I probably cried for a day straight. I didn't scream when I saw her, just laying there. I felt a silent tear leaking out of me. I couldn't say a word. In that moment I knew that Mom had resigned herself to dying. I couldn't accept it myself until it happened. I didn't feel angry. Nobody but God had caused this. I couldn't have done anything else for her. I cried myself to sleep that night. I was heartbroken. My last family member had left me, alone. I had lost everyone that loved me. Except maybe, I realized, one person. Dad. A faint glimmer of hope started inside me. I could find him. I would find him. I had to have a family, somewhere. I didn't want to leave Mom yet, but I knew that I had to. I knew that he was out there somewhere, if Mom's last words were true. If he hadn't left, but been taken. If his last words to her were really “call her Meredith.” If there was something else out there that I didn't understand. Then I would find him.
I grabbed a bag and filled it with my drawing pad, markers, and a picture of Mom and Dad on their wedding day. After a moment of thought I added two extra dresses and slung the bag over my shoulder.
“Goodbye,” I said, kissing Burrito on his head. I tried to be cheerful, not to start crying again.
“I'm sorry,” I said to Mom, kissing her forehead. “I'm really...” My words trailed away into a sob. I pulled the keys out of her pocket. With the keys in my hand, I found my way to the front door. I put the key in the lock and twisted it. The lock wouldn't move. I pushed and shoved and twisted the key. The lock remained stubbornly stuck. After about fifteen minutes, I gave up. I slumped against the door in frustration. Now how was I supposed to leave?
Then it occurred to me. I could use the window! It seemed so obvious now. I ran into my bedroom and opened the window. I slid myself out onto the roof, but this time, I didn't look for a foothold. I let go of the sill and carefully slid to the ground.
My breath caught in my throat as I stood up from the fall. It was wreckage- all of it. Houses were collapsed and rotting, roofs had caved in. It was abandoned. Even my house looked deserted, with its peeling paint and dark windows. I realized now that there was so much I couldn't see from my backyard. I cried fresh tears as I stared at my old neighborhood. Something had changed, something that made them all leave. Had Mom been protecting me? I could envision it now: soldiers, people forced, screaming, from their houses. Had she hidden me?
I didn't look back at my house as I walked away. There was a part of me that wanted to stay, to hide from whatever might be lurking. I didn't. I kept going, my eyes focused only on the gray sky ahead. I paused for a moment, pulling from my bag a picture. That was all I had in my bag now, besides my drawing pad and markers.
“I miss you,” I whispered to the open air and the photograph in front of me. “When will I see you again? Ever?” For what seemed like the hundredth time that day, I started to cry. I slipped the photograph back into my bag. This time, I almost glanced over my shoulder. Instead, I started to run, wiping tears from my eyes. I had no idea where I was going. I was running from the past, from the memories, trying to make sense of it all.
I tripped over my foot, my knees collided with the hard pavement. They stung. The right one was bleeding. I wiped the blood down my leg, trying to put on a brave face and keep going. Every time I stopped, I realized how little of a plan I had. Finding a person could be nearly impossible. What if he didn't even want to be found? I shuddered. I couldn't let my mind dwell on that. I had to keep going, forever if I wanted to. Forever. I could run forever, never look back, forget it all. No. I couldn't. I had set out with a mission, and I would complete it. He was out there, somewhere. I could feel it. I wiped the tears away from my eyes, wiping little bits of blood off on my cheeks as well.
Only now that I was walking did I notice the cold. Now that I thought about it, it was definitely there. I shivered. An icy wind ran through my hair; my loose dress did nothing to stop it. I could feel goosebumps rise on my arms and legs. I admitted it to myself now. I was freezing. Tossing my hair behind my shoulder, I began to run again.
“Faster,” I told myself, “Faster.” So I ran, faster and harder, until my legs ached and my sides hurt. I hadn't paid much attention to my surroundings, but now I noticed that I was in a sort of office park. It was clearly in use. The windows were shiny, the paint was fresh, and the cars in the parking lot looked sparkling clean. There could be people in there with information. I approached the building; the doors let me in automatically. A bell rang, and I was greeted by an attendant at the front desk.
“Hello Ma'am, do you have a reservation?”
“I'm sorry?” I said, slightly confused.
“Do. You. Want. A. hotel. Room?” The man spoke as though to a small child. “This is a hotel.”
“Oh, um, yes please?” My face flushed with embarrassment. I couldn't believe that I had just said that.
The man nodded. I hoped I wasn't bothering him, if his job was more than just a desk attendant. He stood up and motioned for me to follow him. I obliged. He led me to room 113.
“Here is your room, Ma'am. If you need anything, feel free to call room service. The number is 1-2-1-3.”
I thanked the attendant and entered my room. The door clunked shut behind me. It was a nice room with a king size bed and mini fridge. The walls were painted lemon yellow and the carpet was dark gray. I turned on the TV opposite the bed. I flipped through the channels until I found something I recognized. This was a show about friendship and colorful ponies, My Little Pony. The plot was mildly interesting, but I mostly watched it for the art style. Frequently I would stop the TV and draw a certain scene. Today I wasn't interested in doing that. I hadn't seen this particular episode in a while. I crawled up underneath fluffy comforter, remembering how cold I was. Somewhere during the episode I must have fallen asleep, because I don't remember turning the TV off.
I woke up well rested even though it was still dark. I had fallen asleep long before the sun set, so it made sense to me. I thought that I should take a shower, get some fresh clothes, and see if anything good was on TV.
First I called room service for fresh clothes.
“Size?” the lady asked me.
“Junior's 4,” I replied after checking the tag on my shirt.
“Will be up in just a minute. Lock the bathroom door.” I did lock the door before I showered. the bathroom was nice with lavender walls and white tile. The shower was made of lavender stained glass. I undressed and hopped into the shower. The water felt wonderful. I washed my face and hair then hopped out. I wrapped myself in a towel, walking towards the pile of clothes on my bed. I grabbed the clothes and walked back into the bathroom to change. Then the window shattered.