Fruit picking. One of my favorite things to do. Picking blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, anything. I don’t know why I like it so much, it’s just interesting.
“So are you coming or not?” Michael asked me.
“I already said no. There’s no way my mom will let me go with you. She’ll think we’re dating or something,” I said.
“There has to be some way I can change your mind.”
“There is none. I can’t come. Go invite someone else.”
“Fine Sara. Your mom always has to be such a party pooper,” he mumbled.
At that moment the bell rang. It was time to go home. Everyone ran to the busses. It was Friday and they were all ready for the party that was happening on Saturday. Michael kept inviting me, but I couldn’t go. He was right, my mom really was a party pooper sometimes.
“Don’t leave! The bell doesn’t dismiss you, I do!” the teacher yelled to the class.
Of course, no one listened. I headed to the bus and boarded it. Michael didn’t ride my bus, but my friend Jayla did.
“So, you going to the party tomorrow night?” Jayla asked as soon as I sat down.
Ugh. Why was everyone so interested in that party?
“I can’t go,” I said.
Seeing I was frustrated, Jayla left me alone. For the rest of the bus ride, no one else talked to me, and I was happy about it. When I got home, my mom was waiting for me in the kitchen.
“How was school today?”
“It was good,” I lied.
I had a horrible day. Everyone was pestering me about that stupid party, even my best friends.
“Did you meet anyone today?” she asked me.
I knew what she meant. She was very protective of me. My mom wanted to know if I met any boys. No matter how many times I assured her that I wasn’t dating anyone and wasn’t ready to date, she was always suspicious. Why would I date anyone in the first place? After all, I was only in eighth grade. Everyone else my age was in a relationship but honestly, my mom and I both agreed that eighth-graders are too young to date.
“No Mom, I didn’t meet anyone,” I said.
I hurried upstairs to my room before she could say anything else. I stayed up there and watched TV until it was time for dinner.
“Dinner time!” my mom called.
I washed my hands and went downstairs. My dad, who had just gotten home from work, was already there.
“Hey Dad,” I said.
For dinner, we ate meatloaf with macaroni and cheese. We made small talk as we ate. The whole time we pretty much just talked about the things that happened that day. I avoided telling my mom about the party. Even though I wasn’t going, if I told her, she probably wouldn’t let me out of her sight for the whole weekend.
After dinner, I went straight to bed because I had nothing better to do.
When I woke up the next morning, breakfast was already ready. After I dressed, brushed my teeth, and washed my face, I went downstairs to eat. No one else was there. My mom, who had already eaten breakfast, was up in her room and my dad already left for work. There was a stack of pancakes at my spot and I dug in.
I spent the day staring at my wall and sulking. It wasn’t fair. I really wanted to go to the party. At seven-thirty, thirty minutes before the party started, I heard something hit my window. I looked through it and saw Jayla waving her hands. I opened my window and let her in.
“What are you doing here?” I asked her.
“You’re going to the party. I’m going to help you sneak out,” she said.
I would usually reject that offer, but I really wanted to go to this party. Everyone else was going. This was my chance to become popular. Jayla helped me pick out what to wear. She gave me a makeover and we stuffed some pillows under my blanket. We climbed out of the window and walked to the house of the party, since it wasn’t far.
When we walked in, everyone was surprised to see me.
“Isn’t that the lame girl?”
“Isn’t that the one who never shows up to anything?”
I could hear them whispering about me but I didn’t care. I would prove them wrong. I was anything but lame. I looked around and saw Michael. He saw me too and started to come my way.
“Hey, Sara. I thought you weren’t coming,” he said.
“Jayla helped me sneak out,” I said.
“Well then let’s make this the best party ever! We wouldn’t want to make your only middle school party lame,” he said.
We danced, ate, drunk (but only soda), and talked. We were having such a good time and no one was talking about me anymore. I bet they all thought I was cool. That is, until one thing happened. My parents crashed the party. They knocked on the door and someone opened it, probably thinking they were a late guest.
“Sara!” my mom yelled.
My dad was right behind her and I could tell that they were not happy. Trying not to make a scene, I just went with them. They yelled at me the whole way out and back home.
“Why would you do that to us? We were so worried about you! We came in to check on you and noticed the pillows. Then we saw all the lights and heard the noise coming from the party. DO you know what could’ve happened to you? You could’ve gotten kidnapped, or maybe even worse,” yelled my mom.
My dad just walked behind her the whole time, saying nothing. I could tell by his silence that he was mad at me. That’s what my dad did. When I was in trouble, he didn’t say a word. He let my mom do the talking while he silently stared at me with an emotionless expression. When we got home, I was sent to bed.
That night I tossed and turned, unable to get to sleep. I felt bad about what I had done. I should’ve just listened. I wondered what my punishment would be, or if I would be punished at all.
The next morning, I went downstairs for breakfast, as usual. My mom was sitting at the table, waiting for me.
“Good morning Sara. You’re father and I have decided on your punishment.”
