Forsake Me

Photo by Landon Martin on Unsplash

Most people who are born and raised in one culture will, for obvious reasons, end up being a reasonably good fit in that culture, but not always. For example, Cliff was born and raised in a major metropolitan region. A total population of close to three million, more bridges than he ever wanted to cross, and tourist traps from one side of the state to the other.

All it took was one trip out to Northern California to make the idea of moving go from simmering under the surface to boiling across his skin. He yanked down the back of the moving truck’s rolling door, ignoring the sniffling behind him. He’d done in his time in this hellscape. It was time to extricate himself from the claws of the environment intent on keeping him trapped.

Verifying he had enough in cash to fill the tank up to ten times, a soft whine behind him finally broke through his disconnected mind. A wet nose bumped the back of his calves. Cliff rolled his eyes, but he turned and knelt.

“Yeah, I know. I’m an awful person. But you wouldn’t enjoy the ride. Not too many potty breaks over 2,500 miles,” Cliff said, running his fingers through his ancient Collie’s shaggy hair.

“I don’t think he’d mind.”

Cliff looked up and into the eyes of his stepmother. The number one reason he was leaving Shreveport. She got rid of him. Now she was trying to get rid of the damn dog, too.

“You gonna drop him off the nearest overpass once I’m gone?” he asked.

“Clifford.”

Cliff ignored his mother, carefully picking Percy up and taking her around to the passenger side of the truck. Percy’s tongue lolled and she panted. Cliff smirked.

“Runt,” he said, petting her head and neck once more before easing the door shut.

His mother stopped him at the back of the truck, holding out a slip of paper.

“Something to get you started,” she said, tears slipping from her honey-colored eyes.

Cliff stared at her, lips turned down. He snatched the check. Nearly ten grand. He looked back up, eyes locking with his mother’s, and tore the check into as many pieces as he could.

“I’d rather starve,” he said, dropping the pieces to the ground.

His mother’s lower lip trembled, and that just enraged him even more.

“I love you,” she whispered.

“Don’t call me. Don’t text me. Don’t even think about me,” Cliff said, pushing past her and climbing up into the truck cab.

He didn’t look back once he pulled away from the three-story house. The only home he’d ever known. Until his mother chose her wife over him. Percy stretched out, rested her head over Cliff’s right thigh. Cliff let out a heavy sigh and settled his hand on her ribs. Lost himself in the rhythm of her steady breathing and made his way to the interstate that would take him out of Louisiana for the last time.

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