Chapter 1-Beginning to Run

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I walked to the corner, away from other people and sat in a booth...the menu in front of me was sticky and dirty, I saw black fingerprints glaring in the migraine inducing diner lights above me.

"Okay, what can I get ya?", The waitress asked me. She didn't glance up from her pad, she just scribbled on it even though I didn't say anything.

"Uh, just coffee and...and...maybe like...grilled cheese, do you have grilled cheese?", I asked her.

She looked extremely annoyed that I even asked that question. I wasn't asking for prime rib, just cheese in-between bread. She nodded and walked away, never looking me in the eye once during taking my order. If she didn't scowl so much, she'd actually be beautiful.

 If she didn't scowl so much, she'd actually be beautiful

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I sat there wondering what to do next. Where would I sleep? Where would I work? How would I even make money?

I had a savings, but it wasn't much. Just enough to get me a place and pay for rent for a couple months. I was a college kid used to eating ramen noodles and canned beans so I wasn't too worried about food, but finding a safe place to stay was the challenge.

I looked around. Other diners were focused on their burnt hash browns and gulping coffee. Their faces buried in newspapers. I noticed a newspaper on the booth in front of me and no one was at the table so I tried to sneak over and take it. No one noticed and I felt safe, like I just stole something and got away with it.

I had never seen a newspaper so thick with pages. So many different sections and I wasn't even sure what I was looking for. I thumbed through the sections and scanned the comics, I remember reading Garfield as a kid and it put a smile on my face for a moment.

I found the classifieds and figured I should try to find a place to stay. There were pages and pages of classifieds. Ads about escorts and selling furniture, crappy jobs and pathetic personals. I finally found the section that had people looking for roommates and I quickly started to regret even looking at the ads.

 I finally found the section that had people looking for roommates and I quickly started to regret even looking at the ads

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Looking for roommate, must be female, must be willing to sleep with me.

Looking for roommate, must not talk ever, must cook all meals.

Looking for someone to rent a spare room, women only, models preferred.

I was shocked that ads like this even existed. I just saw one after another where the poster was looking for women or men or couples to move in. I started to think I was in way over my head.

Just as I was flipping a page, the waitress dropped the plate on the table. The fries flew across the table. The toast of my sandwich was black with char and the grease underneath the bread was dripping onto my lap.

I didn't look at her, I just moved the plate over and continued leafing through the paper. I kept reading down the list of ridiculous classifieds and I started to feel extremely discouraged. Then my eyes caught one that seemed to be a little more...normal.

Roommate wanted. Drug free. Quiet and clean. Rent $700, utilities included, cable-extra fee. No phone services. No drama, no loud parties, non-smoker. Email for info.

This one sounded promising, although $700 a month was a bit out of my budget, but I needed a place and I didn't have many options. I was praying it wasn't a ploy to abduct and murder me, but I had no other options so I figured I would go by and visit. I sent an email to the email address and hoped for the best.

Hi, I'm interested in the ad for a roommate. When can I come by?

Thanks, Gabe

I hit send before I could change my mind. I moved the grilled cheese around on my plate with my fork and tried to take my time so the annoyed waitress wouldn't ask me leave.

I kept thinking about how I got here. How the last few months had been a nightmare and how I had fought so hard to keep my head above water. All I wanted was to live peacefully, but that meant not standing up for myself and doing exactly what I was told. If I argued, I was punished, if I had an opinion, I was punished. The only outlet I had was self-harm and drinking and that only caused more problems than I needed. I wanted what everyone wanted-a little freedom, a little acceptance, the ability to have my own thoughts and choices, but that was impossible. I didn't like the choice I made to leave, to run from my problems, but I had no choice. I couldn't live in a world where I had no mind of my own, no choices, no ability to even think differently. And now I was here, in this big city, this big, dirty, city and I was scared and confused.

My thoughts were interrupted by my phone chiming and my heart pounded at the thought that they found me somehow.

I had a new email.

Hi Gabe,

Can you come by tomorrow at 9am? I need to get the room rented asap and I have other people interested.

Thanks,
Steve

I emailed back saying I would be there and asking for the address. I had no idea where it was, but I figured I had all night to find it. I had nowhere to sleep, so it was a perfect chance to do some research and figure out how I was going to afford to live in this city.



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