I’ve worked out my plan. I will leave Tuesday night, when all the orphans are asleep, and the professors are in the kitchen eating the leftover brownies from supper.
I can’t bring much, (not that I have lots to bring). I’d snatched a backpack from the shoe room the night before, so I can carry my things. I pack an extra pair of clothes, my toothbrush, a blanket, and my favorite story, the only thing I was left with when I was dropped at the orphanage. It’s a love story about two spies that meet on an assignment in Paris, no wonder it’s the only thing I was given.
On the day of the night I plan to leave, I convince myself that I have to see Nev one more time. I know I am doing all of this for her. But I still feel guilty. What will she think when she hears that I ran away without her? Without any hints, or saying a proper goodbye? I was even weighing down the idea of leaving her a letter, but what if it fell into the wrong hands? What if it was picked up by someone like Ms Trunchbull? No. I can’t risk it. Hopefully one day I can see Nev again, tell her why I left, but I can’t get my hopes up.
I walk into her dorm, trying to act casual. Nev knows me, she will be able to tell something is up with even the slightest hesitation between words.
“Nev! I’ve been looking for you!” Not really, I knew she would be in her dorm, and that’s why it was a stupid thing for me to say, because she knows too.
“Are you alright Tris? It’s the afternoon on Tuesday, I scrub the floors Tuesday afternoons,” she says with an obvious hint of suspicion in her voice.
“Right, I know but, uuh,” come on! Think of something to say! “I, uh, was told by Valerie that you switched places with Mayfair and was washing dishes in the kitchen,” really? That’s the best thing I could think of? I need to get better at this whole lying thing.
“Oh, well, I don’t know where Valerie heard that, but anyways, hear I am! Why did you want to see me?”
I’d already thought of the answer to this question earlier this morning,
“I just wanted to check up on you. I ran into Dr. Drimley this morning and she said you had an ear infection the other day. You alright?” Perfect, nice and clean. That part wasn’t a lie, thanks to Dr. Drimley and Nev’s ear infection, I had a perfect reason to go check on her.
“Ya, I’m all better now. She said it was just a small clog of some ear wax, I’m feeling much better now.”
“Well that’s good to hear,” there’s a long pause, and I can’t think of anything else to say, so I give her a tight hug. This may be the last time I get to see Nev and I won’t walk away without giving her one.
She’s probably wondering why I’m hugging her with no explanation, usually hugs are for when someone is hurting, or celebrating something exciting. But although I am usually very uptight around most people, Nev knows that I can be a very affectionate person. I just hope she doesn’t dwell on the thought for too long. Nev is smart, she would be able to fit the pieces together.
That night I stuff as much food into my mouth as humanly possible. Who knows how long until my next meal? Once I’m done, I wait for everyone to leave the mess hall, trying not to make it too obvious, then sneak into the pantry at the back. I grab as much as I can. Crackers, canned goods, a secret stash of candy I’d found last year, and really everything that I can count on not to go bad. Then I sneak back up to my dorm, and put on my jacket, and winter boots. If anything, this is the best time to run away. It’s still winter, but the first day of spring is coming up. Which means I will have a nice warm summer to sort out my priorities. I leave before I can think too hard on my decision. I tend to do that a lot, and I am not willing to take the chance.
As I walk down the street I look back at the orphanage one last time, rundown and old, with it’s huge brick walls and wooden creaky door, this where I grew up, I will most likely never see it again, so I need to savor it as long as I can. I watch it until I am finally forced to turn the corner, and walk into an alleyway of darkness.
I wake up to a robin pecking at my backpack. I hadn’t slept all too well, as expected, I mean, I was lying on concrete for heaven's sake! I would much prefer my lumpy bed at the orphanage, and that’s saying something!
I get up and check the time at a nearby library. Only 5:30, the girls will be waking up in two and a half hours to see my empty bed, and empty drawer. They will get the professors, and Nev, and they will all think I ran away for some selfish, crazy reason. I can’t even think about it without tearing up. I may not have had much in common with anyone but Nev, but they were still my friends. I’d grown up with them, we all share the same trauma, and for some reason, I feel some kind of connection to them as if they were my sisters.
I push the thought out of my mind, and try to think on the bright side. Nobody will get hurt because of me. I will find a job or something, get enough food and water, and for once, have control over my own life. It felt good, not to have to feel like you need to do anything you're told. A sort of untamed feeling started creeping into my gut, a feeling that I had never felt before. It wasn’t scared, or sad, it felt good, it felt wild.