Locked up with the Badboy.

I take a seat on the floor in front of him, "What?"

He combs a hand through his dark hair and sighs, "This is a maximum security prison, the people here have killed babies, shot up schools , killed multiple partners and run crime rings and you, are saying that I'm mean? "

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28. Rough Riding.

Hearing Ben’s voice I throw the door open and he launches himself inside, practically jumping on me as I get pulled into a tight hug. “Oa man, I thought you were gone Clara.” For a moment I feel like protesting, He could’ve just jumped off the train right? But I feel his chin tuck over my shoulder and just let it be, we’re still together right? That’s what matters.

“What are we going to do now though?” I ask when we let go of eachother.

“What do you mean?” He says, sitting on the army-box.

I sit opposite, on a sack of Texas barley, “I mean, things seem to have got worse since we started. We’ve lost our transport, we have no money, these clothes have either been stolen or given to us…”

“Hey, you made me pay five bucks for the stuff we’re wearing.” He rubs his nose, the small light inside our container illuminates the shadows undr his eyes.

“We still stole it though, and we can’t keep running like this forever, you’re getting tired Ben. I can see it.”

“I’m fine.” He says half shouting, and stabs a fingerin my direction “Why are you so negative all of a sudden Clara.”

“I’m not being negative I’m just trying to lay out the facts for you to see.” I know I’m not being fair and that I am negative, but I feel myself doing what little kids do when they’re tired; I’m blaming Ben for me being tired and angry. It doesn’t make me feel more rested, but I do feel better in a cruel and twisted way.

“Shut up,” he says, “We’ll figure something out in the morning, we’ve escaped before.”

“Maybe I don’t want to escape,” My head hurts and I want to sleep, “Maybe I’m just going to let them get me.”

“Clara don’t be stupid those guys will torture you, rape you, maybe even kill you.” His hands pull the skin around his eyes taunt, the shadows are still there though.

“Maybe I’ll leave you behind then, maybe I’ll run away from you.” I notice that all the bags on the train say Texas to North Carolina.

He visibly calms himself down, then grins his stupid little grin, “Come on Clara, I’m not that bad am I?”

I shrug, and hate the headache that’s building in my head, “Just leave me alone, in a day or two this train’ll be in North Carolina, you can get your money and I’m going back home to my parents.”

He must’ve noticed the destination too, and how bloody lucky we were to pick this train, “Clara I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go looking-“

“Why shouldn’t  I find my Mum and Dad,” I yell, “Just because you don’t have anybody doesn’t mean you have to keep me away from the people in mine.”

“Okay, that’s it you can go then.” He turns around and pulling a blanket out of a box beneath him settles in like he’s going to sleep.

I’m trying to think of something sarcastic to say back, but I can’t. I climb on top of a crate and shiver a little, Ben’s side has all the blankets. I lie awake for a long time, thinking about home and seeing Mum and Dad again, it’s a scary thing. I killed their son.

The sounds of Ben sleeping reach my ears. I turn over and watch him, drooling as usual. My anger cooled I smile and start to feel bad for being so hard on him. I don’t go back on my decision though, I want to see Mum, I want to see Dad. I want to *hopefully* see Mr Mittens if they have him. It’s been so long, and they didn’t visit me in prison, it would be a great time to apologize for Chris.

The air is cold, my head hurts and I don’t sleep. Besides I have too much to think about so I only slumber.  Ben wakes when our carriage starts to heat up from the morning sun.

His face is gratinate again, all stony and such. From one box he pulls out two kids snackbox and without looking in my direction, throws one to me. Neither of us talk as we open the wrapping and eat the jellies.

When we’re finished I collect both of them and throw them out the door. Pollution -I know, but not being dead is kind of important to us. I make a mental note to donate to save the polar bears or something as soon as I come across a decent amount of cash.

Silence hangs in the air, wafting and waiting for something to happen. Ben doesn’t open his mouth, so neither do I. Rather glum I open the door a peep and folding arms across my chest proceed to stare outside for the rest of our journey.

Ben hands me a few snack boxes, but other then that our interaction is pretty minimal. Like a hourglass filtering away our last moments together the sun crosses American sky. When the sun crosses that boundary between flying in the sky and sinking into the sea Ben speaks, “Look Cara, I think we’re both still pretty shitty at each other, but I’ve been looking over your shoulder this past hour and I reckon we’re only about 45 minutes from the North Carolina border.”

His mouth contours into a bitter smile, “I don’t suppose you want to reconsider? We could visit your parents together?”

