, I decided to leave for school a half hour early. I stood up, threw my bag over my shoulder, and headed for the front door.
"You're not eating breakfast?" inquired my father.
"I'm not hungry."
"Going on a diet?" he said with a sincere and hopeful smile.
"No," I whispered and slipped out the door. Unconditional love plays no part in my screwed-up family, I thought as the wish to self-destruct took over. I got enough shit for being fat at school; I didn't need it from my family too.
I walked the downtown alleyways, hiding from the street sweeper and the cars of the working dead. I tried to convince myself I could be invisible as a virus, a game I continued until I was sure I'd be late for class.
"Bon, are you even listening to me?" called a loud, stern voice.
"What?" I yelled, violently yanked from a deep sleep, unaware of where I was or what I was doing there.
"I asked if you were listening."
"Yeah, every word." It was my shrink, and I was in her creepy office with floral-printed wallpaper.
"You've run away from home three times in the past two years," she said, as though it were news to me.
"So?" I rolled my eyes.
"Why would a smart boy like you be so stupid? You have a wonderful family and a promising future."
"Because it's what all the cool kids were doing at the time. Now they're stealing cars," I said trying to sound as confused as possible. "I just want people to like me."
She sighed and sat back in her chair. I was proud. She would get fed up with my bullshit and refuse to see me, just like the other shrink. Victory was mine. I didn't need help. It wasn't me; it was my fucking family.
I stared at the ceiling, trying my best to keep my eyes from drooping. I could see her intent, frustrated gaze from the corner of my eye. I felt a halfhearted pity for her; she was older than her age and was rushing for her grave. Premature wrinkles and early gray veiled her otherwise average appearance.
"You are wasting both of our time. Get serious or leave," she announced as she stood up. There were still thirty minutes before the session was supposed to be over. I stood up from the pink couch I was trying to fall asleep on.
"I'll just leave." I hated the whole building. It was three stories of nothing but shrinks and a lobby. I was dumbfounded and relieved at the fact I got to leave a half hour early. I smiled and walked out the door.
I wasn't really trying to gain popularity by running away. It was simple. My family was boring, and I didn't belong. I dreamed of more than what my family deemed "practical." My father was part of the hardworking middle class. My stepmother was a Martha Stewart wannabe, and my stepbrothers were high school football stars. I truly believed I had somehow become trapped in a sixties family sitcom—"Honey, I'm home." It creeped me out.
I walked through the lobby and out the front doors to behold the ninety-seven-degree city of Phoenix in springtime. Not a tough decision. I wasn't going to wait for my stepmother to pick me up. My parents had already decided that there was something "deeply troubling me." It was their conclusion that was my scapegoat. I could do what they expected me to do, even though my conscience may not agree. I was only a bad kid because they thought I was. How convenient for me. I headed to the nearest bus station and headed downtown.
Tears of frustration and disappointment soaked the sleeves of my red flannel jacket. With my elbows resting on the picnic table, I cradled my head and repeated rhythmically with my rocking, "Stupid, stupid, stupid."
I had failed my history test, and I had to get it signed by my parents. I just knew they would kill me. They would tell me what a piece of shit I was and how they wished I was never born. They compared me to David and Brittany too much. Those two were born smart. It's not fair. Why wasn't I a genius too? This was forever my quarrel with my creator.
You would have to have been in my shoes to understand the morbid justification of my self-loathing. My parents told me I should feel bad about being stupid, fat, and ugly, so I did. I felt like I did them honor by hating myself for the reasons they hated me.
At the park a block from my house, I sat indulging in the bitter tears of realization. They're right about me.
At the sound of footsteps, I looked up to see David approaching. "Mom made me come get you. We're eating dinner," he said. Realizing I had been crying, he rolled his eyes and walked back to the house.
I knew that I would be grounded as soon as I got home and showed my parents my test. I couldn't see a single good reason why I shouldn't beat the shit out of David right now. I wanted him to care, to be a big brother, but he just walked away. With each step he took, I could feel my anger boil, swell, and then explode with a burst of adrenalin. I sprinted after him, and with heavy momentum tackled him to the asphalt street. I let my anger consume me as I punched at his kidneys. Stunned and very pissed off, David tried using his wrestling techniques, but he was no match for a ballistic, self-destructive adolescent. My mouth was full of blood, but I couldn't feel a thing.
The time passed quickly, and before I knew it, the neighbors were pulling us apart. I could hear my father coming down the street.
"Hey, what the hell is going on?"
David, like the little bitch he was, ran to our dad to tell on me. I just lay down in the street, staring up at the faint, new stars. I felt a hell of a lot better—peaceful even.
