Out West

Essay by hiflyinggymnast October 2008

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I used to live in an old run down apartment on the Eastside of Baltimore. My mother sent me out west on an orphan train. I didn't want to leave, but my mother could simply not take care of me. I was adopted by what I thought was a nice couple and their son Henry. Well, I thought wrong. The couple's name was Mr. and Mrs. Storm, and they weren't looking for another child. They were looking for cheap labor to help run their farm out in the country.

"I hate my life!" I cried as I ran up the stairs to my room. At least that's what I call it. It isn't really a room. It's an old, dirty attic. I sprawled on my creaky bed sobbing. Just moments ago, I had been whipped by Mr. Storm because I hadn't cooked breakfast properly. I never seemed to do anything right.

As my tears subsided, I heard heavy footsteps coming up the rickety stairs. "Melissa got in trouble! Melissa got in trouble!" a voice taunted. I didn't even need to lift my head to know it was Henry. "Mother says to come down right now and start on your chores," Henry sneered, "And while you're at it, do my chores too because I have school today." I just glared at him, too angry to even speak. "See ya, wouldn't want to be ya!" Henry sang as he skipped out the room and down the stairs.

I slowly got to my feet and shuffled out the door. I slipped out the back door, not wanting to be seen, and headed down to the barn to feed the horses and clean the tack room. I quickly accomplished the task of feeding the horses, but the tack room was another matter. There was trash everywhere and a lot of dirt and dust. I took a rag and was just starting to wipe off some of the grime when I knock a book to the floor. I picked it up and peered at the cover. The book was called Uncle Tom's Cabin. I had heard of that book. All of Mr. Storm's friends talked about it. I didn't understand what the fuss was about. I opened the book and began to read. The book told about the lives of slaves and how they were treated. I realized that since Mr. Storm couldn't own slaves, he had adopted me, an orphan, to act as a slave. I decided then and there that what the Storms were doing was wrong and I had to run away. I spent the rest of the day finishing my chores and hatching a plan.

That night, I waited until the Storms were asleep and crept out of the house with a small pillow case full of belongings. I broke into a run and didn't stop until I reached a river. I lifted the pillow case above my head and waded across. Thankfully, the river wasn't too deep. As I clambered up the river bank in my soggy clothes, I was filled with hope. I saw a small town not too far ahead. I know that I would be able to find help and get a fresh new start. The morning dawned bright and clear.