As heart warming as his offer is, “I’m sorry Ben, I think I should do it alone.” The hours spent thinking also gave me another realisation, If Ben and I hadn’t fought and had rocked up there together Mum and Dad would’ve assumed that I’d moved on. Already forgotten about him.

He shrugs, “oh sure Clara.”

I’m not a psychologist but even I can see that he’s pretty downhearted. “Hey man,” I walk over, sit next to him. “We’ll find each other again right? Don’t worry.”

He has his face in his hands, “What’s the likelihood Clara? I’ve got people on my tail who want to murder me, murder me and the moment you’re finished with your parents someone’s going to call the police and you’ll have the choice of running again or going to prison.”

From his eyes come the most amazing things, tears of bitterness, I’ve never seen Ben cry before but here he is in a rail-cart. Crying for me. “Hey, it’s okay. Hey.” I lean my head against his chest.

“Nah, I knew this day had to come Clara. You have people here, people you actually care about.” He sniffs, “Me, I only care about you and that’s why it’s easier for me to leave, because I know by leaving I’m protecting you.”

He’s still crying, big fat tears but he’s resolved as well. Almost like he’s at peace. “What the heck do you mean?”

He takes my hand, holds both his arms around me, “Clara I’m leaving. Never coming back.”

His arms don’t comfort me at all, I fight them off and struggle to my feet, “What do you mean leaving?”

“Well, I board a plane for Canada tomorrow night. Then from there I fly to turkey, Saudi Arabia. Pick up new identification. Boat from there to Somalia and then board the first flight I see advertised. After that I’m just going to disappear, my name, my face they’ll both be removed I’ll start a new life for myself.”

“What are you thinking… What th… Arrg Ben!” I run hands through my hair and pace the carriage floor. “What is wrong with…” I sink to my knees, “You’re so selfish.”

He nods, “That’s what I thought too but now I’ve realised, this is actually the best decision I could’ve made. The whole parents saga has shown that you don’t want to leave them for me and as long as I stay here I threaten your safety.” His tears have stopped and his voice has gone cold hard concrete, brutally logical.

“You had this planned the whole time?”

“I was planning our exit since we left prison, back at the motel when I called my guy, that was about plane tickets. They’re scanning every air-port this side of North Carolina.”

We pass the North Carolina sign and both our eyes dart to it. Now we both know what it means, only hours until we’re separated forever. I turn back to him, my anger aflame, “So you’re telling me that you’ve been lying this whole time?”

“Pretty much.” His answer is so cold it hurts.

“And you were going to force me to board a plane with you, a plane that would carry us to a different continent and ensure that I never so much as spoke to my parents again.”

“If necessary.”

I pace, “oh my gosh, I can’t believe I was in love with you, you manipulative bastard.” I point my finger at him, “You realise that I probably would’ve left my parents for you, my friends, my everything. I would’ve left them for you.”

He shakes his head, “But not now?”

“Not now.”

Ben stands up, and in what seems to be a pathetic end to a lively and overpowering relationship sticks out his hand. “Good luck Clara.”

I shake, “Same to you.”

A sign passes, ­_ capitol, FIVE MILES. Our eyes dart then lock.

“Okay,” Ben says, “This is how we’ll do it.”

He opens the door wider, “In about two minutes I’ll jump out, two miutes after that you will.” He looks at his wrist where he doesn’t have a watch. “Crap, umm, just count I guess.”

“After that find a road, walk into town don’t hitchhike. If you hitch someone may recognise you.” He frowns, “I didn’t ask do you parents live in the city or the country?”

“City.”

“Good, you should be fine then, and for your sake just don’t go walking around casually, although you probably figured that out for yourself. I mean you’re one of the most clever people I’ve ever met.”

The compliment despite it’s certainty doesn’t make me blush. Ben pulls out something from the pocket of his leather jacket and tosses it to me, “These are for you if their house is locked.”

With pursed lips I nod and push the bundle into my pocket. He looks at the ground, “The train is slowing down and my two minutes are just about up I reckon.”

He looks at me, “So this is how it ends huh?”

I nod, “Yep.”

His eyes shine a little in the moonlight as he speaks, “I haven’t been bored a single moment I’ve been with you.” It kind of reminds me of when we painted the universe on our ceiling.

“I’ve never been more hungry,” I reply and we both laugh. But just a little.

“Hey,” he places his hands lightly on my arms, “Kiss goodbye?”

I shake my head, “No way. I’m never kissing you again.”

“Is that a promise?” he asks, a half-worn cheeky grin on his face.

“Yep.”

“Well Clara,” he whispers, turning around.

Ben jumps out of the train.

 

A/N: It's a big chapter I know, but a lot happened. They both made big choices for themselves. Please comment what you think.

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