Home No More

By: Leddy Harper

The winding two-lane highway was deserted at that time of night. It was just me and the stupid cop behind me. His lights were nearly blinding me in my review mirror. Red and blue. I could feel panic creep in as I pulled onto the right shoulder, hoping he’d pass on his way to something more important.

He didn’t. He pulled over behind me. Panic flooded my senses as I rolled my window down, going through all the things I could’ve been doing wrong. I wasn’t speeding, my lights were on, I wasn’t weaving or passing improperly–there were no cars to even pass.

The officer walked up to my window with his hand on his belt. For a second, I thought he was going to pull his gun out. Instead, he pulled out his long flashlight and shone it onto my lap, where my hands were twisting together.

“License and registration please, ma’am.”

How in the hell would I get out of this? I had no license—never had one—and the car was registered under someone else’s name. I reached into the glove box and pulled out the registration, hoping he would forget all about my license.

“You’re license, too, please.” Of course, he wouldn’t forget that.

“I’m sorry, officer, but I left home without it. I was just running up to the gas station for some headache medicine. I wasn’t even thinking when I left.” I wasn’t exactly lying; I was going to need something for the headache his blinding lights were giving me.

He crouched down far enough to see into the car; it was the first time I got a good look at his face. He was an older man, probably in his late forties, with graying hair. His face was cleanly shaven, and he had green eyes that looked so familiar, but it was hard to see in the dark.

The beam from the flashlight hit my face and I moved my hand to shield my eyes. I was waiting for him to say something, but he didn’t. Instead, he stood there, shining his light on me and, from what I could assume, staring at me.

This was not what I needed. An old man wanting to use his powers of the law to get what he wanted. I wasn’t going to do that. He could throw me in jail for all I cared, I wasn’t going to suck or spread anything for this pervert.

“Excuse me, officer, but is there some reason you’re doing that?” I wanted the light out of my eyes, off of my face. My sudden headache was intensifying and my panic levels were reaching an all time high.

He lowered the beam back to my lap. I wasn’t sure what was worse, him gawking over my face or my vagina. At least I wasn’t being blinded anymore.

“What’s your name, little girl?” I was expecting him to sound perverse, but he didn’t. He sounded concerned, almost like he was talking to a child. I guess compared to him, an eighteen year old would be a child. But I had been through far too many things to be seen as one.

I knew not to give my real name; Billy had told me time and time again. “Tiffany.” I had the name picked out since I was fifteen. Since Billy had come and saved me. I hadn’t had to use it yet. But I said it with such certainty that my real name very well could have been Tiffany, not Kendall.

“Your full name please.”

I probably should have already come up with one of those. I used to have one picked out, but as I got older, I didn’t like it anymore and just never found a new one.

“Stark.” I remember berating myself for saying that. I had looked up at the sky and saw the stars, and Stark was the name I was able to come up with. I was sure he’d know that I was lying, my voice wasn’t nearly as confident as it was when I said my first name—or as I should say, my make believe first name.

“Give me a minute, if you will.” He vanished behind the car. I could still hear him though; he was far enough away that I couldn’t make out his words but could hear the depth of his voice.

He wasn’t gone long. He came back to ask more questions. My middle name, my birthday, where I was from. Each answer I gave him, he’d respond to the radio on his shoulder and a crackling voice would sound back something inaudible to me.

“Ma’am, you are not showing up in the DMV records for this entire state. This car is not registered to you, and you have no way to prove your identity. I’m going to need to take you with me. Please open the door and step out with your hands up.” His hand was back on his belt, this time I knew it was over his weapon.