After the neighbors left, my father pulled me home by my hair. My mother immediately took care of David's pretty face and the bite marks I'd left. I didn't remember biting him, but then I couldn't remember most of what happened. My dad spanked me with his bull leather belt. Not a normal custom, but one reserved for major fuck-ups. As my father coiled the belt, I couldn't stop myself from letting out a slight giggle.
"What the hell are you laughing about?" my father demanded.
"You don't even know the half of it." I started laughing, trying again to catch my decorum. "I failed my history test too! God, am I an asshole!" I couldn't stop laughing; I'd lost my entire grip on reality. I was a total loser and a waste of billions of years of evolution. The irony of my existence was hilarious.
After my beating, my parents started in with the really damaging things. Honestly, I would rather be beaten to the point of hospitalization than be told by my parents that they didn't love me.
I had spent my free afternoon and stolen evening reading graffiti and watching the crazies. As I relaxed in the park under a tree, my thoughts drifted. The cool evening air held me, and I couldn't help but to give in to the melancholy rhythm. It was time to run; I could feel it. I knew I couldn't stay if I wanted to. I had stagnated for the last nine months, my behavior had become more defiant, and the boredom was getting harder to ignore. I had been trying since the last time I was brought in, trying to make myself fit into my family, but it seemed that the harder I tried, the more in vain it felt. It was decided. Friday night, after everyone went to bed, I would sneak out my window and catch the eleven-thirty freight train. I lay under the tree for a while longer, planning, dreaming, and fearing the worst.
I got home around ten. To say the least, my father wasn't pleased with my absence.
"Where have you been?" he asked the second I opened the door.
"I was downtown at the park," I answered, trying to think of a decent excuse.
"We were worried about you. I called the hospital and had the police looking for you. You're only fourteen!" my dad said on the verge of crying. He threw his arms around me. "Would you please stop doing this to me?"
"I'm sorry. I just had a lot to think about."
"I don't care. You should've called or something!" He turned and went to the kitchen for an antacid.
"Look, I know I've been very inconsiderate, but I don't mean to be. I'm just depressed and confused," I said quoting my shrink. "But I want things to get better." My father, looking skeptical, returned to the living room where I stood. "I mean it. I want to try," I said, refusing to believe that they were my own words.
He smiled and gave me a warm hug that lasted for several moments. He stepped back and asked, "Does this mean you'll start talking with your psychiatrist?"
I had hoped it wouldn't come to that. "Yeah," I replied, trying my best to hide my disdain. I suppose I could talk to keep the peace. I only had two days to go and one appointment with her. How much damage could a shrink do?
We stayed up a while longer talking. I told him what he wanted to hear, and I was in bed by two. I must admit, I really loved that man—not for what he did, but for his intentions. He only wanted me to be well-adjusted and as happy as normality permits. I often wished he understood me, but I might as well have asked for snow in the summer. We were far too different. If we weren't family, I'm sure we wouldn't know each other at all. I sometimes wondered if my mother would've understood me. I had her brown eyes and dark hair. I wasn't even sure I shared genetics with my dad at all. He was only five-foot-seven with light brown hair, sharp features, and green-blue eyes. When I thought of my father, I thought of a heart of gold that had been just a little misguided, but whose wasn't?
I didn't go to public school, having missed too many days this year. My father thought it best I "catch up" in home school, not that I needed to. I had learned more riding the rails and talking to strangers than any censored textbook could have taught me. When I woke up, I did my chore for mediocrity as quickly as possible so that the rest of the day I could make my preparations. I discreetly wrote a list of supplies:
Extra set of clothes
Travel sewing kit
Five-hour emergency candles
Toothbrush and paste
Bar of soap
First aid kit
Social security card
That last one would be tricky. I had about fifty dollars saved in my dresser drawer, but I would need all I could get my hands on. Though it would cause a dilemma of conscience, I would have to steal from my dad. I imagined I'd take my stepbrothers' birthday money too, but I didn't feel bad about that. Knowing their mother would replace it as soon as the alarm was raised, I couldn't care less. They were spoiled. I always regretted taking from my dad; it was my only attack of emotion when planning my escape.
"Bon?" my stepmother said, opening my bedroom door. I frantically hid the list under my pillow. "What were you doing?" she asked, looking toward the pillow.
"Hum." I couldn't think of anything. There was a long, awkward silence, and then a look of relief washed over her face as she drew closer.
"It's perfectly normal for a boy your age to become interested in girls and the female body."
I was puzzled. What was she talking about? Then it dawned on me—she must have thought I was looking at one of my brother's T&A magazines. I could only giggle nervously.
Excerpted from Bon's Echo by Patricia Runyon Copyright © 2012 by Patricia Runyon. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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