“That’s not fair!” I stomp my foot for added effect then turn and run up the stairs to my room. I slam the door but it bounces back. My home is old and well made, but the door only closes if you turn the knob and throw your hip into it. I am ten and I haven’t yet figured out this combination.
I climb into my closet and pull out my canvas Shillington Swim Team duffle bag. Rummaging through my drawers, I grab a shirt and shorts and a Barbie doll, carefully placing the last item into the sack. I wipe the salty tears from my face with my hands before heading back down the creaky steps.
“Where are you going?” Mom asks as she eyes my bag.
“I’m running away.”
“Where will you go?”
“Away, and you won’t be able to find me and you’ll be sad you wouldn’t let me visit my friend.” I cross my arms and stare, hard, into my mother’s eyes.
“You’re right, I’d be sad you were gone, but today’s your Grandma’s birthday and your cousins are coming to visit.”
“Then they will be sad you didn’t let me go to a friend’s, too.”
“Yup, you’re right again. What are you planning to take with you when you leave?”
Mom turns off the kitchen faucet and places my bag on the stainless steel countertop. The kitchen is cheery. The cabinets are painted sunshine yellow to match the yellow, brown, and green plaid vinyl wallpaper. The oval Formica table is lined with bright swivel chairs and right now, the smell of angel food cake is wafting from the oven. A golden retriever lounges against the backdoor.
“Mom, I’m running away. I don’t have time for lunch.”
“If you wait a minute, I’ll make you a sandwich.” She opens the avocado colored refrigerator and pulls out a jar of strawberry jelly and a loaf of Wonder bread. She sets two slices of bread on a paper towel. The kitchen timer buzzes and she removes the cake from the oven, carefully resting it upside down on a soda bottle.
“Now, where was I? Oh, this sandwich looks good. Would you mind if I made one for myself?”
“I guess it’s okay,” I huff.
“What else should we have for lunch? Maybe some carrot sticks?” Mom adds some then opens the blue and white striped tin of Good’s Potato Chips. She looks at me for approval.
“Yeah, that’s good.” No one can resist Good’s Potato Chips.
“Great, grab a paper bag and lunch will be ready in no time.”
“Why don’t you go get a blanket from the closet and you can have a picnic when you get to where you are going.”
Mom continues to pack my lunch bag then makes a second for herself.
“Here’s the blanket.”
Mom hands me the bag and squats down to look me in the eyes. “Why don’t you say we both have a picnic and then you can come home and help me spread the whipped cream on the cake.”
I smile. Angel food cake with whipped cream and sliced strawberries is my favorite.