|By T.K. Millin|
Growing up an orphan in the middle of somewhere between miles of unpaved roads and abundant corn fields never bothered Jayden Mitchell, until now. For weeks her foster parents, Missy and William, have been acting strange and cold toward her, making her feel like a stranger in the only home she’s ever known. Because of this, her sensing of something on the horizon has kept her restless at night with fear.
“Jayden you best be hurrying or we’re gonna miss the twelve o’clock bus into town.” Missy shouted down into the basement, “and it’s best we not be late.”
Grabbing the end of her overused pillow Jayden turned on her right side and stuffed it over her head in an attempt to drown out the command’s of her make believe Mother.
“Jayden Mitchell you get your ass up here in ten minutes or you’ll be confined to your room until I see fit!” Missy hollered down the darkened stairs.
“Someone seems to have forgotten I turn eighteen in two days.” Jayden thought popping out of bed and grabbing her phone off the night table. “I’ll show her,” She quickly searched for Brandon Jones in her contacts and typed out her message, “I can’t wait until Friday. I luv you, J.D.”
The bus roared down the dusty sandstone road known as “Highway to Nowhere” to the local kids who dreamed of one day escaping the non-existent town, but they all knew differently; unless of course they were an outsider.
Countless rows of corn ready to be harvested flashed by Jayden’s limited view through the neglected bus window and she wondered why after all these years her foster parents decided to treat her so badly. “Maybe they want me to leave and this is their way of forcing me out.” She thought for a second, “maybe they’ll stop being so strange if I told them I’ve been planning to leave this dump for over a year and on Friday I’m doing exactly that with Brandon.” She considered.
The squealing of slowing brakes made Jayden’s focus come back to reality, “Where are we going Missy?” She said with a twinge of sorrow for not saying Mom.
Missy stood and grabbed her handbag out from under the seat, “You’ll see.” She said, knowing it was time.
The diesel exhaust mixed in with the scent of overcooked burgers from Harvey’s on the corner made Jayden regret her only source of breakfast was a half eaten candy bar left over from a week ago. Without a word Missy walked up to the county clinic, opened the door and motioned for Jayden to go inside. “Time for what?” Jayden wondered feeling sicker than before, for if there was one thing she hated more than this town it was going to see Dr. Higgins.*****
The bus’s roaring engine couldn’t drown out the whimpers inside her head, “How could she let him violate me like that? Brandon was to be the first to ever touch my private sanctum.” Jayden thought as she silently vowed never to forgive the only woman she has ever known as a mother.
“There’s no need to be angry Jayden.” Missy said, “We needed to be sure.” She smiled and then caressed her hand across Jayden’s face.
Jayden turned her head and numbly watched the blurred corn fields pass by through a small clearing in the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of what freedom was going to look like in two days.
The morning found Jayden alert and full of energy for the first time in weeks and she was glad too for she knew she needed the extra energy for tonight. “Hi Brandon,” she whispered after the first ring, “I’m-“
“Happy Birthday!” Brandon interrupted.
“Thanks, I know I’m so excited. I’m finally 18 and tonight we’re getting out of here.” She said looking around to make sure she was still alone.
“Remember I’ll meet you at the old church on Route 19 at ten o’clock, and Jayden, don’t be late.” Brandon said.
“Believe me I won’t be late.”
In a way Jayden felt relieved her foster parent’s hadn’t planned anything for her birthday after the way they’ve been acting. She found herself even more relieved when they hadn’t returned home before she left for the church.
The moon seemed to hover in the darkness like a beacon of a new beginning for Jayden. So far her plan had played out perfectly; she didn’t have to sneak out of the house, there was a full moon to light the way and it seemed everyone in town decided to turn in early for all the farmhouses were dark. She was alone and she liked it.
The overpowering singing of the katydids became deafening as she pushed her way through the illuminated corn field which ended at Route 19 and the back entrance of the church.
“Brandon where are you?” She shouted into the dilapidated building. “Brandon?” She said, hearing whispered mumbling from behind the cellar door.
She heaved the rusty hinged door open and stepped down into the darkness and followed the flickering light toward the whispering mumbles. Suddenly every dream Jayden Mitchell ever had about leaving the only home she’d ever known with the only boy she’d ever loved became a nightmare when she realized it wasn’t mumbling she heard, but chanting from the entire town.
Missy Mitchell sat lovingly rocking the orphaned infant in her arms, “Ain’t she a beauty William?” She said looking up at him.
He reached out and gently ran his hand up and down her soft newborn skin and said, “She is, but what’s even more beautiful is another 18 years of abundant crops.”
Total word count: 955