The Runaway
Eric, Age 12, Inver Grove Heights, MN
It was a hot summer day, the hot summer sun streaking across the blue summer sky, and John was just six years old. He and his dad were chasing each other across the old field, all the water sucked and dried out of it and baked in the summer heat. It was the happiest day of his life. For not two months later would his dad be drafted and die in the war…

“John!” “John did you hear me?!” his adoptive father yelled.

“What?” John said confusedly.

“I told you to take out the trash, you worthless pile of dung,” his adoptive father grumbled angrily.

“Yeah, yeah, I got it,” John mumbled grumpily. John was fifteen years old, lived in a smelly three-person apartment in a family of four, in Michigan, and was adopted.

As he walked outside to throw the trash away, it started to rain, speckling his worn out sweatshirt.

“Well this is just great,” John said to himself. “I live in a smelly apartment, I have a pig of a dad, and on top of it I don’t even have the right clothes to keep me from being soaked to the bone.”

The resounding sound of the rain pelting him as he walked back inside—plop, plop, plop—made his ears ring.

When got back inside, his adoptive sister Sally said to him, “Geez, John, don’t you know it’s raining, or are you too stupid to know that?”

“You shouldn’t talk to people like that,” John warned angrily. When he got back to the apartment, John went up to his adoptive mother and said, “Mom, can I get new clothes?"

She responded by slapping him in the face and saying, ”We provide you with everything you need, and you have the nerve to ask for clothes?!”

Stunned, John returned to his and his sister’s room where he laid down and decided after an hour and a half to run away. “I have to get packed,” he thought to himself, and that is exactly what he did.

The next day when he went to school he brought an extra bag and told his parents it was a school project.

Once he got to school, he went into the boiler room and hid his duffle bag inside. The boilers whistling in his ears: whir, whir, whir. The heat melting his skin off.

When he got outside he bumped into Mr. Bloomer the school janitor who asked suspiciously, “What were you doing in there?”

“Just taking a shortcut,” John replied hurriedly. His heart beating rapidly. The rest of his day went on like normal. Then the final bell rang.

John silently crept back to the boiler room. He opened his bag, pulled out his things, and went to sleep.

When he woke up, he was in the back of a squad card. Then the officer driving said, “Your parents reported you missing at nine ‘o clock and a man named Mr. Bloomer found you in the boiler room. Just tell me one thing: Why?”

“I was running away,” John replied.

“Well, either way I’m taking you back,” the officer said plainly.

When they got back to the apartment, the officer explained what happened to John’s adoptive parents.

But they responded by saying, “We won’t take him back. He causes far too much trouble.”

John couldn’t believe what happened. How could they just leave him? Once he realized where he was again, he recognized the inside of a squad car.

The office said, “We’re taking you to the orphanage now.”

John still was shocked, not even understanding what the officer had just said to him. Did he really deserve this? If so, why? But slowly he drifted off to sleep.


When he woke up, John didn’t know what had happened. Then it came back to him: the fight with his mom, his running away, everything. Then I must be at the orphanage, he
thought to himself. But the orphanage helper Jim interrupted his thought.

“Sir, do you need a hand?” he asked.

“With what?” John asked confusedly.

“Your bags, sir, do you need a hand with them?” he answered.

“No,” John said, understanding.

John brought his bags inside and went to meet the orphanage director. A grim man by the name of Mr. Phelopeous (quite different from the cheery and upbeat Jim). Then John was led to his room.

On the way John started to realize some similarities between the director and the orphanage, and how dreary it was.

When he got to his room, he got out his things and made himself at home.


Over the next few weeks, John started to realize that yes his parents had overreacted but maybe he had too. But again his thoughts were interrupted by the orphanage helper (who had a knack for doing that).

“Please come with me, sir. Mr. Phelopeous requests your presence,” he said, immediately answering John's question.

On the walk there, John felt chills running down his spine, and he was expecting some terrible punishment, but what he got was the opposite.

“John, congratulations, you are being adopted!” the director said happily. His enthusiasm surprised John.

“What?” John asked surprised.

Then his new family walked in. It was the same as the old one, only better. He couldn’t quite understand how or why, but they were.

And for the first time in nine years, John felt truly and utterly happy.
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