The question readers ask most after reading PRETTY AMY or DEAR CASSIE or both is, “What happened to LILA?”
I shared a snippet of Lila’s life now in the YA Scavenger Hunt recently and if you missed it I thought I would also share it here.
If you’ve read Pretty Amy & Dear Cassie you know there’s another best friend whose story has yet to be told. Here is what Lila has been up to since the prom night arrest….
I didn’t leave a note. I bet that’s what everyone is saying, or asking—she didn’t bother to leave a note— but it’s not like I killed myself or something.
Even though my mother and step-father might be wishing I had, now. At least if I was dead they wouldn’t have the police up their asses about it. Not that I know exactly what they are dealing with since I left, but Brian has told me more than once that I can’t call home because the place is crawling with cops. Fat cops, thin cops, big cops, small cops—they are slurping coffee in my kitchen and combing through my room for clues as to where I’ve gone.
I can say gone because I’m eighteen. So, as far as the law is concerned, I didn’t run away. I guess there’s that at least.
That doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for me. Even without Brian worrying about that on an hourly basis, I’m aware of the fact that people are looking for me, for us.
See, I was arrested and we left before my court date and from my new habit of excessive TV viewing I know this is a very big deal.
Not that I have a choice.
There isn’t much else to do but watch basic cable when you’re holed up in every hole of a motel room along the New York interstate. It’s either that, or examining the ice from the ice machine as it melts in the sad, plastic bucket they give you that looks more like a bed pan.
Watching Judge Judy, COPS and Law and Order have taught me that missing my court date has set the following wheels in motion:
- A judge has issued a warrant for my arrest.
- I am now considered a fugitive.
- Since I’m not out on bail, my mother and step-father are probably being charged in
These are all bad things. And reasons people look for you.
I wasn’t thinking about any of that the night I left with Brian. I was thinking about
whether I could go through with it; whether I could really leave everything except for him and the backpack on my shoulder behind.
“So, we’re doing this?” I asked, standing next to his running Ford pickup, burgundy, the color of an old-lady’s lipstick. I’d needed some convincing. The kind I usually needed when it came to Brian. I liked to think of myself as uber-confident and was able to convince most girls of that, but when I was with a guy that confidence melted.
Just like the ice in a motel ice-bucket.
When I was with a guy, I liked him to tell me what to do for a change—as long as I agreed with it.
“Do you want to go to jail?” Brian asked, his arm hanging out the open window. He was wearing a black short sleeves shirt, so his bicep hugged the door of the car. “Do you want me to go to jail?”
“No,” I paused, of course I didn’t. I hadn’t wanted any of this. All I wanted was to go to my stupid senior prom, but when he and his friends didn’t show up I broke into his house and swiped the huge bag of Marijuana he had because he dealt to the kids at his high school.
You can probably figure out the rest since I got arrested.
You can also probably figure out why Brian wanted to leave.
“Get in before someone sees you,” he said, looking behind him.
“There has to be another way,” I said, even though I knew there wasn’t.
“Lila,” he paused, “There isn’t,” he added, because he knew, too.
There was nothing else to say, so I got into his truck. It had newly-switched out plates thanks to some guy he knew. That was what being a drug dealer got you, the pleasure of knowing a guy who could switch out your plates and make fake ID’s for you and your fugitive girlfriend.
We pulled away from my quiet, dark house and down my street. I watched my rusty, old mailbox get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. I watched it as we turned off Macadamia and onto Main Street and like that, we were gone.
The first night was fun.
The second night was still fun.
The third night was less fun.
The fourth night was even less fun than that.
By the fifth night, I think we might have both been asking, what the fuck are we doing?
We were staying at a motel outside of Syracuse. Almost a week on the road and we hadn’t even left New York State. I guess it would have made sense to drive and drive and drive—get as far as we possibly could—but any time we saw a sign signaling a state-line we turned back. Brian said we shouldn’t bring our crimes beyond New York. It would make them federal crimes.
I knew from my excessive TV viewing that our crimes were already bad, and that federal crimes were worse.
So far staying in New York had been okay, but it made me wonder how long we would keep driving in an outline, turning back each time we hit a new state. Over and over again, like a child learning to trace.
