(It’s late in the evening, around 8 PM. I have enough money to feed myself, but if I don’t find someone to keep me on the road, I’ll be sleeping in this 24/7 eatery. As I wait for my order, I ask around for folks to help me keep moving. A trucker overhears me and walks up to my table.)
Trucker: How old are you?
Me: I’m 16.
Trucker: You’re pretty young to be going around without your parents away from home.
A lady on the table across the aisle has been staring at us and speaks up.
Lady: Where do you live, hun? You better go back home.
Trucker: You’re old enough to do what you want. You’re a young woman.
Me: Exactly! That’s what I told my mom.
Trucker: Well, Don’t move around. I’ll be checking on my truck.
When the trucker leaves, the lady motions to me so we can keep talking. Her name is Angel.
Angel: How did you get all the way over here from Missouri?
Me: I took the bus out my town. Then I did some walking and hitchhiking. I’ve been hitchhiking for five days now. I was dropped off here by an old couple who were eager to bring me along, but they were going the other way. They were saying sorry a lot.
Angel: Are you gonna cry? You come over here if you want to.
I won’t pretend my face wasn’t getting moist at this point. I walked up to her seat and hugged her then and there.
Me: I’m so scared for my mom. I think she’s going to freak out when she finds out I’m not home anymore.
Angel: Well, hun. You’ve been gone five days. She’s definitely freaking out now.
Me: I know.
Angel: You’re going to be alright.
Me: What do you think I should do? The big man seems like a nice guy.
Angel: No, hun, strangers like him, they will pick up young girls like you and just pretend to be nice. You leave this place with him, and you may never be seen again live.
The man comes back, and he stares at Angel and me in shock, and then his eyes shoot red. Angel’s husband, who was pretending to read a paper the whole time, stands up to address him. He’s not as tall, but his bigger in different ways. He crosses his big arms at the man.
Angel’s husband: Change of plans, sir. We talked to this young lady, and she doesn’t have to go with you anymore.
Trucker: What’s going on here? We were doing just fine. I just went out to check on my truck!
Angel: Why don’t you just get in your truck and go? You’re not talking this girl with you anymore.
Trucker: I think she want’s to go.
Angel: I am not going to let you pick up a 16-year girl.
Trucker: Look, guys, I’m just giving her a ride. She was asking around!
Angel: You are not going to take this girl with you! We know the laws, and we can call the cops on you right now just for talking.
Trucker: All right. Forget it.
The trucker finally looks at me and speaks to me one last time.
Trucker: You had your chance, lady. I don’t know what they told you but good luck leaving this state.
Angel’s husband follows the trucker all the way to the door. The trucker definitely did not want to look back, and he was visibly moving faster. Angel talks to her husband as he walks his way back. He’s smiling now, with pleasant small crinkles around his eyes that make him seem so kind.
Angel: We’ve already saved a few kids, we’re gonna save this one too.
Angel’s husband to me: He was after you.
A few hasty hugs, a hot meal, and hours of phone calls later, I’m finally talking to my mom again, and we discuss how I make my way back. She and Angel exchanged phone numbers and she agrees to let Angel take me home so that she can pick me up there the next day.
The following morning, she hands me a letter to share with my mother. When I see her last name, I realize who she is and gasps, but she just shook her head at me and smiled a sad, pleasant smile.
To the mother of this lovely child; I could have never kept watching this little girl walk out of the door without me doing anything. My daughter ran away from me when she was 16 years old, and she went missing for six months. Around this day of the month two years ago, the police called me to ask me to identify her body. She left town with a man she didn’t know, but if one of the people who saw her get picked up and said or did something, she might still be with us. This lovely child of yours is at a delicate stage right now. Show her that you love her. You don’t know when you won’t be able to anymore. And protect her at all costs.
Later that afternoon, Angel and her husband met my mom and waved us goodbye. They seemed happy to have met me. They had the kind of happiness that they didn’t have in a long time.
Share this for the sake of teenagers and parents… Running away from home is never the solution to any problem.
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”