I waited for my parents to fall asleep. I never really knew if they were truly asleep. My dad was a strange sleeper. The slightest sound would wake him, but a loud noise he’d ignore. I guess he thought if you were breaking in and smashing around, you weren’t actually breaking in. That or the cat had caused too many false alarms in the past. With my mom, all I had to do was wait for her light to go off. Sometimes it didn’t, which meant she fell asleep reading.
I had to be careful when I slipped through the window. I didn’t mind the house being brick until moments like these. Mom would ask questions if I had scratches on my hands or snags on my clothes. She didn’t notice the obvious things, but she did see mom things. I made sure the window was shut tightly. After a successful jailbreak, that was all I needed to have the alarm start chirping and wake dad.
“Molly?” Jonathan asked from his window. “Where are you going?”
I was so close to getting out of there. “I am just going to watch the stars.”
Jonathan craned his neck from his window to see the clear night. “Can I come?”
I shook my head. “Next time.”
“You’re meeting a boy, aren’t you?” He asked in the most disappointing way a ten-year-old could.
“No, I’m not.” I lied.
“Where do you go?” Jonathan could get anything from me. He had the most enormous brown eyes and the sweetest smile, but he was hiding something. Behind his smile was pain. He always seemed lonely to me, so leaving him pulled at me more than it would, my friends.
I had to make him feel better. “Your birthday is next week, right?”
“Well, you’ll be eleven, and that’s when I started going on adventures.” It was nice to see him smile. “We’ll go on your birthday. Promise.”
Jonathan shoved his pinkie at me. “Promise?
We twisted pinkies and kissed our thumbs. No one could break a pinkie promise, at least not me. “I have to go. Turn the music down, or dad will hear your Gameboy.” I darted past my parents’ window. Mom’s light was on, but it was three in the morning. She was asleep. I could see the back gate.
Our neighborhood was built in the sixties when people knew who lived next door to each other. Everyone had a back gate. It led to a strip of land, almost like a hallway of the backyards. You could walk through it at one end of the block and eventually end up in your backyard. But no one used them anymore since everyone had put up tall wooden fences.
I flipped the handle on the metal post. Thankfully there were no squeaks. A cool rush of air breezed past me. I was ready to leave this place. The hot summer heat had done a number on me this year. My hair stayed frizzy no matter how many times I flattened it. The only good thing about this Florida weather was the humidity since I never had to worry about my skin going dry.
I looked back to see if Jonathan was watching. His light was off. Mom’s light was still on. Everything seemed so normal and peaceful. I needed this more than anyone in the house could know. I needed the adventure to keep my spirits up. I needed to be the person I felt I really was. I was more than a sixteen-year-old girl who got straight A’s. I was more than the mousy girl who never caused any trouble. Or the drama geek who spent every day after school in the theater even when my lines aren’t being read because I wanted help out behind the scenes, too.
I was a rider—a hunter. I ran with the fastest of warriors trying to protect what was left of their lands. No one believed me. Mother told me I had a wicked imagination and I should write my stories down. Teachers started to question my grasp on reality. But here, on this threshold, I was more.
A puff of impatient hot breath told me it was time to move on. I crossed over, leaving my simple suburban life behind. I could feel the spiraled markings grow across my chest and spread down my arms all the way to the tips of my fingers. My tank top morphed into a tight leather vest, and my leggings, which mother swore would make me sweat in this Florida heat, extended down to my bare feet, encasing them with beaded moccasins. I heard Whisper stomp his foot, and I turned. He shook his head, and a piece of gray hair fell over his horn. I ran from my gate and jumped on his back, trusting that wherever we would go, it was going to be an adventure that no one would believe.
The wind tangled my hair into knots that would take days to brush out. Whisper waves around trees as I ducked under the low-lying branches, he was on a mission tonight, and nothing was going to stop him. We ran past the clear lake where rainbow fish swan. There was no stopping at the apple orchards that grew the sweetest tasting fruits I had ever tasted. No, this time, we were passing every bit of the forest I have ever been through. We were headed to Avalon.