TITLE: RULES FOR RUNNING AWAY
Everything changed the day I spotted that letter in the recycling. I was shoving an empty milk jug into the bin when my name stuck out.
Ana, it said on the damp, sticky envelope.
No one called me Ana, my name in Spanish. Mom's name was below mine and stained in a circle of olive oil. Care of Ellen Berger. Apparently, someone had cared enough to tear off the return address, so I couldn’t see who’d sent the letter to me.
Even before Mom’s fiancé walked into the kitchen, I smelled him. It was an earthy odor, like someone had lit a match to a pile of leaves.
“Hey Big A,” he said. “What’s up?” Every time Craig called me Big A, I heard, You’re fat. Which I wasn’t.
“Just recycling.” I held up an empty can, hoping he believed me. “Gotta take care of Mother Earth.”
Craig's head poked into the fridge. I bet it was him. He’d thrown my letter away.
I dug deeper into the recycling, under flattened cardboard boxes and empty cans. Wait till I told Mom.
There was another scrap, buried under the soy yogurt. R.J. Blanco, it said. Blanco was my father’s last name—and one of the few things I knew about my dead father. I shoved the piece into the front pocket of my jeans.
“I didn’t hear you come home.” Craig’s grape-colored yoga shorts matched his sweatshirt. “I was meditating. I must’ve gone into another world.”
Craig was always in another world.