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Trudy was at that difficult age when it had become quite apparent parents were way out of touch with what was going on in the world. Trudy marvelled at their ignorance and was thankful she was part of the smart rising generation.
It was not difficult to come to that conclusion she reasoned. Look at all the problems in the world! It wasn’t kids who were creating international war situations, it was adults. It was adults who were in the headlines for abusing underage children, and it was adults who were lining their pocket in political power restricting rights and making a mess of economies.
It was parents who were so restrictive with their rules and boundaries when they should have seen a thirteen year old was mature enough to make their own decisions. These topics were top of the debate list as she and her peer group sat around in a group on the ball field after school, and their wisdom spilled over into the milk bars on the way home.
Trudy was particularly incensed at her parents for not letting her go to the disco joints of an evening. Her Mother had explained patiently that things happened there that even adults regretted after they’d attended expecting nothing more than an evening of lively entertainment. Mother pointed to the news items of adults having their drinks spiked and ending up wondering where they were in the middle of the night realizing too late men in the room were not there for their protection. Trudy was precious to her Mother and she didn’t want anything like that happening to her at any age. So discos were out until she was old enough to make mature decisions for herself!
Trudy had sneaked out of her bedroom window one night with the help of friends and tried her luck anyway, only to be thrown out by bouncers who didn’t want the police around for letting in underage kids. Well, it was to be expected! The bouncers were adults after all.
But Mothers have that sixth sense which tells them when danger is lurking around the corner and it wasn’t long before that evening excursion was known. It was that goody-two-shoes girl at school who’d heard about it and told her Mother. Now Trudy was under curfew, expected to be home right after school finished for the day and definitely not to have the girls who’d helped her break out to the disco around until it was apparent they too had learned their lesson.
That was too much for Trudy. She was leaving home! At school the next day she and her gang had a whispered conference. They were all leaving home!
But that evening when she looked out her window after lights out none of her friends were there as promised. They’d had a chance to think it over and compared in their minds the comfortable homes they enjoyed with life on the streets.
Their plot must have been discovered again thought Trudy. She threw her backpack out the window and followed. Running to where one of her friends lived she threw a stone at her friends bedroom window. A sleepy head appeared. The plot had not been discovered, her friends had decided it was a dumb plan and because Trudy’s cell phone had been confiscated they were not able to let her know what they’d decided.
Trudy retreated in a rage. Her friends were wimps!
She took her time walking to the bus terminus. It would be 5 am before the state bus services commenced again and she had enough money to make it to the capital city. She’d get a job and be independent. No more restrictions, no more rules. Reaching the bus terminus she prepared for a long sit in. She found a convenient bench, put her back pack under her head and was soon off to sleep.
The roar of motors woke her with a start. The bus station was full of people lined up at ticket offices so she took her place. But at the ticket counter the woman looked at her suspiciously.
“Where are your parents?” she asked casually smiling to disarm the girl’s suspicions.
“Oh they’ve gone on ahead and I have to meet them this afternoon.” Trudy lied convincingly.
The woman recoiled in surprise. What kind of parents did this girl have? But these days it wasn’t that surprising. To be on the safe side she took down the name and address before issuing a ticket. Just in case!
It was only as she was within the suburbs of the capital Trudy began to have second thoughts. The bus trip had taken most of her money. She alighted before the terminus where there were lots of small shops. One by one she worked them over looking for a job. The questions were always the same. How old are you? Sixteen Trudy would lie each time. But no one was convinced and no one interested. In one shop the owner excused himself and Trudy heard what she thought was a phone call to the police. She ran several suburbs and tried again. But at the end of the day she had no job, no money, and an ache in her stomach that told her she’d missed all her meals for the day.
Trudy sat shivering in the darkness hiding in a secluded place where it was unlikely there’d be any visitors. The smell from rubbish bins behind shops was so unpleasant she couldn’t sleep, but she was too frightened to move out to a lighted area. The news stories of damaged children now became real in her mind and each hour of the night increased her terror. She cried as she thought of her cosy bed at home and the wonderful meals the family enjoyed each day. She longed for her Mother’s warm embrace where she could feel safe.
But by morning light anticipation of a job and independence returned and she went dishevelled and smelling of garbage looking for work. But another day of hunger and refusals now had her totally disillusioned. She noticed some of the loitering late teens watching her as she travelled the streets and their look rang warning bells in her mind. She realized she was vulnerable, and this took away her bravado. She was scared.
One of the loiterers sauntered over to her and asked if she wanted money. Trudy looked around at the rest of the group who were making lewd signs at her and laughing. That was it! Trudy ran, with the loiterers running behind her and jeering. She noticed a police station and went and stood at the entrance. The loiterers stood at a distance beckoning her to come to them. There was no escape, Trudy turned and walked into the Police station and the loiterers vanished.
The officer at the desk looked up and saw a pathetic untidy little girl crying. He shook his head sadly. He’d seen too much of it in his time. He activated his computer and looked at the missing persons section and found what he was looking for. The missing persons report had been issued yesterday and this was definitely the girl they were looking for. She was lucky. It was probably too early for her to have experienced real street life. He called another officer who led her to a cell where she gratefully curled up and slept without the thought of hunger inside her.
And that’s where her grateful parents found her later that day. Mother put her arm around her and led her to the car while her Father filled in documents at the front desk. He looked up and smiled happily.
Trudy no longer rebelled when her parents gave her advice. She’d experienced what they’d been trying to communicate to her all along. They loved her and only wanted what was in her best interests as she grew up. She now realized they were her rock rather than her adversary. Home never seemed as appealing as it did now.
Oh, and she even made friends with little miss goodie-two-shoes at school!
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