A Couple of Days and Dollars


There is only one good reason for running away. Having a couple of days and some money on your hands. Take it from an expert, the other reasons are secondary. Life is hard. Well, life is hard on the road too. I want to follow my dreams. Yeah, my dreams aren't exactly cold motel rooms and lousy food. Home is bad. The world is worse.

So spare time and cash are vital for any endeavor in the art of eloping with your soul. That's why I didn't run away as often as I would have liked to. Not enough money and little vacation time. So every time I left home I had to make it count.

I first ran away at age seven. It didn't last long. I didn't get past the main street of the suburb I stayed in. I forgot my jacket and was stupid enough to go home to get it. My mom cried a bit, spanked me and then gave me ice cream. Maybe that's why I run away sometimes. I always hope that I'll go home to get ice cream. I could do without the spank though.

And so about every two years I would pack the old suitcase and get up and go. Sometimes I would stay at a friend's house, till their mom stopped smiling. My mom's bad enough, I don't need to live with some else's unsmiling mom. A couple times I got a hotel room. A true blood bachelorette pad. I got drunk for the first time in a motel room. Got my first kiss that night too. For some strange reason, I didn't particularly care for that trip. Too many firsts, not enough substance to the whole affair. Home is for meaningless drivel. Running away should be for realizing things of the soul.

The last time I left home was real special, though. Maybe it was because I was old enough. Or maybe it was because I was young enough. Or maybe it was because I felt, in the hollow gullet of the soul, that this was going to be the last time. For whatever reason I decided to make the big plunge. I had always stayed in the suburbs when I strayed. Now I wanted to go into the city. And possibly visit some others. This was going to be my tour of the city. I remembered to pack the mace.

I got on the lemon yellow, puke green 5:08 bullet to the apple. I felt only caterpillars in my stomach---I had done this too often to get nervy. If you think you could have pointed me out of an average crowd, you're wrong. I packed lightly, dressed even lighter. There was no heavy over coat, no layers of clothing. A backpack and a sundress substituted. If you look like a bag lady in training, the cops fell the obligation to talk to you. That usually leads to returning home and/or therapy. Each result has its kicks, I'll tell you that.

I thought a bit on the ride, and then I read the ads on the walls. The model selling cars or insurance---I don't really remember---smiled down at me in a conceited way. I entered a staring contest with the peroxide pretty. I would have won too, but of the feeling I was being watched. I slowing turned in my seat, to see the blonde beauty. She was watching my reaction to her picture. I felt mad, I can tell you that. This crazy chick was running around, looking at people looking at her! Trying to see their damn reaction to her beauty. That's certainly hurting my privacy. I mean, I have a right to be jealous in private don't I? Damn, I don't need the witch of the make up looking at me while I writhe in agony? Okay, not agony but certainly distaste.

She pursed her plump lips. Her plucked eyebrows arched at me. I turned slowly forward. Caught in between two images of her. Like some twisted, non-reflected mirror. Which was the image and which was the real person?

She tapped my shoulder. "Is this seat empty?" She asked in a baby, husky voice.

I looked at the ad of hers. "Yes, I suppose. At least for you."

"Oh, I don't understand." The movement of the train was making her bend in the wind.

"Your picture is being reflected in the seat. That's means that you're sitting there. So I can't stop you from siting back down."

"I'm not the same as her." She said softly.

"You are the model there aren't you?"


"So that's you." I pointed to the ad.

"No, no. I mean, I'm not that mean."

"She doesn't look mean. She looks princessy, sexy."

Her slipped into the seat. Her eyes grew big in her bony face. For a moment she looked less than perfect. At that moment she became pretty for an instant. "She makes me do bad things." She whispered, confessing to me.

"I don't think I ought to hear this."

"She makes me not eat. And then throw up for hours. So that I'm throwing up pain in dizzying gulps. Then she decides I don't ache enough, and so she cuts my wrists. I don't deserve to be pretty; I'm not skinny enough. She tells me that all the time."

"Tell it to a priest."

She grabbed my hands, and I noticed how thin and scared her wrists were.

"My mom used to read fairy tales to me. I think she's the witch." She whispered in my ear.

I took my head away and shook it.

She pulled up to it again. "The only way to kill the witch is to make her dance in her red hot shoes. I haven't found the shoes. Do you have a pair?"

I opened my mouth to grant them to her. At that moment I felt like the fairy godmother giving her a trip to the ball of life. But then my stop came. I stood up, and walked out. On the platform I waved goodbye. But it was too late. The train had started into the dark tunnel. All I could see was her blonde hair. And then too, it was enveloped.




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