Essay Sample: Find and Seek

"I didn't even do anything that bad, they're being dramatic," Ellie glared at her foster brothers that cowered in the corner, their grubby hands gripping onto their ipads as if their life depended on it. When her scolding green gaze landed on them, the two boys scurried up the stairs. 
Gwen, Ellie's case worker, closed her eyes and let out a loud sigh. ''Ellie, you came into their home drunk at 3 in the morning, I don't think they were being dramatic," Gwen pauses, her gaze softening, ''have you been taking your meds? We both know how you get when--"
 ''Yes, I've been popping my pills, Gwenie. And the drunk,'' she says, putting drunk in hand quotations, ''thing was barely even tipsy. Give the credit where it's due.'' 
That was a lie. The half empty bottle of vodka and smashed beer cans scattered around her best-friend's room proved that. Lying was like drinking water to Ellie Albright. Her entire life has always been littered with manipulations and false niceties, it's only in her nature to give the world the exact thing it gave her; pain. It was immature, she knew this, but the only other option would be to become serious and that was the last thing she wanted to do. 
    ''--Moving homes on Friday.''
    Ellie snaps her head up, all emotions scattering around her brain like a pinball machine. 
    ''Moving homes? What the fu-"
    Gwen interrupts her with a cough, her face souring at Ellie's close-call profanity.
''Stop. Just stop. I'm sick of you acting like you're clueless every time you do something bad. You know what you did, Ellie. Grow up and stop acting the twelve year old I picked up off the street.''
Ellie scoots down in her chair, static gripping her brown curls. She lets the silence fill the air, the tenseness like ugly tendrils wrapping around her spine. 
''I'm sorry, that was not the best thing to say,'' Gwen lays her interlocked hands on the table, her stare falling on the disheveled, hungover teen. ''But, I am not wrong. I know you're not as stupid as you let people believe, Ellie. You are a smart girl with your whole future ahead of you. If you just let yourself believe that, then--''
"How many months do I have left," Ellie forces out, eyes overflowing with untamed rage. "I turned seventeen, what, seven months ago? Six, maybe. We don't even know my real birthday, Gwen. I don't even know the day I was born, much less how to realize that my life isn't destined to end up back on those streets you so kindly mentioned. So no, I will not let myself believe anything. What I will do is go upstairs into my room, pout, and wait for you and whoever else to decide where you'll stick me for the next six or seven months,'' Ellie launches out of her seat and bolts up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door behind her. 
There were only three days until Friday. If she was being exact, there was 68 hours, 34 minutes, and 49 seconds until Friday, August 13, 2021. What some may call a regular old Friday, Ellie calls the day she's packing her crap and getting the heck out of dodge. In simpler terms, she's a soon to be runaway. She's not running away to any random place, either. Ellie found out her birth mothers name and where she lives after some careful snooping and a lot of lying. Ellie is going home. 

