I feel as gray and depressed as these four walls surrounding me and as dour as the policewoman sitting across the table. She’s waiting for my mom. Can’t interview a minor until a parent is present. I’d tell her everything I knew right this second but every time I open my mouth she hisses out a shush.

The adults must have read our notes by now, explaining why we ran away. We weren’t going to be sex slaves or take drugs or anything. It just wasn’t safe for Tracy. Her dad constantly hitting her mom. That asshole gave Tracy a black eye two nights ago and I had to help her get away. My mom is always saying why don’t you just leave if you don’t like my rules. Sure. Fine. I will. I did.

If she ever shows up, I’ll tell them what really happened. Tracy met me at the Walmart at the edge of town. We bought some stuff and then we left our two cars in the parking lot. Weren’t gonna be dependent on anyone. We even left our phones in the cars so no one could track us. After an hour or so of walking in a cold drizzle, this guy in an ancient car pulls up and asks did we want a ride, so sure, why the fuck not? He looked harmless enough.

A stench of old french fries and dirty socks slammed into us when we opened the car door but that was better than the rain and dropping temperature so we slid in the back and shrank down into the puckered green vinyl of the seat.

The guy was an ok driver, but he heard a song that he really liked, I guess, turned it way up and took off like a bat outta hell. He goes to pass a car and then there’s one coming toward us. Tracy and I screamed, and dude swerved off the road, hit the fence and we’re flying into the woods, landing in some kind of gross shallow pond. He told us to stay put while he gets help. I was all for leaving because I’ve watched Criminal Minds and this is where the duct tape and knives come out, but Tracy wanted to take a nap first, and I couldn’t just leave her alone.

I lost track of time keeping a lookout for any crazies while she napped. When it turned dark, I was pretty damn sure he wasn’t coming back. I held my nose and started to go through some of his trash in the front seat, looking for actual food when Tracy woke up. She pulled out the bottle of pills. I swear I didn’t know she had them. She got mad because she thought that was why we were running away.

A suicide pact. That’s what she thought we were gonna do, but that wasn’t my plan at all. I just wanted to be on my own. Get an apartment and work at a movie theater.

Why did Tracy think that we were gonna kill ourselves? It all happened so fast. I tried to get the bottle away from her, but she’s stronger and she had a tight grip and she jumped out of the car and smacked right into the water. I think she might have dropped the pills in the pond, but I don’t know. She splashed away faster than I could get out of the car. I lost her when she went further into the dark woods.

I shivered so hard I thought I might faint and it was all I could do to make myself crawl through the mud and weeds following the car’s path back to the road. I cried from relief when the cop pulled up to me and I haven’t been able to stop crying yet.

“Mom! How long have you been sitting there? Was I talking out loud? I’m so so sorry.”

“I’m here for you, sweetie. It’s going to be okay. I love you.”

“I think Tracy is dead.”

6 thoughts on “Misunderstood

  1. Nice integration of the prompt. Starting with the stench of old french fries, I really liked how the details and voice and the setting clicked there. I think that might be the beginning of your story.


  2. I really hear your characters voice here: Sure. Fine. I will. I did. Nice incorporation of the prompt I almost missed it 🙂 the colors and the rain and cold fit the mood. I am only left wondering about the guy. 🙂


  3. I got major unreliable narrator vibes about halfway through this piece, which was awesome! Personally, I think this kid (a guy?) made up the story about the old man and the suicide pact to cover up murdering his girlfriend. Not sure if this is what you intended, but I love the ambiguity either way.

    My favorite sentence was “puckered green vinyl of the seats.” Great detail.


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