"What happened?" I ask upon shoving myself into the passenger's seat. Stevie immediately presses on the gas and revved the engine screeching out of the beaten down parking lot.
I toss the bags into the backseat careful not to hit Kyla who was sucking her thumb furiously out of nervousness. Stevie evens out her erratic driving to blend into the traffic around us, the silence leaves room for my pounding heart to burn my ears.
"I was checking out and the cashiers noticed Ky and I. I ran out with everything and picked you up, it's only a matter of time before they come after us," Stevie's face is etched with stress from the sheen of sweat forming on her forehead. Her hands wrap around the steering tightly causing her knuckles to turn white.
"Damn it!" I swear frustrated that the police were going to on us again. We had successfully stayed hidden from the entire universe until now.
"Where do we go?" Her honey brown eyes glance over at me and melt my insides seeing the fear in them. She had put all her trust in me to figure things out the minute our worlds collided. I didn't have to pull her into my world but selfishly I did. I felt a certain sense of responsibility for her and after months of getting to know her, I knew I couldn't let her go. I didn't want to do this without her but, I knew this was all selfish. She didn't have to be in this situation but I loved her and she loved me.
"Anywhere but here," I tell her not having a good enough answer to give her. My life had become improv for the most part. I took things day by day, hour by hour. I used to be planned and calculated but now with how unpredictable my life had become planned was a luxury.
"Is this what it's going to be for the rest of our lives?" She asks me glancing back and forth from the road to me. I knew the answer and deep down I think she did too, we both just wanted it to be different. We didn't want to admit the truth.
"If we could get out of here then it wouldn't have to be," I tell her thinking up different possibilities and options. If we could leave the country we wouldn't be looking over our backs the rest of our lives. We wouldn't have to run anymore.
This option weighed its pros but at the same time, I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my old life. My family. It crushed me inside and out to know I had caused my mother and sisters heartache, the image of them enduring multiple sleepless nights hurt like hell. I was the cause of this. I was the destruction that crumbled my life.
I didn't have to run, but I did. I didn't have to involve Stevie, but I did.
"Get out of here? Are you talking about..." Stevie trails when I nod and confirm her question.
"Yes, its the only way out of all of this," I think about the logistics what I was saying and yes there was some risk if we left but it was less then if we were to stay here. Bouncing from motel to motel until we were caught up on a technicality. That's always how it works.
"God, what are we doing? We are in over our heads Harry!" Stevie stresses pressing her foot harder on the gas until we were revving seventy miles an hour on a desolate stretch of road. My heart knocked against my chest in an erratic rhythm that unsettled me when my sweat dripped from my brow.
"We don't have a choice anymore!" I burst looking down to notice my palms trembled under the thick haze of anxiety. I was wading through dangerous waters but there weren't any other options I saw that could be plausible. "I don't have a choice..." I say in defeat looking at my hands that shook from deep-rooted emotions that refused to be relieved.
"Our faces are everywhere, there's no way we get through airport security. We have to think of another way," Stevie says reaching a little over one hundred. I can tell her stress is presenting itself in the way she drives.
"Stevie slow down!" I yell not knowing if there were any police readily available to pull us over. Kyla begins to scream and cry from the tension and yelling causing Stevie to slam on the breaks widening her eyes when she sees how fast she is going. The tires screech against the dusty road, dirt spirals around the car and my head spins.
The car comes to an abrupt halt, the dust creates a tornado around us while our voices become silent. The only sound is Kyla screaming at the top of her lungs. I can hear her kicking furiously but my eyes stay on the dust that blinds our vision.
"I'm afraid," Stevie loses the steadiness in her voice as she whispers this to me. Her shoulders move up and down as she begins to cry softly, she covers her face in her hands. "What's going to happen to us?"
"I will fix this, I will keep you safe," I tell her even though I haven't fully found a way to do that. I didn't have a plan of action, everything was based on the ever-changing moments. I was improvising my entire life.
"How?" Her question is a simple one-word question but I didn't have an answer to suffice. I didn't want to give her a bunch of bullshit but that was all I had. I wanted to comfort her, to tell her we were going to be okay but this time I wasn't so sure that was the case.
"I don't know... I just need to think,"
"Our time is running out Harry. There is no more time to think, we've hit the end of the road," she reminds me talking quietly under Kyla's constant screaming. I hesitate before I say anything else, I didn't know how to make Stevie feel better. I could barely keep my own sanity together and as the time ticks the police are that much closer to catching us.
My head jerks back when I hear Kyla's cries stop just to be replaced by what sounded like a vomiting sound. She sniffles and begins to cry again when she looks down at herself. Stress eats at me as Stevie looks back and noticed Kyla drenched in her own stomach contents.
"Oh my god, Harry we have to get her to a doctor," Stevie tells me unbuckling her seat belt to get out and take action immediately. Stevie had a very innate sense of nurturing despite her not having any of her own kids. She didn't have life experience with a baby but she seemed to take control and know exactly what to do.
"She's has the stomach flu before, it's only usually a twenty four hour thing. We need to find a gas station and clean her up. Get her some medicine so she can sleep," I tell Stevie swapping her seats when she exists and hops in the back to deal with the foul smell that was lingering in the little air we had in the car.
"What if it's worse then that, she's only one year old Harry," Stevie stressed over my baby girl as she found wipes and began to clean the best she could. Kyla screamed and kicked whenever she would try to wipe her face and mouth.
My heart broke and shattered in my chest seeing Kyla's crocodile tears roll down her face while she whined and begged to be held by me. What had my life become?
Stevie was right when she said I was in over my head.
"We just need to get far enough away from Texas. We can't just walk into a doctors clinic now, we will find a convenient store and grab some Motrin so she can at least be comfortable while we get her to help," I tell Stevie while she busily scrubs and cleans the parts of the backseat that were affected by Ky's vomit.
We sit in silence with nothing but the dying cries of Kyla. I give myself time to think about what my next move is, about what I was going to do if Kyla's illness was more serious then I am leading to believe.
Dry and dusty landscapes pass me by quicker then I can even acknowledge them. My thoughts race around in the same manner for the next hour as I listen to the voice in my head trying to make a logical decision.
I check the rear view mirror, my heart aches and pounds as I catch Stevie cradling Kyla. Kyla's little naked body is cuddled up to Stevie fast asleep while Stevie falls in and out of consciousness. Kyla was completely cleaned up with a fresh diaper while the back seat smelt of baby wipes and powder.
I wanted to give them everything, but how do I give them the world when I have less then a piece of it?
N. I'm sorry I've neglected you guys over here! Buuuut surprise!!😂