Bill was having problems with my school. They wouldn't let him pick me up from school if I was ill, or take me out early if we were going out of town. To solve this problem Bill tried to legally emancipate me from my mother. When this wouldn't work he suggested something else. "Well baby girl, I think that we might have to go down to Mexico and get married!" I don't even think it would have been legal here in the states, but I had no idea about things like that then.
I stood with my back towards him and my breath caught. I could feel my eyes growing into large unbelieving saucers. I didn't respond for a few seconds... and decided the only thing I could do was act like it was funny... I was too scared to do anything else. "Ha ha ha!" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "well, I'll think about it, but I think it's what we might have to end up doing."
Later in the week Bill started planning a trip to Mexico. I knew then, that what I had at Bill's was going to end. When Bill left one night on another gambling trip I dug out my mom's old address book and tried to find someone to call. I had a hard time reading the numbers because I couldn't see through all my tears. I hate him! I sobbed and ran around my room throwing everything off my dresser and destroying what ever I could. Crystal... I would lose her. I fell down to my knees and let helpless tears fall down my cheeks.
After I collected myself, I went into self preservation-mode. I closed off my emotions and dialed all the numbers in the phone book one by one. The first few numbers just rang and rang and then I got some that were disconnected. When I got to Fred's number I crossed my fingers and dialed... It was disconnected too. No No No! I was angry! I smashed the phone into the floor and gritted my teeth. Then I realized I better not break it... I still had to find my mother. She was the only one I had... and this was a very depressing thought. As much as I tried to not to feel... the tears wouldn't stop coming.
I dialed again, please, please pick up.... "Hello?..." Thank God! "Hi, I'm looking for my mom, Susan? Have you heard from her?" The man on the phone said he had! But she wasn't there right now. I gave him my number and waited for her to return my call. I waited a painful hour with no call back from her. Then I called again. She was the one who answered the phone. I wanted to cry as soon as I heard her voice. I didn't even know what to say... "Mom?... " She sounded excited to hear from me. She went on and on about where she was living and what she was doing, trying to impress me. She didn't even ask how I was. "Oh! And I almost forgot to tell you! I talked to Uncle Steve and he said that your Aunt Sheila wants to talk to you and I have her number.. I'm supposed to give it to you...... well..... Do you want it?"
She had said everything so fast that the words were almost over lapping one another. She was high... really high on drugs. I stared at the wall in front of me and wiped my snot from my nose with the back of my hand. I couldn't tell her what I called to tell her... All the urgency I felt while dialing the numbers left me then. There was no one in my mother's phone book that could help me. She couldn't help me. Fear grew in my gut. "Yes... What is the number?"
I called my Aunt. She asked me a lot of questions. I gave her the real answers.. the answers I hoped would move her to do something. "Who are you living with?"
"A man named Bill..."
"Who is Bill?"
"Some man my mom left me with."
"Where is your mom?"
"I don't know, she's been gone for a year." Then I started to cry. I could hear her on the other line getting worked up and talking to herself. "This isn't right... No. You need to come home now... We will come get you, you belong to us, we are your family, not some white man your mom decided to just leave you with!" She was getting upset. She told me to pack a small bag and she would call me back in 30 minutes. She called me back in 20. She told me she wanted me to get on a plane that night and fly back to the reservation. She asked to talk to one of my friend's mom. I was shaking. Everything was happening so fast. I couldn't imagine what Crystal would say or think when I dialed her number. "Crys? Something bad is happening." I was crying. "It's not OK for me to stay at Bills and my aunt wants me to go live with her." Crystal was stunned. "OK....... wait, what?"
"Can you please have your mom call my aunt? She wants to talk to an adult."
30 minutes later Crystal's mom had pulled into the drive way and I put my suitcase in the trunk and locked up Bill's house. One of my uncles worked for an airline and she called him and he put me on the next plane. The flight left at 5 AM. We left for the airport at 2AM. Crystal and me were in the back seat together holding one another. We didn't talk, we didn't cry. We just sat there... together.
When we got to the gate I looked at my best friend and hugged her fiercely. I let myself cry then. I was terrified and shaking. Last week I was toilet papering the neighbor's yard... and now I was running away to live with relatives I barely knew on an Indian reservation I knew nothing about. All I knew was that it had to be better than the horrifying future I saw with marrying Bill. "Please don't forget about me Crys." She shook her head violently back and forth. "Never!... friends forever right?...." She cried. I smiled with tears streaming down my face and neck. "Forever." Then I turned around and boarded the plane. When I stowed my bag and buckled myself in I let out a big long breath.... a breath I had been holding for half a dozen years.