A human being in good shape, on good roads, can walk about 20 miles in a day. I looked it up online before I left Guitar Lady’s house.
A human teenager in okay shape, in thickets, carrying her belongings on her shoulder, can walk about three miles.
Then she hides in a culvert and freaks out for an hour.
Then she goes to sleep.
When I wake up, it’s thunder storming and I stay in the culvert, which is getting more and more filled with water. It’s like the day when Michael did not come home. I cannot make myself stand. My joints stay folded. My limbs stay useless. The water rises.
The things in the suitcase have not survived. I keep the clothes. They will dry. I leave the picture. You can’t see our faces. All the way down East Avenue, I look back and see that little white speck, that sopping white speck. When it is finally out of sight, I run back. I pick it up.
Michael would tell me what the clouds mean. How long the storm will last. I take shelter in the doorway of the Baptist church at dusk. They can’t kick you out of the doorway of a church.
After they kick me out of the doorway of the church, I cross the train tracks, slippery shoes on rusty ties. I find a railroad spike, pick it up, throw it as hard as I can. It thunders right when I should have heard a clatter. I needed the clatter. That’s why I threw it in the first place. I look for another. I need something I don’t have.
I stand still for five minutes before I hear the ruckus of train wheels approaching and I hunker down on the thin strip between the train tracks and the creek. I press my hands over my ears. The train roars by, roars away. The creek roars by, keeps roaring by.
When the rain lets up, I walk some more. I stop to pick up fists full of mud. I kick rocks and beer cans into the creek. I fight through thickets. I untangle brambles. After I have fallen no less than three times in the dirt, I stop for a minute. I braid my hair.
Night happens. The kind with stars. Then morning does. The kind with birds.