My sister and I were sitting in a mud puddle in our underwear when police showed up to take us home. We were seven and six years old when we decided to run away. That morning, after packing our wagon with a loaf of bread, peanut butter and stuffed animals, we set out for our new life. A better life without rules and regulations, freedom in the greatest sense of the word. Walking out the door, we felt what I assume most people feel the first time they leave their lives behind: fear, excitement, the natural adrenaline of tackling a new challenge. Being the youngest, my sister was understandably unsure of our plan, but she followed regardless, trusting me and all the knowledge I had acquired in the year before her. I knew better, plain and simple.
We went out the door, then the cul-de-sac, then the neighborhood and into another one. We stopped once to eat a piece of white bread. Then, realizing we had failed to pack water, we found our mission. Knowing that we couldn't return home again, it was our first chance to prove that we could take care of ourselves. To prove that we hadn't made the wrong decision. We continued to walk until we found an empty construction sight. I don't know why it was empty; it could have been late in the day, a Sunday, a holiday or the funds for whatever project that was going on had dried up. Whatever the reason, we were thrilled. Wandering the clay mounds and holes, it was the first time we felt completely sure in our choices that day. We had reached a kind of equilibrium, this would be our new resting place until we chose to move on. We were Marco Polo, we were on the road, we were Nellie Bly, we were Ferdinand Magellan, we were Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. No longer would we pause before grasping what we wanted. We began to play games. Not long after we decided to bathe. We weren't animals, society had taught us this much at least: bathe before bed. Lucky for our mother, we enjoyed this ritual. Lucky for this on two counts: one, because of how easy we'd made her life when we lived with her, and two, because it was what brought us back to her. After finding a large pool of red colored water, we stripped down and hopped in. Splashing around and enjoying the sunshine. I thought about how there is nothing quite like the absence of worry. The two of us were against the world this time by choice. We had an oyster of an opportunity and a pearl in each other. Summer never ended on this day, this was our first taste of liberty. I looked at her,
Do you think we'll ever return?
When we're older. She'll be worried about us, we should try to call her tomorrow. She'll forgive us when she knows that we are alright. She is a free spirit too, she'll understand.
I miss her.
I miss her too. We'll call her tomorrow.
I began to wonder where we would sleep that night, most likely on the sight, on a clay mound, staring up at the stars. We'd have to get up early if we didn't want to be caught by the men that worked there. I tried to stare at the sun and feel my insignificance, but my ego tickled and I giggled while closing my eyes and leaning back. My sister put mud on my head. How fortunate we were to be so close and own similar ambitions, two birds in a mud puddle. Building a wall around us, the sun began to fall to the earth we laid on. How accomplished and mature we felt watching the sunset has not been paralleled in my adult life. The goals we set out were almost complete, if only we could make it till morning.
There is something inspirational about children who run away with no ill intent. We did not hate our home, or our mother, or society, we only wanted to know what the world was like right then. No waiting until it was appropriate by their standards, we had our own standards. Those standards included experiencing life using all five senses. Knowing that life had an incredible amount of surprise, it was easy introducing it to our imagination. Happiness was not a goal for either one of us to score, it was mostly chance, with the slight hand of curiosity. Regardless, we had it, and we've had it since, but not from such innocent births.
The lazy sun sat heavy and tired on the tops of houses and yards. A sudden call from a couple of men in blue suits brought our minds crashing back to reality. The red kingdom we had grown so fond of was being invaded by expectations alongside a near faint mother. We were asked to dress ourselves and would be given a ride home. Though we only made it a few blocks from our house, it felt as though we had been very far away, and gone for a very long time. She was mad at us, and cried as she dug her nails into our arms in an overwhelming embrace that was neither affectionate nor hostile. Desperate to recognize that we were actually home with her, she refused to let go while it was clear we had lost most feeling in our bodies. We apologized and claimed we had no intention of hurting her or actually leaving her behind. It was nice to know that she needed us as much as we needed her. My sister and I sat at the table and drank water and looked at each other, pleased. We went upstairs to take a bath.