It was half way through the day when Ruik decided to just skip out the rest of the day. It was easy to skip school during recess because the teachers who were supposed to be keeping an eye on them were always on their phones or eating or just generally not watching them. The school he went to had a fenced in, crummy playground that probably hadn’t been touched since the 80s. But the fence was easy to get under if you were thin like he was, and knew where and when to get out from under it. Ruik was smart. When he had found the weakness in the fence he told no one, and was always careful to disguise the fact that it was easy to get under. He could fold over the chain link just enough to shimmy out from under it, and then flip it back down so no one was the wiser as to how he kept getting out. That was exactly what he did then, and once he was on the other side of the fence he promptly hid in a few bushes until it was safe to make his way down the street. He dusted off his clothes and then sprinted away from the school once the coast was clear. After he was a good ways away from it he slowed down so he wouldn’t attract attention to himself, and then just enjoyed the freedom he had earned. Ruik had learned that in order not to be questioned as to why he wasn’t in school, there were several things you had to do. One was act like you were supposed to be wherever you were. Adults didn’t tend to question children with confidence. They probably thought his parent was around the corner or something. The second thing was to avoid low traffic areas. The more people there were, the less you were noticed, so Ruik was heading right out of the bad part of town and into the downtown area of the city. The closer he got, the more people there were going to jobs or going to lunch or whatever else it was adults did there. Going to lunch sounded like a great idea to Ruik, but unfortunately he did not have any money. He never had any money, and more and more Ruik was thinking about stealing whenever he managed to run away. He’d never done that before, but then he’d also never been as hungry as he currently was. Passing a bakery, Ruik stopped to admire the breads and sweets in the window. They looked so good, Ruik could feel himself salivating as his stomach hurt, reminding himself of just how hungry he was. This bakery was one of Ruik’s favorite places, despite never having gone inside before. It smelled the best, and looking up at the hand lettered sign hanging from the door, it looked like it belonged to one of the places he read about in books. The sign was made of wood and carved to look like an oval overlapping a rectangle, and the whimsical painted letters had faded and peeled, but still proclaimed quite proudly; The Bakery. That was it. That was what Ruik liked about it. The simplicity of calling it ‘The Bakery’ was almost unheard of, and it was almost like it was the only one around. The corners of his mouth pulled upwards just slightly as he looked at it and then back at the display case, and he sighed before he kept walking, stuffing his hands into the pockets of very worn out jeans that were just a little too big for him. If he did start to steal, it wouldn’t be from there. He couldn’t bring himself to do it from there because he was afraid he might like it less if he did. And if he was seen, he’d never be able to go back there. One day, he wanted to walk in and buy something for real. Ruik passed by clothing shops and restaurants and corporate buildings, having another destination in mind to kill some time. This would likely not be one of the days he tried to run away. Ditching school was one thing and running away another, and Ruik was not stupid enough to run away without taking some necessities. No, he’d just kill time until school was over, where he would catch the bus as if he’d been at school the entire time. He knew he’d get called out for it later, but sometimes it was worth the harsh punishment he would receive just to have some time to himself away from everything. Pretty soon, he came upon a bridge. It was small, and only used for pedestrians, but he liked being there. Under it was a tiny stream which sometimes had tadpoles. It looked old, with grey arches to form a hand rail on either side. Ruik went right to it, aiming to sit right down on it with his feet dangling off the sides, but before he could get to it he collided head first with someone else. He lost his footing and landed right on his backside with a heavy thud, wincing afterwards. He wasn’t sure how he hadn’t seen this guy, and already Ruik was starting to think his time outside was coming to a swift end. It only took one adult to ask why he wasn’t in school or where his parents were before he had to make a run for it, and then they’d be calling the police or something to report him. Ruik looked up at who he had run into. “Hey, I’m sorry… I was just…” What was it kids did? “I was just running some errands for my mom and… I didn’t see you.” He said as he stood up. It was an obvious lie. Ruik wasn’t good at lying, mainly because he didn’t like doing it. He liked being picked up by the police less though.