Homeschoolers Anonymous

Leave: Shade’s story

Editorial note: Shade Ardent blogs at The Unspared Rod. This story is reprinted with permission.

my car isn’t even full, it didn’t take that much time to pack my clothes. river stares from the window upstairs. she didn’t want to say goodbye. everyone else is busy with their lives.

no one looks up as i walk by.

‘Hurry up, Shade’.

i turn to go.

she is mouth thinned, eyes scraped against the sun. no more air escapes her, my chance to leave is now or never. her hands are tapping against car’s door.

it’s time.

road unfolds in front of me, she is letting me drive.

‘You want to go to college so badly, then you can drive there yourself.’

i’m not sure why she came.

10-20-30-40-50-65.

i find the speed limit, and hold its edge in my mind. i want nothing to stop me from leaving.

‘I can’t believe you are really leaving us. How could you do this to us?’

out of the corner of my eye, she is grim. hands move while she thinks of more words to say.

i keep watch on her ring, it glints in the light. i know its curve, its sharp edge. i hope that driving means she won’t do anything.

road keeps curling away.

sun splits away trees’ branches, stained glass splintered hopes, my dreams grow.

‘thank you for visiting [state]. please come again.’

each mile feels like points, adding up the amount of leaving i am doing. i count and count, they sift their tens and hundreds into skin’s knowing.

am i leaving-leaving-leaving?

‘You’re so selfish, Shade, to be leaving. Think of all the work I will have to do now that you’re not there to help me. Who will help me?’

words are stuck behind my tongue. its grasping for shape, for sound, but words never come.

i am selfish, i want to leave.

‘You’ve always been a difficult person, Shade. You will have no one to blame but yourself, when you have no friends.’

sun has splayed colors across horizon’s edge. we are westing into the coming night.

‘No one will ever love you like we love you, Shade. How can you leave us?’

sky is tattooed with stars.

i know it’s late, but i don’t want to stop. if we stop, she might find a way to take me back.

so i keep driving, leaving-leaving-leaving.

headlights slice up night’s darkness.

city from city, we flow on by. highway carries us past their normal lives. maybe i can have normal too. maybe college is where normal starts, and the great yawning darkness is forever killed.

i stop for gas, i stop for food, but not for sleep. the miles keep counting up and up.

she sleeps next to me, so i keep driving.

‘welcome to [state]’

she stirs.

‘You know he won’t arrange a courtship for you now. You’ve removed yourself from his umbrella of authority. You have only yourself to blame when you get hurt.’

i have sinned, i have disobeyed.

i don’t care, i am leaving-leaving-leaving.

words still pile up behind my teeth. they scatter into the growing light. sun’s promises echo from behind, east is gone, west is new.

dawn’s moon laces up between the branches, sky’s replete with hope.

‘You’re so proud, if you think you’re smart enough to go to college. Don’t come crying to us when you fail.’

we are side by side, still. little car, bigger mountains. it climbs and climbs. each mile, each peak, each pass, her anger grows.

air is stifled between us, she seems to have run out of words. they still hover in my mouth, bitter, broken shards of dreams.

will she be happy for me now? will she give me advice?

all the books i’ve read say that moms do this, they fuss and then they love. was she going to love me now, pat my hand and give me silly advice?

but she is silent.

we are here.