Running Away

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Poppy's feet hit the ground the second I opened the door. Well, her butt did. I scared her so bad, she missed the last three rungs and landed straight on the snowy ground. I was surprised she made it as far down as she did wearing a pair of high heels.

Her terrified face gazed up at me. She was wearing long, fake eyelashes and her eyes were coated with thick layers of eyeliner. I could see the sparkles from her earrings—the ones she only wore for school pictures or to special events.

"Poppy, what the hell is going on? This isn't you!" I said.

Ever since the boys were born, she'd been acting weird. While I was pregnant she seemed so excited to help take care of them. She was a big help once they were born, and then she went back to school. She helped out less and less.

Of course, except when they would make good content for her Instagram photos. She'd dress them up in matching outfits and take pictures, then bask in all the likes. But besides that, she hadn't changed a single diaper or fed them in the middle of the night to help me get some sleep, like she promised.

I held my arms to my chest and shivered. Poppy got to her feet and dusted herself off.

"Would you chill out? I'm just going to my study group at the library," she said.

"Study group?" I looked over at the car in the street. Now that I was closer, I could see the rideshare sticker in the window. "I may be gullible sometimes, but I'm not stupid! There's no way you're going to a study group dressed like that. You're covered in makeup and wearing heels. What's his name?"

"I don't need to tell you that. My business is my business." She pivoted and went towards the car. I grabbed her arm. "Let go! I can do what I want."

The look in her smoky eyes was making me well up with tears. That and the cold wind hitting me right in the face.

"Poppy, I feel like I don't even know you anymore. You've stopped being on top of your homework, you don't help with the boys...and now you're sneaking out. Why? None of this makes sense."

"I've just...changed, alright? I'm not a little kid anymore. I want to go out and do normal teenage things! I'm not spending all my nights helping you do chores and feed babies. I love the boys but they're not my kids. I want to be normal."

Her words hit me in the pit of my stomach. It was a Friday night. Right before I started cooking dinner, I saw pictures Cler posted of her with Heather and Maddox, getting ready for a movie night at her place. I was even invited, but I had the boys.

Poppy wanted to be normal because she saw that I wasn't.

"Okay. I get it. But you don't have to run out like this. I don't care that you're seeing someone, and I'm sure Mom wouldn't love the idea, but all we want is for you to be safe. I don't know who they are or where you're going."

She got her elbow free from my grasp. "I am safe. It's not a big deal."

"Maybe not to you, but it is to me!"

"Look, I'll be back way before Mom gets home. If you don't say anything, I'll clean your room for a month."

"Are you serious? Your bribes aren't gonna work this time. Go back inside!" She tried to make a run for it, but I grabbed the back of her jacket. "Why can't you tell me who it is?"

"I just want it to be private, okay?"

"Poppy, is it a girl? Is that why you want this to be a secret? If it is, you know Mom and I love you no matter what. We can care less who you date."

"It's not a girl!" she said. "And if you can care less who I date, then you'll let go of my freaking jacket and let me go see who I want to see."

"Why don't you just let me take you? Are you going to his house?"

"I'm not telling, and I'm not letting you drive me."

"Okay, go. But I swear, I'm calling the cops if you're not back by ten." I said. "And will you at least let me drive you from now on?" 

"Geez. You're such a buzzkill now. Fine I'll be back by ten," she said. "And no. I need to go alone." 

I couldn't fight her anymore. I was freezing and exhausted. There was also no stopping Poppy when she was determined to do something. Her head was three times as thick as Mom's.

The car pulled away and I went back inside. I sat on the couch, wrapped myself in a fuzzy blanket, and tried to figure out what to do. I felt like if I told Mom, it would betray Poppy's trust in me and make things ten times worse.

I found my way into the internet and scrolled through chat forums of people who had kids that were sneaking out. It seemed like the only thing I could actually do in the moment was look for resources and advice.

I even found out that we had a local support group for siblings of teen parents, if I could even convince her to go.

Right now, all I could do was hope she was safe with whoever she was seeing. Yes, she was a teenager, and teenagers did things like this, especially when there were big things going on. Suddenly living with two babies had to be a huge change.

I would know.

It had to be crazy hard for her to deal with it, especially still being in school. I didn't even want to finish my dinner. I sprawled out on the couch. I needed to take a nap while there was some silence in the house for once.

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