I Am Lavern

--Winner of the Dear Diary Competition-- Prepare for rants, opinions, my life, and the general ramblings of an 8th grader (update: 9th grader) who lives in the smack dab middle of South Carolina.

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61. 02/26/2016

8:20 AM
Please note that the story bellow is in no way, shape, or form finished. It is ridden with grammatical mistakes, and I am still working on getting our kinks in the plot. Whatever! What I am trying to say is read at your own risk.

2 Poor Kids: 
Escape. 
That’s the reason my feet lead me out of that place. That is why I traded warmth for cool, a full stomach for an empty one, a full wardrobe for what’s on my back. 
I escaped in the night, and the guardian didn’t even hear me. I was tired of floating form house to house, institution to instruction. Surely they didn’t expect me to grow up to become someone famous: a lawyer, a doctor. 
Obviously, my parents hadn’t loved me. I always imagined a dark rainy night when I was little. I’d image my mother being frail, thin, and maybe on the brink of death. I imagined her putting me in that box and knocking on that door. Then, when I was a little older, she seemed evil. Now, now that I was seventeen, she seemed like nothing, an unimportant detail in my life. All of my actions suggested this mindset except for the necklace around my neck. 
There’s a gentle cool to the air that makes my skin feel embraced yet free. This is what I want. I cannot feel any regret. 


A bitter cold bites my face. 
“Happy birthday,” I whisper to myself. It’s a bitter thing and almost ironic. My empty stomach and cold skin tell me to go back, find that place that I escaped only five months ago. It’s almost a miracle that I haven’t died yet. It makes me smile, thinking that Ms. Tat’s assumption that I always found trouble wasn’t entirely true. But then again, look at where I am. “Go to sleep.” Maybe I am crazy. Don’t crazy people talk to themselves?
No, no it’s just loneliness. 
Then, my body follows its instructions: I go to sleep. 

When I wake up, something is notably different. My eyes flutter open, and it’s barely light outside. I look to my left, and there’s someone there. 
“Hello,” says an all too cheery voice to my right. It has a note of happiness to it I haven’t heard in a while. If my stomach wasn’t so empty and body so cold, I would have sprung up and run away faster than a streak of lighting. However, as it stands, I can only stare back, a deer in headlights. “Here,” he says plainly and extends a bag my way. “I promise numero uno - it isn’t poisoned, and numero dos -  I’m not going to kill slash hurt you. In return, you will eat the bagel.” 
I earnestly believe this interaction would be strange by anyone’s standards, but something clicked deep with me. I felt like I was talking to a friend. 
“Where does one acquire a bagel at this time of day?” I ask, my teeth barely wanting to move and my voice sore form lack of use. 
“Will ya just eat the bagel? My arm is tired.” I unwrap myself from inside my jacket which is almost too small and take it. 
“Why?” I ask plainly. He doesn’t look like some nice citizen who thought I was homeless. He doesn’t have nice clothes, and a shadow paints his face. He has brown glasses which complement his eyes. I can’t quite tell what color they are, plus I realize it probably looks like I am over scrutinizing him. 
“I dunno. When you see a girl who looks like she’s in about the same situation you’re in, but, you know, kinda on the brink of death, I figure the least you do is get her a bagel from the nearest fast food place.” Despite the chill around us, his smile is warm. 
“If I die,” I pause. “it’ll be your fault,” I add with a smile. I don’t trust him, but I think I’d need to wear a straight jacket to keep me from tearing into the brown paper bag, so I do. I nibble at it, trying my hardest not to eat it in three or four giant bites. 
“You want me to talk?” He asks after a little pause. I have a feeling my answer doesn’t really determine the outcome of this interaction.
“I don’t want to converse, but you can talk.”
“Great!” I roll my eyes. He has this weird halo of warmth around him. “Well, my name is Thomas Grainder, but you? You can call me Tom – a smile my way – Okay, I am eighteen, almost nineteen, and I am really doing well with this whole adulthood thing. Note the sarcasm.”
“Noted.”
“There’s this apartment that I live in, and I guess I am trying to figure out my life, but it’s hard. I guess my mom said I “hung out with the wrong people” when I was a kid, and it’s hard to lose those habits. There you go: the life story of Tom.”
“Do I have to talk now?” I am almost done eating, but I don’t want to be distracted. 
“I would advise it,” he tells me with a shrug. 
“My name is Eleanor and they couldn’t figure out my last name, so I guess we’ll go with Smith. However, you? You can call me El,” I say with a smile his way. “I felt cramped up about five months ago, and now I live on this bench and anywhere else, occasionally homeless shelters, but that’s rare. I am also good at the adult thing.”
“Are you going to run away now that you’ve eaten that?” He asks. 
“Depends.”
“On what?”
“My judgement of your character.” 
“How long’s that going to take?”
“It is a process that cannot be rushed,” I inform. The truth is that I have an uncanny trust in him. Maybe this is how pets feel after strangers give them a bowl of food and water. 
“Without sounding extremely creepy, would be willing to stay in my apartment – not with me. It’s small, but I need to get some… Work done today, so you can have it to yourself, and then at night I’ll just stay in the living room, and you? You can have the bed.” 
“Obviously your judgement of character hasn’t taken very long,” I note. 
“Remember that I’m the stalker in this situation.” He stands up, and I, with  effort, stand up with him. I grab my small pack from under the bench. 
My body becomes divided. There’s the first side, the rational one, that screams to stay where I was. However even that side was divided. I assumed one quarter was devoted to a lifetime of brainwashing, a life time of “stranger danger”. The other quarter is a more primal one. The one that made the comparison to a pet, a stranger, and food. The final half is something else I cannot decide. Maybe it is the warm halo or charisma that Tom has, but, unlike the others, it isn’t a feeling easily described. I have never been a trusting person. Ugh. 
“You’re a really strange fellow.” I state plainly. 
“I would have to disagree.”
“I’m sure,” I say, just wanting to talk.
“Ah, so I see your analysis of my character has progressed.” I actually hadn’t thought about that since I said it earlier. What was there to analyze. Maybe his happiness was meant to compensate for internal pain. Maybe he felt lonely. Maybe he was introverted but felt he couldn’t be himself anymore. All I have are maybes. 

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