My brother and I used to play manhunt with the neighborhood kids: GJ, Manny and his older sister. We would hide in the factories, under the loading docks, in the alleyway that was paved with gravel and weeds down the middle. We would play sometimes till our parents came looking for us, to take us home. I remember going exploring in those parts, taking flashlights and climbing down the stairs of the underground sewer system. I don’t remember it smelling bad or being uncomfortable. It was like a cave that no one knew existed but us, and we were happy with just that.
One day I packed all my schoolbooks for the year, some clothes and my shoes into three plastic grocery bags for me to run away with. I waved goodbye to my mother, who didn’t notice in the mist of tending to my sister. I left with a sinking feeling; picked up my bags and made my way to the shed in the middle of the alleyway with its cracked window. It was winter and I remember the cold air that left frozen streaks on my face. I stood in the rubble of the abandoned shed for awhile before I set my bags down on the gravel. There was no place to sit so I took my notebook out and held it in my hand, too scared then to open it. I wouldn’t have a bed to share anymore, but at least I had all my books. I could still go to school every day and have lunch and it will be just the same but better, I thought. When it was starting to get dark my brother came and stood in my broken doorway, “you couldn’t find a better place to hide?” He snickered. With an evil grin on his stupid face, he picked up my bags and led the way back home, “why did you run away?” He coaxed. “Why did you run away?”
“Nobody likes me,” I said.