I sighed, reaching my arm out to knock on the plain white door.
The past 48 hours had been absolute hell. One minute I was crossing the bridge into New Jersey, the next minute the Police were picking me up and dumping me in a drunk tank thinking I was out drinking. After I had successfully convinced them that I wasn't a drunk, wasn't running from the law, and really was who I said I was, they finally gave me food and sat me in an interrogation room to wait for my background check to come back.
Seeing as I had never held a drivers license, my fingerprints were never in the computer, until last night anyways.
When the officer finally returned to the room he held in his hand a single piece of paper. I was curious as to what it said and he certainly didn't keep me in suspense. "Well Isabella Swan, it seems as if you are not in the system. We are searching for your birth certificate to verify your age but seeing as you don't know where you were born that may take awhile. Now will you do all of us a favor and call a family member to come and collect you?" The cop was aged, obviously having been on the line of duty for years. His gray hair and wrinkles told me he had stressed for even longer than that.
I didn't know my parents phone number. And even if I did I wouldn't have called them. So I did the only thing I could think of to do, I lied.
"Um Officer, I'm eighteen and well," I took a deep, shaky breath, pointing to my face. "My father did this to me and I well, I need to get away." I looked down at my lap, I hated lying to authorities but at this point I had no other feasible choice.
Either way, one thing led to another and here I was, knocking on the door of the "home" that was going to help me. I turned to glance at the cop car waiting on the street, gave a small wave, finally finding the courage to knock.
Within moments a beautiful young woman opened the door, smiled at me, and held out her hand. "Welcome Isabella, my name is Carrie, let me show you to your room." She led me to small single room, filled to the brim with three single beds, two dressers, and a lamp. She led me to the bed by the window. "Here you are dear, and these clothes, well they're for you. Go ahead and get changed then come downstairs when you are ready to eat." She smiled softly as she made her way to the door. I forced a smile back then sank down to my bed. Inspecting the clothes she had left.
I'd been here five minutes and I already knew I wouldn't like it here. I don't know why I had the feeling that I did, perhaps it was the feeling of depression, or maybe it was the quietness. But then again, why lie; it was the list of rules and the schedule placed on top of my clothes that made me want to leave. According to the note pretty much everything was not allowed, and I would have to go to counseling twice daily. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled. Something else was wrong, I could feel it, I just didn't know what yet.
A plan began to form in my head. I smiled at how perfect it sounded. Yes, I was getting out of here tonight. Now if only I knew where here was so I would know where to go. The cop had driven almost an hour to get me here—however in the unfamiliar neighborhoods of New Jersey he could've been driving in circles for all I knew. Resolving to find a map later, I decided to head down to face everyone for dinner.
As I left the quaint room I would now be living in I couldn't help but feel trapped. All my life I had been trapped, first with my parents and then in an illegal job, but somehow, this time was different. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew they wouldn't just let me walk out the door here like I had always done before.
When I walked into the kitchen I was immediately shocked to see the sheer number of people in this house. There were 9 women at the table, not including Carrie, and about 15 or so children running around the room. From the outside the house hadn't looked like it had more than 5 bedrooms, if that. They must have had something in the basement because there was no way all these people could squeeze in this home.
Carrie must've noticed my shock for she quickly nudged one of the other ladies who scooted over to make room for me. "Isabella, right here for you dear."
I smiled and took the seat, wondering how I could get someone to disclose our location without my asking outright.
Dinner was mostly silent, in fact it seemed as if only a few of the women knew each other, the rest simply ate as I did, with our eyes downcast.
When I returned to my room after dinner I was surprised to see another woman as well as a younger girl there. I quickly made my way over to my bed—assuming these ladies were my roommates. I should've known the time of me being in my room alone were over.
I didn't realize I had closed my eyes but I must have for what seemed like a moment later the younger girl was poking me awake. "Isabella. Carrie says it's time to wake up now for breakfast."
I shot up in bed, glancing around for an alarm clock as I usually did. When my eyes didn't find one they instead came to rest on the young girl. "What time is it?" I asked as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
"Almost 7am." The young girl answered. She couldn't have been older than thirteen but I decided I was done playing the guessing game.
"Thanks, how old are you?" My mind immediately flashed back to a time when Alice had asked me the exact same question. I felt the tears well up behind my eyes.
"Twelve. I'm Grace. My mother, Emily is your other roommate. She went downstairs to cook breakfast." The young girl smiled. Her speech was slightly choppy and timid, almost as if she had just recently learned to talk. Oh well now was not a time to get to know people. Now was a the time to get my questions answered.
"Grace, do you by any chance know what city we are in?" I kept a fake smile on my face, hopefully the girl knew.
"We're in Franklin, New Jersey" she smiled again, proud of herself.
I sighed, my pulse racing. Franklin, New Jersey, I had almost made it across the entire state of New Jersey. I felt safer already.
Now, time to plan my escape…
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