I’ve been listening intently to the rhythm of the breathing beside me for hours. I count, calculate, triple check, make sure the breaths signal deep slumber and not just the mere pretence of it. I feel the firm bed of carpet beneath me as I roll painstakingly slowly onto my side, my heart thundering in my ears and I pray it isn’t loud enough to wake the monster sleeping in the bed beside me.
I know that it’s now or never, I need to make my escape now in the dead of the night or I will be trapped here yet another day. My entire attention is focused on moving my body as silently as possible into a crouching position, moving one centimetre at a time, hoping the floor of this strange house doesn’t betray me with a creak, alerting the monster to my escape.
All the exits in this house are locked and can only be opened with a key, there was a flashing glint in the monsters eyes as he had explained that this was for my safety, we must make sure DHHS and the police can’t take me away. My eyes have adjusted to the darkness of the room as much as possible but with the curtains drawn and no moonlight I only have my sense of touch to guide me. I pat the carpet in front of me gingerly, the key to the door is in the pocket of the monsters tracksuit pants, I heard the muffled jangle as they hit the floor when he took them off, sliding snakelike into his bed.
My hand taps the soft material pile of his tracksuit pants on the floor, this is the most dangerous part. I must take the keys out of the pocket without making a sound, the monster sleeps in the bed right beside the floor where I am crouched. I locate the ring of keys in the pocket and grip the bundle tightly so they won’t knock together. One millimetre at a time I desperately transfer the keys from inside the pocket and into my hand. I grip the ring of keys so tightly they cut into the palms of my hands, they must not make a sound, I cannot explain this away.
The sound of the breath in the bed beside me is rhythmic and consistent, the lion still sleeps. I slowly rise to my feet, trying to quieten my breathing just in case the sound wakes him. One foot in front of the other, I step as quietly as I possibly can towards the bedroom door. One hand reaching out in front of me, feeling for any obstacles and trying desperately to locate the door, the other hand grips the precious keys to my chest. I twist the cold round door knob, praying there is no sound as it turns. As I open the bedroom door, light enters the room and I realise I must move more quickly now. I dart to the other side of the doorway as silently as I can and close it behind me.
There is another monster somewhere in the house, it is his house, but I don’t know where he is. I silently pad my way to the back door and unlock it, it is a heavy glass roller door that makes what seems like a cacophony of noise as I slide it just wide enough for me to slip through. I am outside. The fresh air fills me with a nervous excitement, I am almost free.
A ten foot high sheet iron fence winds around the perimeter of the suburban house. The huge sliding gate is closed like a fortress. How the fuck am I supposed to get out of this monsters den? I try to climb the fence but it is just too high for me to get a grip on the top of the sharp metal to pull myself over. I look at the padlock on the gate and try to see if any of the keys match up. The keys jangle and my heart pounds in my ears, I am so close but I am not free yet.
One of the keys finally matches the lock and the padlock clicks open, I pull it off the gate and throw it into the garden bed. The ten foot high metal gate is heavy and the screeching metal sound it makes as I try to push it open fills me with complete terror. The monsters must have heard the sound, how long will it take for them to get outside and catch me in my escape attempt. How many seconds do I have left.
I notice a car key on the key ring and decide I’m going to have to drive through the gate, I haven’t got the strength to open it any further. I unlock the car, jump in and turn it on. I’m going to have to reverse through the gate and hope for the best. I’ve only driven forwards on a straight country road so the mechanics of reversing are foreign to me. I smash the car into the gate and knock it half way off its roller, there is a terrible thunderous sound as the car hits the metal, my heart pounds in my chest and I know it’s go time, I must have less than thirty seconds before the monsters get to me. I drive forwards and then reverse again with my foot to the floor, the car somehow makes it out of the gate. I throw the car into drive and screech away into the freedom of the night outside the monsters den.
I drive until I find a parking area where I get out and assess the damage to the car. The side mirror is hanging off and there are deep scratches down the entire left side of the car but it is still drivable. I just need to get home now. I make futile attempts to stick the mirror back on to the car but each time it swings back down again. I rip the entire mirror off and throw it away onto the bitumen of the carpark.
I don’t know where in the city I am, I am lost and just want to get home. I drive, following the freeway until the names of the turnoffs look vaguely familiar. Attempting to obey the road rules I know of and draw no extra attention to the fourteen year old kid driving a beat up car in the middle of the night.
It’s just starting to get light as I hit my home street and my body relaxes slightly. I have survived, I made it out of the monsters den alive. As I drive up my home street I notice a car driving slowly in front of me, I wonder if I should go around it but hesitate. Then right when we are crossing a one way bridge the car in front stops suddenly and flashing red and blue lights appear behind me, I am wedged between the two cars and have nowhere to go.
A police woman walks up to the drivers side window and asks me to get out of the car. She reassures me that I am not in trouble, they are glad I am safe and it’s time for me to go home. One of the youth workers from my residential unit picks me up in their car and takes me the last 500 metres to my house.
I am safe, I am free, I am finally home.