The night before we ran away, Daddy came home late, long after I had gone to bed. He slammed the front door when he came in the house. That woke me up, and I listened as he stomped up the stairs to the second floor. He slammed the door to their bedroom so I couldn't hear what he was saying, but it was loud. I must have gone back to sleep because the next thing I knew Maggy was shaking me awake, and telling me to hurry and get up. She told me to get dressed, quick!
She combed my hair hard, yanking tangles out. I didn't say a word. She said, "Run to the living room, get your coat and hat and wait for me. The house was quiet. I stood by the front door with my coat and hat on, elastic tight under my chin, listening. She came from the kitchen, high heels clicking on the hardwood floor, with her coat on, and the strap of her handbag over her arm. She was dressed like everyday, for work. But we were leaving way too early, and we hadn't even eaten breakfast. As she crossed the hardwood floor of the dining room, she slipped and hit the back of a chair with her handbag, which fell with a loud crash in the dark, quiet house. She stood, frozen, slightly bent over as if she was going to reach for the chair and pick it up, but she didn't. I saw him at the top of the stairs. She stopped when she saw my head turn and my eyes look up, and then she ran towards me, opening the door with one hand as she grabbed my arm with the other. She pushed me out onto the porch, and I heard him scream "Bitch!", and a great thumping as he took the stairs in three leaps. She lunged forward to pull the door behind her, but he got there too soon, and grabbed her by the wrist. He yanked her back into the house and slammed the door on her other hand. The keys fell on the porch and I grabbed them.
I could hear him yelling at her "Bitch! You fucking bitch. Where are you sneaking off to, you worthless piece of shit." He must have fallen, or else she pushed him, because she opened the door, and I saw him scrambling to his feet, and she slammed the door, and we ran away.
We ran in the dark, up the sidewalk and across the street and down the hill, so fast that once I fell. I skidded on my hands and knees on the steep slope of E Street. I looked up and saw her ahead of me, then I looked at my palms which were skinned and gritty and starting to bleed. I felt the sharp sting of my knees. She stopped, turned, and said, firmly, "Get up, hurry!" She stretched out her arm and when I reached her, she grabbed my hand and we ran and ran. She kept looking over her shoulder until we got to Sixth Ave. The last thing I remember about that day was leaning against her on a seat in the empty bus. It was just the driver and us. The lights were on inside the bus, and we were going down the Avenues on E. Street in the dark of early dawn.
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