Away

Away

Tara Gumpper, Writer

 Chapter 1

My favorite book, A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle, was held tightly in my hand. I couldn’t bear to lose it, as I had already lost so much. I had a brown, worn knapsack slung over my shoulder. It contained a bowl, a spoon, a cup, a small bag of rice, a blanket, a pillow, twine, a calendar, a piece of chalk, and a photograph. 

The photograph was one of my parents, my little sister, and me. Tears leapt into my eyes as I saw the smiling faces of all of us, together.

A couple hours ago, loud yelling woke me up. Then a crash

“Kara, wake up.”

 It was my mother. There were tears in her eyes. My dad was standing next to her. He was crying, too.

Why are they crying? I thought to myself. Suddenly, I felt worried. My parents never cry. Something must be wrong. 

“Run,” she whispered to me. “By next month, we will meet you in New York City, underneath the Statue of Liberty. If you arrive before we get there, go to the statue every day and stand by the broken chain on her foot. We will be there. Take Meia with you.”

“You need to get away. They might come for us, and I don’t want to endanger you,” my dad said. “Keep your little sister close, and don’t forget this. On July 4th, America’s Independence Day, we will meet you there. I will see you as soon as possible.”

I already knew the “they” my parents were talking about. The government. I had expected that we would have to run away at least some point in our lives. The government didn’t like us, and we would have to escape to somewhere safe. But I didn’t think that this time would come so soon.

Shouts echoed through the town. My mom stuffed a knapsack into my hands. I quickly recognized it as the one that I had prepared if we had ever gotten into this situation.

“This will have everything you may need.”

The yells got louder. “Kara, you will do great things. Meet us at the statue soon.”

Then my parents climbed out of the window and ran into the night.

Even though that was only a couple hours ago, it seemed that it must have been days.

I haven’t seen them since then.

My parents are environmental activists. They tried to help our devastated country grow crops again, and save all the endangered animals. But they decided on a new, bigger plan. Now, their main project was trying to install solar panels in all the houses, as clean and renewable energy.

Until a couple months ago, we had no idea that the government didn’t like my parents. The government had gotten very, very rich from their oil businesses. They may have thought that my parents were trying to hurt the government and steal their power.

And then, my parents heard from a friend of my parents, a government employee, that his employers were out to get my parents. We had to form a plan in case we had to flee. 

My 8-year-old sister Meia sat next to me. Our little country in the middle of Southeast Asia surrounded us. We needed to escape the town; a heavily guarded province. The army had stationed posts every five feet around the town’s borders. 

I had seen ‘Wanted’ posters, covering trees and buildings. The faces of my parents were posted on it. Another poster had a photo of Meia and me. Our family was really in trouble. If we were on ‘Wanted’ posters, we had to be outlaws. I tore down the posters. I wasn’t sure how many more posters there were in the town, but these were not a good sign. I stuffed the crumpled paper into my backpack.

There were guards that were also stationed in the town: ten per square mile. It seems like a big area for only ten soldiers to cover, but the soldiers have been doing their jobs so far. The only reason my town had those guards was because of the government’s hate for my parents. Now the army has turned against my sister and me, too.

“We need to create a distraction. If we try to do anything too loud, the soldiers will come and find us.” I had explained to Meia. She was normally defiant, but because of the situation we were in, she complied with everything I told her to. My little sister was very sneaky, and she seemed quite happy to plot a diversion.

“Kara, maybe we can confuse the soldiers. The recycling plant is around here. Let’s get to the recycling plant, then I can get it from there.” Meia said. 

Meia and I quickly ran to the recycling plant. A high wire fence surrounded the establishment.

“I would pick the lock, but it takes a bit of time. Time we don’t have. The soldiers could have already searched our house by now and could be looking for us.”

“I can’t climb up this fence,” she said. “The holes are too small for my feet to fit through. If you can lift me up a little bit, I’ll be able to climb over the fence and let you in.”

I pushed Meia up, and she grasped the top of the fence. She pulled herself up and had nearly climbed over it.

Suddenly, I heard shouts. Along with pounding footsteps, and a command. 

The army. They didn’t sound happy — probably because they found out that our house was empty.

“Hurry up, Meia!” I said to her through the fence. She was working furiously, trying to unlock the door. 

“Got it!” She whispered, pulling the door open. 

I locked the door, then looked around. “Run,” I said to her and sprinted to the back of a big piece of machinery.

Don’t make a sound, I thought to myself. If you do, the soldiers will definitely catch us. 

“Be quiet,” I whispered. “We can’t get caught.”

“Okay.”

Just then, through the fence, I noticed a large, bright glow coming from a small house. 

My house. 

My family’s house.

It was on fire.

“No!” I whispered softly. The soldiers must have set fire to it.

Suddenly, a flashlight beam shot into the tree. A large soldier with dark, menacing eyes moved the beam around, trying to scan for us.

“Nothing there.” The soldier grumbled to the team.

Phew. We were safe.

For now.

Chapter 2 coming soon! Look out for it under the name ‘Tara Gumpper’ in the staff section of the Falcon Press website!