The Miller Miles
The boys got in the car and drove off the next day, leaving Stephanie and myself in the cold motel room, not really sure what to say to one another. I knew I wouldn't be sticking around with these idiots once they got me to Phoenix, but something about Stephanie cried out for help. I wanted to take care of her. I wanted to help her. If I abandoned her as soon as I found a way to Phoenix, I'd be no better than the two guys I had grown to dislike so much.
"Hey Manda," she said to me a couple of hours into watching cartoons like any normal 13 year old kid, "what do I do if I'm pregnant?"
"We just have to hope the guys get a job so they can take care of us. If you get pregnant, you'll have to go home. We can't take you to the hospital because they would want to know where your parents are."
"I think I might be pregnant," she admitted.
"But didn't you just meet Jason? How could you be pregnant this quickly?"
"It's not his."
"WHAT?!" I was clearly and openly astonished. How could it not be Jason's kid? She was just a little girl! There was a lot about the Miller family I never really knew and didn't need to know about.
"It's my step-dads."
"Your step-dad raped you?"
"No," she said as calmly as possible. "I wanted to know what it was like to have sex so I got naked and walked into their room one night."
"Does your mother know?!"
"She was there." It was a plain statement, as though she didn't believe it was at all unusual.
I was trying my best not to throw up. I couldn't imagine anything so disgusting or vile in all my life. I thought my parents were horrible, and here was this poor, twisted little girl who thought she had a normal life. No matter what happened to all of us, I needed to take care of her. She needed someone she could trust in her life.
The boys came back with what they thought was good news that afternoon. Stephanie and I had been talking for hours and the TV had been switched off. By the time the guys walked in, both of us had shared practically our life stories with one another and both of us had cried our hearts out. We bonded as closely as sisters in those hours in the lonely, cold hotel room. The boys didn't even notice.
"We might have a job," Byron blurted out. Both she and I turned to stare at him.
"Yeah," Jason said. "We talked to one guy and he told us to come back tomorrow to talk to the boss. I might be breaking in horses by Friday." Doubt lingered in his voice though, and all I could do was hope he was wrong. Stephanie and I needed to get her to her father. He would be able to take care of her better than anyone else, or so I had hoped. She and I had both finally agreed on that just before the boys came in.
They went back the next day and didn't return right away. Either they had good news and had started working right away (though I imagined them to be cleaning out stalls rather than breaking horses) or they were driving around looking for another job. After a couple of hours I got my answer.
"We aren't going to find anything," Byron said, completely defeated. Stephanie and I hadn't eaten all day. The last can of Chili was long gone and nothing remained in the Frito's bag after I let her have the few remaining crumbs. I pretended not to be hungry for her sake. "I think we should go to Phoenix," he finished.
"But won't Dad get in trouble?" Stephanie and I had rehearsed for this moment. She did outstandingly.
"It's better than starving to death in here," Jason said. My stomach growled in agreement. Both of the guys had extremely negative attitudes all of a sudden. They began packing everything that second. Stephanie and I pretended to protest, but just enough to not raise their suspicions. That was exactly what we had wanted, and what Stephanie needed. We all piled up and we hit the road once more.