Wanna hear about the kid who ran away? Well, here's the chance.

Chapter 1

Chapter One

There are a lot of people who claim they will run away. And some even do: but a lot of them are found within a few hours, or if they’re not; they only run a few blocks or to a friend’s house on the other side of town. Hell, some don’t even make it that far: they make it to the end of the driveway, or to the corner; and then they turn back. And then...then there’s the big fish, who go missing for weeks or even months before getting found. Some never are.

You can divide up runaways by how long they go missing for all you want. But they’re all essentially divided into two groups: those who go to a friend’s place, and those who go for a very long trip.

I ran away on the thirty-first of July, 2009, and I fell into the second category. But there’s a story to it: there always is. And in these pages, I want to tell you exactly what happened.

It was July sixth—a Monday. I was awake, at quarter past seven in the morning as was usual. I’d already eaten and brushed my hair, and I was at this point checking my Facebook account through my phone.

There was nothing out of the usual there for me: a few new friends request. An invite for a new add-me group (I was in quite a few of those). Some absolute strangers from far-away countries had updated their statuses. Nothing new.

So, I started browsing through an add-me group. I only ever really added a half-dozen at a time, which was why my friends list could be said to be embarrassingly small: only 120 at this point, if that.

And there was this girl, nearing the end of my half-dozen new “friends”. Her screen name was Hiroki Roxas Strife, and she was from Indonesia. I hesitated for the longest moment before adding her—there was something not quite right about the photo; something odd about the message she had put on the group.

Whilst I can’t recall exactly what the post said; I do remember this quite well: I did end up adding her.

And that’s how it started. I got out of Facebook and put the phone in my pocket and then headed down to catch my bus.

The thing about me is that while I live in Oberon; I went to school at Kelso High at the time. That means an hour-long bus trip.

And the thing about my bus trip is that at the time, there were only one or two people that I’d talk to on the bus.

Dylan Setright was one such person. Actually, he was the only person I would have called friend that caught the bus at the time; the only other people I talked to were the commercials who got on from time to time.

He got on at a farm about six kilometres on the Oberon side of O’connell; which took the bus about half an hour to get to.

And that day I said something quite odd to him.

“I’m going to run away,” I said.

He looked at me strangely. “All right,” he said. “When are you going to do it?”

“Tuesday at the earliest; but probably Wednesday or Thursday,” I said, “My dad’ll be down in Sydney then picking up my stepmother.”

My stepmother’s from the United States. This was at the point when she was first moving in with my dad, and to put it lightly; I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the idea.

More truthfully; I would have happily jumped off a bridge, but the fact was that simply wasn’t viable (or in tune with my character and how people perceived it). Running away was simply the lesser of two evils.

And besides; I was paranoid. I always have been, but at this point it was a bit worse because I’d spent so many nights awake on Facebook until two a.m. Heck, I can’t even remember who I was talking to all that time—though I distinctly remember using Dragon Wars whenever I had the chance to use Facebook at a desktop—which was quite often; considering the amount of time my father spent on night shift.

“You won’t do it,” was all Dylan had to say then. “I bet you any money you won’t do it.”

“I will,” I replied.

It was at about two p.m. that I received my first message from Hiroki Roxas Strife: a post on my wall, saying hello and telling me that she wanted to know more about me. So I put down something about having divorced parents, and a half-sister.

And then she put a new comment on that post: that she felt incredibly sorry for me, and that I was strong. Not that I have ever considered myself such; I put up with the standard amount of crap around here.

So, I sent her an inbox. What really hurts is the memories of my mother’s schizophrenic episode when I was seven.

Something about how sorry she was. And: What sort of schizophrenic is she?
Well, here’s someone who knows a little bit about schizophrenia. Well, she was right: there is more than one type of schizophrenia. While the stereotypical kind is the type that receives auditory and visual hallucinations; there’s about five or six types in total—the kind my mother has is the type which involves believing something totally irrational.

What I mean is that she believed that she was Vietnamese, was brought to Australia and had her eyes operated on and never saw her real family again. She believed that this family was looking for her; however the Australian police force and various other people were interfering. She believed several people she knew were Nazis (but not me, for some reason). But she didn’t experience any auditory or visual hallucinations.

"I don’t know; but not the sort that gets hallucinations."

She said something about her friend having schizophrenia. The thing about schizophrenia is that it’s incredibly rare...only one per cent of the entire population of the world will ever develop it in their lifetimes.

So, this conversation went on for a long while. We went from topic to topic, and I can’t remember all of them now. But, when I was almost home that afternoon; it did come to quite an interesting point.

"What are your hobbies?" She asks.

"Reading, writing...that would be about it."

"Oh, what do you write?"

"Short stories, mainly; but I’ll write whatever seems right at the time."

"Could you write me a poem?"

I pause for a moment. I wasn’t entirely sure what to say to this last point. "Yes, I reply at last. What do you want me to write it about?"

The reply was something along the lines of: "I don’t mind; you choose."

"Okay, but it’ll take me a few hours to get it right."

"I await your masterpiece, Cal."

So I send something back along the lines of that it won’t be a masterpiece because I don’t really write poetry that often.

She assures me that it’s going to be brilliant. And I believe her. (For those people who believe me to be some sort of uncaring, unemotional person; surely this is evidence to the contrary—after all, who else but a feeling human being could believe someone saying that?)

So, I spend the next few hours writing her poem. At the end of it; it comes out to be something free-verse about how I suspected my father hated me. Some days I still do, actually. But that day it was particularly bad—I hadn’t really gotten any good sleep in several months previously, so I was suffering from fairly heavy paranoia.

So, she read it. And she messages me back, that it was beautiful, and I was tender. And that she felt my pain, and she would hug me if she could, if I would enjoy it.

As far as I can remember, I had never been treated like such by anyone. So you would understand if my paranoid, lone-wolf psychological guard was beginning to weaken at this point. In fact, it had been slowly eroding away all afternoon as I had been talking to her.

Thinking about it makes me remember how weak I must have truly been. It also reminds me of why it is truly imperative that I keep my guard up at all times to everyone, no matter who they are or how trustworthy I judge them to be. Because it’s when I begin trusting people that I begin to do stupid things.

I told her that I’d enjoy the hug. After all, she was a girl; I was a boy. What more did I need to put down?

So, we begin talking again. And I truly am beginning to trust her at this point. And I will admit that it seems strange to me now as I think about it: After all, I had never met her in person, and there are very few people that I’ve met in person that I will say that I trust. Very few people indeed.

I went to bed messaging her still that night. After a while, she asked for a second poem—about love this time, she tells me.

I didn’t know anything about love. I still don’t. But I wrote her a poem about love anyway, because she’d asked for it...though, I must admit, I didn’t really have any other reason that could count as valid. I didn’t even have a valid reason for the first one.

Thinking about it like that makes me wish I was never born to begin with.
So, after reading this poem, she asks me if I had any experience in love. I told her no...for some odd reason; I don’t remember asking her why she asked that question. I probably didn’t ask to begin with.

At this point she drops the bombshell: she says that she’s fallen in love with me. It’s at this point that she adopted the use of a pet name: Caly. I’m not really sure why she chose that one (but later she would occasionally address me as honey bee as well).

I denied this. I told her that it was impossible. So she relented. Truth be told, I thought she was serious that night. And there’s still days that I consider the possibility that she was serious, even today.


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