All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The Night That Changed It All
Andy took another look at her unfamiliar surroundings, now certain that she was lost. The heavily wooded area she was in had an eerie, empty feel to it. She hadn’t seen so much as a deer since she’d stumbled in here maybe an hour or two ago. Andy clasped her hands tight behind her neck; holding them tight as she felt the skin stretch tight over her knuckles. Looking up at the sky she frowned at how bright it was; it was a weird contrast to the dark forest below.
She told herself to get a grip, it was just the woods for god’s sake, there was nothing to be afraid of. The road had disappeared from her line of sight long ago. If she were in her right mind, Andy would have walked along the road as not to get lost. If she had been thinking straight she wouldn’t be stranded in the middle of a forest; cold, alone and terrified. The sound of a snapping twig brought Andy out of her reverie. Her heart quickened as she heard footsteps behind her.
She crouched down and wrapped her arms tightly around her knees, rocking silently back and forth. This was a coping mechanism she’d developed over the last few months. She only did it when she was alone, preferring not to show her most crippling weakness: fear. Andy chanced a look around the tree she was hiding behind, seeing no one she stood on shaky legs and walked in the general direction of the edge of the forest. Her breath caught in her throat as a hand gripped her waist and another clamped down on her mouth. A million thoughts ran through her head; this was the end, Andy had been caught and she’d either be thrown in jail or brutally murdered. A chuckle behind her gave away the identity of Andy’s mysterious aggressor. Andy sat in a dumbfounded silence when she realized who’s hand was covering her mouth. She twisted out of his grip and locked her eyes with his, her scowl frightening.
“What the hell John? Where were you?” Andy spat the words at him, unbridled anger contorting her features into something that scared both her and John. Andy hated it when people snuck up on her trying to be funny, it scared the hell out of her to b surprised like that. If you add all the other crap going on, Andy had a right to be angry.
“ Andy please calm down. What was I supposed to do? Those guys were right on my a**, I couldn’t lead them to you.” Finishing his explanation, John paused to look around at the forest surrounding them.
“What are you doing in the woods anyway? John said. Ignoring him, Andy sank down against the tree trying to scrape the mud off of her hoodie sleeve. In vain. Jesus, there’s mud even under my fingernails, how did that get there? Andy thought to herself.
John was still standing above her, scanning the forest while drumming his fingers against his pants leg. Andy wished he would sit down with her, he was making her nervous being all jittery like that. He also had that frantic look behind his eyes, that Andy caught immediately. Andy closed her eyes and searched the depths of her mind to back when her life was simpler. She felt like a whole different Andy. She felt like a good person.
You know that house that just about every neighborhood has? The one that everyone wished they owned but could never afford? Well that was Andy’s house, to this day she couldn’t even think of that place as a home. For a while, Andy led a relatively comfortable life; the best clothes, the top schools, all of the girls wanted to be her. If someone had told her that at 18 years old she would be on the run from the law she would have laughed in their face.
Andy had the day that her father died painted so vividly in her head. She could remember everything down to the smell of rain that hung in the air. She knew that something was wrong as soon as she stepped through the front door Her mother, who usually worked till 6 had her back to Andy and her hands gripped each side of the island in the kitchen. At first glance it would look as if Andy’s mother was hysterically laughing about something but Andy soon heard the choking sobs and ran to comfort her mom.
Without even bothering to ask what was going on she crossed the room and enveloped her sobbing mother in a hug. Andy’s mother flinched away at the sudden contact but eventually melted into he daughter’s soft touch. The two women stood like that for a long time before Andy’s mother sat her down and told her of how her father died. Andy listened intently as her mother told her how a fire had broken out in her father’s building and with his office being near the top, help couldn’t get to him in time. Andy listened and drew her own conclusions. She never voiced her suspicions, her mother was so quick to swallow the lie.
Andy couldn’t shatter her bubble, it was better if she thought her husband’s death was a tragic accident. For the next few months Andy kept her mother standing, from handling the funeral arrangements to ordering a town car to and from the cemetery. On the day of the funeral Andy’s mother was in no condition to drive and Andy was just shy of 17. Andy remembered wishing that just for today she didn’t have to be the parent, she wanted to be a little girl and hide behind her mother’s leg like she used to.
Somehow she found the strength to get both her and her mother looking presentable and on their way to the funeral. Strength. What a funny thing, Andy thought as she leaned back into the cushions of the car. It comes in handy when you least expect it and dwindles away when you need it the most. Her mother, who used to be the strongest person in her world was now a shell of the person she used to be. There was nothing there, no will to take care of the one person she had left. Andy wondered if she would ever get it back.
