Helen Carter was lying on her bed staring blankly at the ceiling. Her auburn hair was fanned out beneath her. Her mother said her hair was the mark of her father who left them when she was just a baby.
Her father was the Undertaker. Helen had found out when she was seven. Her mom had gone out drinking that Thursday like she always did. Leaving Helen alone with her cat Phoebe, Helen had followed Phoebe down to the basement of their house in Corpus Christi Texas and found a box filled with photo albums and wedding pictures. Some of which were now stored in a shoebox under her bed along with about eight hundred dollars. Money Helen had been saving since she was fifteen. Now she was going to be eighteen tomorrow and the minute she was she was gone. Helen was planning to go to Houston to find her father.
"HELEN!" her mom shouted up the stairs, disrupting her thoughts "Get your ass down here!"
'If I can get past my mom first' Helen thought rolling her eyes "My jailer summons me" she whispered to Phoebe.
"Meow" Phoebe looked up at her mistress as if to say "tell me about it"
Helen smiled and scratched the cat's ears. Phoebe was the only living thing that kept her sane in this house.
"HELEN!" Jodi Carter screamed again "You little bitch I said now!"
"I'm coming!" Helen called back. She pounded down the stairs and found her mom waiting with hatred in her eyes.
"When I say now I mean now!" Jodi punched Helen in the jaw sending her staggering against the wall.
"Jodi for Christ's sake leave the kid alone!" Jodi's sleazy boyfriend Mike yelled from the couch. Mike was always smoking pot and sure enough when Helen looked into the living room there was a joint smoldering in the ashtray.
Meanwhile Jodi was ranting and raving about what a dumb ass kid she was and how she should've left Helen in the group home.
'Ah the group home' Helen thought 'best two years of my life'
At long last Jodi calmed down.
"Ya done yet?" Helen asked
"Yeah" her mom spat "now go make dinner"
"With what food?" Helen scoffed "If you haven't noticed we don't have shit because you go out and blow you paycheck on booze with the rest of your bitches!"
That remark earned her another slap.
"Get out of here" Jodi snarled "You're your father's child alright"
"I'd rather be his child instead of your bastard daughter!" Helen shouted from halfway up the staircase. She ran to her room, slammed the door and fell against it crying with her head in her hands.
Phoebe leapt into Helen's lap and looked at her with sad blue eyes.
"We're leaving tonight baby" she said stroking the cat's gray fur
That night Helen's alarm went off at one in the morning as planned. She quickly punched the off button and grabbed her things out of the closet. After making sure she had her money and the pictures tucked safely into her purse she started sneaking down the stairs with Phoebe at her ankles.
A light clicked on downstairs. Helen jumped out of her skin thinking it was Jodi but it turned out to be Mike.
"What do you want?" Helen snapped "I'm in a hurry Mike"
"I just wanted to give you this" Mike held out a pair of car keys "Go find your dad kid. I grew up in an abusive home too. I didn't get away and look what happened to me."
"Mike I…" Helen took the keys "I don't know what to say"
"Don't say any thing" Mike winked at her "just consider it and eighteenth birthday present"
Helen hugged him tight. Mike hugged her back.
"Guess you're not such a sleazebag after all" Helen said
Mike smiled "Stay safe kid" he told her.
Helen nodded and ran out to Mike's blue Oldsmobile she put her bags in the back seat, got behind the wheel and started the engine. Even Phoebe looked happy to get away.
Helen backed out of the driveway and hit the road. She looked through the rearview mirror. The song "Bye, bye" by Jo Dee Messina started playing on the radio.
"Hey Phebes" Helen realized "I'm not a Carter anymore"
Phoebe looked up, confused
Helen smiled "I'm a Callaway"
Bye, bye. Bye, bye my baby.
Bye, bye the song finished.