The RunnerNew school. New state. New family. New life. I’ve been in six foster homes; beenadopted and put back for adoption two times; ran away five times. I’ve been to ninedifferent states. Utah, Pennsylvania, California, Idaho, Montana, Texas, Wyoming,Alabama, and my most recent one – with my sixth foster home and ninth state – Florida. They call me the Runner. It’s been my nickname ever since the first time I ranaway. It was six years ago, when I was ten. I was with my first adopted family inCalifornia. At first they were really nice to me when they were at my first foster home. “We will take care of Cerulean,” Mr. And Mrs. Alexander – Rose and Damen--said to old foster parents, Evelyn and Roman Smith. “I know you will,” Evelyn said with a smile. She knew they were strict, andhoped that they would straighten me out. I was a rebel, to put it in short words. I’d attempted to run away twice fromEvelyn’s place. I also beat up a kid for slamming me. His name is Vander. He’s a yearolder than I, but was a lot smaller then. I was in the living room watching TV and hecame up and stood right in the way, facing me. I told him to move unless he wanted todie (which wasn’t really effective coming from a ten year old) and he just smirked andsaid, “What, are your parents going to come back from the dead and get me?” I got really irritated and stood up to punch him. I got him right on the nose and itstarted bleeding. He faced me and I puffed my chest and balled my fists at my side. Hepushed me back down and punched my cheek, making it sting. I lifted my legs pushedhard at his stomach and he fell to the ground. I got up quickly and kneeled by him andstarting punching his face everywhere. Adrenaline rushed through me and I couldn’t stop.Suddenly his hands were on my shoulders and he was pushing me side ways. I strainedagainst his grip but he was suddenly stronger. He lifted his balled fist and I squeezed myeyes shut to prepare for what was going to happen next. My shoulders suddenly gotreleased and I dared to open my eyes. He stood up and walked away. I stood up and
stared at him. As he was about to leave the room, Roman walked in right at that momentand saw our bloody faces and knuckles. “What’s going on here,” he growled. Vander and I didn’t look at each other orhim. We were both terrified of what would happen next. After all, we were only ten andeleven. “Fine,” Roman said, “If neither of you are going to tell me, then you are bothgrounded.” I looked over at Vander and scowled at him. It was his entire fault after all. Anyways, Roman and Evelyn decided not to tell the Alexander’s about this “littleincident”, so they like to call it. They didn’t want to scare them away, but what theyreally meant was, “You’re too harmful to live here but it will look bad on our part if weput you in a different foster home so try and be good.” I wasn’t going to be good, andthey both knew that. The first couple of weeks were good. Their daughter was too young to beat upeven though her baby sounds were very annoying I remained cool. Rose and DamenAlexander seemed like a normal family. They both went to work while I went to schooland baby Lariah went to daycare. When Rose picked me up we went and got Lariah andwent home to cook dinner. I stayed in the living room with the baby until Damen gothome. Then I’d go up to my room until I’d be called for dinner. I never talked unless Iwas spoken to. It was pretty easy, except for when they figured that out so they startedasking questions about me. “What do you like to do,” they would ask. “Be alone,” I would answer. Then they would look at each other and, what itseemed like, have a silent conversation that I never understood. Sometimes I tried to readtheir expressions, but I never got passed their masks. It went on like this for a couple of weeks. Finally, they couldn’t bare myquietness. I was up in my room when I heard a firm knock. I reluctantly got up from mysitting position on my bed and opened the door. They looked into my almost eleven yearold eyes. “We have a question for you, Cerulean,” Damen said. When I didn’t answer, theycontinued. “Why are you so quiet?”
I shrugged and stretched my arm to shut the door. Damen caught my arm andyanked me out of my room. I heard Rose gasp as Damen continued to pull me down thehall. I followed at ease, not showing any emotion. I learned that showing emotion is asign of weakness. Damen abruptly stopped and turned to face me, hand still locked firmlyaround my arm. I looked him straight in the eyes. He asked me another question, “ Areyou going to answer my question, Cerulean? Or do I have to show some punishment?”He raised his arm above my head and I flinched. “Honey, don’t,” Rose said only daring to take one-step closer. “Stay out of this, Rose,” he replied. “Go downstairs. Now!” His yelling made meflinch again and I heard high heels click down the hard wood stairs. I felt his eyes on meand turned back to face him again. “Answer me!” I looked up at his hand and looked down. Then I felt the weight of his hand plusall of his strength hit me right on my side just below my rib cage. I let out a sound that Inever had recognized before. I’d gotten in fights before, but this pain was excruciating. Ishied away as far as I could, but his arm was longer than the space between us. He hit meagain in the same spot and I let out a cry of pain, but not letting a tear escape my pleadingeyes. I refused to talk, for I knew that he was only trying to get me to talk. He hit meagain, and again, until I could no longer stand and I hit the ground. Only then did he stophitting me. I wanted him to start to cry and fall to ground with me and wrap me in his arms tosay he was sorry. Only it didn’t happen that way. He grabbed my face and forced me tolook at him. His lip curled into a snarl. “You little brat! I thought I wanted a daughter; but you are a demonic child! I willnot have you in my house unless you straighten up and start showing some respect toyour parents!” As he talked, saliva was flying out of his mouth and onto my face. I wiped off my face with my sleeve and peeled his hands away from my face. Hedidn’t try and grab me as I stood up and started walking away. Before I entered my room,I turned on my heel and looked at him. “You’re not my parents,” I said with an evenvoice. Then I turned back, walked into my room, and shut the door softly. I heard an agitated groan and heavy footsteps going down the stairs. When I heardthe front door slam, I looked out my window to find Damen getting in his car and driving
away. When his car disappeared, I walked in front of mirror and pulled my shirt half wayup. When I saw what damage was done, I flinched violently. There were purple and blackbruises on the left side of my stomach, below the rib cage. It was already starting to swelland it hurt badly. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t risk it if someonewalked in and saw me like that. Instead, I went over to my desk, turned on the lamp, andstarted planning out my run-away plan. Being only ten, I was pretty smart when it came to running away and how to do itprestigiously. This is how I did it: Once the Alexander’s were asleep, I would go downthe hall to Damen’s study. There he had a little box that he kept all of his money in. Icounted it when he was in the shower. There is two hundred thirty-five dollars. I checkedonline to see how much a train ticket would cost for a one-way and one person, and it’sseventy-five dollars. I would then have one hundred sixty dollars left. My destination wasPennsylvania. I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t know anyone anywhere, really. But Ithought that maybe a nice family would pick me up. After I got all of the money into a safe part of my bag with some of my clothesand notebook, I snuck out of the window to my room and landed in the backyard. Therewere fences blocking my way to go into the other families yards, but there was a gate onthe east side of the house that I could easily jump over. Once I jump over it, I wouldcontinue down the street going east toward the main part of town. There is a train stationclose by the old shut down mall. Since it’s California, no one was going to think it’sstrange that ten year-old were getting on a train by herself. From there, I would go toPennsylvania and hide out there. I don’t know why I like that place so much, but itseems…Safer. I couldn’t wait to leave.