The funeral went by in a blur. Andy had opted not to have a little reception at her house like most people did. She went through all the sympathetic hugs and “I’m sorry” s on auto-pilot. She heard none of it. Soon Andy was back in her bed that night taking a deep breath and preparing to mark that day as a frightening nightmare. To be truthful that entire year went by in a blur. Happy, carefree Andy was no more. Cold and calculating stood in her place.
Her father’s death made her question the things around her. Everyone has enemies, especially a big corporate CEO like her father. It had been no secret that the glorious Warren business empire had fallen on hard times. Shady business deals were all over the news and talks of dirty money and embezzlement dominated Andy’s life. Andy’s last name Warren, which once brought wealth and power to mind, became a tarnished figure in society.
Her closest friends wanted nothing to do with her, in a matter of months Andy was “that” girl. The one who people shunned and snickered at, as if their own fathers weren’t next to be dethroned. As if their own problems weren’t so close to being similar to hers. Andy spent months furious at the world and her so-called “friends”. At some point in all of this she just decided to let it all go, hate took up to much of her time and energy.
Andy hadn’t even realized that she had fallen asleep until she heard John’s voice softly calling her name to wake her up. Andy opened her eyes and suppressed a slight smile, John had probably gotten annoyed that she had fallen asleep while he was talking. Andy must not have been sleeping long because she was still slumped against the same tree she had hidden behind, the sun was just a little bit higher in the sky.
“Hey John? What time is it? We really should be getting out of here.” Andy said groggily as she stood up and stretched her tired limbs. Her stomach growled in agreement with her statement.
“It’s 12:45, and your right, we can’t stay in one place for too long.” John fell into step beside Andy and for a while they were both swimming in their own thoughts.
Neither one bothering to venture out and talk. Andy thought back to when she first met John, she chuckled at the thought, they were both so small. The Amos family lived right down the street from Andy and for a while Andy and John were constants in each other’s lives. For years both sets of parents tried to push both children into being friends but the two always ended up butting heads. John thought Andy was a spoiled brat and she found him cool but a major jerk at times. It wasn’t until high school that John and Andy started hanging out.
She had no friends, a social pariah, while he chose to be alone and on the outside of it all. Everything about John intrigued Andy, everything about him was so indie, from the clothes he wore to the books he read. Everyday there was something new she learned from him. Despite all this Andy never felt the slightest romantic pull and apparently neither did he. People always say that guys and girls can never be just friends. Andy and John were an exception to the rule.
When they first started hanging out it amazed John to no end how calm Andy could be about her new social status. She could stare at the “popular” crowd with almost no emotion at all; not a grimace or a scowl, not even a tear was shed. When the sneers and jabs of her former friends got to its worst Andy’s fists would clench and a look of pure hatred would flit across her face. It scared the hell out of John. He once tried to confront her about it and she changed the subject and moved on to other things. Andy had subconsciously put up a wall around her was John and even he was far from thawing out the hard, frigid creature named Andy.
As far as Andy knew, John led a very charmed life. After all, he lived right down the street so his parents were obviously loaded. Growing up, the only thing that Andy knew about the Amos family was that John’s father worked with hers. Mrs. Amos was a stuck up, lazy, house-wife who had never worked a day in her life and probably never will. Andy never could stand that woman, even as a little kid. It’s funny because if you had met John 4 years prior to his freshman year the first thing that popped into your head would’ve been “wow, this is the perfect All-American boy”. Looking at John now, with his torn jeans, scruffy t-shirt and twirling a cigarette between his fingers Andy had to laugh. John looked at her with a curious expression on his face. Andy understood, their situation was nothing to laugh about.
“Sorry, I’m just thinking about the little golden boy you used to be at like, 10 years old.” Andy said laughing some more.
“Jesus, I’m so glad that kid is dead.” John snorted and searched his pockets for some matches, finding none he stuffed the cigarette behind his ear.
“Is that supposed to make you look cool or something?” Andy joked.
“Shut up fugitive.” John shot back.
Andy forced a smile at the playful jab, but her stomach dropped just a little at John’s comment. A mix of guilt and anger once again numbed Andy to the core. John shouldn’t be here , hell Andy shouldn’t even be here. Andy glanced up at John, hoping he hadn’t noticed the look on her face. As karma would have it, he did. Out of nowhere John grabbed Andy’s arm and stopped them both in their tracks. He put both hands on each side of her face in an attempt to make her look at him.
