By Emili Croft

Then one day, he left the door unlocked when he went to work. I knew this was my one and only chance. So, I ran. I ran as fast as I could. I didn’t even know where I was or even where I was going. I ran to a street with lots of cars. I stood there on the side of the long winding road. After a few cars went by I started to wave my arms like crazy begging someone to stop and help me.

The year is 2018, and I have just escaped from my kidnapper. It was April 23rd, 2000 when I was walking home from school when I was kidnapped and shoved into a van. I didn’t think that after that day, I would never feel the wind on my face until 18 years later. I was kept in a small room, he didn’t hurt me or torture me. He just kept me. He fed me, let me watch movies, read books, occasionally he would even bring me a slice of chocolate pie…or at least that’s what I would tell my mother. Itd break her heart if I told her how he was and that I was pregnant with his child. At first I fought, but eventually I just accepted it. I knew I wanted out, but I didn’t know if I would ever get the chance.

A car finally stopped and asked me who I was and where I came from. I had to think for a minute. He never really used my name but over the years I made myself remember who I was. I told him “My name is Samantha Jennings and I just escaped from my kidnapper. Can you please help me?” Soon after I told him my name I started to regret it. Maybe this wasn’t a good guy, maybe he was an axe murderer. Not very likely, but I didn’t know what to think. He stared back at me in Awe and told me to get in. After driving for a few minutes, I asked where we were. He said “Well, this here is Columbus, Ohio. Where are you from?” I gazed at the trees as I felt the cold breeze on my face, “Im from West Virginia.” He asked me if there was someone he could call for me. The first person I thought of was my mom. It had been just a few weeks after my father’s death that I was kidnapped. She didn’t have anyone. I can only imagine what she’s been doing all these years without me. Of course, I didn’t know her phone number or even remember my address. When we got to the police station I told them who I was and where I had been. They took my fingerprints and lots of pictures of my face. They called the station down in West Virginia and told me it’d only be a 4 and a half hour drive. Once, we got there there, they brought me into this little room with a mirror in it. They asked me lots of questions about myself or who had taken me. I told them what the little bit that I did know. After a while they let me out and there was this short skinny lady standing there crying. She ran to me and hugged me. As she embraced me I could smell her hair and I had recognized that sweet strawberry smell. She was my mother. Tears began to fall onto her shoulder but I just hugged her tighter. I had to talk to my mother. I was going to be a mother and I didnt know how to tell her. It had been 18 years since I saw my mother and I never wanted to let go of her again.

She drove me to my house. Not saying much in the car, just about how everyone has been dying to see me again. I stood there on the sidewalk staring at this small little house that I once called home. It was a cute little two story blue house with few windows. Three steps leading to the yellow door. I walked inside and instantly this great big siberian husky pounced on me. My mother walking inside “Oh that’s just Skipper, he sure did miss you. Do you remember skipper? He was your dog.” I smiled and nodded my head yes as I looked around. It wasn’t much, a couch and a tv. I stood in front of the steps debating on if I was gonna go up or not. My mother took my hand and guided me upstairs to my room. It had looked exactly the same as the day I left for school back in 2000. The same little queen sized bed with flower sheets. A little desk with some sketches and a closet full of clothes. I even had a backstreet boys poster on my wall.

I sat on my bed staring back at my mother seeing her begin to cry again. I barely remember this world that I grew up in. It was strange seeing all of this again and seeing how much the world has changed in the past 18 years. Everything is so different then what I remember. Now, I’m seeing all these new and shiny cars and the clothes look so different. My mother brought out her phone and told me smile. I was confused, why was she holding her cell phone and not a camera? I kindly smiled and she pushed a button and she showed me the picture. I was amazed at how clear the photo was and how different I had looked.

My family came over to see me. Lots of hugs and kisses and a crazy amount of tears shed. About half of them I don’t even think I had ever met before. They threw me a welcome home party and I was very happy of course, but I was also cautious. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know many people and everything was just happening so fast. I knew I couldn’t just stay in my room for the rest of my life. I was 35 now. I didn’t feel 35. I still felt like I was 17 and had the rest of my life ahead of me, but that wasn’t the case. I was pregnant, and he was the father. I still had to graduate high school and eventually I would have to get a job and start my life again.

Jeffersonville High School, 2016