Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)
By Carol Scott
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“Dad,” Kristine had replied calmly, as though she were actually the parent, lecturing a simpleminded child, “This is what we wear nowadays. Nobody is going to think less of me because of how I dress. The fashion scene’s free nowadays. We’re not locked into the establishment anymore; we can be ourselves and do what we want.”
“Not under this roof, you can’t!” her father had stormed. “Go take that thing off right now and put on some decent clothing.”
“They’re so square and unreasonable,” thought Kristine. “It’s no wonder we’re told to never trust anyone over 30. Mom even threw a fit, just over my makeup!” Wincing slightly, she recalled the conversation. “Look at you, Kristy,” her mother had said. “Your blue eye shadow, eyeliner and false lashes make you look more like a kitten than the lovely girl you are. And the white lipstick pulls all trace of color from your face. Is that how you really want to present yourself to the world -- pallid?”
No, they didn’t get it. So what choice did Kristine have but to leave home and make a new life with hip people who would really understand her? She’d been setting aside portions of allowance and babysitting money for months, discreetly saving enough to buy a one-way ticket to San Francisco where she’d join the Flower Children. She fingered a string of love beads dangling from her neck as she put the transistor’s earphone in place.
Kristine shivered with the excitement of her adventure, feeling just a momentary twinge of guilt. But she’d explained it all in the note she left her parents, and they’d just have to understand. She’d call them after she was situated and let them know she was all right. They wouldn’t miss her if they knew she was doing what she had to do – in fact, they’d probably be relieved she was gone. They could live their own lives without having to deal with a rebellious teenager, because she’d no longer be their responsibility. Yes, this was going to be good for all of them.
As Kristine walked the final blocks to the bus station, she found herself singing along with The Mamas and the Papas as their “California Dreamin’” lyrics expressed desires similar to her own. She arrived at the depot nearly an hour before her bus was scheduled to board, and bought a newspaper so she could pass the time with the crossword puzzle.
Across the terminal, three small children followed their mother to their seats like a brood of ducklings, staying close together and giggling at some silly thing one of the youngsters apparently said. “Well, I don’t have to worry about any of that ‘family’ stuff anymore,” Kristine thought smugly. “It’s just me now, living my own life.” All the same, she caught herself whispering a prayer for protection to the God her parents had taught her about since infancy.
Kristine seated herself and began to unfold the paper. A couple of stories on the front page caught her attention and she decided it would be fun to read them first, because their datelines were San Francisco and she might as well get a feel for what was happening in her new hometown. One was a fluff story that meant nothing to her. The other, however, dealt with a runaway teenager who had become involved with drugs and then resorted to prostitution in order to survive. But things had gone wrong and the girl’s decomposed body had just been recovered. Kristine shuddered at the thought that this story could just as easily have been about her. Second thoughts crossed her mind, but she found her puzzle and attempted to forget it.
When Kristine’s boarding call came, she stood up and headed toward the bus, but she simply couldn’t do it. Realizing she could still be home before her parents awoke and found her gone, Kristine turned and left the terminal.
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