“Listen to me Andy, it would kill me to not go through this with you and be by your side. Don’t you ever think for a second that you put me into this. I chose it myself.” John finished his little rant and pulled Andy into a fierce hug.
This is why Andy needed John in her life. She would go insane without him. It relieved her that that he wasn’t going anywhere; it would kill her if she were to wake up from one of her naps and find him gone. John was the only person who could embark on this crazy journey with her.
They resumed walking towards town, keeping along the intersection so they could find something to eat. The food gods smiled upon them as a nearly empty IHOP came into view. Andy’s stomach growled at the prospect of having food for company. They were seated quickly and as soon as she sat down Andy jumped up, she knew she looked a mess. John just shook his head at her, muttering something that sounded like “crazy girls”.
Grateful that the bathroom didn’t smell too bad, Andy turned to examine herself in the mirror. Damn. She knew she looked bad but not to this extent. Andy ran the faucet to wash her face a little, she looked so run down with her tired eyes and bags. When did she get so pale? Next she took a paper towel to get some of the dirt off of her dress and the hoodie she wore over it. Her hair was another story, it was ruffled and sticking up from where she had fallen asleep against the tree. What had happened to calm and put together Andy?
She had to stifle a laugh as she looked down at her nails; so caked with dirt that they took on a different color. Andy increased the temperature of the water letting it scald her. She tried to rinse away the dirt but it was too dry and hard. Andy used her nails to furiously scratch away what she couldn’t bear to see anymore. She ignored the blood that started to show until she looked in the mirror with tears in her eyes. How did she get into this?
With balled up fists in her eyes, Andy forced herself to swallow deep breaths of air.
She needed to focus, she shouldn’t freak out so easily. Okay. John was still at the table, he would get worried if she was in here too long. All Andy needed was some food in her system and then she’d feel better. After a delicious brunch filled with pancakes and bacon and sugary goodness Andy had to admit she felt a whole hell of a lot better. Andy looked over at John, as much as she wanted to deny it they were both in some serious trouble. It was ironic that that John’s own father was the source of all their troubles.
Right after her father died, the business aspect of his death needed sorting out. Andy’s mother, knowing nothing about finance and numbers called in Mr. Amos to help out. In a few short weeks it was as if Michael Warren had never existed, let alone been CEO of one of the wealthiest companies in America. There was a new man in charge in no time. On the home front things weren’t much better. Andy’s mother refused to even speak his name; she was hurting so bad. Mr. Amos, though no longer needed, continued to stick around. He even chose to pay their bills, much to the delight of a certain newly widowed mother.
Andy wished with all of her heart that her mother wouldn’t fall into the trap Mr. Amos had created. He was a known player and went after women who were newly divorced or had just lost their husbands. To tell the truth, Andy didn’t blame him, his wife was a piece of work. One side of Andy was happy that her mother was beginning to move on and become less of a zombie. The other side of her wanted to scream that it was too soon to be forgetting her dad. What surprised Andy the most was how John took the whole situation. He had to know what his father was doing with her mother. It made her feel bad that every chance he got John got he would ask how she was doing and help her out the best he could. All Andy wanted to do was apologize for tearing his family apart.
“John, I-, we need help.” Andy began. She didn’t even know where to start. Along with dragging him into this mess, she was asking for his help.
“Hey, don’t worry about it. We both have enough cash to get away. Where no one will find us. We can start over, change our names, be new people.” John said all this with a hopeful glint in his eye and such a calm, soothing voice that Andy had no choice but to relax.
Andy tried to remember back to when this whole mess got started. It was hard to do, all of her memories were such a jumbled mess. Andy remembered the countless times that she would hear John’s father sneak away in the middle of the night. She could always hear his footsteps as he walked past her room. On this particular night there was a small thunderstorm, Andy hadn’t fallen asleep because she liked to watch the rain from her window seat. She happened to be talking to John when she heard the footsteps. They were heavy and dragging, not so careful this time. Andy held her breath as she saw the doorknob turn and the smell of alcohol wafted into the air. She furiously texted John what was happening, he would be there soon. John knew what his father was like drunk. By then Mr. Amos was in Andy’s room, staggering and slurring his words. He called her name and took closer steps. Andy saw John out of the corner of her eye, running down the street. All she had to do was hold her own for a couple of minutes. When she looked back at the man who’d been sleeping with her mother for the past few months, something broke inside her. It was anger; raw and unbridled.