Friday August 13, 2021 
Ellie Albright has been doomed from the start. When she turned 15, she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. They figured that one out by the manic weeks she spent up to 8 days straight learning how to speak Russian and the depressive episodes spent locked in her room, disassociating so frequently she forgot to eat for a week. She has been labeled as a more high risk placement by the time she entered the system. They took one look at the sinful smirk and wild curls and had a good idea what they were getting themselves into. They were wrong. 
The first foster home she went to ended up with police cars swarming the property with Ellie in the middle of it all, covered in her foster brother's blood. No, she didn't kill him, but she did put him in a medical coma for two weeks for the simple reason he wouldn't take no for an answer. What can she say, a girl can do a lot with a bat and anger issues. The second home ended in jail time, the third wound up being a crack house, and the fourth...The fourth Ellie doesn't talk about. Fifth and six were boring old people on their deathbed who thought they were being good Christains, but the seventh, her current one, was her favorite. Mark and Anna actually listened to her, were interested in her hobbies, her likes and dislikes; they wanted to know her. They didn't do it to feel like some hero in the making or to please any gods, they did it because they merely loved kids and wanted to give back in any way they could.
Apparently that changed when she stumbled home late and drunk out of her mind. Her therapist says she did it all on purpose, that she pushes people away whenever she realizes they were peeling back her layers. Ellie thinks it's bull. She just didn't want to feel anything for a second; she wanted to just be a semi-normal teen who commits normal teen mistakes. Honestly, the most insulting thing about all of this is the fact that her therapist compared her to an onion, which made Ellie smile and give the old bastard the finger. 
All in all, this is a very nice way of saying Ellie is one messed up kid and what do messed up kids do? Well, they mess up. This time the mess up was completely in her control. No caseworkers in her ear screaming about what she should have done, no teachers giving her that look when she doesn't do as well as the other kids on a test, nothing but Ellie. She would be free for the first time in her life. 
She already had it all drawn out; she spent the past two nights devising an escape plan. It was an easier task than she thought it would be. She hasn't made any solid friends here in Everen, so that wasn't really a concern of hers. No one would ask questions besides Gwen and a few other nobodies, but she knew they wouldn't look for long. Foster kids are notoriously known for their habit of running away; looking for her would just be a waste of their precious time. 
"Crap,'' she cursed after hitting her head on the bed frame.
It was early morning in Everen, Washington. Fall was slowly beginning to seize the air, the smell of fresh baked snickerdoodles and the sound of crushed leaves followed everyone on their journeys. After school, Ellie was supposed to pack her stuff and leave, but she rarely did what she was supposed to do. So instead, she's gonna stay home and get as far away from this town as possible. 
She looks down at the small duffle bag in front of her in exasperation. She needed to pack light, she knew this, but she had so many keepsakes she had to bring with her; she didn't want to abandon them, especially the photo. She didn't remember much from when she was a kid, trauma blocking is what they called it. When a firefighter found her in an abandoned building in late winter, she only had three belongings. A backpack and inside held one tattered blanket and an old picture. In the photo, there's a baby; female or male, they don't know, but it's the only thing she has to call her own. 
After finishing up packing her essentials and making sure she left nothing important behind, Ellie forces her window open. A rush of air hits her skin like bullets full of anxiety. She's run away before, but nothing compared to this. This time she wasn't just running to the nearest 7-11; this time she was meeting her birth mother who presumably left her stranded in an abandoned building. Deciding to just go for it, Ellie crawls out onto the rooftop, her knees digging into the harsh material. She carefully got to the edge and while securing her bag, she quickly jumped down. As soon as her feet hit the ground, a stabbing pain runs up her leg causing her to cry out. 
"Ellie? Are you okay in there?''
Ellies heaves, her eyes sweat as she clenches them closed. Hands trembling, she pulled herself up, making sure the duffle bag was tightly wrapped around her back. 
''Ellie?!  What are you doing? Are you okay?"
Squinting, Ellie looks up to her old window. She sees Anna's frantic eyes and almost laughs, not out of childishness, but out of pure delirium. She wonders if she hit her head on the way down. 
''Just getting some fresh air. Fall is my favorite season, you know?''
Ellie doesn't let herself listen to whatever Anna had to say. As soon as the last word leaves her mouth, Ellie goes full sprint through the yard, past the neighbors house, and down endless roads full of suburban families. She doesn't stop running, she doesn't even let the thought enter her mind. If she did, she was afraid she would turn around and beg for Gwens forgiveness and no one deserved that. Not Ellie, not Gwen, and certainly not the 12 year old girl they found in that abandoned building all those years ago. 
A couple of hours later, as the moon started to rise and her eyes started to droop, Ellie finally arrived in the next town over. It's a larger city than Everen and with large cities come buses. She had about $1,243 dollars saved up over the past few months for this exact reason. Running away has always been an emergency plan. Four days ago, taking the plan seriously felt like a part of her imaginative self, now it has come into her reality like a manifestation. 
When she got on the bus, the actuality of the situation hit her full force. She did it. If she could get this far, she knew she wouldn't let herself go back. She was going to meet her birth mother. Now, she had the weight of her life in her hands and dang did it feel good. 


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