We took turns guarding the door, neither of us sleeping very much. Ricky looked nervous, and suddenly I felt bad about getting him involved. I shouldn’t have told him who I really am. I shouldn’t have told him anything that put him here in this place with me running and hiding just to stay alive. He deserves so much more than this life.
Yet here we are a week later and the silence and mere mumbles are all I can get out of him. I just wanted something normal. Anyone else would have yelled. They would have thrown things or left me on my own to suffer and turned me in. For some reason he wasn’t ready to give up and go.
“I think I saw a vending machine at the end of the hall. Do you want something?” He moved off the queen bed opposite mine and stood tall. He turned his back to me and slid his leather jacket on before walking out the door. “I can go you don’t have to.”
“I don’t want anything from the vending machine.” He took a few large steps to the door and gripped the handle. “I’ll be back.” Fear ripped through me. This was it. He was done running. He was going to do it. He was going to turn me in. I couldn’t blame him for it. I deserved to be locked up. All I wanted was to be free and after fighting for it and doing what I had to do I was going to go back and get what I deserved.
“Oh, okay.” He let the door slam shut and I jumped at the sound. I scurried to pack my things and dug around the room for a small scrap of paper. This old dingy motel was not keeping up with supplies. When I found the paper I wasn’t sure what I would write, but I knew it had to be the truth. He deserved that much.
I knew the second I met you that your kindness was genuine. I knew that you meant every single word you said, but I took advantage of that. For months you helped me find a job, kept a roof over my head, made sure I was happy, and you protected me. When I finally told you who I was I knew it was a clear betrayal. You deserved so much more than that. You deserved to know from the start. I lied and for that I am sorry. Thank you for everything you have done for me, but I understand why you needed to tell the truth. Your future is more important than mine. I hope you find solace in the fact that you gave me a normal life for a while.
I had to run before anything else could be put on him. One day if everything worked out and I could truly be free maybe we would find each other again. I looked back at the note on the bed and then felt the weight land back on my shoulders as I walked out. I moved silently into the tree line and watched. It was risky to stay that long, but I needed to know if he was truly done.
After an hour or so he came back and went up to the room. I watched him read it and instead of seeing a swarm of officers I saw him drop to the bed and put his head in his hands. I wanted to go back more than I wanted to worry about my future, but the only way for me to be free was to finish the job I had started. On my own. As he made his way back out to the lot and started looking around I eased back into the woods further out of sight. There wasn’t any doubt in me in that moment. It was time to fight for my future.