I wondered how long we could wiggle the cookie-cut-out of New York State.
“They’ve probably just forgotten about us,” I said, looking in the mirror that lined the wall across from the bed I was laying on. Mirror checking was a habit of mine, as long as I looked good, everything was good. So far I still looked good, but we were running out of money so I wasn’t sure how much longer that would last. How much longer I would have a mirror besides the one in Brian’s truck to even stare into.
“They might not be looking for you, but they are definitely looking for me,” Brian said, standing at the window. It was hard to tell when Brian said that, if it was ego or paranoia talking. Spending so much time with him, I’d learned he had a capacity for both.
Not that he didn’t deserve to. He had one of those chiseled faces with cheeks so sharp they could cut vegetables and curly brown hair that a girl would kill for, but that he wore tousled and messy because he was a guy. All that would have been enough, but then there were his eyes, seemingly filled with light, like someone had put one miniscule drop of soy sauce into vat of water.
I used to think I could look into those eyes forever. I had no idea when I first thought that how many miles forever might mean.
“There haven’t been any news reports about it,” I said, angling my head so I could see my chin. My features were more delicate than Brian’s but no less deserving of an ego.
When I wasn’t watching TV shows, or looking in the mirror, I had been scanning for news reports. Not that I wanted to be on the news—for a whole lot of obvious reasons—but if I was going to be I definitely wanted to know which picture they would use. Knowing my mother she gave them the crappy one from my sophomore year when the picture-guy snapped just as both my eyes were closed.
I had to agree to go out with Jim Hutchens to keep it out of the yearbook. To do stuff with him when we did go out—not sex—but other stuff. Enough stuff that he’d swapped it for another photo. I kept it in the top drawer of my desk so I would remember the lengths I’d taken to make sure no one ever saw me in a way I didn’t want them to.
I guess that didn’t really matter now, considering what people probably thought of me anyway.
“They’re not going to put us on the news, Lila,” Brian said, pacing the floor. The brown carpet was worn. It looked like it had been paced before. “We haven’t murdered anyone, but I bet our photos are floating around post offices and city halls.”
“Wow, we’re famous,” I joked.
“We better hope we never get famous,” Brian said, furrowing his brow. He didn’t think that was funny. Our time on the road had turned him serious, jumpy.
“But I’ve always wanted to be famous,” I continued to joke. It had been a while since we had been together.
Four whole days.
The first night we did it the minute we got inside our motel room. Both our clothes off before we’d even hit the bed. For me it was the freedom, a way to confirm that we were really doing this together.
But since then, nothing, I was starting to feel neglected.
I was starting to feel ugly.
“We can’t stay here much longer,” he said, peeking out the heavy orange window-shade and then putting it back. He had to have done it twenty times in the last hour.
He could blame it on the fact that he thought someone was following us, but we both knew it was really because we were down to our last twenty dollars. Not even enough for another night in the crappy motel we called home. Not even enough for gas to get us further than the next town.
“I know,” I said. “One more night,” I added, my chest starting to tingle and hollow. Maybe he didn’t want to discuss that we were out of money, but I did.
I was scared.
I wanted him to run across the motel room, take me in his arms and tell me everything would be alright, like he had the first night.
Like he hadn’t since the first night.
“I know, Lila,” he said, with an edge to his voice. I shouldn’t have pushed it, but I couldn’t help it.
“What are we going to do?” I asked, pushing it even further. I sat up on the bed, the comforter scratching the part of my legs that weren’t covered with jean shorts; it had been washed so many times, it felt like sandpaper.
My insides felt like sandpaper.
“Why don’t you stop asking questions and come up with some answers,” Brian spit, finally walking across the room, but not to comfort me, to slam the door to the bathroom and turn on the shower.
Unfortunately, that was another thing I’d been learning about Brian on the road, the temper I used to find sexy was now bothering the shit out of me.
I wouldn’t say it scared me, because he hadn’t done anything to scare me yet, but once he did I knew it would. Once he did, I didn’t know what I would do.
I snuggled under the covers. $20 was nowhere near enough to keep surviving and wondered what we would have to do to get more.
Wondered how far we would have to go next.