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Running Towards Home

Chapter Text

I.

It is the 8th of August 1997, Richie runs away for the first time. This time, he makes it twelve point seven minutes. He is eight and three quarter years old. There is nothing wrong per se, but he is mad, and his father didn’t notice. Then, his mother noticed, and he got even more mad. 

 

Not much happens in those twelve point seven minutes, but in the two minutes it takes him to walk back home, he scrapes his knee and cries like he never has before. 

 

II.

On the 22nd of August 2002, Eddie runs away for the first time. He is thirteen years old, and three days before, Mr. Keene told him the pills were placebos, and today he walked back to the pharmacy to pick up his new inhaler. Mr. Keene’s daughter calls him a loser, same as always, and Eddie thinks about how his father died of cancer on the entire walk home.

 

Cancer patients rarely die of cancer, or at least that's what the journal of scholarly medicine said when he went to the dentist last. He got through three paragraphs before his mother reminded him how filthy those magazines are—every person who comes through touches them. He walks all the way home from the pharmacy thinking about what people die with when sick with cancer. His father died from the RhinoVirus. The common cold.

 

At this point, if Eddie gets a staph infection, he could die. Not because they wouldn’t catch it fast enough, like his mom always worried, but because every possible drug to treat an infection Eddie has taken, infected or not. It isn’t even the matter of a manufactured supervirus—abused medications no longer work for their medical intent. Eddie accepts it, he is going to die.

 

He makes it all the way to Richie’s house before he turns it into just a sleepover, Mrs. Tozier having called his mother and picked up the medications he no longer takes with the promise that she would remind Eddie to take them before bed. 

 

It is August 25th 2002 when Eddie goes home for the first time feeling like his room doesn’t own him. It’s never been his to own, but now he owes it nothing. 

 

III.

It is November 2nd 2005 when Richie Tozier becomes an officially licensed driver, or so the official test says. In four to six days, Richie will get a real plastic driver's license, but until then, he has a piece of paper that says he can drive home free. Tomorrow is the day his parents have promised him, the day they will give him a $250 contribution to buying the hunk of junk car he has had his eyes on for three whole months, the one he is $150 away from being able to afford. However, Richie will not be in Derry tomorrow, as he finds out three hours after his test when all he has is a piece of paper that doesn’t work as an official State ID card. 

 

The wind isn’t blowing and the snow isn’t on the ground. In fact, the only trees Richie sees are evergreen. This is all to say that the telltale sights of winter’s death are avoidable if one simply drives home the way that Richie is; West. 

 

Eddie, however, is walking East, towards Richie, and he can see a bare tree on the horizon. Eddie will not die of a staph infection.

 

IIII.

Eddie is not dressed for the weather when he enters Richie’s dad’s car. He looks at Richie and says one thing: “We’re running away.”

 

One.

July 2nd 1999. Boris is ten when he runs away for the first time. He has no intention of coming back to his father, not after he smelled the alcohol on his suit before even seeing the hand crashing down towards his face. This is Papua New Guinea, and it’s warm enough here to never need the blessings of a roof over one’s head to stay warm. Boris has absolutely no intention of doing anything but sleeping on the beach for the rest of his life. Maybe he could even survive on shellfish when they wash up on shore! It sounds like a splendid life, and he decides to start it right then and there by taking a nap right there on the beach he just ran to.

 

He wakes up in the arms of Bami, his father’s cook, who carries him to what looks like the house they are living in up until Boris tells him that he will never go back. He lives on his own now, independent and free. 

 

Bami doesn’t agree to let him go back out on his own. Instead he says, “Badr al-Dine, let’s pray on it. How does that sound?” 

 

As if it were a Friday—and Boris hadn’t known one could do this on any day but Friday—Bami takes him to the Mosque and helps him wash at the door, taking off all the sand that has accumulated on his shoeless feet. 

 

In the end, Allah gives him no sign that it’s time to leave, not until Boris' father does and takes Boris with him. Then, Boris gives up his faith. Allah should’ve given him the signal to run before he got to Ukraine.

 

Two.

August 8th 2003,The second time Boris runs away, he does so in the Ukraine winter. He finds two friends, Maks and Seryozha, who teach him the proper way to get properly drunk as opposed to just sipping on beer. The three of them build trash can fires like in those American movies, and it does a decent enough job of keeping them warm, but not warm enough that Boris doesn’t go home. Because he does. He always does. Whenever his father sobers up. On one of the best days of his life, he arrives just in time to see his father packing a bag. Boris rushes to do the same, and finally, they are off to somewhere warm: Las Vegas.

 

Three.

Theodore Decker has never run away from home. The closest he comes is April 11th 2003, when two Social Workers come up to his door and tell him they will be placing him with a family. With quick thinking, he offers up another name: the Barbour’s whose son he used to be friends with. He can stay there rather than at a stranger’s house.

 

He never dreams of running away. Sure, sometimes he lies about where he’s going when he runs off to an antique store three buses away, but he wants to stay with the Barbour’s for as long as they let him, if not longer.

 

He arrives home just in time to see his father standing there ready to take him away. He would never run away from this home; he is only stolen from it.

 

Four.

It starts with the simple ask of “Do you want to come with me?” And it shouldn’t end with “Yes,” but it does. 

 

On November 2nd, 2005, sitting in an empty, sandy playground, watching the stars like kaleidoscopes, waiting for the acid to kick in, Theo makes what may be the second most important decision of his life without even knowing where he is going.

 

The bruise on his jaw, given to him by his father just hours before, makes his head ache with the knowledge that it may happen again. “Do you want to go tonight?” he asks.

 

Boris’ eyes get big like a bug’s—but that was probably the acid at work—and he says “No,” with an urgency that shouldn’t come to a stoned person. Theo thought maybe the drugs just hadn’t kicked in yet when Boris said, “Tomorrow. After I say goodbye to Kotku.”

 

That sounds right to Theo. Boris’ girlfriend deserves a goodbye. Theo may feel slightly ashamed to be so relieved that she isn’t coming, but that doesn’t mean he has anything to do about it except encourage Boris to go early in the morning. Then, they can leave.