Ian had no intention of running away. She lived with her abusive parents for sixteen years, so surely she could endure two more. But something changed the night she fought back.
Leaving home was one thing but being on the streets of Reno brings scary to a whole new level. A chance run-in with Jubal proves to be both a blessing and a curse.
Now, Ian must come to terms with who she is and what she must do to survive.
14 + due to adult situations and sexuality
I don’t know why at this moment my brother, who died before I was even born, pops into my head. At first, the look on my father’s face is one of sadness but it quickly turns to rage. I guess I’ve had all I could take from him. I meant what I said. Timmy was the lucky one.
I’m ready for him: his clenched fists with white knuckles. His poisonous words, mixed with spit, land on my skin and pierce my ears as I brace myself for the pain. I look around for my mother, who usually disappears during my father’s fits of rage, and as I expect she is nowhere in sight. I don’t need her. This has been my life for so long, it’s all I know.
My father is not a big man, but he’s strong. I’m very quick, and today I’m so filled with adrenaline, I feel like I can shoot through the ceiling, like a comic book superhero.
He swings his clenched fist at my face and I duck at the last second. He spins around and clumsily trips over the coffee table, sending its contents to the floor in a scattered mess. Before he has the chance to stand upright, my shoe meets the side of his head.
“Ian! What’ve you done?” Now my mother stands there holding her hands to her colorless face. It infuriates me that in all the years of beatings she has never once intervened. No hugs or caresses in the dark afterward, either. She would just carry on as if everything was normal. But nothing in my house has ever been normal.
At the sound of her voice, my father begins to stir a bit. I kick him again before my mother can take another step closer to us. I look down, first at the crumpled mess of a man on the floor, then at my mother. I move so close to my mother our noses are touching. "Don’t you dare come looking for me! If anyone asks, you tell them I went to live with an aunt in Tennessee or an uncle in Florida. You make up any story you want!” Both my mother and I know these relatives don’t exist, but she’ll need to have a story ready if anyone asks.
Pushing by her, I rush down the hall to my room, tossing my backpack onto my bed and filling it with only my most treasured belongings. I make sure to pack my toothbrush, my Ozzy hoodie, some clean panties, and flip-flops, along with a change of clothes. I’m almost back into the living room, where my mother is sure to be helping my father, when I spot the file cabinet in the corner of the den. I’m on my knees pulling folders out until I find what I’m looking for, shoving my birth certificate and Social Security card into my pack. Before leaving the den, I empty my father’s coffee can into my outside pocket. This is where they keep their beer money. They’ll miss the money a lot more than they’ll miss me. No doubt about that.
I make my way to the kitchen and am shocked to see my mother sitting at the table, not kneeling next to my father trying to nurse him back to life. Her hands are still cupped to her face. I’m not about to have a mother-daughter moment now, so I reach behind her for a jar of peanut butter and a sleeve of crackers.
“I’m sorry.” Her words are barely a whisper.
“What?” Surely, I misunderstood her. Still, my breath catches in my throat and my limbs stiffen.
“I’m sorry you were ever born.” Her hands, now folded on the table in front of her.
Now that’s more like it. My mother, the one human being on the planet who is supposed to love me unconditionally and protect me from all evil, almost has me believing she cares. Almost.
I slam the back door with every bit of strength I can muster and am pleased to hear the panels of glass shatter, littering the ground and floor. With shaky fingers, I unlatch the gate and turn for one last glance at the life I’m leaving behind forever. Nope, can’t say I’ll miss it. The gate closes behind me and I begin walking towards the bright city lights of Reno.