The Way Home (Part 1)

Here is the final story included in my capstone!

The Way Home

            Julie hurried to the dresser and pulled out another pair of hot pants, jeans, and a few halter tops. Her hands shook as she reached into the jar that contained a few months’ worth of allowance. She shoved the clothes, the cash, and everything she thought she would need into her brown leather messenger bag.

            It was about noon and the large white house was quiet. Julie could hear the drone of the motorcycle through her open window.

            An hour earlier, Julie had been on her way to history class when Pete came up behind her and whispered, “Let’s get out of here.” His breath was warm and smoky at her ear. 

            “Pete, I don’t remember the face of my history teacher. I think we should go to class for a change.” She had flipped her long, pin-straight hair over her shoulder. He took her textbook and added it to the two already in his arms.

            “I’m not talking about lighting up in the parking lot. Let’s really go somewhere. We can hop on my motorcycle and just go,” he said, honey eyes wide.

            “You’re serious?”

            “Yes, of course, Julie.” He put the textbooks down on the linoleum floor and kicked them aside. He slipped his hands around her waist and pulled her close so their faces almost touched. Julie glanced at the masses of students moving to their next class and unclasped his hands.

            “We’re going to be late,” she said as she bent down for her textbook.

            “Let’s never be late again.” Pete grabbed her arm. “Let’s just go and do what we want.”

            “Pete, don’t you think we should put out some effort since it’s our last year?”

            “All the teachers do is brainwash us. We would learn so much more if we actually lived in the world around us.”

            “I don’t know, Pete. Where would we go?” Julie asked, forgetting her textbook.

            “We could travel down the coast,” Pete thought out loud, “to Mexico.”

            “Mexico?”

            “You love me right, Julie?” He came closer to her and caressed her cheek with his callused hand. “Let’s get out of here together.”

            Julie slid her hand into Pete’s. She looked up at him with a nervous smile.

            “Let’s go,” she said. He kissed her and then pulled her into a run. They hopped on the black motorcycle and roared out of the parking lot. Their textbooks still sat on the linoleum floor of the hallway.

            “My mom should be out on errands,” she said when they had slowed down near her house. “Wait here, I won’t be long.” She sprang off the motorcycle.

            “Hey, Baby, grab as much money as you can.”

            She nodded and dashed down the road into the backyard. They always left the back door open in case her father forgot his key again when Mother wasn’t home. Julie crept inside and listened for any movement that might indicate whether someone was home. 

            She felt the blood, hot and pumping through her veins. The handwriting on the note she left for her mother was shaky.

            Mother,

            I’m okay. I’m leaving and I don’t know when I’ll be back. But I am okay.

            Julie

            She entered her parents’ room. She could envision her mother tightening and tucking the sheets while her father brushed his teeth and watched her. According to Julie, Viola was attentive to things that didn’t matter. Julie left the note by her mother’s bed.

            Pete had pulled up closer to the house. Julie put on her oversized sunglasses and took her spot behind him. She giggled as the motorcycle growled and accelerated. She clung tightly to Pete’s waist. This was what she wanted.

            Wind at her face, the pavement seemed to stretch out in front of them without end. Julie met and had started dating Pete a year earlier when he transferred to her high school. He noticed the large but faded freckle on the outer corner of Julie’s left eye right away. He knew that she loved to swim. Her own mother never knew these things. Julie disappeared among five children in a rather large house. Her mother would position and fluff each sofa pillow, cook her father’s favorite meal with dessert, and gather every speck of dust into a cloth, with time to change into a fresh dress and add a string of pearls to her neck before Bill got home.

            Julie hated Jimmy, the oldest child. He always helped Viola around the house—he climbed ladders, hammered nails, and reached for heavy, high up things.

            “My angel and right-hand-man,” Viola always said.

            Julie didn’t understand Jeff and Jackie, who were able to lose themselves in books. At the very mention of novels like Dracula and Gone with the Wind Viola’s drowning lavender eyes lit up. George always got into trouble. He even spent a night in jail once after taking a handful of jewelry and cash from a neighbor’s house.

            “What on earth would possess you to do such a thing? We give you a huge allowance and you have everything you could ever want! This is unacceptable, not to mention embarrassing for your mother and me!”  her father had yelled. Julie was always thankful when George got into trouble. It forced Bill to become more than a ghost who drifted from the house in the morning and back for dinner and sleep.

            Julie was lost among them all. She disappeared into neighbor’s yards and school parking lots unnoticed. Her first kiss was at ten years old in her own front yard and her first time smoking pot was in her junior high parking lot. She was never caught. She couldn’t get into trouble when her mother never looked at her or when the teachers who saw Julie and her friends were coming out to light up themselves.

            Julie squeezed Pete again. He saw her.

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