Paul Lewellan

Walking Away

Your family decides to take the ferry to Port Townsend. The woman at the information booth says it’s crazy to drive. “The ferry stops three blocks from the town,” she assures Mother. “It’s a simple walk from there."
Father refuses to park the BMW on the highway. The family waits twenty minutes to drive on to the ferry, then he won’t let you step onto the deck. “I don’t want you to get lost."
We’re on a boat. How am I going to get lost?
He dismisses you like he always does.
For the half-hour ride you sit in the back seat, fuming. If I wanted to get lost, I could. But you say nothing.
Mother starts shopping as soon as she hits the shore. Brother leaves for a shop that hand-ties flies to order. Father instructs everyone to meet at Maxwell’s Brew Pub in ninety minutes. “I’ll have a pint and catch up on emails.” He’s impatient to get there, anxious to text his mistress who you aren’t supposed to know about. “We’ll have lunch before taking the ferry back.” As always, he doesn’t ask for input. He’ll order your meal before you get there.
Anything but fish and chips. He loves fish and chips. You do not.
You tell him you need to get your backpack so you can sketch on the beach. You stall, rooting around in the back until he becomes impatient. His phone chimes to announce a text. He walks away. “Don’t forget to lock the trunk!"
You have no intention of locking the truck.
You pull Father’s gambling stash from under the spare tire and stuff the bills into your backpack. You leave the trunk ajar, hoping an unscrupulous person steals everything inside. Authorities will think it was a robbery. Maybe they’ll think you were kidnapped.
You reboard the ferry as it finishes loading the cars for the return trip. It will be an hour and a half before anyone misses you. They’ll assume you’re sketching and lost track of time. To punish you, they’ll eat without you.
Father will fume. Mother will worry but say nothing. Brother will wish he was with you. Your family has decisions to make. Who should look for you? Where should they look? How long should they look before they tell the authorities you are missing?
They will go back to the dock and ask if anyone has seen you. “Long dark hair almost to her waist. Not five feet tall. In a skirt and tank top. Slender.” But at the car you’d slipped on jeans and a sweatshirt to give you bulk, boots to add height. You’d piled your hair under a large floppy hat. No one matching your description boarded the ferry.
When they eventually return to the BMW, Father finds the money is missing. Mother hurries back to the brew pub convinced you will go there eventually. Brother agrees to wait at the dock in case you try to board the next ferry. Father takes the BMW and searches Port Townsend. He fears what you will do if you get to the other side.
When you get off the ferry at Fort Casey, you feel alive again. You improvise. You stop a restaurant with a tour bus loading. A girl boards who is your age. In the restroom you take off the sweatshirt and the bra under your tank top and stuff them into your backpack. When you are certain the bus is gone, you emerge.
What will I do? The bus left without me. How will I get to Langley? A middle-aged man at the counter says he’s going to Langley. He could give you a ride. You give him a grateful hug. That seals the deal.
You know it is risky to be alone in the truck with him. The risk makes it interesting.
Once outside of town you take off the hat and shake out your hair. He smiles and says how pretty you are.
You say how much you love the truck. You tell him in three years you’ll be old enough to get a driver’s license so you can get a truck, too. All the boys in eighth grade want trucks. He shifts uncomfortably behind the wheel.
In Langley, he finds the tour bus parked at McDonald’s. When you tell him you have no money for a burger, he gives you a twenty and shoves you out the door. You can’t believe he thinks you’re thirteen, but then you’ve learned that you can make people believe anything. Now you have decisions to make. You wonder how long you can make the money last. Already you miss your brother.

About the Author

Paul Lewellan spent fifty years teaching writing and performance in secondary schools and private colleges. He now lives and gardens in Davenport, Iowa, with his wife Pamela, his Shi Tzu Mannie, and her ginger tabby Sunny. He has recently published fiction in Sledgehammer, Intangible Literary Magazine, CERASUS, DASH Literary Journal, and The Talon Review.