Chapter 1 – Woodcroft

It was the beginning of the summer days in 1978 when she decided: “Today is the day I make my move.”

She stuffed her baby’s diaper bag with as much as she possibly could. After wrapping her baby in a blanket to shield her from the drizzles, she headed for the living room with her baby in one arm and the bag in the other. Her three younger siblings were already in the living room, and she kissed them goodbye before darting out the door. Her parents came to the door and screamed after her as she ran away as fast she could, with her eight-month-old baby secure in her arms. Steadily and swiftly she ran, checking her trail every now and then to make sure no one was on her heels. She was tired of suffering at the hands of her abusive stepdad.

She reached the bus stop just as the city bus was pulling in. It stopped directly in front of her and opened its doors. Relieved that she was now at a safe distance away from home, she got on the bus, grabbed the closest seat, and began scoping her surroundings. “What do I do now?” she thought, as she gently adjusted the blanket to reveal her baby’s face. She looked at her adoringly, as she continued to think about her next steps.

Two hours and three complete bus routes later, Ms. Jay finally decided where she and her baby would go.

As the day drew to an end in the dusk, Ms. Jay showed up at her grandmother’s doorsteps unannounced, with her baby in her arms and nowhere else to turn to. She knocked a few times, expectant of a familiar refuge.

“Who is it?” an older lady asked from the other side of the door.

“It’s Jay, Grandma.”

Opening the door, the old lady immediately noticed the troubled look in her granddaughter’s eyes. “Everything’s alright,” she said to Jay, taking the baby from her arms and signaled the young woman to follow her in. “If I had known you and Lilbit here were coming, I would’ve fixed you both some supper.”

Now in the living room they both sat. Despite the circumstances, Jay was immediately comforted by the familiar surroundings. An oversized rug hung on wall opposite the couch, embroidered with the likeness of John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. A few feet away from the coffee table was the faithful record player that had accompanied Jay’s grandmother in more years than Jay could remember.

Jay’s grandmother sat down in her favorite rocking chair, playing with the baby’s tiny, eager fingers. The distressed Jay exhaled and began. “I ran away from home.”

“You what?” Her grandmother looked up at Jay and exclaimed.

“I ran away from home,” Jay repeated.