by Arwen E., 12
The sky is a pale blue with clouds streaked across it. The usual city noises are less. Cars still honk, people still talk, but there is an essence of quiet among them. At least there is for Elena Lenero. She hopes that it is louder than she believes. She needs to get out of Texas as fast as possible.
Twenty-two years old and on the run. She believes the police are hunting her right now, trying to figure out where she went. Elena guesses that her loud-mouth neighbor gave her away. At least she has family in Maine. They are helping her from miles away. It gives Elena hope.
She will get to the safer part of the country. There she can get an abortion. There it isn’t banned. There she won’t be arrested for wanting to live.
Why is the government doing this? Why are they bringing us back to the dark ages where women were nothing? Just people who took care of kids, stayed home, wore dresses, and listened to men. Elena can’t stop wondering.
Elena hoists her backpack higher up on her shoulder. She passes the café that she would’ve gone to that morning if it had been any other day. She and her best friend, Aya, would have walked down the street together. Aya would complain about her always arguing neighbors who scream at each other on a daily basis. Then Elena would smile and say for the millionth time that why doesn’t Aya just move. They would enter the coffee shop, get their espresso, and move along with their lives.
Elena looks down at the sidewalk. She would never see Aya again. She would never have a best friend that would smile at her. Wouldn’t talk to anyone who would understand her. Elena would be alone. If only she had been brave enough to ask Aya for help. But even her best friend… she wasn’t sure. And either way, she couldn’t put Aya in danger.
The wind starts to pick up, blowing Elena’s hair into her face. People who were once sitting outside grumble to themselves, pick up their things and go home. The storm clouds roll in, hanging over Houston before letting the rain fall. Water droplets hit the pavement and splash onto Elena. She steps into puddles which only just soak her socks and freeze her toes.
Where did this bad weather come from? Is the world telling me that things will end badly for me? Elena thinks as she slides her hood on top of her head. More citizens scramble for dry places, hiding inside shops and cars. Elena keeps walking through the streets, looking for the train station. That will then take her to the airport where she can get on her plane out of Texas.
That’s when Elena hears the sirens. Police sirens. They get louder, the sound of them like death in her ears. Elena doesn’t think to hide when a cop car pulls up next to her. The man gets out of his car. His uniform is ironed, weapons clipped to his belt, and a walkie on his chest gives off static. It’s on. The officer can call reinforcements anytime. Elena struggles not to look worried.
“Good day,” he says. His voice is gruff, and slightly bored. But a hint of frustration flares in his eyes. This is the last person Elena wants to deal with.
I just want to get out of here, she thinks. I don’t want a child and I’m not ready to have one. Even if I did, even if I was, I couldn’t. And that hurts all the more. Got to stay calm. Just act like nothing is wrong, like there’s nothing I’m running from.
“I just saw you walking around, in the rain, which is what we think of as suspicious activity. So, I’m just gonna ask you a few questions, and then I’ll let you go. But maybe we could find some place dry first.”
The officer grimaces at the storm. Elena holds her breath. What should she say? What will keep her out of trouble?
Time is running out for her fragile body.
Will she be able to get out of Texas alive?