This was just like my mom. She always got straight to the point. I wasn’t too worried about my punishment because I thought it would just be extra chores or no TV for a week. Instead, it was far worse than I expected.
“That boy Michael you like to hang out with, you can’t talk to him anymore,” said my mom.
“What?” I yelled. “You can’t stop me from talking to my friends! It wasn’t Michael’s fault! He didn’t do anything!”
“If I find out from anyone that you’re talking to him, you’ll be punished even further,” she said firmly.
“That’s not fair! At least let me hang out with him one more time!”
“Fine, you get to hang out with him one more time. Go ahead and call him after you eat,” she said.
I ate my food quickly and then called Michael. When he picked up, I started talking to him.
“Hey, Michael. You wanna hang out today?” I asked, not wanting to tell him about my punishment yet.
“Sure,” he said. “How about we go apple picking?”
“Okay. I’ll meet you at the apple orchard in an hour.”
I started to get ready. I dressed, putting on a tee shirt and jeans. Forty-five minutes later, I began to head to the apple orchard, which was within walking distance. When I made it there, I was early so I had to wait for about ten minutes for Michael to get there. Eventually, he did.
“Hey, Michael. You ready?” I asked.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
We walked into the orchard. We paid at the counter and began to pick apples. At first, we picked them in silence. After a while of silence, I tried to make conversation.
“So, you got anything planned for next weekend?” I asked Michael.
“No. Do you?”
“I don’t either.”
We went back to silence. As we picked, I debated telling Michael about how this was the last time I would talk to him. I decided to tell him because he deserved to know.
“Michael, I’m so sorry for not telling you about this earlier. This is the last time I’ll be able to talk to you. When my parents found out that I snuck out, they banned me from talking to you.”
Michael looked shocked. This was a lot for him to take in.
“Why me? I didn’t sneak you out!” he said with vexation in his voice. “You should run away with me.”
I was shocked. Why was he so serious about hanging out with me? I mean sure it was sad that we couldn’t talk anymore, but it wasn’t something to run away about.
“Why would we run away? It isn’t that serious,” I asked him.
“If you stay, your parents won’t let you do anything. They’ll run your life, and when you disobey them, they’ll punish you more, until you can’t talk to any of your friends,” he said.
I thought about this. What he said was probably true.
“I’ll go,” I said. “I just need to go back to my house and grab a few things.”
I left Michael standing there. I ran out of the orchard and to my house. When I made it there, I peeked through the door. My parents were nowhere in sight so I climbed up the stairs to my room. I quickly grabbed my backpack, emptied it out, and shoved a few of my belongings in there, including my phone, some clothes, some pictures, and etc.
I ran out of the house and back to the apple orchard. Michael was waiting for me.
“You ready?” he asked me.
“Yeah. Where are we going?”
“I don’t know yet, but we have to get as far away from here as possible. We walked down the street and eventually, night came. Michael and I walked in darkness. When we got tired, we went to sleep on a bench, as if we were homeless. Actually, we kind of were.
In the morning, we went back to walking. We were starving, but I had forgotten to bring food.
“How are we going to get food?” I asked. “We could beg.”
“I’ve got a better idea,” said Michael.
We walked to the nearest store. When we got there, Michael told me about the plan.
“We're going to steal. Grab as much stuff as you can and stuff it in your bookbag,” he told me.
Usually, I would never be on board with stealing, but there were a lot of bad things that I did lately. I was starving, or at least it felt like it, I would do just about anything for food.
We went into the store. I walked to the canned food and snack aisle and stuffed as much stuff as I could into my backpack. Michael walked around the store, pretending he was interested in buying toilet paper. When my bookbag was full, I exited the store, trying not to look suspicious. Michael came out soon behind me. When we were far away enough, I sat on the bench we slept on and emptied out my bag.
Michael looked through everything I got with me. I got some Debbie Cakes, canned beans, canned ravioli, and other canned goods. Michael and I opened a pack of chocolate brownies and dug in. Cars passed by us with their drivers staring at us. One man walking by even gave us some loose change, thinking we were homeless.
After eating, we continued walking and as we did, I thought. I wanted to go back home. I regretted running away. Back home there was food, water, shelter, and my loving, protective parents. No matter how bad their punishments were, they loved me. We walked all day. When night fell, we had a conversation.
“Tomorrow, we’ll be far enough to find somewhere to stay,” he told me.
“Where will we go though?” I asked him.
“I told you I don’t know,” he said to me, clearly frustrated.
We talked some more, but we couldn’t think of any place to stay. We decided to just sleep on it. That night, I waited for Michael to fall asleep. When he did, I took most of the food out of my backpack and left it on the bench for him. Then I took the bookbag and left. I was going home.
I walked for a few days, until I was nearing my home. I was almost there when I passed the apple orchard. The police were there and they saw me.
“Are you Sara Akodoa?” they asked me.
“Yes, why?” I asked.
As soon as those words left my mouth, I felt stupid. My parents probably called the police when I didn’t come back. Now they would question me and I would have to tell them about Michael.
“Sara Akodoa, you are under arrest for theft.”