Her father is not Roman Grant, and she doesn't have to run. She'll never be like Rhonda, or Nicki, or Margene, or even her mother. Her mother. The one. The only.
She loves them all. She does. But there are just some things that will never change, some things that really are more important than family. So when she climbs into the passenger seat of Heather Tuttle's car, watches that green, green grass slipping past her for the last time, she knows it's for the best.
"I'm not staying," she says to Heather when they pull into her driveway. The words that follow are strained, and Heather, the little polygamy cheerleader that she is, tries to talk her out of it, tells her that her family is wonderful, that she's lucky to have them, that they would never push her into anything. Not like Rhonda.
But Sarah knows all this and words are wasted.
"I'll walk myself," she finally says, turning her back on her friend.
Halfway down the block, Sarah can hear the quiet hum of the engine behind her. "Get in," Heather says, conceeding.
The ride to the bus station is spent in silence.
This is the really hard part. This is the part when she knows that they're going out of their minds with worry. The letter on her bedside table probably read a hundred times over by dozens of eyes.
I'm sorry. I won't be back, is all it said. She knows she owes them more than that.
She throws up in the bathroom at the bus station in some mountain town in Pennsylvania. She hasn't eaten in a day, nothing but handfuls of guilt, swallowed down like poison.
She wakes up early, puts tea on the stove, eats dry cereal and doesn't read the paper. The apartment is small, and drab, peeling paint because she hasn't earned a full paycheck yet and her savings is running thin. But she thumbs through design magazines and makes big plans.
She doesn't miss them. Not really. Teeny and Ben, when she smells freshly cut grass for some reason. Mom, when she hears her words coming out of her mouth or buzzing around in her head.
But not Dad.
She doesn't blame him. That's not it. It's just too soon.
She knows they know she's okay. And she stopped wondering if they were gonna come looking for her a long time ago.
Now, she sends postcards to Heather who mails them from the post office in Sandy. She orders them online, places all over the world, London, Belize, New York City. She makes up stories. Fantastic adventures.
They're always addressed to Teeny.
Her father is not Roman Grant. She knows that. Always has. But maybe, just maybe, if he were, it would make all of this just a little bit easier.