It’s her birthday. She’s eleven years old now.
She weakly blows an eyelash off her finger. God, she’s so hungry… her mother hasn’t been home in three weeks. Her sister is dead. Her cousin cries all the time.
The body is still in the closet.
There was no funeral. Her sister’s body rots away, forgotten and alone. The noose still hangs from the bedroom ceiling. Her sister’s note made Aliza throw up after reading it. Then it was torn and thrown away, Aliza stating that she never wanted Frisk to see it.
A car pulled up to the driveway, and in Frisk’s summertime haze, she couldn’t tell what it was.
But then it sunk in once she saw the woman emerge.
Aliza noticed as well. “I have to go,” she gasps. “I-I…” Aliza darts across the room and grabs her backpack. “I love ya, Frisky, but they can’t catch me… not now. I ran away from home six years ago, I can’t go back to him…”
Frisk nods to her. As the woman knocks on the door, Aliza hops out the window and takes off in a sprint. Frisk dutifully lets the woman inside.
“You’re going to need to come with me.”
The first home she’s sent to is with an older drunkard. Fully remembering her mother’s violent alcoholic rage, she steers clear of the man.
Frisk scraps her skirts and cutesy clothes (the ones Aliza and Tanya had given her) for more practical overalls, t-shirts, and jeans. She lets her hair grow out for the first time in her life. The man calls her by her birth-name, at least in the times he recognizes her presence.
She is eleven years old, living in Redding, California. Frisk is a thief and she knows it; she walks the busy streets in search of negligent people to swipe a wallet from. She tosses the cards, knowing the risk of being caught is too high, and uses the cash to buy food, books, clothes. She’s growing fast, hitting a growth spurt after many years of undernourishment-- but that’s not to say the man fed her like a real parent. Oh, no. He rarely gave her anything, normally he’d leave an apple on the counter in the mornings if he remembered. He was awful at even taking care of himself, just buying booze and ramen and microwave dinners whenever he was running low. He’s trying to be sober, she learns, but she has a tough time believing it. Her mother used to always say that she’d be sober one day. And she never was.
The man lasts a full week, once, without drinking. He’s so happy that he orders a pizza for the both of them, sausage for her on one side and pepperoni for him on the other. He rants to her about anything and everything as they eat. She enjoys herself for once, except for the fact that he keeps calling her “my boy”.
Two days later, he’s drunk again.
So she wanders, wearing a tank top with a cute saying on it and jean shorts due to hot Californian summers. She wears brand-new flip-flops as well. Her brown skin from a black father and a white mother is complemented by the pure color of her top. She finds herself in the neighborhood of Bonnyview. Strolling down the calm suburban sidewalk, she finds kids. Kids her age. Blonde girls with valley-girl accents and blonde boys who talk like surfer dudes. Nevertheless, she brings herself into the friend group and they accept her as part of the pack, not minding her kinky-curly hair and darker skin tone. They’re all tan, anyway.
They go to one of the girls’ houses; her name is Becky. Becky loans Frisk a swimsuit and they all get in the pool. Frisk has a lot of fun during that day.
Then she gets cocky.
There’s a jar of change right on the countertop. She’s about to leave anyway, her own clothes half-back on (she’s holding her shirt anyway).
She takes a big handful of quarters and stuffs them into her pocket. She then runs back into the bathroom and pulls on her top. Then she runs out of the house.
It’s the middle of the month before she sees Becky again. Her blonde hair, impeccable makeup, wonderful tan, sassy walk, everything makes her beautiful compared to Frisk’s bony mess of a self. Becky is in the mall by herself and recognizes Frisk. “Hey,” she says. “Wanna go, like, shopping with me? It’s gonna, like, be totally amazing!”
And so Frisk agrees, having a little bit of money to blow anyway.
She only buys one thing; a plain blue dress with spaghetti straps and length being just above mid-thigh. She bids beautiful Becky farewell and returns to the man’s apartment for the night.
She’s extra careful to hide her feminine clothing from the man; she’s unsure of how he’d react to someone he thought was a male wearing ‘women’s clothes’.
The next night, something awful happens.
He beats her.
Not because he found the dress.
Not because she decided to tell him that she was a girl.
Not because her hair was suspiciously long for a boy.
Because he was drunk and felt like it.
After that, she loses hope.
Loses hope that he will be sober.
And she decides that she needs to pull an Aliza and run. She couldn’t go back to being beaten by an alcoholic every night. She couldn’t. She couldn’t. She couldn’t ! She would kill herself. She would go insane with traumatization. He had betrayed her.
And so she plots.
She leaves on the twenty-fifth, wearing the blue dress. She packs her clothes into a backpack and goes out the window. She has a specific stop on her way out.
She throws pebbles at the window until Becky opens it in a robe. Frisk waves at her, then turns heel and runs. She adjusts her hat and doesn’t stop running until she hits the Walgreens for one last supply grab.
She takes snacks, water, and a bottle of blue nail polish.
She doesn’t pay for the nail polish. While she’s at it, she takes mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick. Just to fit in with other girls.
And so she goes on the road.
Frisk walks for three full hours until she finds a small town. There’s a church there. She’s not interested in the services, she’s never been particularly religious and it’s also the dead of night. She heads into the woods behind it and finds a place next to a tree to set her bag down. She takes a bag of chips from the bag and sits and eats. Then she closes her eyes and takes her only coat-- an oversized army green one with a furred hood-- and uses it as a blanket, curling up with her backpack an only pillow.
She wakes up to the warmth of late July. She’s on the move again, walking for a solid three hours until she finds another small town. That’s when she decided to stop and wait there.
She finds a public restroom to change her clothes in; short orange overalls and a hot pink t-shirt. She eats lunch in the park, a bottle of Gatorade and Doritos. She paints her nails and tries to apply lipstick. She has more luck with mascara. She doesn’t bother with eyeliner.
She spends some time there with no home.
She doesn’t mind it, really. She’s a skilled pickpocket and shoplifter.
Frisk lives like this for a few days, changing her clothes every 24 hours or so.
She learns the name of this place. Palo Cedro.
And then she’s found on the thirtieth.
There’s talk of what to do with her.
And she lets them make a decision.
She learns where she’s going next.
She’s already making plans to run away to Paradise.
Quite literally, in fact, once she gets her hands on a map and sees the new family she’s being sent to.