We ran wild at night, effortless, boundless, under a blood-red sky—to where and to what we couldn’t have known. We craved it, that someplace. We were two little girls, sisters, daughters with no mother, distrustful of the freedom we were given, knowing she shouldn’t have left. We tore across dirt campgrounds where we slept, naked but for our mud boots, letting the wind shiver up across our bare chests. We stole bags of chips from the canteen on the pier. Our feet pounded the crushed oyster shells in seaside motel parking lots when we’d search for drinking water, and we let calluses thicken up our soles to withstand the hot desert sand, or dash over a highway of broken glass, wherever we’d been dropped. We scampered across the foggy cliffs that separated Pacific Coast Highway from the ocean in old ballet slippers, as nimble as two fairies, our long red hair whipping into tangles in the wind. We bumped up against the night, without stopping. We stole wrinkled leather sneakers that were two sizes too big, and wore them until they fit. We raced in the sand, fought in the dusk. We knew we were not invisible. We tightened belts around our stomachs at night and bicycled unlit sidewalks and sometimes tucked up our knees and steered with no hands through the darkness. No one hit us. We believed we were unstoppable. We slept under sleeping bags, beneath trees, and pushed our backs against cliffs, our noses cold.
We waited for our mother to come back.