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Running Game

By:Nikki Wild

Running Game

Nikki Wild



One backpack.

Everything I owned fit inside one small, pink backpack. I’d slowly given away everything else during the last two weeks. It wasn’t that I wanted to travel lightly. It was that I didn’t want any reminders of this place once I was gone.

I took one long last look around the room I’d spent the better part of the last twelve years in. My eyes raked over the threadbare blanket littered with little faded green flowers, the stained carpet, the old, ratty, yellowed lace curtains that were hanging there long before I’d ever arrived to this hell-hole.

I sniffed the air, the stench of old cigarettes, stale beer, and piss-stained floors etched so deeply into my nostrils, I knew it would take months for it to go away.

Away. I smiled at the thought of what ‘away’ meant to me now. Anywhere away from here was going to be good enough for me. I grabbed the backpack, threw it over my shoulder, and walked out of that room as fast as my feet would carry me.

I was leaving a week earlier than planned.

I was missing the prom tonight. I’d miss graduation next week, too. But those were just silly ceremonies designed to make confused, aimless kids feel like they’d accomplished something.

But I knew better. I knew the real accomplishments lie ahead. Not just for me, but for all of Highland High’s Class of 2005. We lived in the tiny, crumbling town of Ault, Colorado. There were exactly 274 students in the entire school, and we made up a little more than a tenth of the 2000 or so residents in the whole town.

So, to say that accomplishing anything of note inside this town was difficult was an understatement. Ault stood for ‘A Unique Little Town’, but the only thing that was really unique about it was that it might just be the worst of all the similar little towns scattered across Colorado.

There was nothing for me here and there never would be.

I’d been planning to leave since I was ten years old. My eighteenth birthday was last week and I was keeping the promise I’d made to myself.

At the last minute, I’d been suckered into staying for the stupid prom and graduation. That was just a momentary lapse of judgement, and now that I’d regained my senses, I was sure beyond a doubt that leaving and leaving fast was the only way out of the mess I’d dug myself into.

I walked out into the musty living room, staring down at Clyde. He’d been my foster father for the last twelve years. I’d arrived in Ault when I was barely six years old - taken in by him and his wife Claire who’d succumbed to breast cancer just three years after I’d arrived.

Clyde descended into a dark circle of booze and depression after Claire’s death and he never came up for air. I raised myself, more or less.

This morning, just like every morning, he was passed out cold on the worn and dirty couch, wearing the same clothes he’d been wearing for two weeks. It would probably take him at least that long to figure out I was actually gone… Unless the beer in the fridge ran out first.

I didn’t bother telling anyone I was leaving. There was nobody to say goodbye to. Nobody that mattered, anyway. There was one person who had somehow found his way into my heart, but that didn’t matter anymore.

My life had been put on hold before it ever began but now it was time for me to push the fast forward button to my future.

I walked over to the kitchen counter and began scrawling a note to Clyde.

* * *


I’m gone. You can find your truck at the Ft. Collins train station. It’s been real.

Take care,


* * *

Quickly, I made two tuna sandwiches and wrapped them in saran wrap. I opened the fridge and placed the note on top of a six-pack of Miller Light and put one of the sandwiches on top of it and placed the other one inside my backpack.

I zipped it up and carried it out into the bright Colorado sunshine. A beautiful blue sky stretched out over the boring brown horizon, the only view I’d ever really known. Dead brown grass surrounded the dirty white trailer we lived in, extending out past our backyard and into a rodent infested field that was littered with old cars and illegally dumped trash.

I couldn’t believe the time had finally come. I’d spent years imagining this day, planning for it, saving for it. And now it was here.

I couldn’t help but smile with pride, even if my plan had run into a few wrinkles along the way. I’d drifted off the path for a minute, but I was back on track now.

Leaving early was the right decision. I knew it without a doubt. Sure, I was petrified. I’d be alone, with nobody to depend on, nobody to call for backup, and I have no idea how everything is going to work out.