It all happened so fast then. Mr. Amos drunkenly stepped towards Andy mumbling something unintelligible. Out of fear Andy shoved him to prevent him from coming any closer. The old saying “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” rang true because the shove caused Mr. Amos to fall against the sharp edge of Andy’s end table, causing him to hit his head in the process Mr. Amos let out a muffled cry before he fell unconscious. There was plenty of blood and Andy was to frightened to see if he was still breathing. Andy looked up from the man to see John staring blankly at her from the doorway, his face expressionless.
He said a few things to Andy, she was to worked up to hear much of it but she did hear him say that they needed leave and quickly. So they fled, never turning back for a second. What a pair they were the fugitive and the boy who had no hand in the crime but went along with her anyway. Those first few hours were hell. Andy didn’t even know what to say to John. He had just watched her beat his father to unconsciousness or worse. Andy remembered waiting for John outside of his house, tears now falling freely down her face and mixing with the pouring rain. John had snuck back in so he could get some money and food. Andy had done the same before she left her house.
When John came back he took one look at her tears and rolled his eyes before pulling Andy into a suffocating hug. Andy had to smile at that, she knew how much John hated tears and crying. Andy remembered sighing shakily before pulling away and composing herself. They had to leave, their were things that needed to be taken care of and a new lives to start. At IHOP, Andy sat back and enjoyed being full for the first time in about a week. A person can only eat so many granola bars and potato chips.
Lately, Andy had been feeling out of sorts, she and John had been on he run for a grand total of two weeks now. Their initial plan was to run to a small town where no one would think to find them. They were beginning to warm up to the idea of returning home when Mr. Amos got better so they couldn’t get in trouble. The man wouldn’t press charges against his own son and John would still be in trouble if Andy got charged. He was in this as deep as she was. That plan crashed and burned. Mr. Amos’s health took a turn for the worse, he was on life support now. Practically brain dead they reported on the news. There was an ongoing criminal investigation and cops searching everywhere. Now that Andy and John had run away they were the prime suspects. Mr. Amos being found in Andy’s room didn’t help matters.
“John, I never got around to asking you but who were those guys after us earlier?” Andy asked. A look of fear flitted across her face as she realized she already knew exactly who she was being chased by. Before they got on the road, Andy and John had made a pit-stop at Target. They were both hungry and neither knew how long it would be until they got some real food in their stomachs. Andy also had a weird feeling about one of the cars tailing them and she was hoping she was wrong. John let her out at the entrance, promising to stay close in case of trouble. The guy never did come for Andy, he went straight for John .
They chased him around for a bit before John lost them. By then Andy was already hiding in the woods praying that John wouldn’t get hurt. Andy had never prayed before, but it seemed like the thing to do in this situation. It comforted her that from where she was standing she could see some of the highway, she kept looking for John’s blue jeep even though he had probably ditched the car by now. Andy looked back at John , expecting an answer.
“I recognized some of them from our fathers’ company. You may not know this but the great “Warren pharmaceuticals” did more than give you medicine. Those men I saw are what you call foot soldiers , they do the dirty work. Do you understand what I’m saying ?” John explained while Andy slowly shook her head. She did understand , it was only a matter of time before they were both going to be caught by some henchmen. Well Andy wasn’t having it; if death or some other bodily harm was coming then they sure as hell weren’t going to wait for it. An idea popped into Andy’s head, the gears turning in her mind as she thought about what she could possibly do to make this day any better.
She grabbed John’s hand and they made their way into the parking lot, the sun deciding to grace them with its presence. Andy looked over at John’s grave expression. Death had always been one of his greatest fears, and to know it was coming must be terrifying for him. In that second the only thing Andy wanted to do was wipe the anguished expression off of John’s face. They both needed it. She ignored the curious looks John gave her as she took his hand and started trekking down the side of the highway.
Andy was relieved when she saw the first plane tower come into view for the local airport.; her feet were starting to kill her. Local wasn’t exactly the right word for this airport, local meant small and quaint, this was technically international. Andy saw John’s eyes light up as he realized what they came here to do. When John and Andy were little their parents would take them to this airport to watch the planes fly in and out. Andy loved the sound of the plane engines rumbling; a smile used to grow on her face when she watched a plane land and another one take off. Andy could tell that John remembered coming here by the smile on his face. He looked over at her, eyes sparkling. He was John Amos; the all-American boy. And in that second; he was ten years old again.